The House resumed consideration of the motion that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government, of the amendment and of the amendment to the amendment.
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to the budget today in this my maiden speech in the House of Commons. First, let me congratulate you on your new role in the Chair.
I thank the people of for putting their trust in me to represent them in Ottawa.
On May 2, I said that I would be taking the common sense of the common people to the House of Commons and I make that commitment to them again today.
I thank all of the volunteers who worked so hard to make my election possible. Special thanks goes to my good friend and campaign manager, Matthew Barker; my official agent, Tyler Schulz; my volunteer coordinator, Joe Verhulst; my office manager, Audrey Green; my sign manager, Jeremy Giesbrecht; and the hundreds of others who took part in ensuring we elected a Conservative in .
I also thank my wife, Lisa, and my son, Maclean, for their constant love and support. I would not be here without them. I also thank my sisters, their husbands and my mom and dad for supporting me in whatever path I have chosen, including this latest one.
I thank the many members who have taken the time and gone out of their way to let me know just how well loved Chuck Strahl was when he was in this place. As countless members have reminded me, I have big shoes to fill. And, since countless members have asked, the answer is yes I can sing too, although dad would claim he has a better and lower voice.
I thank the former member of Parliament, Grant McNally, who hired me as a young 20-year-old, and the current member for who brought me aboard as his executive assistant in 2004 and gave me the opportunity to work for him and to see firsthand how the job of an MP should be done.
is a beautiful big riding. It is 30,000 square kilometres in size. I dare say that it is the most impressive riding in all of Canada. I would invite my colleagues in this House and all Canadians to come and visit. I can assure people that if they do make it out to this great part of our great country, they will be back again and again.
It is an honour to address the budget today. As a Conservative, I campaigned on our low tax plan for jobs and growth and I am proud to see that we delivered on our campaign commitments. We promised additional funding for our most vulnerable seniors and we delivered. We promised tax credits for children's arts programs, for family caregivers, for volunteer firefighters and we have delivered. We promised to keep taxes low, something that no other party in this place campaigned on, and we have delivered.
I note that the official opposition and the Liberal Party, both in the campaign and here in debate, have reiterated their desire to increase taxes on job creators. However, I will tell members what a local non-profit organization in my riding had to say about that plan.
I will read a letter from the Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce into the record. It was sent to my predecessor, Chuck Strahl, on March 2, only three months ago. Just so that there is no confusion and no one can say that I have misconstrued the content, I will read it in its entirety. It reads,
“Dear Mr. Strahl:
“On behalf of the Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce, I am writing to you to convey the importance of protecting the prosperity of the businesses within your constituency by ensuring the government follows through on its promise to reduce business taxes.
“With government stimulus programs ending this year, the tax reductions are especially important as they will free up capital to be put to work to grow Canada's businesses and its economy. This strategy has been supported by a majority of parliamentarians in two federal budgets since its inception in 2007.
“As of Jan. 1, 2011, the federal general corporate income tax rate fell from 18 per cent to 16.5 per cent, with a further 1.5 percentage point reduction scheduled for 2012. When fully implemented, this three percentage point reduction means that in each and every year going forward, business in British Columbia will save approximately $400 million, money that can be used by businesses across the province to invest in their operations and create jobs.
“Today, some politicians are calling for these tax rate reductions to be reversed and for the government to direct the revenues to new spending. The Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce feels strongly this will constrain the job creation and investment in Chilliwack businesses. Our political leaders have to live up to the promises they have made. Businesses in Chilliwack and across the country have invested with the understanding that taxes would decline.
“A sudden change of course would constitute a broken promise to thousands of businesses and the people they employ--including members of your constituency.
“Business tax reductions are relevant to all Canadian businesses--large and small--in all regions of the country, including Chilliwack. Small business has a keen interest in this issue. Most small businesses are suppliers to bigger businesses; opportunities flow when the larger firms have the capital to buy. The alternative--rising taxes--dries up those opportunities. A vibrant large business sector leads to a strong and prosperous small business sector.
“Reducing business taxes is also an issue of vital importance to your constituents. Business taxes fall directly on families in Chilliwack-workers through lower wages, consumers in the form of higher prices for goods and services, and shareholders (including pensioners who own equity through RPPs, RRSPs and mutual funds) through lower returns.
“As my MP, I am calling on you to protect the prosperity of the businesses and families within your constituency by ensuring the government follows through on its promise to reduce business taxes. You can be sure the Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce will continue to champion for a strong economic environment that allows the businesses in our city to grow and create the jobs and opportunities that make this community a wonderful place to live and raise a family. We hope that you will actively do the same.
Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce”
This letter was not written by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, although there will be benefits all across the country. It was not written by the British Columbia Chamber of Commerce, though there are specific benefits in the budget for British Columbia. It was written by the local chamber of commerce, put on its letterhead and put on its website, because it wanted everyone to know about its position on this issue. This is an organization of small- and medium-size businesses, not the big corporations that the other side likes to talk about.
Some of the most prominent members of the Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce are also prominent members of the local federal Liberal association. Even they can see the value of having tax policies that benefit our local businesses.
Over the last two years, our government has made unprecedented investments in infrastructure right across the country, and certainly in Chilliwack--Fraser Canyon.
On May 27, I was pleased to undertake my first official duty as a member of Parliament to participate in the official opening of the new Kawkawa Lake Road Bridge in Hope, British Columbia, along with Mayor Laurie French and MLA Barry Penner, a project made possible by Canada's economic action plan.
I was pleased to see in the budget that our government is committed to working with the provinces and municipalities to deliver a long-term infrastructure program that will continue to address the needs of our communities, a move that has been applauded by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. We have also doubled the gas tax rebate and made it permanent, which will give our communities the funds and the certainty they need to invest in local infrastructure priorities.
Our budget contains even more items of importance for Chilliwack--Fraser Canyon: support for agriculture, support for the forest and mining industries and support for tourism. It contains new investments to support priorities in first nations education, child and family services, water and housing, first nations health, as well as aboriginal skills development and training. There are measures to encourage doctors and nurses to choose to serve rural communities like Lytton, Lillooet, Cache Creek and Ashcroft, to name just a few.
There is much more to say about the Conservatives' low tax plan for jobs and growth. However, I will conclude by saying that the budget is good news for Canada, good news for British Columbia and good news for the people of Chilliwack--Fraser Canyon, and I encourage members on all sides of the House to support it.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform you that I will be sharing my time with the member for .
