Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to have the opportunity to comment on another great budget from a strong, stable, majority Conservative government.
The budget has been described in my community as centrist, cautious, keeping old promises as well as making new ones, and at times surprisingly compassionate.
The first budget of Minister of Finance, the first balanced one since the great recession of 2008, provides substantial benefits to many Canadians. The budget helps seniors by giving them more flexibility and withdrawals from retirement income funds, and a new tax credit to make homes more accessible. Seniors will also benefit from the new $10,000 contribution limit for a tax-free savings account, as well as new help for people caring for seriously ill relatives.
Families with children will receive improvements for the universal child care benefit and the child care expense deduction, in addition to the previously announced family tax cut. There is help for post-secondary students seeking loans through the Canada student loans program.
To stimulate the economy, the budget offers tax breaks for small business, investment incentives to manufacturers and new infrastructure spending. There will also be more money spent on security measures, both in Canada and abroad.
Despite losing $6 billion in anticipated revenue due to plunging oil prices, the government squeezed out a small surplus in this budget. Now the question is how can we boost the economy? I can tell the House, further deficits are not the answer. No one knows how long such deficits would have to continue, meanwhile increasing debt charges continue to drain economic resources.
The Conservative government promised to balance the budget, and it did. We promised to save money for taxpayers, and we have. We said that we would improve the quality of the lives of people, and we did. We said that we would protect Canadians from security threats and defend democratic values against totalitarian states and terrorist groups, and that is exactly what we are doing. Promises made; promises kept.
Economic action plan 2015 emphasizes supporting Canada's families through tax relief and benefits. Here are some important measures: increasing the tax-free savings account contribution limit to $10,000; introducing the family tax cut to allow a higher income spouse to transfer taxable income to his spouse in a lower tax bracket; tax relief of up to $2,000 per family for couples with children under the age of 18; increasing and expanding the universal child care benefit to provide every family in Canada with $2,000 per year per child under the age of six, and $720 per year per child between the ages of 6 and 17; increasing the child care expense deduction limit by $1,000; doubling the child fitness tax credit to $1,000 and making it refundable; renewing the mandate of the Canadian Mental Health Commission for another 10 years to help tackle mental health issues that affect some Canadian families; and enhancing support for child advocacy centres across Canada to deliver community based programs helping children and families recover from victimization.
Over 11 million Canadians are currently earning tax-free income in their tax-free savings accounts, saving for a down payment on a home, for their kids education or for their retirement. In 2011, the Prime Minister promised to double the contribution limit of the tax-free savings account once the budget was balanced, another promise kept.
The opposition threatens to reverse this increase, claiming it only benefits the rich. However, the Department of Finance has shown that the vast majority of maximum contributors are low to middle-income earners, and many are seniors. It is little wonder that the Canadian Association of Retired Persons strongly endorses the increases to the TSFA limit.
Here are some interesting statistics that contradict the assertion that such measures only benefit the very wealthy. Almost 60% of TSFA maximisers make less than $60,000 per annum. Just under half of TSFA maximisers, 46% of them are seniors. Overall, 80% of the 11 million Canadians who hold tax-free savings accounts have incomes of less than $80,000, and 50% have incomes less than $42,000. All of them will benefit from an increase in the limit.
These measures do not involve taking money from the government, as some oppositions members claim. These measures simply ensure that hard-working families across the country get to keep more of their own money.
The family tax cut will permit a higher-earning spouse to transfer taxable income to a lower tax bracket spouse. Tax relief is capped at $2,000 for couples with children under 18.
Now the opposition asserts that income splitting only benefits 15% of Canadian families, but two things are misleading about that assertion.
First, 15% of Canadian families represent approximately two million households. Any single tax measure that provides relief to two million households is extremely far-reaching. The NDP's proposed child care measure by contrast would benefit only half of this number of Canadians, and that does not even take into account the grandparents who will see the benefit of this in their children's families.
Beyond even that, the Parliamentary Budget Officer found that middle and middle-high income households would benefit most from income splitting. Most of the tax relief would be provided to middle-income families. More than one million families, representing 83% of those earning between $60,000 and $120,000, would qualify for the family tax cut.
Instead of calculating income on an individual basis, the family tax cut would provide moderate relief based on household income, widely accepted as the fairest measure of any family's resources. This is a question of fairness. Families with the same income should be taxed at the same rate. The current system forces some families, which are exactly equal to others, to pay significantly more in taxes, and that is simply unfair. The family tax cut would solve this problem.
Another important facet of economic action plan 2015 is its emphasis on manufacturing as a key engine for the Canadian economy, and this is good news for my residents of Kitchener Centre and Waterloo region. In this budget, the government has delivered an incentive for manufacturers, which provides them with an accelerated capital cost allowance to spur continued investment in required equipment. This measure alone is expected to reduce federal taxes for manufacturers in Ontario by $473 million over the period of 2016 to 2020.
The government's new economic action plan would create an automotive supplier innovation program to deliver $100 million worth of support over five years for automotive part suppliers. The government will also develop a national aerospace supplier development initiative, a made-in-Canada solution, working with industry and government stakeholders, to aid aerospace firms.
Manufacturing is also be assisted by the most ambitious pro-export plan in our country's history so Canadian businesses can pursue global opportunities. Since 2006, the Conservative government has concluded free trade agreements with 38 countries, compared to just five before taking office. Canadian exporters will soon have preferential access to more than half the global marketplace. Opening up new markets is just one of the many ways this government is fostering growth and job creation for Canadians.
As members can see, economic action plan 2015 builds on Conservative government strategies that have helped the Canadian economy emerge stronger and more quickly than any other G7 nation from the worst global recession in over 80 years. That is why every member of the House should support Bill C-59.