Mr. Speaker, I am tremendously honoured today to speak on our budget, economic action plan 2015.
In the darkest days of the recession, our government made a very important promise to Canadians. It was a simple promise that once the crisis passed, we would set a course toward a balanced budget. We would not raise taxes to do it. We would control spending and rein in costs. Economic action plan 2015 fulfills that promise.
Canadians can rest assured that our fiscal house is in order. We have balanced the budget, just as families must do every day of their lives, and we balanced this budget while cutting taxes. Today, the overall tax burden is at its lowest level in 50 years. We balanced the budget while increasing transfer payments, thereby protecting our investment in the education and health care that Canadians cherish.
This is no small achievement. It took a plan, hard work and tough choices. After all, unlike the statement from the opposition, budgets do not balance themselves. We have heard that fallacy so many times.
Now, Canada sets out on a new course. With a balanced budget comes opportunity, the opportunity to put even more money back into the pockets of Canadians, and the responsibility to continue our focus on creating jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. That means cutting taxes even further for hard-working families. It means taking action so businesses can thrive, innovate and expand their markets. It means new and innovative investments in the infrastructure that Canadians rely on, and training a highly skilled workforce to respond to the evolving needs of employers. It means investing in Canada's most sacred responsibility, that of protecting Canadians and securing Canada.
Again, what is very important to our government, and certainly to me, is the fact that this budget would do what we promised to do. Canadians need to know that when their government makes a commitment, it is true to its word. It has been said many times that promises do not pay the bills. It is a lesson, sadly, that our opposition has not taken to heart.
Importantly, this deficit has been reduced from $55.6 billion at the height of the great recession to a projected surplus of $1.4 billion for 2015-16. It is necessary, because for all Conservatives, we recognize that we cannot continue to run deficits. Very simply, I and most of colleagues, if not all of them, believe that today's deficits are tomorrow's taxes. We must demonstrate to our young generation that we will not leave them with the obligation of paying for our responsibilities.
Importantly, we have done this while investing in families, seniors, the military, security, veterans, job creation, transfers to the provinces and infrastructure, while still reducing taxes and waste. We have proven that we can create a more prosperous economy, resulting in increased revenues.
I will briefly outline just a few of the positive elements in this budget, and I will touch on only a few because time will not permit me to go on at length.
We are supporting jobs and growth. What this particular component is about is tax cuts, training and trades. We are reducing the small business tax rate to 9% by 2019, putting in an estimated $2.3 billion back into the pockets of job creating entrepreneurs between now and 2020. We are increasing the lifetime capital gains exemption to $1 million for farmers and fishermen.
We are improving access to financing for Canadian small businesses through the Canada small business financing program. We are expanding the services operated by the Business Development Bank of Canada to help small and medium-sized businesses. We are investing $14 million over two years to Futurpreneur Canada in support of our young entrepreneurs. We are investing in the action plan for women entrepreneurs to help women business owners succeed.
We are helping innovative companies grow and create jobs through the venture capital action plan. We are taking action to harmonize apprenticeship training and certification requirements in targeted Red Seal trades.
We are investing in world-class research and innovation by providing $1.5 billion in funding over five years to advance the government's renewed science, technology and innovation strategy. We are continuing to provide $5.3 billion per year on average and growing for provincial, territorial and municipal infrastructure under the new building Canada plan.
In addition, we will invest another $750 million over two years, starting in 2017-18, and a billion dollars more ongoing thereafter, to a new public transit fund aimed at building new public transit infrastructure to reduce congestion and fight the gridlock in our large cities.
We are helping families and communities prosper. As has been stated many times, and I know it is so welcome, we will increase the tax-free savings account annual contribution limit to $10,000, effective in 2015 and subsequent taxation years. About 60% of the individuals contributing the maximum amount had income of less than $60,000. Overwhelmingly, they are seniors who are taking money from their RRSPs and putting them into their TFSAs so they can have a secure retirement.
We are supporting families through tax cuts, which will give money to 100% of households with children. That is critical. For an average family of four, that is over $6,000, through the family tax cut and the increased universal child care benefit. We believe moms and dads are absolutely in the best position to look after the interests of their children, and certainly not government bureaucrats.
We are supporting seniors by introducing changes to the registered retirement income fund that would allow them to withdraw less from their tax deferred savings. We are supporting seniors and persons with disabilities by introducing the home accessibility tax credit to help with renovation costs so they can live independently and remain in their homes.
We are enhancing access to post-secondary education by expanding the eligibility for low and middle-income Canada student grants to students in short duration programs.
We are extending the temporary measure that allows a qualifying family member to become the plan holder of a registered disability savings plan.
We are supporting the most vulnerable in our communities by providing an additional $50 million in 2016-17 to what is already there to support social housing in Canada by allowing social housing providers to pre-pay their long-term, non-renewable mortgages without penalty.
As well, we are improving access to print materials for the visually impaired.
We are introducing a new retirement income security benefit for severely disabled veterans. We are increasing the level of individualized care to veterans requiring regular support by improving the ratio of veterans to case managers. We are expanding the veterans independence program.
Very important as well, we are ensuring the security of Canadians. How? We are increasing National Defence funding by providing the Canadian Armed Forces with an additional $12 billion, thus ensuring that Canada can and will continue to be a combat capable military, ready to serve at home and abroad.
We are supporting the deployment of the Canadian Armed Forces in order to counter the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. We are countering violent extremism and terrorism by providing additional resources to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the Canada Border Security Agency.
We are enhancing Canada's capacity to gather foreign intelligence. We are protecting the integrity of our borders by expanding the use of biometric screening to further improve the security and integrity of the Canadian immigration system and facilitating legitimate travel to Canada for low-risk travellers from select visa-required countries.
I have only had a bit of time to highlight a very few of economic action plan 2015's many important initiatives. Therefore, I urge listeners to visit the Department of Finance website, where they will find the complete budget plan and the my benefit site that spotlights individuals, just like anyone listening today, to see how they could benefit from this budget.
Our government is absolutely committed to job creation and economic growth, objectives that have underpinned our economic action plan since its inception in 2009. Implementing policies focused on raising Canada's economic potential and creating stable, well-paying jobs continues to be our government's top priority, and it always will be.
Economic action plan 2015 proposes to take additional steps to achieve these objectives, including eliminating the deficit, as promised.
Maintaining focus on these priorities is the best way to ensure that Canada is prepared to weather any future economic storm. By staying the course and sticking to our proven economic action plan, we are clearly on track to a better future.
I thank the numerous groups and individuals in my riding of Prince Edward—Hastings for their wise counsel. I know they are encouraged to see their input has been reflected in this budget, a budget that is designed not only for today but certainly for tomorrow.