I am pleased to be rising in the House today to speak to the 2011 budget, which was tabled this week. I would first like to thank the constituents in the beautiful riding of Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel for giving me the opportunity to represent them for the fifth time in nine years. I should add that these wins would not have been possible without the help of my family and friends. As well, I would like to congratulate all of the hon. members here in the House on their victory, especially the newly elected members, who will enjoy the experience of a lifetime.
In addition, I would like to thank all of the candidates who ran as Liberals but, unfortunately, were not elected. We appreciate their hard work, their dedication and their loyalty to the party, and we wish them better luck next time.
Some things never change, and the Conservative government's budgets are one example. They are always more of the same old, same old. There is no vision or plan for the future. My leader, the leader of the Liberal Party, hit the nail on the head yesterday when he said that the budget shows profound complacency. There is no plan for job creation, for tackling the deficit or for poverty reduction. Essentially, this budget has nothing to help ordinary Canadians who are counting on the government. Yet, the budget did not leave out the friends of the , the or the Conservative Party.
A plan for a country such as Canada would require that the federal government put in place measures in order to encourage Canadian industries to make investments in green technologies, research, innovation, education and the corresponding infrastructures that would help with the promotion of this plan.
Money should not be spent frivolously like we have seen in the past few years, where most of the stimulus money was spent on advertising, bill boards, polling and photo ops. Essentially, these sums should be invested, not spent, in strategically vital areas that would contribute to both the long-term and the short-term vitality of the Canadian economy.
Canada needs an entrepreneurial vision that promotes prosperity and equal opportunity for all Canadians. Instead, the budget revealed a lack of long-term vision and failed to present any new ideas.
Even groups representing accountants said that they would like to see more general reductions rather than targeted tax breaks, which only make Canada's fiscal and economic regime more complex and inefficient. I would even go so far as to say that, if Canada wants to establish a financial framework that promotes recovery and sustainable economic growth, the Canadian tax system definitely needs to be simpler, more competitive and more efficient.
The government must develop a credible plan to promote job creation. Granting a temporary hiring credit for small business to encourage the recruitment of new employees would be a good start. However, the regions and economic sectors that are still struggling need more than the $1,000 allocated in this budget.
This budget merely serves to confirm the Conservatives' preference for an inflexible right-wing ideology over sound, evidence-based policies, a preference that is particularly visible in the government's approach to crime, justice, the environment, the economic recovery and deficit reduction.
For example, this government wants us to believe that it is managing the public purse carefully. On the contrary, since 2006, it took the Conservative government only one year to spend the largest surplus ever accumulated in the history of Canada. It also created an enormous deficit on top of having the dubious distinction of the being the biggest spending government, year after year, in the history of Canada.
History repeats itself. Proof of this lies in the fact that the first thing the did as leader of a majority government was to increase the number of ministers. Let us not forget that, during his last mandate, he increased the spending budgets of ministers' offices; the Privy Council Office's budget has increased by almost $50 million in five years; and the 's budget increased by about 22%. This government dramatically increased advertising and public opinion research spending, which does not provide any tangible benefit to the Canadian economy but, rather, serves only to help the Conservatives get re-elected.
The Conservatives would like us to believe that they will balance the budget by 2015 but, to date, this government has got all its budget forecasts wrong. In fact, last week, the Parliamentary Budget Officer said it is unlikely that the budget will be balanced before 2017 at the earliest.
The Conservatives should never have disbanded the expenditure review committee of cabinet established by the Liberals. However, I am very pleased to note that, from time to time, they borrow the Liberals' good ideas and have announced that the committee will be restored to deal with this issue. However, no committee can replace an action plan.
This budget proposes other ideological cuts. The government is spending less money on subsidized housing than it did before the economic action plan was implemented.
There are total cuts of $300 million, with a 45% decrease in funding for first nations housing. This really is not very surprising given that their recent election platform relied on cuts that the himself could not explain. Today we see the results.
In their budget, the Conservatives are deliberately excluding low-income Canadians from certain measures, such as the caregiver tax credit and the volunteer firefighters tax credit. They are excluded by the fact that these tax credits are non-refundable and only help Canadians who have earned enough money during the year to pay taxes. I repeat, they are minimal, non-refundable tax credits that are not even available to low-income Canadians.
Furthermore, Canadian taxpayers with income of $20,000 or less, or who have a dependent—in other words, those who are most in need—are not eligible for the caregiver tax credit.
The guaranteed income supplement will be increased by approximately $50 per month for seniors. That does not even buy one cup of coffee per day. Canada will face many challenges in coming years. Canadians deserve to know what budget cuts will be made to reduce the deficit.
One of the cuts will affect the per-vote subsidies. We should not forget that the current regulations governing funding for political parties were established in order to limit the influence of big money in politics and to create a level playing field for all parties, especially small ones. We should also not forget that the Liberals are open to reforming funding for political parties, on condition that these principles are respected. No matter what changes are made, we are certain the Liberal Party will adapt and prosper. We will propose a positive, long-term vision to Canadians and will give our supporters a reason to make donations.
Speaker, I am pleased to stand today to speak to the budget. First, I want to acknowledge the support of the people of . I am honoured again to have the privilege to represent them. This is the second time they have elected me in this federal capacity. I represented part of the riding in the District of Grand Bank for 12 years, so this is a continuation of the opportunity again to represent those constituents.
is very much a rural riding. It has 180 communities and spreads from one end of the province to the other. For anyone to have some kind of understanding and appreciation for the riding, one really has to travel there. There are eight isolated communities and people can only get to them by ferry. To campaign in the riding of Random—Burin—St. George's takes a lot of effort, especially to get to the 180 very rural communities, but it is important to do so.
It is because of my riding being so rural that I have a real appreciation for the lack of jobs in those very small communities, for any kind of measure taken that would impact on the jobs or services being supplied in rural communities, especially federal services.
People think it is very easy to cut federal services in very small towns and that there really is not a lot of flak as a result of cutting a federal service in a small town. They think that a few people cannot be too much of a concern and their protests about the closure of any kind of federal facility will not have much of an impact. That is the wrong way to approach the removal of services, particularly federal services.
When I look at what is happening in the budget with respect to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, I am really surprised. I guess “disappointed” is a better word because it clearly shows that there is no appreciation or understanding for how important the fishery is to the economy of Canada, not just to Newfoundland and Labrador, the Atlantic provinces or the Pacific coast but to the entire country. Obviously, any type of realization of income from any part of the region impacts other parts of Canada.
