Mr. Speaker, I rise today to show my support for Bill C-45, Jobs and Growth Act, 2012 and I am pleased to see our government continue to focus so squarely on the economic challenges facing our citizens, our communities and our country. Bill C-45 would implement key measures from the economic action plan 2012, to help grow Canada's economy, fuel job creation and secure Canada's long-term prosperity.
Throughout the year, I had the pleasure of hosting budget consultations in Barrie with a variety of stakeholders. The one common theme throughout has always been a focus on job creation and economic growth as being something fundamentally important to people from all different sectors in my community.
Each stakeholder has provided insightful contributions from the different aspects of our city, but they all shared the same concerns, as do most Canadians: ensuring good jobs are available, keeping taxes low and continuing the sensible investments being made to achieve our common goals of long-term growth and prosperity.
Through the steady leadership of our Prime Minister and our Minister of Finance, we have seen Canada's economy expand in 11 of the last 12 quarters, since mid-2009. We have seen Canada create more than 820,000 net new jobs over the same period, and Canada has had by far the best rate of job creation in the entire G7 since 2006. We have seen Canada maintain its triple A credit rating through the period of economic downturn and uncertainty, and we continue to see Canada with the lowest net debt to GDP ratio and the lowest overall tax rate on new business investment in the G7.
Both the independent International Monetary Fund and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development forecast that Canada will be at the head of the pack for economic growth in the G7 in the years ahead. I am particularly proud to share with the House what the head of the International Monetary Fund thinks of our government's handling of the economy since the global economic crisis hit in 2008. These comments came out just this week.
The IMF's Christine Lagarde declares that Canada's economy should be a model for the countries trying to fix their own financial systems. Just last week she said that Canada has been a leader in creating policies intended to rein in the buildup of household debt. She went on to say that Canada is identified around the globe by our values of coordination and consensus building, which have given our country what she called “influence beyond its years”.
Ms. Lagarde also applauded the decision of our finance minister to boost down payments on new mortgages for home buyers, as an example of household debt restraint that others should follow. She said:
All of these new reforms comprise the tools so far that will help us shape the future financial system. We must shape the system so it cannot again hold us ransom to the consequences of its failings.
A well-capitalized financial sector and a sound regulatory and supervisory system meant that financial institutions in Canada were better able to weather the 2008 global financial crisis than those in other countries. Indeed, the World Economic Forum has ranked Canada's banking system as the soundest in the world for five straight years. Our government is committed to maintaining this Canadian advantage.
Canada has made significant progress in implementing the G20 financial sector reform agenda and will continue to play a leadership role in promoting sound financial sector regulation internationally. Our government appreciates the IMF recognizing these important achievements.
However, in all this good news, the global economy remains fragile. Canada is not immune to the renewed weakness in the global economy, especially in Europe. In particular, Canada has been affected by the lower commodity prices that are dampening government revenue growth. We need to focus even more on jobs and promoting economic growth and realizing savings within government operations to ensure Canada's economic advantage remains strong into the long term.
At the same time, it is just as important that we continue making key investments in innovation and education to help make sure Canada continues to create good jobs and that Canadians are ready to fill them. We are supporting Canadian universities and researchers with a strengthened emphasis on projects that have a commercial potential.
Economic action plan 2012 took significant steps to encourage entrepreneurship, innovation and world-class research, with over $1.1 billion in significant investments for research and development, $500 million for venture capital, support for increased public and private research collaboration and much more.
Just last month, I was proud to see this have an effect in my own riding of Barrie, Ontario. I was proud to be on hand officially to open the IBM data and research centre in the south end of Barrie. This new data centre is part of a much larger project.
The federal government's $20 million investment was a catalyst for IBM's $213 million initiative to create a southern Ontario smart computing and innovation platform. Our government's investment targeted the creation of 145 full-time positions, high-skilled, high-paying, in three different cities in southern Ontario, including 45 positions at the Barrie site. These are not job transfers; they are new hires.
Our government's investment is also creating a research and development centre within the IBM site that is going to do research on clean energy, environmental systems and neural mapping. It is state-of-the-art research and it is exciting to see what a private and public partnership can do to create jobs in southern Ontario.
I would like to tell the House of another example of this focus on innovation by our government, which I have seen work first-hand in my riding. This summer, in August, I was on hand to see a company transfer its manufacturing from China back to Barrie. This company had outsourced its production of 18 jobs to China and decided to bring them back. This summer it opened up its manufacturing in Barrie again and with a $900,000 repayable loan from FedDev Ontario it was able to repatriate those jobs. This is an important sector. Southmedic is in the medical device sector, and right now this sector is valued at $6.4 billion in Canada. That is just the tip of the iceberg of what Canada is capable of, to see this sector grow.
These are two great examples of the types of partnerships that government is forging. These are the kinds of partnerships that will create a better future for all Canadians and, most important, new jobs.
Another great partnership that the economic action plan pledged to carry on was that of the continued cleanup of Lake Simcoe. In 2008, members may remember that this government made an unprecedented $30 million investment into the cleanup of Lake Simcoe. It was an extremely welcome initiative because Lake Simcoe and Kempenfelt Bay are certainly jewels that we treasure in Simcoe County. Phosphorous levels were at an all-time high, and we needed action to help reverse that trend because high phosphorous levels mean excessive weed growth. In Lake Simcoe it meant reduced marine habitat. We could not have this happen to what really was a jewel in our community.
The health of our lake is paramount to the future of the city of Barrie and all of Simcoe County and the surrounding areas. Tourism is vital to our local economy, and Lake Simcoe is certainly at the heart of the tourism market. I am happy to report that, since that investment of $30 million, phosphorous levels have gone down every year. We are making tremendous strides on the cleanup of Lake Simcoe, to make sure that future generations in Barrie and Simcoe County will have the same pristine lake that we have been able to enjoy over so many decades.
Economic action plan 2012 continues the commitment to cleanup Lake Simcoe. The five-year cleanup fund had expired, but the budget expressed a commitment to renew this fund and to continue the cleanup of Lake Simcoe. That is tremendously appreciated in our community, and I am so glad that our Minister of Finance had the wisdom to recognize that this was a fund and a partnership that was working. The federal dollars, leveraged with funds from the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority and all the municipalities in Simcoe County, have made a profound impact on our local environment.
I am also pleased to see that Bill C-45 would extend the hiring credit for small businesses for another year. The credit of up to $1,000 against EI premiums is a great help to encourage more small businesses. Small businesses are the engine for job creation in Canada and are indispensable in their role as job creators. I see that every day in Barrie. Small businesses are at the heart of our community and it is great to see a budget that would help small businesses.
I realize I am limited in time. I want to commend my colleague, the Minister of Finance, on the jobs and growth act, 2012. The bill builds on terrific work laid out in the economic action plan and it meets the economic challenges facing our country head-on. On behalf of my constituents and the various stakeholders in Barrie, I want to sincerely thank the minister and his team for their hard work on what will be an excellent investment and understanding of the Canadian economy.