Mr. Speaker, let me begin by reassuring the hon. member that our government is addressing the concerns being raised by Canadians about the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.
Just last Thursday, the Deputy Prime Minister convened a new cabinet committee on the federal response to the coronavirus. They discussed in detail the measures taken by the government to limit the spread of the virus in Canada and in the area where I live, York Region.
At the committee meeting, the Minister of Health and Canada's chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, provided an update on the evolving situation and the ongoing collaborative engagement with provinces and territories, as well as with our international partners, including the United States, to limit the spread of the virus.
If I may, as a Canadian of Italian heritage, I wish to express my thoughts and sympathies over the ongoing outbreak that is happening back home where many of my relatives still live. Our prayer is that it is controlled and that the numbers start coming down in Italy.
The finance minister has also provided an update of the impact of this evolving situation on the economy. The impact of COVID-19 on the economy is of concern. I understand, and so do my colleagues, the challenges many companies and Canadians face, including those in Vaughan—Woodbridge.
I will be splitting my time with my esteemed colleague and friend, the hon. member for Kingston and the Islands.
I want to assure hon. members, Canadians and my constituents that we have a sound fiscal and economic track record. We will remain ready to respond to whatever may come our way.
In 2015, we proposed a plan to invest in Canadians and strengthen the middle class. That plan worked. Canada is in a good position to deal with this challenge. Our government's plan over the past four and a half years has been clear: to invest in the middle class and help those working hard to join it.
Canada's economy is healthy and, this year, Canada should rank second in the G7 in terms of economic growth. We are convinced that all Canadians should benefit from the country's economic success. That is why we are working to grow the economy in a way that will benefit all Canadians.
Lowering taxes for middle-class families and those who need help the most, for all but the wealthiest Canadians, is just the first step in our new mandate. What is more, we will ensure that people can further their education more easily, buy their first home and have access to care for their children. As part of our previous mandate, we reduced poverty across the country.
We have reduced poverty. We have lifted a million Canadians out of poverty.
We will continue to make crucial investments, especially in affordable housing. We will help workers enter the job market, develop their skills and move from one job to another. This is part of our government's responsible plan to build a modern, vigorous and growing economy. We will build on the progress of the past four years and continue to truly change the lives of Canadians today and in the future. We know that there is much more work to be done. The work begins with supporting business investments.
Our government knows that small business is a key driver of Canada's economy, accounting for 70% of all private sector jobs. In the city of Vaughan, where I am proud to live and call home and where I am raising our family with my wife, there are over 12,000 small businesses. Our entrepreneurial spirit is strong and second to none. These very small businesses play a supporting role in the resource sector, supplying goods and services to larger resource companies.
In support of my hard-working small business owners in Vaughan—Woodbridge, and all of those across Canada from coast to coast to coast, the government reduced the small business tax rate as of January 2018 to 10%, and then reduced it to 9% as of January 2019. I believe if members check, they will see that is $7,500 in lower taxes for individual small businesses across Canada.
In addition, in the 2018 fall economic statement, our government introduced three changes to Canada's tax system to attract investment and build the business confidence we need to succeed. This included allowing businesses to immediately write off the full cost of specified clean energy equipment to spur new investments and the adoption of advanced clean technologies in the Canadian economy. It also included allowing businesses to immediately write off the full cost of machinery and equipment used for the manufacturing or processing of goods.
Our government also introduced the accelerated investment incentive, which allows businesses of all sizes in all sectors of the economy to write off a larger share of the cost of newly acquired assets in the year the investment is made.
Taken together, the incentives make it more attractive for businesses to invest in assets that help drive business growth, thereby freeing up capital that businesses can use to create more good, well-paying jobs for Canadians, including the hard-working residents in my riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge.
In addition to changing the tax system, the government did more to strengthen its investments in key drivers of economic growth by introducing new measures that will boost investor confidence in Canada and attract investment.
In budget 2018, the government made a commitment to regulatory reform, including a review of federal regulatory regimes; the goal of this review was to determine what is working and what is not.
We backed that commitment by announcing a legislative review. We want to look for opportunities to modernize the mandates of departments responsible for making regulations. The goal is to better integrate the importance of regulatory efficiency and economic growth. We also introduced an annual modernization bill to help eliminate outdated or redundant regulatory requirements and keep existing regulations up to date.
Measures like these are indicative of our government's proactive approach to helping Canadian businesses grow and compete by removing barriers at home and abroad.
Even with the concerns surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak, Canada is well positioned to continue to prosper from our unique strengths and advantages. I worked at a bond rating agency for many years. Canada's AAA credit rating across the board is solid, and according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, our financial flexibility is sound. We are going in the right direction in our country. Our foundation is strong. Being a son of a carpenter and a roofer, I can surely say that our roof is sound as well.
We are building an internationally competitive environment for Canadian businesses, one that attracts investment, contributes to our economic growth and creates jobs that support families and communities such as Vaughan—Woodbridge.
At the same time, our government is maintaining our steadfast commitment to a fair and inclusive society in which all Canadians can contribute to and benefit from a strong and growing economy. Economic growth must be for the benefit of all Canadians, not just the few. It must be inclusive.
We believe that our goals of not only a competitive economy but also a fair and inclusive economy are fully complementary. They reinforce and strengthen one another. Giving people the chance to succeed is not just the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do for the economy, for Canadians and for the residents of Vaughan—Woodbridge.