What is being proposed for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans over three years is more than $80 million being cut. For me that is a serious issue and one that must be responded to, addressed, and brought to the attention of anyone who is willing to listen, especially the Conservative government.
It appears the Conservatives have no understanding or realization of how important the fishery is to the entire country, especially when we talk about fish as a product, source of food and protein. What really bothered me was some of the commentary around the reduction in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the blanket commentary when the government talks about trying to create more effective service and efficiencies in the system.
One line that really bothered me was that Conservatives are doing this to focus on the government's priorities. I have a real issue with that. If they are going to remove in excess of $80 million from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, my first question is, what about the priorities of the fishers and the industry? Did any consultation take place?
The Conservatives are talking about doing a strategic review, yet they have identified the amount of money that has to be removed from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. If a strategic review is going to be done and the removal of that amount of money has already been identified, at some point in time it must have been decided where that money would come from, what services would be impacted, and what jobs would be lost.
Yet, we are told that the strategic review has not even taken place, but that amount of money is going to be cut from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
That is a concern for me because it will impact on services and jobs. Cutting money from ACOA, Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, is a real issue for us in Atlantic Canada. That is our economic development engine. The money that flows through ACOA from the Conservative government, or from any government for that matter, is money that is used for economic development, especially in small communities that really do not have access to government funding in terms of grants and do not have access to money from banks. These communities look to ACOA to partner with them in terms of trying to create employment and put some infrastructure in place.
Those are serious issues that are going to impact the people in Atlantic Canada. When the government is talking about removing in excess of $31 million from ACOA, jobs are going to be impacted, people's lives are going to be impacted, and economic development is going to be impacted. Those are all serious issues.
Let us look at Marine Atlantic. Marine Atlantic services the Gulf of St. Lawrence, between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. Actually the ferry lands in my riding in Port aux Basques. Looking at that, it is really an extension of the Trans-Canada Highway. That is how we view Marine Atlantic.
When I am looking at Marine Atlantic and seeing a cut of $6.6 million over three years, clearly jobs are going to be impacted, services are going to be impacted, and yet the government does not identify what those services are going to be. What has the government done? It has created a crisis among employees who really do not know whether or not they are going to have jobs. They do not know what services are going to be impacted.
This is a serious issue for us in Newfoundland and Labrador, just as it is serious issue for the people in Nova Scotia when we consider that this is in fact an extension of our Trans-Canada Highway. Those are serious issues when that amount of money is being removed without consultation. Yet, when the government says it is going to do a strategic review, it has not consulted. How can the government just say that it is going to remove that amount of money from these particular entities? These three impact negatively on Newfoundland and Labrador.
I look at what is happening with rural post offices, another serious issue for us. Here we are looking at the hours of employees in rural post offices being cut, and yet the government says it has a moratorium on the closure of post offices in rural communities.
Well, there can be a moratorium on the closure of post offices, but in the end it will impact on the service provided if there is a reduction in the number of employees' hours. Again, what does that mean? It means that federal services are being impacted. These are serious issues.
Let us look at the marine safety sub-centre in St. John's. The government is going to move what the minister regrettably called “a call centre” to Nova Scotia. I have no problem with moving anything, but things cannot be moved without consulting, talking, and finding out if it is the right thing to do. Clearly, this is not the right thing to do.
It is a distress centre. There are 10,000 miles of coastline around Newfoundland. If we do not realize what this means in terms of moving that distress centre, the service offered through that distress centre out of Newfoundland and Labrador, then the government does not understand the importance of marine safety.
This is not about just fishers. This is about anybody who utilizes the waterways as a highway, whether it is tourists or businesses other than fishers. A lot of trade takes place. A lot of boats come into Newfoundland and Labrador. Somehow no one has taken into account the impact of going down this path on these issues.
If the government is going to look at strategic review exercises, if it is going to look at trying to find ways of saving money, for Heaven's sake it should work with those who are going to be impacted.
Because of the Conservative government, we have the largest debt in our history. We are looking at $56 billion. If we are looking at a debt of that magnitude, then the issue for us is that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador or Atlantic Canada or Canada at large did not create that debt, so the government should not put burdens on their backs to try to solve it.
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for today.
I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak about this, the most important bill Parliament passes every year.
Before going further, I would like to formally thank the people of Oakville for their confidence in electing me on May 2. Our team put together the largest percentage of the votes in Oakville since 1993, at 51.6%, which was more than all the other parties combined. I will continue to work hard in the interest of the people of Oakville in the 41st Parliament.
Outside of interest rates, which is delegated to the Governor of the Bank of Canada, the federal budget essentially creates the financial structure of our country. This budget will benefit every Canadian to one degree or another, but in particular I would like to talk about our elderly citizens and our youth.
There is no magic bullet for the economy of Canada and there is no government that can take some grand action in one year and solve all our problems. Good budgeting requires consistency and stability over years, something this government has accomplished with great discipline and by being principle based.
Investors, entrepreneurs, employers and inventors are all risk takers. They make things happen. They create jobs. They need to know the conditions under which they risk their energies, their time, their talents and their capital will be relatively stable. What many opposition members in the House do not understand, and I do not think some have ever understood, is that if these people cannot move forward with fair taxes, reasonable rules and a reasonable level of productivity, they will take their resources and they will create jobs in another country.
Canada is currently the envy of the world for a number of reasons: the stability of our banking system; the low debt to GDP ratio; and growth in our economy, which is to a large degree due to good and consistent management of credit since 2006. Not that we were timid to act to protect our economy in the worldwide recession. That recession demanded dynamic action in the 2009 budget, encompassed in Canada's economic action plan, which the official opposition of the day supported, and the benefits have been realized over two and a half years. In fact, they are still being realized with this budget and it will ensure that the growth continues.
Mostly through 2009, over about nine months, 400,000 jobs were lost. The economic action plan has now helped bring back over 540,000 new jobs, most of them full-time, since the summer of 2009.
The vast majority of the jobs were not created inside governments. The idea of continually increasing the size of governments is not sustainable. Just ask any person who has lived through what they are experiencing in Ireland, Greece or Portugal today. Those people are suffering through what was technically bankruptcy in their nations.
