Mr. Speaker, today I am pleased to speak to Motion No. 585, which was moved by my colleague from Saint-Lambert. This initiative calls on the government to implement concrete measures to stimulate the manufacturing sector and support our small and medium-sized businesses.
The motion calls on the government to immediately reduce the tax rate for small and medium-sized businesses from 11% to 9%, establish an innovation tax credit, extend the accelerated capital cost allowance by two years and improve access to job training.
The proposals in this motion are part of the New Democratic Party's economic strategy to strengthen our small and medium-sized businesses so we can reduce the worrisome unemployment rate in Canada and improve employment quality, which is at a 25-year low.
We are proposing measures that focus on SMEs because Canada is a country of entrepreneurs, where small and medium-sized businesses have always been one of the key pillars of our economic system. In Canada, 99.8% of businesses are SMEs, and 98% of them have fewer than 100 employees. They generate 40% of our annual GDP and provide 7.7 million jobs.
The entrepreneurial sector is just as important in my riding of LaSalle—Émard, where 29% of our firms and businesses are considered SMEs. Furthermore, according to Statistics Canada's Business Register, 71% of the small businesses in Lasalle employ fewer than 10 workers. They could even be described as micro-enterprises.
Following the decline of the manufacturing sector, which has affected my riding in recent decades, most SMEs now work in the services sector, particularly in retail, transportation and warehousing.
However, like most Canadians, SMEs are also struggling to make ends meet and are not operating under favourable conditions to ensure their survival. Constant changes to federal programs only present further obstacles for businesses that want to take advantage of those programs, and the lack of resources to comply with regulatory requirements only adds to the red tape that business owners have to deal with.
Another problem that exists in Quebec and across Canada is the shortage of entrepreneurial renewal. Several SMEs could be forced to shut down or move, putting many employees out of work. The services sector is especially vulnerable, since it is very competitive and sensitive to the ups and downs of the Canadian dollar and the ever-changing consumer demand.
Need I remind the House that in recent decades, over 400,000 well paying, stable jobs have been lost in the manufacturing sector and that 1.3 million Canadians are currently unemployed? The situation is also troubling in my riding, where the unemployment rate is 8.2%, and 15% among young people.
Over the past four years, I have had the opportunity to meet with many store and small-business owners in LaSalle—Émard who told me about their struggles to remain financially healthy, maintain jobs and remain competitive in the current economic climate.
I also met with dozens of men and women who struggle to find work, even though they have skills and degrees, and I met with people who can only find part-time, contract, unstable and low-paying jobs. It is often young people and women who have to take these jobs. Our constituents deserve better. They deserve stable, good-quality jobs with fair compensation.
Unfortunately, the quality of the Canadian job market is at an all-time low. According to the CIBC Employment Quality Index, which measures employment quality in terms of compensation and in terms of the distribution of full- and part-time jobs, the decline in employment quality in Canada is structural.
This is a result of the increase in part-time jobs and the rapid growth in low-paying full-time jobs. By way of example, the study shows that last year the number of low-paying jobs increased twice as fast as the number of high-paying jobs.
We have a responsibility to respond to this situation and adopt measures that will stimulate the manufacturing sector and small and medium-sized enterprises, which have traditionally created good jobs. We must support businesses here that create jobs here at home. We must ensure that we have the right conditions to guarantee their success and sustainability. Through careful policies and its purchasing power, the government is in a position to support strategic sectors for Canada, such as the aerospace industry, high tech industries and green technology businesses specializing in the development of renewable energy and climate change adaptation. The greater Montreal area already has interesting industrial clusters in these business areas, including major players that buy from local and dynamic SMEs.
This is what the NDP leader said last week during his speech to the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal:
Montreal's economy, like that of Quebec and Canada, is made up mostly of small and medium-sized enterprises.
...we believe in science, research and development and especially in investing responsibly in finding solutions....
Our SMEs are the key to putting the Canadian economy on the right track and creating good jobs.
I want to thank my colleague, the hon. member for Saint-Lambert for this initiative and I invite all members of the House to support this motion.
Finally, to the young people and entrepreneurs in my riding, I want to reaffirm my support for this motion, which seeks to create the conditions that will help our SMEs recover and that will create good, well-paying jobs now and in the future.