Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to rise and speak on behalf of my constituents of Nipissing—Timiskaming about our economic action plan 2012.
Canada, in stark contrast to other G7 countries, has had unparalleled success in leading the global recovery. We are resilient and prosperous. What has contributed to this record? Has it been by belabouring businesses with costly and redundant red tape? No. Has it been by implementing or maintaining fiscally unsustainable programs? No. Has it been by bloating government with a cradle to grave philosophy? No. Has it been by promoting an aggravating and massive $21 billion carbon tax as touted by the NDP? No, not at all.
The single reason why Canada remains resilient and prosperous, the explicit principle behind our success, is the courageous long-term vision of our Conservative government. Our sound fiscal framework has been rooted in our conviction to serve the interests of all Canadians now and well into the future.
It is easy for the opposition to sit across the aisle and fire accusations. Take, for example, our stance on the principled and necessary changes to OAS. The NDP believe, in spite of sober facts, that Canada should recklessly maintain an unsustainable framework. The member for Churchill claimed the other day that our changes were unfair to the younger generation. I challenge the NDP to explain how fair and reasonable it is to allow that younger generation to reach retirement age and realize that there is no money because the government at the time, fully seized of an unsustainable model, sat back and did absolutely nothing.
This is the kind of principled leadership that Canada needs and, indeed, is the kind of leadership Canadians voted for in 2011. Our government bases its decisions on principle and accountability to the Canadian people. This government will not sell out the future of this country for political convenience. Our plan for growth and long-term prosperity may at times be difficult, but it remains necessary. It is only our Conservative government that holds the courage and principle to do what is right.
I would like to quickly highlight three specific areas our government has improved for the long-term benefit of Canadians, ones that have a particular impact on my riding of Nipissing—Timiskaming, those being families, seniors and small businesses.
Our Conservative government remains committed to keeping families strong. Part of economic action plan 2012 has been our effort to provide families with the necessary relief and flexibility in their household budgets to ensure that they can meet the challenges and rewards of raising a family, especially those most vulnerable.
We first cut the GST from 7% to 6% to 5%, a tax write-off of about $1,000 back into the pockets of average families. We have decreased the lowest personal income tax to 15% and removed one million Canadians from the tax rolls altogether.
We also introduced the universal child care benefit, giving families flexibility and choice in daycare, by providing $1,200 a year for each child under six years of age. We have also invested in the quality of life and future of our young Canadians through the children's art and children's fitness tax credits.
New initiatives like the first-time homebuyer's tax credit are opening up new possibilities for Canadian families and reducing the economic challenges of keeping a family healthy and strong.
Our strong record of tax relief has, on average, put $3,100 back into the pockets of Canadian families. Indeed, Canadian families are the most essential part of Canadian life and they can count on their Conservative government to deliver principled results, as opposed to the opposition who remain fixed on a job-killing $21 billion carbon tax and all kinds of red tape.
With regard to seniors, our government has taken a principled stand on ensuring dignity and respect for those who have helped make Canada the great nation it is today. Our government recognizes that the global economic downturn has been difficult on many Canadians, including seniors. Again, our Conservative government has remained vigilant to provide relief and flexibility to seniors, especially those most vulnerable.
We have increased the amount that recipients of the guaranteed income supplement, GIS, can earn through employment without any reduction in their GIS benefits. We have also introduced the largest GIS increase in over 25 years, ensuring that eligible, low income seniors will receive additional assistance so that they may live in peace and security. We have increased the age credit amount to $2,000 and doubled the pension income credit to $2,000.
Our support for seniors has not been limited simply to direct financial help. We remain committed to improving the quality of life and ensuring the dignity of Canadian seniors. That is why we have taken steps to combat elder abuse in all forms; enhanced the new horizons for seniors program by providing an additional $10 million to promote volunteerism, mentorship and the social participation of seniors; and of course introduce tougher legislation for those who abuse seniors.
Having been in business and development my entire life, leading trade missions across the globe, I am particularly proud of our Conservative record in supporting small business. Whereas the opposition wants to drown small business owners with costly and redundant red tape, our government recognizes the crucial role that small business plays in the diversity and vitality of our Canadian economy.
Part of our government's principled, long-term vision is supporting opportunities for growth and long-term prosperity. We have increased direct financial support for business innovation through the National Research Council, the Canadian innovation commercialization program, and the industrial research and development intern program
Our job-creating hiring credit for small business benefited 534,000 employers in the last year alone. We have increased the small business limit to $500,000 and decreased the small business tax rate from 12% to 11%.
It is clear from these examples and the additional contents of our economic action plan 2012 that our Conservative government remains committed to making principled and necessary long-term commitments on behalf of Canadians for the benefit of Canadians.
I am rather disturbed that the only consistent argument put forward by the NDP is that this is an omnibus bill that should be reduced in size and broken up. I have news for the opposition: while we may be enjoying a fragile recovery, many Canadians have suffered in the recession and many continue to suffer.
Canadians need principled leadership now. Canadians chose a Conservative majority in 2011 because they knew and understood who would get the job done. Canadians understand that it is only Conservatives who have the intestinal fortitude to get the job done. This government will not take the easy way out. We will continue to fight for the benefit of Canadians now and in the long term.
While the NDP is continually focused on a $21 billion job-killing carbon tax, enforcing costly bureaucratic redundancy or prescribing the enforcement of the Migratory Birds Convention Act as solutions to reviving the manufacturing sector, it is our government that continues to deliver principled results.
It is no surprise that the opposition is so anti-growth, anti-business and anti-entrepreneur. Its solution to everything is to just throw money at it. A good look at Europe will show how those socialist policies turn out.
Frankly, I do not think the opposition believes in the capacities of Canadians and the potential of Canada. Opposition members consistently spout and defend divisive rhetoric. Even the Liberals, like the member for Papineau, believe that if someone is not from a specific part of the country, he or she is not fit to govern.
Our economic action plan 2012 is for the benefit of Canadians. It was tailored in consultation with Canadians from coast to coast to coast and is proving to be a sound fiscal framework. Canadians need to realize their full potential and live their lives how they want to live them.
Our economic action plan 2012 will deliver growth, jobs and long-term prosperity. I encourage the opposition to support it. I encourage them to believe in Canadians and national unity in Canada.