The jobs were created primarily by companies, small and large, that bid on 26,000 projects across Canada and built them and also by their suppliers. Therefore, a lot of these jobs were not visible. For every hour of construction, it takes four hours of planning and engineering. Thousands of planners, engineers and surveyors were employed, plus all their support staff and people at the companies that provided their facilities such as paper, computers, software. Even local restaurants had more jobs.
The economic action plan created a chain reaction of connected and dynamic synergies of economic activity across Canada, and it worked. Since July 2009, 540,000 Canadians have been able to go home and tell their families that they have a job.
Unlike many other countries, our success has been demonstrated in seven consecutive quarters of economic growth. Canada is on the threshold of a brilliant future if we remain consistent in maintaining the conditions for growth and are cautious with our spending. That is what this budget will accomplish as part of a consistent, principle-based, national financial plan since 2006. If we stay on track, the world will increasingly come to our door with investment and the jobs investment brings. The world needs what Canada has such as high-tech equipment, autos, energy, mineral wealth.
In the election we just won, Canadians told us they wanted stability and they wanted us to continue to strengthen our country. They do not want new taxes. They are burdened enough and this budget contains no new taxes. However, unemployment is still too high in Canada, and the worldwide economic problems are certainly not over.
Our American friends buy over 60% of what we produce in Canada, everything from state of the art technology, such as RIM's BlackBerry, autos, potash to paper. However, their economy is quite sluggish. For example, their real estate market is near dead and dragging them down. It is great that Americans buy Canadian products. One out of four jobs in Canada comes from trade, but we have been over-dependent on the U.S. market for decades. Our government has recognized this and the budget addresses a key problem, which is productivity.
We are also pursuing free trade with 50 other nations to expand our international customer base into the billions, including the European Union, China and India.
We are told that Canadian workers produce less than American workers. By the numbers technically that is true and has been for a long time. Why is that? We work long hours. It is because U.S. companies in the past invested in methods, machinery and technology that allowed them to produce more per worker.
Why did Canadian companies not do that? They did not have to because of the low Canadian dollar in the nineties. The government of the day was very complacent. Manufacturers simply undersold U.S. manufacturers due to the exchange rates. That competitive edge is now gone and we have to play catch up. This budget once again recognizes that by allowing businesses to purchase computers and take 100% of the cost out of their profits before paying taxes with the accelerated capital cost allowance.
The budget will also allow manufacturers to take 50% of the cost of new machinery out of potential profits on a straight line basis before paying taxes. What will that do? That will change the financial equation for hundreds of Canadian companies that will go out and buy and install state of the art machinery to become the low cost producers of the future.
The budget also keeps in place the lower corporate taxes. Every week across the U.S., Europe and the rest of the world, CEOs make decisions on where they are going to locate the next plant or facility. Along with transportation, skilled workforce and proximity to markets, tax rates are absolutely one of the key things they look at in making that decision.
Just last year the people at Tim Hortons, Canada's iconic company, decided to bring its head office back home to Oakville, Ontario from New York state because Canada's corporate taxes had gone down to 18%. However, it was not only because of that. Remember it is consistency. It is because this year the taxes will go to 16.5% and next year they will go to 15%, the lowest rate in the G8. That is just one company of hundreds more that will come back to Canada to create jobs.
Businesses live or die with long-term planning and so must government. I shudder to think what would have happened to jobs and investment in Canada if an NDP-led coalition had prevailed on May 2.
The budget preserves and builds on the conditions for a brilliant future for Canadian trade, industry, economic opportunities for my generation, but also for our youth, who deserve, in my view, unlimited opportunities in our great country.
Another issue the budget addresses because of its continuance is tax-free savings accounts.
I visited Taiwan last January. The people of Taiwan do not have employment insurance. They save 40% of everything they earn. Imagine the interest income they make on savings like that. Imagine the interest savings they have by not borrowing money to buy consumer goods like so many of us do in North America.
A key concern in Canada right now is our debt to net income ratio for the average Canadian family, which is around 1.5. It is a serious matter. While the Taiwanese save 40% of what they earn, Canadians spend, as a way of life, a lot more than they earn. We pay out a lot of money in interest.
That is why I believe in maintaining and growing tax-free savings accounts after introducing them in 2009. The long-term commitment to double the amount that Canadians over 18 years of age can save or invest within these accounts to $10,000 is incredibly important for our country.
What could be a more powerful way to encourage people to save for their priorities than stop taxing the growth in savings they get from investing back into our economy? The budget maintains tax-free savings accounts and will lead to 2015 when we will double the amount Canadians can invest in these accounts without paying tax on the interest or growth.
An 18 year old who is able to save $1,000 a year in such an account and invest it and receive a 5% return would have $61,000 at age 48. If that same 18 year old invested $3,000 a year and received 6% growth in Canadian stocks, the individual would have a quarter of a million dollars. At age 68, he or she would have close to $1 million.
We know tremendous wealth will be built in Canada for individuals and our country. It makes for a far more brilliant future for our youth and our seniors. Seniors suffer when they invest their money in GICs, for example, as half of which is taken up in inflation and the other half taken up in taxes. It is a benefit to both seniors and youth.
Mr. Speaker, I would first like to congratulate you on your re-election and of course your re-appointment to the chair. I would like to congratulate all members on their election to the House. Before I start, I would also like to thank the constituents of my riding, the great riding of , who once again, for the fourth time, placed their trust in me to represent them in the House of Commons. I really am humbled by their support and I have committed to do my very best to make sure that they are well represented here and in all the work that I undertake on their behalf.
It seems like a long time ago, because we have now had two budget presentations and an election in between, but back in January I travelled throughout my riding, meeting with constituents and discussing with them what they wanted to see in this year's federal budget. I was told in January to keep working on the economy, wind down the stimulus program, keep working on job creation and eliminate the deficit and the gun registry.
I was also told that the eastern Ontario development program needed renewed funding. Homeowners required help to retrofit their homes to help reduce their energy bills, and our most vulnerable seniors required assistance. I would like to thank the for listening to the constituents of when he developed the budget first on March 22 and of course his budget that was delivered just the other day.
The residents of my historic riding are like most other Canadians. They are hard-working, they pay their taxes, they enjoy their families, their homes and their freedom and they are concerned about the economy. They play by the rules and they expect others to do the same. Our election platform, which was based on our March budget, reflected their thoughts.
There are many items in the budget that are not only welcomed by , but they are crucial for its continued recovery. I could stand here all day and go through the budget, item by item, and explain, but my time is limited. I want to talk a little bit about a few measures in the budget that are especially crucial for the residents of .
