Mr. Speaker, before I begin to address the budget this afternoon, I would like to take a moment to thank the constituents in my beautiful riding of Saint Boniface for putting their faith in me to represent them as their member of Parliament. It is an honour to be their representative here in Ottawa, and it is a responsibility I take very seriously.
I would also like to thank all the wonderful volunteers who dedicated hundreds of hours to my campaign last fall to ensure that Saint Boniface had the representation from a member who is committed to listening to their needs.
Finally I want to take a moment to thank my husband, Bruce, and our five children, Jason, Tracy, Jamie-Lee, Michael and Randi Sue, for believing in me and supporting me in my quest to make positive change in our community. Seeking public office is a decision that is made with a great deal of consideration. It is a huge commitment on the part of one's family. I could not stand here today in the House of Commons without the support of my family.
Saint Boniface is a magnificent region where the people are welcoming and warm. It has a rich history and a vibrant culture. However, Saint Boniface has also been affected by the international economic crisis and it is my responsibility to protect its interests and secure our future.
These are extraordinary times, and Canada is being negatively affected by the global recession that originated in the United States. Our government's first priority is and has always been to protect Canada during this uncertain, tumultuous time.
Canada's economic action plan, budget 2009, presented proudly by the Minister of Finance, is the culmination of weeks of consultations with Canadians across the country. Our members of Parliament have worked diligently to solicit advice and input from Canadians in every walk of life, every community, every industry and every level of government. The Minister of Finance's team crossed the country and consulted widely with some of the leading economic and financial minds in Canada, not just the people on Bay Street or the car manufacturers in southern Ontario, but everyone from coast to coast to coast.
I myself met with community leaders and constituents and everyday Canadians in my riding of Saint Boniface. They are concerned about the future of our country if action is not taken immediately, yet at the same time they feel a sense of confidence in knowing that the Prime Minister and our Conservative government are the ones to see us through this uncertain time.
We know that since last fall, the global economic situation has deteriorated further and faster than anyone could have predicted. That is why our government is taking immediate action.
You are all aware that we are in the midst of a global economic crisis and that our country will not go unscathed. Canadians want the government to make investments, reduce taxes and protect the most vulnerable.
As a former police sergeant, I know that people need to feel protected and to be reassured. That is why, after undertaking unprecedented consultations of citizens across the country, our government tabled an economic action plan to stimulate the economy and protect Canadians.
In Canada's economic action plan, we are focusing on immediate stimulus to help those hit hardest by the global recession. We are supplying extra support to those who have lost their jobs. We are helping families and stimulating consumer spending. We are protecting jobs and supporting businesses, and we are also helping to ensure that there is access to financing for those businesses. We are taking immediate action to build infrastructure.
A wide and diverse array of officials, commentators and organizations across Canada are applauding the federal budget as a positive plan to address current global economic challenges while helping secure Canada's long-term growth and prosperity.
I would like to take some time to underline some of the aspects of the economic action plan that will deliver significant impacts for my riding of Saint Boniface and for Manitoba.
We will receive our share of $4.5 billion over two years for infrastructure projects such as road, water and sewer system upgrades across the province. Our action to build infrastructure will accelerate payments up to $75 million over two years for additional infrastructure projects.
We are taking action to reduce taxes and freeze EI rates by providing the people and businesses of Manitoba with tax relief of $699.1 million over the next five years and providing billions to keep EI rates low for 2009-10.
Our action with income tax relief will provide Manitobans with $340.2 million through the form of increases in the basic personal amount and the upper limits of the two lowest personal income tax brackets, and $55.4 million through raising the income thresholds at which the national child benefit supplement and the base benefit of the Canada child tax benefit are phased out. This is providing up to $436 for a family with two children.
We will also provide $71.9 million through a $1,000 increase in the age credit amount, effective in 2009, which will help eligible low- and middle-income seniors by providing up to $150 of additional federal income tax relief each year.
There is $31.4 million in support for first-time homebuyers through the $5,000 first-time homebuyers' tax credit to assist first-time homebuyers with the costs associated with the purchase of a home.
We are taking action to stimulate housing construction by providing billions to stimulate construction for companies such as the Ladko Company in my riding and to enhance energy efficiency.
My constituents are already excited about the new home renovation tax credit that will provide up to $1,350 per homeowner and will benefit Manitoba homeowners by up to $150 million over two years.
My constituents in Saint Boniface and Manitoba will also benefit from initiatives including a share of $2 billion to support deferred maintenance and repair projects at post-secondary institutions such as the Collège universitaire de Saint-Boniface.
Art and culture have always been important to the various communities in Manitoba. I am proud to say that the economic plan put forward by the Conservative government meets these needs by proposing investments of more than $246 million in arts and culture programs and the tourist industry in Canada.
We will continue to receive growing federal transfer payments in 2009-10 that will total $3.6 billion, an increase of $88 million from last year and a $782 million increase over what the former Liberal government provided. Manitoba will see growing health and social transfers to help the province pay for vital health care at hospitals such as the St. Boniface General Hospital and for the educational and social services families depend on.
Canada's economic action plan responds to these uncertain times by providing significant stimulus to the economy to help protect and create jobs, to support families by cutting taxes and to prepare our country for success in the years ahead with meaningful investments.
To conclude, the economic action plan put forward by our government addresses the challenges that await us.
It provides short-term measures to stimulate the economy and ensure long-term benefits. This is vital to the community of Saint Boniface and also to the rest of Canada. We have managed to find a balance by putting money directly back into the pockets of citizens and making investments.
I am confident that, with this plan, Canadians, especially in my riding of Saint Boniface, will be able to get through these difficult economic times.
We have listened to Canadians. We have provided a plan. We are working to restore confidence. Our action is immediate, and we are bringing hope for a bright future to Canadians from coast to coast.