Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Selkirk—Interlake.
I am pleased to rise today on behalf of the constituents of Fleetwood—Port Kells to participate in the debate on budget 2011. Before I begin, I would like to thank my constituents for putting their trust in me to again represent them in the House of Commons.
The budget we have before us today represents the next phase of Canada's economic action plan. It builds on our government's previous successes. In January 2009, Canada found itself in the midst of a global economic recession, the worst since the Great Depression more than 80 years ago.
Our government responded swiftly with Canada's economic action plan to deal with the crisis. The results speak for themselves. Under the leadership of our Prime Minister, Canada has weathered the recession better than any other country in the world. With Canada's economic action plan, we protected jobs and made long-term investments that are allowing the economy to emerge stronger than ever before and created over half a million jobs since July 2009.
Now it is time for the next phase of our plan. We will be focused on the economy, on creating jobs, reducing the deficit and making key strategic investments.
I spent a lot of time listening to Surrey residents. Their message was loud and very clear. The economy is the number one issue facing Canada and our government. Our Conservative government rightly has a reputation for sound financial management. Prior to the global recession we kept the budget balanced, we paid down the debt and we cut taxes.
In fact, since coming to office in 2006, our government has cut taxes more than 120 times. Over one million Canadians have been removed from the tax rolls. The average Canadian family is paying $3,000 less in taxes each and every year.
We did all of this while investing new money into social programs and bringing our military out of its dark ages with important investments in modern equipment. Thanks to our prudent management of the nation's books, when the global recession hit we were in the financial position where we used stimulus spending to spark the economy without doing permanent damage to the books.
The stimulus spending has now come to an end and it is time to return to balanced budgets. Budget 2010 contained a three point plan to accomplish this goal, winding down temporary stimulus, putting in place targeted spending, restrained measures and reviewing government administrative and overhead costs.
We will not balance the budget by cutting transfers to the provinces for important social programs, like health care and education. That is the Liberal way, not the Conservative way.
With budget 2011 federal support to provinces and territories will reach an all-time high of over $56 billion, which is almost $2.2 billion more than last year. For B.C., this totals over $5.4 billion in 2011-12, or $1,182 per capita. There is almost $3.8 billion through the Canada health transfer, an increase of $216 million from last year. The health transfers will continue to grow annually through a 6% escalator.
There is over $1.5 billion through the Canada social transfer. For my province of British Columbia, this payment represents an increase of $349 million since 2005-06. This long-term growing support helps ensure that British Columbia has the resources required to provide essential public services.
With this budget, we are building on our plan laid out last year to balance the budget. With our government-wide strategic and operating review, we will balance the budget by 2014-15.
Building on the ambitious agenda of continuing tax relief, the next phase of Canada's economic action plan takes additional steps to reduce taxes for Canadians and businesses. These tax measures will provide taxpayers in B.C. with approximately $270 million in tax relief over the following five years. This includes a new family caregiver tax credit that will provide almost $103 million in relief, and a new children's arts tax credit that will provide almost $68 million in relief.
The next phase in Canada's economic action plan also takes steps to improve the fairness, neutrality and integrity of the tax system, closing tax loopholes and limiting tax planning opportunities.
Our government recognizes our seniors as valuable members of our society who contribute a diversity of skills, knowledge and experience to their families and communities. Canada's seniors helped build and make this country a great place for all of us to live. That is why we are supporting our seniors in a number of different ways, including: over $2.3 billion in annual tax relief; removing over 85,000 seniors from the tax rolls; introducing pension income splitting; doubling the pension income credit to $2,000; increasing the age credit amount by $2,000; and establishing the tax free savings account, which is particularly beneficial for seniors.
In this budget, we are taking additional steps to support our seniors. We are enhancing the guaranteed income supplement so that low-income seniors will receive additional annual top-up benefits of up to $600 for single seniors and $840 for couples. This will help more than 680,000 seniors across our great country. We are enhancing the new horizons for seniors program with an additional $10 million to promote volunteerism, mentorship and the social participation of seniors, and to expand awareness of elder abuse. We are extending the targeted initiative for older workers and eliminating the mandatory retirement age for federally regulated employees to give seniors more choice.
Our Conservative government knows that seniors are a diverse group with different interests and concerns. We are committed to ensuring that policies, programs and services meet the evolving needs of all seniors. Taken together, the initiatives we have introduced will help to ensure that more seniors can live with dignity and security as they grow older.
Another key point of this budget deals with public funding for federal political parties. I am speaking about the annual per-vote subsidy introduced by the former Liberal government in 2004. Governments have a duty to use taxpayer dollars wisely, especially in a time of fiscal restraint when families are struggling to make ends meet. That is why we are now following through on our government's campaign commitment to phase out per-vote subsidies for political parties.
The government will introduce legislation to eliminate the subsidy in 51¢ increments starting on April 1 next year until it is completely eliminated by 2015-16. It will generate savings of up to $30 million. Our government has always opposed direct taxpayer subsidies to political parties and believes that political parties should rely primarily on their supporters for their funding.
When one considers everything that we are proposing, it is no surprise that this budget has been so favourably received all across the country. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities declared that budget 2011 delivered a vital commitment to cities and communities to develop a new, long-term federal infrastructure plan.
Our members appreciate that this budget is focused on ensuring that our officers have the tools and resources necessary to protect our communities effectively and efficiently. This is a good budget that ensures safety, security and prosperity for all Canadians.