Even before the economic downturn, my riding was suffering from a loss of manufacturing jobs. These were jobs that had been around for generations, and families in my riding had grown up knowing that those jobs were available. At the same time the Community Futures Development Corporation was established in three locations serving my riding. The Brockville area is served mostly by the Thousand Islands Community Futures Development Corporation. In Grenville county it was served by the Grenville Community Futures Development Corporation and the other part of my riding was served by the Valley Heartland Community Futures Development Corporation. These are the folks who deliver federal economic development funds at the community level. I have to say that this is a model of federal investment that works extremely well.
The CFDCs are operated by local people and governed by a local board of directors. They know what works in the area. They know what is needed in their communities and they have the business expertise to assist entrepreneurs to establish and grow their businesses. Their success stories are many.
In this year's budget there is a notation that the eastern Ontario development program will be continued with a commitment of $20 million over the next two years. This program, administered by the CFDCs, not only in my riding, but in all of eastern Ontario, has been a huge success. Tom Russell is the executive director of the program at the Thousand Island CFDC in Brockville, Heather Lawless performs the same function at the Grenville CFDC, and John Doherty at the Valley Heartland CFDC, and they have provided this brief overview.
Since its inception in 2004, the Thousand Islands CDC and the Grenville CFDC have invested almost $8 million in over 700 clients. The program provides increased access to capital for rehabilitation of vacant or underutilized commercial spaces, skills development subsidies, subsidization of expert customized business, export or marketing plans, community capacity building initiatives and incentives to attract and retain youth.
As a specific example, the EODP has played a pivotal role in developing and supporting new programs at St. Lawrence College Brockville Campus, a campus which had experienced a decline in enrolment and programming, received funding to develop and staff an art gallery which subsequently led to the creation of a performing arts program, followed by a music theatre program. These programs are now the St. Lawrence College's cornerstone, each receiving critical acclaim and each a driver in securing the future of the campus.
The college also recently received EODP support for the Centre for Training and Development. The centre identified a looming shortage of power engineers and EODP funding was provided to develop a power engineering program to address the shortage and further strengthen St. Lawrence College's efforts to be a leading training facility. Dozens of graduates already have meaningful employment that would previously have been unavailable to them.
Applications for funding for this renewed program have been lying in wait in the various CFDC offices serving my riding. With this budget we would be pleased to see it move forward.
I would also like to talk about another budget element that has been critical to job retention in . That is the work sharing program. The work sharing program helps employers maintain jobs by offering employment insurance benefits to workers who are willing to work a reduced work week while their company recovers. In my hometown of Gananoque, there was a company that took advantage of this program and people remained on the job during the economic downturn.
Many thousands of workers across Canada were able to keep their jobs during the recession because of this program, throughout my riding of and there were some right in my own hometown. I know the workers were thankful. I have heard it from them individually. In many cases these are small family-owned companies that have benefited from this program and I know they were thankful as well.
This year's budget will extend existing or terminated work sharing agreements by up to 16 weeks while the economy continues to recover and I know there are owners of manufacturing plants in my area who will be pleased to hear about this measure.
In , as in other parts of the country, we have witnessed rapidly rising energy costs which have led to cost increases for other basic items. Especially in the winter heating season, I received letters this past year in my office from vulnerable seniors who were concerned about their cost of living. It was especially critical this past winter, which of course was long and cold. This measure was met with a great deal of support in this budget, as we promised to increase the guaranteed income supplement for these, our most vulnerable seniors.
Over the last few years, I have had many representations from local volunteer firefighters wishing to see a $3,000 tax credit as a reward for their commitment. In my riding, similar to many other rural ridings, most of the firefighters are volunteers.
I want to read a quote from a local fire chief who reacted to the announcement of this credit. The quote is lengthy, but I will cover what needs to be said. This is from the Augusta Township fire chief, Rob Bowman, who is himself a volunteer firefighter. There are 40 volunteer firefighters in this township.
He said: “It's very important for volunteer firefighters. These guys and gals do a lot of work for very little money. They risk their lives. It's hard for us to recruit firefighters and keep them because of the time commitment. Volunteer firefighters must leave work at a moment's notice to respond to fires and accidents. They are also held to the same standards as professional firefighters, meaning they must spend the time training. We have to meet the same legislation, but do it after work and on weekends”.
Mr. Bowman believes “the tax credit will provide an incentive to counterbalance these drawbacks to becoming a volunteer firefighter. The credit will help offset other costs firefighters incur, such as gas in their vehicles to get to the scene of the fire or to the fire hall, and the ruined clothes they often discover after getting out of their bunker gear when their job is done”.
I think it is clear that this tax credit will be well received.
Another tax credit that is being well received is the children's arts tax credit. When our government introduced the children's fitness tax credit back in 2006, it was seen as a positive step in all of the communities in my riding. However, there are questions about arts and cultural learning experiences and why they were not recognized.
Participation in arts, cultural, recreational and developmental activities also contribute to a child's development in a positive fashion and many such programs exist in my riding. The tax credit will be provided on up to $500 of eligible fees per child under the age of 16 or age 18 if the child also qualifies for the disability tax credit. This is a positive and welcome step in my riding.
The final point I would like to raise is the firearms licence-fee waiver. Hunting is a traditional pastime in my riding. Everyone in the riding knows not to schedule a special event during the opening week of duck hunting or deer hunting. As well, farmers maintain firearms as part of their operations.
This new budget commits $20.9 million to waive firearms licence renewal fees for all classes of firearms. From May 2011 to May 2012, no firearms owner will have to pay to renew a licence. not only welcomes this, but the residents look forward to hearing more news on the firearms registry, hopefully this fall.
As I mentioned at the outset, I could go item by item about this budget until we could explain why it is so popular in Leeds—Grenville and I am pleased to have this opportunity to highlight just some of the important measures that have been taken in this budget.
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for .
I would like to congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, on your re-appointment to the Chair. The robes look good on you. It is a good fit. The tailors in the House are obviously quite skilled and congratulations on the good job you have done from the Chair.
As it is my first time rising in the House, I wish to thank the good people of in the northwest of British Columbia, an area a little larger than the country of Poland and stunning in its beauty and diversity. I am speaking not just about the natural environment, which is most impressive for any who have been to British Columbia, and people are most welcome at any time to the northwestern part of B.C. where residents know how to lay out a good table and roll out the invitation mat to all, but it is also a place diverse in its views, a place that has relied on the natural resources and wealth of our country to create economies generation after generation.
