Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my hon. colleague from Kootenay—Columbia.
Today I will talk about four things. I will talk about ships, storms, rocks, and plotting a course in budget 2015. To put this simply, budget 2015 puts Canada firmly on a new course. Not only does it balance the books, but it also provides us with hope and optimism about our future, and it steers us to success. It is a huge, positive sign on Canada's economic horizon. It puts the wind in our sails as a country.
Let us agree that there is no doubt the financial crisis of 2008 was a setback. It was a setback that tested the entire world, along with this Conservative government, and one that left many Canadians nervous. They have been thinking more about their futures and what their government is doing to ensure that they can continue to work and financially support themselves, their families, their children and their aging parents, both now and into the future.
Our federal Conservative government was tested in this financial crisis, and I am very proud to say that it came out with glowing colours, with the best job growth of the entire G7 and the envy of much of the world. How did we do that? We implemented rolling efficiency audits in all federal departments to expertly pare costs, and we rolled out a generous infrastructure spending program to bolster job growth and to take Canada to safe waters. Today with this budget, we are pulled into port.
It is important for Canadians to know that many other countries, such as Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain, have ended up on the rocks. Canadians today can enjoy peace of mind knowing that their government is focused on their prosperity and our country's economic growth and stability. This government has expertly guided us through the tempest and is now plotting a course for our $1.9 trillion economy to an even brighter future.
Let me tell the House some examples of what this Conservative government has done to keep its promise to balance the budget and what our sights are set on. We have focused on creating 1.2 million net new jobs, being financially responsible and eliminating government red tape. We have steadily reduced the deficit as a per cent of gross domestic product year after year since the crisis, and we have brought back a surplus, a $1.4 billion surplus.
That is exactly what my constituents in Calgary Centre have been asking for. They know why balanced budgets are so important, because governments can then provide them with many of the benefits and enhanced services to live comfortable and healthy lives, all without mortgaging their future and without mortgaging the future of their children, because mortgaging the future of their kids is simply not acceptable to Canadians, and so is raising their taxes unacceptable.
Contrary to the Liberals' plans, our Conservative government has cut taxes for families, for seniors, for every single Canadian. We have cut taxes over 180 times since coming into office, and we have brought federal tax down to its lowest level in 50 years.
Canadians also know that a responsible government needs to manage its money like they manage their personal finances, and we are doing that with our balanced budget legislation. Because we will not be piling on more interest payments, this balanced budget actually will allow us to increase our support to a typical Canadian family to $6,600 per family per year by increasing the universal child care benefits and others they receive.
We have changed the rules so seniors do not have to take money out of their tax-protected RRIFs. If they do not need it, they can leave the money in there a little longer. If they need to upgrade their homes to stay living independently, or if they need to hire a caregiver, they can also earn tax credits.
To kick-start job creation, this budget will further reduce the tax rate for small business from 11% to 9% by 2019. To boost manufacturing jobs and support continued investment in machinery and equipment, constituents in my riding have been asking for an accelerated capital cost allowance to defer taxes in the liquefied natural gas area until it is making money. We have done that.
Members of the NDP are touting a plan for job creation in their mail-outs that sounds an awful lot like ours. We are glad they like it, but perhaps they should be crediting their source. If they had consulted a copy of economic action plan 2015, they would know that this Conservative government is already way ahead of them on creating jobs.
This budget proposes to further harmonize apprenticeship training and certification requirements so that trades professionals can have their credentials recognized in all Canadian provinces and can move from province to province, if need be, to get a job.
I now want to tack over to the west and focus on how this budget specifically benefits the people of Alberta and those in my constituency of Calgary Centre.
To ensure that they continue to live healthy lives, this government is increasing federal transfer payments to record levels by investing $5.5 billion this year alone for health and social services in Alberta. That is $3.2 billion more than were invested in Alberta under the Liberal government.
Looking out to the horizon, by balancing the budget now and in the future, we know that we will be able to continue to deliver on our promise to continue to increase health care transfers by 3% per year, plus inflation, this year and into the future. The people in my riding of Calgary Centre also depend on public transit, roads and highways, to get their families from home to work, to school, to get the services they need and also to move goods. That is why we have dramatically increased infrastructure investments to an all-time high. The building Canada plan is the largest and longest infrastructure plan in Canadian history, and Alberta will see more than $3.2 billion in dedicated federal funding over the next 10 years. This is for building roads, bridges, light rail, recreational facilities and flood mitigation projects.
I met last weekend with my provincial counterpart in Alberta and I know that this funding will be very welcome. It will help the province deal with the shock of low oil prices. I am also encouraging the province and city council to make flood mitigation a priority with these funds.
Public transit is also high on the list. This budget introduces a new public transit fund that will dedicate $750 million over two years to major city transit projects starting in 2017-18 and up to $1 billion thereafter. That is a very significant step that the Federation of Canadian Municipalities lauded by saying that this is good news and “has the potential to be transformative for public transit across this country”.
The budget also includes environmental measures that demonstrate to Canadians that we are hearing them, that we are listening and we can continue to develop our resources sustainably. Americans have been aggressively developing their oil and gas industry south of the border and they will not be needing as much of ours. Therefore, to continue to support the thousands and thousands of Canadians who work in the oil and gas industry, we need to be able to get our products to markets in other countries. This budget provides $80 million over five years to the National Energy Board to contribute to safety and environmental protection and engage Canadians with new energy transportation infrastructure, such as pipelines that are being proposed. I am proud to tell Canadians we are listening to their concerns regarding the safe transport of oil and gas.
As a member of the Standing Committee on Natural Resources, I worked on drafting Bill C-46, the pipeline safety act, that reinforces the polluter pay principle. It requires companies operating pipelines to be responsible for $1 billion in liability for any incident without proving fault.
This June marks the second anniversary of the southern Alberta floods and it is a month that keeps many of my constituents on edge. It is a stark reminder of the costliest natural disaster in Canadian history. It also took a huge emotional toll. In addition to our infrastructure program which has been open to being used for flood mitigation, we have also introduced a $200 million national disaster mitigation program that will help fund flood mapping to allow for the introduction of residential flood insurance in Alberta and Canada.
Finally, this budget reaffirms our Conservative government's commitment to ensuring that low-income families and vulnerable Canadians have access to affordable housing, with $2.3 billion every year for the next four years. A few weeks ago, I helped open 1010 Centre, a groundbreaking housing first affordable housing facility in my riding, Canada's largest permanent supported housing initiative. It was a very heartwarming and moving ceremony. I heard one resident, Darren, say, “Now I feel like I have a real fighting chance”.
While the opposition chooses to focus on snippets of our government's actions or programs it would find fault with, I ask Canadians to look at the whole picture. We are discussing a balanced budget not by chance, but because this government plotted and planned, and led us to where we are today. With the expert leadership of Stephen Harper at the helm, the budget we present to the House today is the package that will give Canadians and their children the prosperous future they deserve, signed, sealed, delivered.