Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to thank the member for Newmarket—Aurora for sharing her time with me. Also, since this is my first time speaking this fall session, I would like to welcome back all of my colleagues and wish them the very best as we continue serving Canadians in this very august chamber.
As hon. members can see from the debate today, our government clearly recognizes the vital role that small businesses play in spurring economic growth and creating jobs for hard-working Canadians. That is why we have consistently cut taxes and reduced red tape for small businesses.
It is under this government that Canadian businesses have seen savings of more than $60 billion since 2008. In 2012, we lowered corporate taxes from 22% to 15%, leaving more money in the pockets of small businesses to help them grow and thrive. We also extended the temporary accelerated capital cost allowance for manufacturing and processing machinery and equipment through 2015, which has enabled companies in this industry to plan and invest for the future.
Both of these actions are part of our government's commitment to foster job creation, a commitment underpinned by a firm belief in keeping taxes low for Canadian businesses. Unfortunately for Canadians, both of these actions were also voted against by the same opposition that brought today's motion forward.
This government's commitment to tax relief has delivered real benefits to our country. Canada now has the lowest overall tax rate on new business investment in the G7. Moreover, Bloomberg recently ranked Canada as the second-best place in the world to grow and start a business. That is a record we can and should be proud of.
Unlike the reckless calls by the opposition to drastically hike taxes on businesses to pay for their risky spending plans, our government will remain committed to helping businesses in Canada succeed. That is why we are building on our success by introducing the new small business job credit. The credit is expected to significantly help over 780,000 small businesses in 2015, which is more than the number of businesses that benefited from the 2013 hiring credit.
In addition, while the amount of the EI hiring credit was capped at $1,000, there is no maximum capping for the small business job credit. In fact, small businesses could receive significantly more tax relief under the job credit than under the EI hiring credit. All in all, the small business job credit is expected to save small businesses more than $550 million and lead to the creation of several thousand jobs.
In contrast, the opposition have supported a 45-day work year that would drastically increase premiums by 35% at a cost of $4 billion directly out of the pockets of Canadian employees and employers. Instead of providing small businesses with the tax relief they need to spur job creation, this burden would cause needless harm to important job creators in Canada.
Our government is constantly looking for ways to help create jobs and better connect Canadians with those available jobs. Indeed, many employers continue to identify the shortage of skilled labour as an impediment to growth. Recently, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce listed skills shortages as the number one barrier to Canada's competitiveness. I know first-hand about challenges like this as many skilled labourers from my own riding of Sarnia—Lambton are looking outside of my community for work right now, which represents a drain of skilled labour from an area that drastically needs it.
Faced with this challenge, our government has taken concrete action to support the development of a skilled, mobile and productive workforce. Last year alone, our government transferred $2.7 billion to the provinces and territories to support labour market programming.
Moreover, we have also remained committed to fostering internship opportunities for Canada's youth. In economic action plan 2014, we invested $40 million towards supporting up to 3,000 internships across the country in high-demand fields. In addition, we are reallocating $15 million annually within the youth employment strategy to support up to 1,000 full-time internships for recent post-secondary graduates in small and medium-sized enterprises.
All the while, we are continually improving our strategy to better align it with the evolving realities of the job market and to ensure federal investments in youth employment provide young Canadians with real-life work experience in high-demand fields such as science, technology, engineering, mathematics and the skilled trades.
At the other end of the spectrum, our government also recognizes that many older Canadians want to remain active participants in the workforce. That is why we have taken many steps over the years to support the labour market participation of older Canadians, including the budget 2011 extension of the targeted initiative for older workers and the budget 2012 expansion of third-quarter project, an initiative that has helped more than 1,200 experienced workers who are over 50 find a job that matches their skills.
Going forward, our government will renew the targeted initiative for the older workers program for a three-year period, representing a federal investment of $75 million.
These are all important measures, measures which have helped to ensure that Canada has had the best record of job creation in the G7 since our government came to office.
The real game changer in our efforts to connect Canadians with available jobs has to be the introduction of the Canada job grant. By ensuring that federal funding responds to the hiring needs of employers and by giving them the opportunity to participate meaningfully as partners in skills training, this initiative is transforming skills training in Canada.
The Canada job grant could provide up to $15,000 to individuals for training costs, including tuition and training materials, helping them to gain the skills they need to succeed. Once implemented, this measure will offer real support to Canadians toward improved employment and earning prospects.
While our government remains focused on creating jobs, we hear the same tired strategies from the opposition, policies that form a high-tax, high-spending agenda that would seriously threaten job creation and set hard-working families back a decade to a time when the government thought surplus belonged in its pocket and not the families.
Our government is clear in its priorities. We will cut taxes to allow businesses to thrive and we will make targeted investments to help connect unemployed Canadians with available jobs.
These are just some of the central initiatives that continue to drive our government's jobs and growth agenda. I am proud of our record and would like to thank the hon. members for providing the opportunity to discuss it here today.
By helping Canadians acquire the skills that will get them hired or help them get better jobs, we are directly investing in our country's greatest asset, our people. The return on this investment is not just helping individuals, but it is also supporting their families, their communities and the country as a whole.
Given these measures and the ones listed by my colleagues, I would strongly encourage members to reject today's unilateral and ill-considered motion brought forward by the opposition. I would encourage all members to support our government's comprehensive plan to create jobs, spur economic growth and promote long-term prosperity for all Canadians.