About 35% of my riding consists of first nations, representing some of the strongest and longest historical occupation of North America, more than 15,000 years, and since time immemorial for some, the Haida, the Haisla, the Tlingit, the Taku River, the Tlingit, the Tsimshian, proud nations that have learned over multiple generations to work in harmony with the environment, to produce an economy that sustains them, and in fact restores and replenishes that environment which we rely upon.
That is one of the things that comes first to attention and notice when looking through this budget. This is obviously one of the largest opportunities the federal government has to affect the lives of Canadians. It is one of the largest expenditures by any source, if not the largest in the country. Every year some $280-odd billion goes out the door. The lack of accountability of the government in taking care of some of the most fundamental concerns of Canadians is somewhat breathtaking.
Having so recently gone through an election and having met with constituents from across the country who presented concerns to members on the economy, the environment, pensions, and the public safety net that has been so eroded over the years, it is surprising to me what a missed opportunity this budget now represents to Canadians and to the government. One would have thought that rather than rehash the document from 60 days ago, the government would have reflected on what it heard from Canadians, if it was listening at all.
That brings to mind that the never actually took any real questions from real Canadians during the election, that the entire scripted process led to some sort of preordained public event that was meant to look like a campaign but was in fact nothing more than a public relations exercise. The failed opportunity in that was that Canadians were trying to express something to the Prime Minister and his party, suggesting that there is a need to balance the views they hold, that no one party or ideology in this place has all the answers available to us, and that we have to take from different pieces.
The helmets to hardhats is a good example of a program that was initiated by all parties, seeking a way for our veterans land in good, sustainable jobs, but it is a small piece and there are many more pieces available that we could have grasped on to. There has been much mention within the ranks of the 103 New Democrats sitting as the official opposition that four and a half million Canadians responded to the message we offered them, saying we wanted a government that was a little more caring and balanced, and that looked at the books of our economy.
The government is running two deficits now. It is not just running the fiscal deficit, it is running a social deficit as well. These programs are very quick and easy to tear down. The has contemplated a staff reduction in the federal government by as much as 30%. Cutting and slashing is easy to do. It is much more difficult to build efficiency and proper services to Canadians who are in fact paying for them.
When we look at the other side of the ledger, we see the government willy-nilly cutting the corporate tax rate another couple of points and saying this will obviously bring jobs to the economy when we compare it to the U.S., as one of my colleagues did. We are sitting below half of the corporate tax rate that the Americans are enjoying right now. There is such a thing as a law of diminishing returns. If the tax rate were 50% and we lowered it to 40%, we would see some results. If we were to lower it to 30%, we would see a few more but less. If we were to lower it to 20%, 15% or 14%, we would see less and less, to the point where we would see nothing at all.
The leader of the official opposition today, the member for , asked a direct question of the about $100 million to one oil company alone in the last budget. That is a lot of money. He asked the Prime Minister a simple question: Has the finance department done any assessment at all as to what kind of return we got back for $100 million?
I know what kind of return we could get back for $100 million to help seniors get out of poverty. I know what kind of return we could get back to help Canadians create the green economy that they have been so desperately looking for. We in the NDP know those facts and figures because we have done the research. If the government were to do nothing else, it should build its policies based on actual evidence as opposed to mere rhetoric.
We asked the government to assess the cost of its crime agenda, a very simple question. In fact, it is the same question the government put to us when we pushed for climate change legislation. It asked, “What's the program cost? Can you give us the dollar figures?”
We proposed a bill that said that the Government of Canada, every five years, should declare its intention on climate change initiatives, what it planned to do, and every five years should report back on the successes and failures of the previous five years. That is what we asked for.
The government went ballistic saying that the costs would be insane to have such an open and transparent government, as if somehow there would be a cost for being honest with the Canadian people.
Now let us reverse the tables for a moment and talk about crime. It says it is going to increase the prison population by this much. The Parliamentary Budget Officer and others have come forward to say this. We can do the math, but when we ask the government to actually put some figures forward, as to the efficacy of its crime agenda, as to the actual costs, it says that if one victim is saved then the cost is worth it. What simple-minded rhetoric.
We can do better in this place. We can bring forward evidence when making policies. When we look to this budget and ask the government to justify a further two point reduction in the corporate tax rate, it should justify it and show us the evidence or some research. There are all these folks working around the Hill and all over Parliament who are very bright. There are some folks in the finance department who are extremely accomplished. I am sure they could punch a few numbers into a calculator and then tell us what two points more gets us in terms of job creation in this country.
We can do the math quickly because in the law of diminishing returns it gets us nothing. We do not get any more if we are half of what our closest competitor is charging for business and corporate taxes. It does not pay off. For American companies working in Canada, they have to declare their profits in the United States anyway. We know this. We have been through this. We have seen governments around the world try the same mantra, replacing good politics with rhetoric.
The results are that the public sector will be starved to the point where people will seek it through the private sector. It is privatization through starvation. If the government runs down the public sector enough, when Canadians still need the services, roads, hospitals and schools, they will start to seek the private solution more and more. They are being handed this carrot that it will be better in this Shangri-La private world, that the public sector cannot deliver these things.
The whole fundamental and basic concept of governance is to come together collectively to do what we cannot do individually. I cannot pave the road in front of my house, nor can my neighbours slap the money together to do it. We do it collectively and we see priorities from one to the other.
My kids are not in school yet, but I fund the local school in my region because I understand the value that education is expensive, but ignorance is much more expensive.
There is a fundamental concern I have when the budget is presented like this. We have a crisis in the northwest with the fishing sector. We are going to go into one of the worst fishing seasons on record. There is nothing with regard to employment insurance, which I know my friend from will talk about.
Instead, the Conservatives are going to cut $57 million out of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, rather than monitoring or assisting the fishermen who are going to go broke this summer. The solution from the Conservatives is to cut another $57 million out of a department that is already starved.
This is not a solution. This is not a practical result. We in the official opposition seek not just to oppose but to propose, to make suggestions that there are such things as investments in the public sector, that government can do things well, that government must in fact do things well and exceedingly do things better. That is the expectation from the people who put us here.
The people in the northwest have been going through a recession that many who sit in their seats would loathe to experience. I have communities that have upward of 80% unemployment. That is structural unemployment. It gets to a level where the need for assistance, the collective operation of government, is required.
