Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to discuss this important issue.
The automotive industry in North America is facing major challenges due to the worldwide economic downturn. The automotive sector is a key component of the Canadian economy. More than 2 million vehicles were assembled in Canada in 2008. The auto industry employed over 140,000 workers directly, with another 230,000 in the aftermarket sector. It also provided employment at more than 30,000 service and repair shops across the country.
As for the aftermarket sector, according to data shared by automotive consultant, Dennis DesRosiers, the average age of vehicles on the road in 2008 was over eight years and it is estimated that over the course of a vehicle's life it will accumulate $14,000 in aftermarket repairs and service. The demand for aftermarket services is forecast at $19.2 billion in 2010.
The government agrees with the idea that all aftermarket service providers should have access to the diagnostic information on the fleet of vehicles on Canada's roads and highways. However, the way in which the bill attempts to achieve this is flawed in a number of ways, ranging from jurisdictional questions to the issues of intellectual property and vehicle security.
I want to reassure Canadians that the federal government is committed to fostering a fair, equitable and competitive marketplace, while balancing this with our duty to protect consumer interests.
I will jump right into the crux of the matter that has brought this proposed legislation before us. Independent aftermarket service providers want the manufacturers to provide them with the same information they provide their dealerships. They say that failure to do so threatens the long term competitiveness of the independents. On the other hand, many car makers tend to believe they already share the necessary information for their customers and legislating beyond this affects their dealer networks.
Dealers also have concerns about this issue. They believe that this information sharing will cut into their revenues. In fact, the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association, which represents some 3,500 dealers in Canada, opposes legislation on this issue.
The government is working overtime with the auto industry, affected provinces and related stakeholders. A thriving, successful auto industry in Canada means a thriving, successful parts industry and a thriving, successful aftermarket industry. We cannot have one without the other.
We will always have an auto aftermarket industry, even if the assembly business is scaled back. However, a healthy aftermarket starts with a healthy economy. The federal government has a broad approach to assisting the auto sector here in Canada that is built on four key measures: continuing to sustain a fiscal and economic framework that keeps the industry competitive; supporting an integrated North American auto sector; investing in automotive research; and investing through our new automotive innovation fund.
Through Advantage Canada, our long term economic plan and recent budgets, the government is promoting long term investment, innovation and job creation across all sectors of the Canadian economy, including the auto sector. The government has provided more than $1 billion in tax relief for the automotive industry sector through lower federal corporate taxes and higher write-offs for investment in machinery and equipment.
In total, over the six-year period, including 2008-09, the government will have provided more than $12 billion in tax relief to the manufacturing sector. In the recent economic action plan, the government extended the temporary 50% accelerated capital cost allowance rate. This applies to investments in manufacturing or processing machinery and equipment that are undertaken in 2010-11, enabling manufacturers' investments in productivity-enhancing machinery and equipment.
Second, the government is supporting an integrated North American auto sector by increasing the compatibility of automotive regulations with the U.S. and continuing to improve border security and access. Improvements to the Windsor-Detroit crossing remain a priority, where 40% of Canada's commerce with the United States passes across a single, privately-owned bridge that was built in 1928. The goal is to have a new crossing by 2013.
Third, the government is investing in science and technology. Overall, Canada's economic action plan provides for more than $1.5 billion toward science and technology initiatives.
The government is allocating $200 million over two years to the National Research Council industrial research assistance program to enable it to temporarily expand its initiatives for small and medium size companies.
The government has already set aside $34 million per year for new research through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, targeting the needs of key industries, such as the auto sector.
In addition, $23.2 million in federal support has been committed for the auto 21 network of centres of excellence in support of more than 260 researchers and 500 students working on 41 auto-related R and D projects.
Science research and experimental development tax incentive policies and procedures have also been aligned with current business practices to encourage even more business investment.
As a fourth pillar, the government established the $250 million automotive innovation fund, supporting strategic, large scale R and D projects. The automotive innovation fund will help the auto industry retool for a new environmentally conscious fuel efficient age.
We have an integrated North American market and Americans have stopped buying cars. Some are deciding not to buy due to the slowdown in the U.S. economy. With credit markets frozen, those who do want to buy cars do not have access to competitive financing to purchase or lease vehicles, thus further reducing sales. This has led to a serious liquidity crisis for U.S. automakers.
Canada's economic action plan increases Canada's account limit from $13 billion to $20 billion to ensure the government has the capacity to directly provide credit and meet the financing requirements of business and strategic hard-hitting sectors of the Canadian economy.
Canada's economic action plan has also committed the government to creating a $12 billion Canadian secured credit facility to improve credit availability for consumers to purchase and lease new vehicles. This will help dealerships move cars off their lots and renew demand for the production of vehicles.
The Government of Canada has two established financing instruments that are available to the automotive sector, Export Development Canada, EDC, and the Business Development Bank of Canada, BDC. I would also like to add that both the federal and Ontario governments confirmed their overall commitment to ensuring the viability of the automotive industry by making up to $4 billion in short-term interim loans available to both GM and Chrysler while they continue to restructure their long-term business plans.
Last week the governments of Canada and Ontario provided General Motors of Canada an interim loan of $500 million. We also recently provided funding to Chrysler as part of the holistic approach we have adopted for the industry to enable it to restructure toward a viable, sustainable future. We asked for a significant commitment from all stakeholders, and we are pleased they made the tough decisions necessary to put the company on a more steady footing. A new restructuring plan, including new labour agreements with the CAW as well as completion of a deal with Fiat, gives us the assurances needed to commit taxpayer dollars to help Chrysler--