Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to add my comments to today's debate on Bill C-4, a piece of legislation that would create jobs and economic growth in communities across our country, including my riding of Sault Ste. Marie. Indeed, today's legislation is part of our government's plan to create jobs and economic growth and to secure Canada's long-term prosperity for years to come.
As a matter of fact, since 2006, our government has been taking concrete action to ensure that Canada's economy remains strong. Unlike the high-tax New Democrats and Liberals, our Conservative government believes in keeping taxes low and leaving more money where it belongs: in the pockets of hard-working Canadian families and job-creating businesses. That is why since 2006 we have cut taxes over 160 times, reducing the overall tax burden to its lowest level in 50 years. Overall, our strong record of tax relief has helped remove over one million low-income Canadians from the tax rolls. That is not all. It has also meant savings for a typical Canadian family in 2013 totalling over $3,200.
How did we accomplish this? The answer is simple. We have cut taxes in every way government collects them: personal taxes, consumption taxes, business taxes, excise taxes, and more. This includes cutting the lowest personal income tax rate to 15%; increasing the amount Canadians can earn without paying tax; introducing pension income splitting for seniors; reducing the GST from 7% to 5%, putting an estimated $1,000 back in the pockets of an average family; introducing the tax-free savings account, the most important personal savings vehicle since RRSPs; reducing the small-business tax rate from 12% to 11%; eliminating consumer tariffs on babies' clothes, sporting goods and exercise equipment. The list goes on.
It is measures such as these, which leave more money in the pockets of Canadians, that have helped Canada to emerge from the recession in one of the strongest positions among the developed world. In fact, since the depth of the recession, over one million net new jobs have been created, with most in high-wage industries. This is by far the strongest job creation record in the entire G7. Indeed, Canada's unemployment rate is at its lowest level since December 2008 and remains below that of the U.S., a phenomenon that has not been seen in nearly three decades. Contrary to what the opposition leaders may believe, Canada is on strong economic footing.
However, we are not the only ones who think so. Let us see what others are saying. Moody's report on Canada for 2013 states that thanks to its diversity and solid fundamentals, Canada's economy has weathered the post global financial crisis period better than most of its peers.
According to Fitch Ratings:
Canada has a good track record of prudent fiscal management. Its fiscal credibility was boosted by the timely withdrawal of the fiscal stimulus implemented during the global financial crisis and the roadmap provided...to achieve a balanced federal government fiscal position by 2015/16. ...the consolidation path is realistic.
With reviews like these, it is no wonder Canada is one of the few countries in the world to boast a triple-A credit rating from the three major credit rating agencies.
Let us talk a bit about support for job creators. Despite Canada's economic success, we cannot become complacent, and our government understands that. We have repeatedly said that Canada's economy is not immune to economic challenges beyond our borders. We have been and will continue to be impacted by the ongoing turbulence in the U.S. and Europe, among our most important trading partners. That is why the Canada–EU trade agreement is so significant. It will bring an additional $12 billion annually to the Canadian economy, creating 80,000 new jobs and opening up a market of 500 million consumers and a $17-trillion economy.
That is also why economic action plan 2013 focuses on positive initiatives to support job creation and economic growth while returning to balanced budgets, ensuring Canada's economic advantage remains strong today and into the future.
Today's legislation contains a number of measures to support job creation and economic growth. This includes extending and expanding the job hiring credit for small business, which would benefit an estimated 560,000 employers and provide an estimated $225 million in tax relief in 2013. Bill C-4 would also increase and index the lifetime capital gains exemption. This positive measure would increase the rewards of investing in small business by making it easier for owners to transfer their family business to the next generation of Canadians. Today's legislation would also expand the accelerated capital cost allowance to further encourage investments in clean energy generation.
That is not all. Our government is continuing to build on our sound economic position by freezing EI premium rates for the next three years. This action alone would leave $660 million in the pockets of job creators and workers in 2014 alone.
Despite what the opposition may have us believe, this tax relief would help support Canada's continued economic recovery and sustained, business-led, long-term growth. However, do not take my word for it. Let us hear what others have to say. Diane J. Brisebois, president and CEO of the Retail Council of Canada agrees. She says, “This freeze on premiums will mean more money for employers to invest in other important areas such as employment, training and infrastructure.”
Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said the “announcement of an EI rate freeze is fantastic news for Canada’s entrepreneurs. This move will keep hundreds of millions of dollars in the pockets of employers and employees which can only be a positive for the Canadian economy.”
There is more. Joyce Reynolds, the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association's executive-vice president of government affairs notes:
Payroll costs have a significant impact on overall labour costs. They are a barrier to hiring, particularly for inexperienced workers.... We are pleased the government is demonstrating commitment to youth...by holding the line on these profit-insensitive costs.
Unlike the opposition, our government understands that tax relief is important to Canadian families. I encourage the members opposite to vote in favour of this important measure, which would leave more money in the hands of Canadians.
Canada is leading the world in job creation, with more than one million net new jobs created since the depth of the recession. However, there is work yet to be done. That is why implementing Canada's economic action plan is so important. It is for that reason that I urge all members of the House, and especially the members opposite, to support these job creating measures.
Although, who are we kidding, we all know the opposition will be voting against these measures as they have time and time again. The only thing the NDP seems to support are risky spending schemes and forcing a $20 billion carbon tax on Canadian consumers and job creators. That is more than I can say for the Liberals, who unbelievably do not even have a plan for the economy. They have announced the plan will be released during election mode in 2015. That is unheard of.
It is clear, and Canadians know this, that when it comes to the economy, our Conservative government continues to be the right choice.