We have a government that is starting to believe its own spin. It says the recession must be over, so it must be over. So it makes a budget that does not have a recession in mind.
I have news for the government. The recession is still going on in too many parts of our country. This was not a time to pull back. This was not a time to play politics with our economy. This was a time to give serious and honest consideration to the needs of people, not cutting western diversification as the minister is now going to oversee, but helping, putting it back into those places that we know create jobs, helping the small business community, and ending the handouts and freebies to the government buddies in the oil and banking sectors.
Mr. Speaker, I would first like to congratulate you on having been elected as Speaker of the House of Commons. We are very proud of how you direct the House of Commons. I wish you luck.
I would like to sincerely thank the people of Acadie—Bathurst, who have put their trust in me for the sixth time. I will try to live up to their expectations. I would also like to thank the people of Quebec who brought our NDP cousins into the family fold. Welcome.
As a francophone member, I am very pleased to be part of a francophone caucus like the one we have, and I am pleased that we can work together.
And now the fun begins with the Conservative budget. Today I listened to the say that Canadians placed their trust in the Conservatives by giving them a large majority and the mandate to form the Government of Canada. He forgot to say that only 61% of Canadians voted. And only 41% of that 61% voted for the Conservatives, which is not that many people. Another 60% of those who voted did not put their trust in them.
The budget they tabled is cut and paste, to use tech talk. That is exactly what we got, with the exception of the $2.1 billion promised to Quebec if there is a tax harmonization agreement.
Let us talk about job creation. How can the Conservatives proudly claim that jobs are being created in our country when we look at what is going on in the Atlantic region today? What kind of job creation are they talking about when we see that Smurfit-Stone has shut down in Bathurst and that UPM has shut down in Miramichi? In the forestry industry, AbitibiBowater has also closed down in Dalhousie and Smurfit-Stone has shut down in New Richmond. In this little corner of our country, there are all these closures, and the Conservatives are bragging that jobs are being created. The jobs created by the Conservative government are part-time jobs at minimum wage. The government should focus on creating real jobs. What is even more insulting is that it is cutting $15 million from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, or ACOA, whose mission is to promote economic development.
Let us talk about job creation. In 2010, the Conservative government reduced the crab quotas in our region, in the Atlantic and in Quebec. The quotas went from 20,000 metric tonnes to 7,500 metric tonnes. This year, they were increased to 8,700 metric tonnes. Just two years ago, people working in the crab industry worked for at least eight weeks. That was not a lot, but now they do not work more than three or four weeks.
What did the have to say when I ask her about this? She said that it was New Brunswick's problem, that the government gave money to New Brunswick, and that it was up to the province to sort out its problems. That is what the Conservative government said in the House yesterday: that New Brunswick should take care of its own problems.
My office receives calls from women and men, women who have children, single mothers, who are told that if they want to work in Shippagan, they are going to have to make the short drive to Cap-Pelé, two hours away. They just have to stay there for one, two, three or four weeks and be separated from their children. That is what the Conservative government—both provincial and federal—told us. That is shameful and unacceptable.
There is nothing in this budget for employment insurance. At one time, people applying for employment insurance for the first time had to have 910 hours of work in order to qualify. The government reduced that number to 840 hours and then turned around and increased it again to 910 hours. Why? Because it had to do with workers. The government has no respect for workers. Then again, it has no problem granting large corporations tax breaks worth $15 billion. Banks made $20 billion in profits and paid out $11 billion in bonuses, yet the Conservatives are giving them taxpayers' money.
This is completely shameful and unacceptable. It is a slap in the face. Giving tax cuts to large corporations is nothing to brag about. Even the Obama administration has said that now is not the time to give any tax cuts to large corporations that are making money.
I am sure that our constituents know that oil companies have no problem raising the price of gas to $1.34 a litre. They want to make money and they do make money. They make billions of dollars. And these are the people getting tax breaks? This is going to create a debt that will eventually have to be paid by the government and by taxpayers. On top of that, the government is going to reduce services. When we talk to our constituents about taxes, they understand that when taxes are lowered, services have to suffer.
In hospitals right now, people are lying in the hallways, waiting for a bed. Our constituents want services. People are applying for employment insurance and there is no one left to even answer the telephone because of federal government cutbacks. And there will be even more cutbacks. We have not seen the worst of it.
Billions of dollars have been cut and will continue to be cut on the backs of the people in order to serve the people on Bank Street in Toronto. They are the ones who will get this money. It is totally unacceptable.
Let us talk about job creation. There are jobs out west and people back home are moving west. They tell me that immigrants are being sent to work out west, in Fort McMurray, and that people from back home are being laid off and told that there is no work. However, the immigrants get to stay there. I thought an agreement had been reached whereby immigrants are hired and kept on only if there is a labour shortage. People from back home are calling me to say they would like to work out west, but they cannot because the positions have been filled by immigrants. It should not be like that. When we need immigrants during a labour shortage, then we can bring them over. However, there is currently no labour shortage, since the unemployment rate back home is 16%. People are prepared to go out west to work. Where is the program to help those people? The government could help those people.
On top of all that, the government is boasting that our seniors will receive an additional $50 a month in the guaranteed income supplement. When you are not getting much to begin with, $50 is not very a lot. Seniors are calling me to say that they are unable to pay their rent or electricity bills. These people are in need. Rather than giving billions of dollars to big corporations, we should be taking that money and giving it to the community, to people who have worked hard their entire lives.
As I said before, I am receiving calls. Does the government really want to promote this? To show just how anti-worker the government is, Canada Post, a crown corporation owned by the government, has just announced that in the coming weeks, it will be cutting off benefits for people who are sick and who have been granted sick leave. This means that people will not receive their medication. Why are they being punished?
The member opposite is indicating that such is not the case, but they are going to cut these benefits; they have already sent a memo about it to all employees. Canada Post has currently reduced its services to Canadians to two days a week to increase pressure to accept the collective agreement. The benefits of workers will be cut and the government is going to line the pockets of big corporations by giving them piles of money because big corporations are friends of the federal government and the Conservatives. I do not think this is right.
That is why we will not vote in favour of the government's budget. It is not a good budget. I want to remind the House that the Conservatives received only 40% of the votes of the 61% of Canadians who went to the polls.
Mr. Speaker, I am splitting my time today with my colleague, my good friend from .
