Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to this very important legislation. Before I begin, I would like to indicate that a few members of the House were part of the cohort of 2009 that was elected. Not too long before today was the fourth anniversary. I believe a few of them are here, so I wish to congratulate the member for Winnipeg North and the member for Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette.
Bill C-43 is at an important stage where we will soon see it come into law. The legislation builds on the very strong foundation that has been laid this year and over the past almost nine years. We are continuing on a portfolio of initiatives that have been introduced, such as affordable measures to create jobs, promote growth and support long-term prosperity. This key strategy is working. It is creating jobs, it is keeping the economy growing and, perhaps most important now that our economy is going in the right direction, we are returning to a balanced budget in 2015.
Since we introduced the economic action plan to respond to the global recession of 2008, we have created nearly 1.2 million net new jobs since the depth of that recession. When I say “we”, I mean the private sector. The government can only help the economy, but it is the businesses that are the employers. Thankfully, due to all those hard-working entrepreneurs, we have one of the strongest job creation records in the entire G7 during that period.
I would like to highlight some of the outcomes of our economic action plan. According to KPMG, total business tax costs in Canada are in fact the lowest in the G7, at 46% lower than those in the United States of America. Let us not forget that we are starting to see some large American corporations choose to do business in Canada and, quite frankly, I support that. Even if it is not necessarily a burger of choice of mine, I will still buy that product.
What is more, Canada leapt from sixth place to second place in Bloomberg's rankings of the most attractive destination for business. Both the IMF and the OECD still expect Canada to be among the strongest-growing economies in the G7 over this year and the next. For the seventh year in a row, the World Economic Forum has rated Canada's banking system the world's soundest. It is true that it is very conservative, and during the boom times of the late 1990s and the early 2000s, perhaps it did not lend out as much money as some other countries, but that policy sure kept it in good stead when 2008 hit.
All the major credit rating agencies accord Canada a top AAA rating with a stable outlook, a rating shared by very few countries. A recent New York Times study found that after-tax middle-class incomes in Canada, substantially behind in the year 2000, now appear to be higher than in the United States. In fact is that the Canadian middle class is among the wealthiest in the developed world.
The federal tax burden is at its lowest in over 50 years. Remember that we have removed more than one million low-income Canadians from the tax rolls. The average family of four saves nearly $3,400 this year. A small business earning $500,000 now saves over $28,000 in corporate taxes thanks to our low tax philosophy. It is clear that Canada has become an international success story.
However, Canada is still not immune to the global economic challenges beyond our border. Our government has been adamant that as long as Canadians are still looking for jobs, our work is not done.
With that, let me highlight three measures that are helping small businesses as well as ensuring Canadians are first in line for new jobs.
Bill C-43 would implement our recently announced small business job credit, which would save small employers more than $550 million over 2015 and 2016. It would also lower EI payroll taxes by 15%. This is real money that a small business can use to help defray the cost of hiring new workers and to take advantage of emerging economic opportunities, supporting growth and job creation.
That is not all. The legislation builds on our support for small businesses and entrepreneurs by reducing barriers to the international and domestic flow of goods and services. This measure will promote job creation and improve the conditions for business investment.
I am very proud of our government's achievements as it works to prepare the workforce of tomorrow.
Economic action plan 2014 includes training for students and focuses federal investments in youth employment in high demand fields. It also supports young entrepreneurs through mentoring. Students participating in Canada's education system are the largest source of new workers. Providing them with the right skills is essential to furthering the country's economic prospects.
In 2011-12, more than half a million Canadians received direct financial support from the Canada student loans program to help them pursue their post-secondary education. Over $2.4 billion in loans were provided and over 336,000 students obtained a total of $640 million in Canada student grants.
In my role as chair of the post-secondary caucus for our government, I have met with many student groups and all of them have universally said that this program is far superior to the millennium scholarship fund.
Canada places at the top of the OECD rankings in terms of post-secondary educational payment, thanks in part to these federal supports for students. However, more can be done to ensure young Canadians receive the training they need to realize their full potential.
That is why we have not only reached out to students in a broad, general way, but we have also helped other organizations that are focused on first nations and aboriginal learners. I would like to highlight Indspire, a wonderful program that is led by Roberta Jamieson, and you know her quite well, Mr. Speaker. This program has succeeded where government has not in the past. By helping this organization fund more students, we are seeing more first nation learners than ever before. I would like to again congratulate her for all the work she has done over the years and I look forward to seeing this program continue to receive funding.
The government invests over $330 million annually in programming for youth through the youth employment strategy, which provides skills development and work experience for youth at risk, summer students and recent post-secondary graduates.
Economic action plan 2014 announced that our government would improve the youth employment strategy to align it with the evolving realities of the job market. This process would also ensure federal investments in youth employment, providing young Canadians with real life work experience in high demand fields such as science, technology, energy, engineering, mathematics and the skilled trades.
Although Canada boasts high levels of post-secondary achievement, the transition to a first job can be very challenging. Youth graduates often lack opportunities to gain the workplace experience and skills necessary to find and retain jobs. In addition, too many Canadian graduates find themselves unemployed or underemployed, while employers are searching for workers.
Recognizing these challenges, our government proposes to strengthen youth programming by dedicating $40 million toward supporting up to 3,000 full-time internships for post-secondary graduates in high demand fields in 2014 and 2015-16.
This has also in part been inspired by some of the work that has been done over the years by the Mitacs organization, which has helped deliver internships for science post-grads and post-grad engineers into the technology sector, and that has been very successful.
We have been supportive of not only the private sector in helping it employ more individuals, but bringing students into the private sector so they can gain that world experience they need to further their career, and also essentially become an important contributor to our economy and help pay the taxes that support all the programs that benefit Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
I look forward to any questions my colleagues might have.