I want to thank the people of Wellington—Halton Hills for re-electing me as their representative in Ottawa. I am humbled by their support and I pledge to them to work my hardest to uphold the trust they have placed in me to represent them in this House, the people's House.
In the weeks up to the election on May 2, I spoke to thousands of people throughout my riding of Wellington—Halton Hills, on doorsteps and porches and over the phone. I heard consistently from these Canadians they were concerned about their jobs and economic growth. They were concerned about food and fuel prices and about a number of other economic issues.
We have heard those concerns and this Monday past, my colleague, the , the member for , introduced budget 2011 in this House, a budget that addresses the concerns I heard during the election campaign and throughout this year from the Canadians I represent. On May 2, Canadians gave us a very strong mandate to continue with our economic action plan. Through their democratic votes on May 2, they decided to re-elect our government because they had confidence in the first phase of our economic action plan and wanted to see a continuation of that plan in the next phase introduced in this budget of 2011.
Today I rise in this House to support the motion by the that this House does approve in general the budgetary policy of the government.
Budget 2011 is a plan for jobs and economic growth. It is a plan ensuring that Canadians can continue to meet the challenges we face in this ever-changing global economy. This budget responds to the concerns that I and many of my colleagues heard at the doorstep and on the front porch in the recent election. It introduces the next phase of Canada's economic action plan, building on the successes of the first phase that we introduced in January 2009.
I want to take members of this House back to give them a bit of an overview, from my perspective, of what has happened in the last three years. Just over two and a half years ago, one of the worst global recessions to hit our shores arrived in September 2008. Our government reacted swiftly to what was an unprecedented global slowdown by introducing Canada's economic action plan in its budget of January 2009. Our government's swift actions ensured that Canada's economy not only weathered the storm better than any other major developed economy in the world but also has actually emerged from this recession stronger and better positioned than any other major economy.
The facts speak for themselves. We are on the right track. Over 540,000 new jobs have been created since the recession ended in July 2009, and we have had seven quarters of positive economic growth. Our job-creation machine has been the envy of other major industrialized nations. Our job growth has not been concentrated in low-wage-paying sectors but in full-time positions in relatively high-wage industries.
While this is positive news, it is also true that many Canadians are still looking for work and the global economy remains fragile. It remains fragile because we face three major external risks as an economy. We are facing continuing turmoil in the energy markets as a result of the unrest in the Middle East and North Africa. We are facing continuing troubles in sovereign debt markets as a result of the ongoing challenges faced by the eurozone and its sovereign debt markets. We are also facing the continuing economic aftershocks of the terrible earthquake and tsunami that hit the Japanese economy. In fact, many parts suppliers, parts companies, auto-part companies and automobile manufacturers in southern Ontario, both domestic and foreign-owned, have actually gone into shutdown mode because of sourcing problems with their components from Japan.
These risks all present an unsettled and unpredictable global economic environment. That is why it is crucial that we implement a prudent and long-term economic plan. It is crucial that we adopt the motion by the because it will lay the foundation for future prosperity and build on the successes we have had as an economy and as Canadians in the last two and a half years.
The next phase of our economic action plan, as presented in this budget, has a number of elements that I want to highlight for members in the House. It introduces a hiring credit for small businesses to encourage them to hire new employees. It also includes a two-year extension of the 50% straight line accelerated capital cost allowance for manufacturers to purchase new equipment and machinery. It provides additional support for the work-sharing program that has ensured the protection of more than 277,000 workers.
It has renewed two special EI measures that have assisted Canadians in their search for a job and is providing $420 million over the next 12 months in this area. It extends the targeted initiative for older workers, who often have a difficult time transitioning from one sector of the economy to another, to have additional support for the next couple of years.
We have also introduced a well deserved helmets to hardhats program to help transition men and women leaving our Canadian Forces into the civilian workforce. It has introduced a volunteer firefighter tax credit as well as measures to help younger Canadians by extending and enhancing the benefits for Canada student loans and grants.
These are some of the new measures that are in the budget to help Canadians with their jobs and help the Canadian economy with economic growth.
In the last few years we have introduced a number of measures to help households with the rising cost of food and fuel and the rising burden in paying bills. We have done that by reducing the taxation burden. In fact, the average family of four now receives almost $3,100 in extra tax savings, thanks to the numerous tax reductions that we have introduced over the last number of years. This is also why the federal tax burden is now the lowest it has been in 50 years. We are building on that record in this budget by introducing additional measures.
We are introducing an enhanced guaranteed income supplement for seniors. For a typical single senior this would mean significant new money for their monthly GIS cheques and for a senior couple it would also mean additional new money. This would help raise up more than 680,000 seniors across this country, people who have worked hard and contributed greatly to our society over their lives and now need a little extra help to meet the monthly bills they have to pay.
Also in the budget is $400 million to help extend the eco-energy retrofit for homes program in order to help make homes more energy efficient for Canadians. This is another way that our government is going to help Canadian households tackle the rising cost of fuel.
Despite many of the external risks facing our economy, our future looks promising. Our plan is working and the next phase introduced in this budget will ensure that we are laying the foundations for prosperity for this coming decade.
The budget also contains a plan to help reduce our deficit and eliminate it in three years, a year earlier than we had originally planned. We are not going to do this by raising taxes. Our balanced budget proposal will be arrived at by conducting a strategic and operating review designed to realize substantial savings. We expect to realize $4 billion in savings annually. Over the next three years, along with the wind-down of the stimulus money, we expect that these savings will help us balance the budget by 2014-15, a year earlier.
This is a responsible, credible approach. We have met our deficit targets for the last two years and we expect to do so in the coming three years.
I would like to finish on this final note.
Just as it is important for the Canadian government to balance its books and ensure it acts prudently on our federal debt, so too is it important that Canadian households do not increase their debt in an unsustainable way. Our government has played a strong role in that regard and I want to commend the for his efforts in this area by recently reducing the maximum amortization for mortgages from 35 to 30 years and by removing the insurability under CMHC's program for home equity lines of credit. These were two prudent measures to take to slow down the increase in household debt. Canadian households and governments need to be vigilant about the levels of debt that we have taken on in recent years.
In a democracy the people are always right and a month ago the people of Canada decided to elect a stable majority Conservative government. I ask members of the House to respect the will of the Canadian people by supporting the motion that the has tabled and by allowing us to lay the foundation for prosperity in the next decade.