Mr. Speaker, our government was proud to run on an ambitious economic agenda, an agenda that highlighted the importance of investment, investing in our economy and infrastructure. However, we did not pledge only to invest in the economy; we pledged to invest in the resourceful and talented people of our great country.
Specifically, our campaign was predicated on the belief that investing in the middle class and those working hard to join it was of utmost importance. As all members of the House can agree, when the middle class succeeds, we all succeed.
We are committed to a strong and growing middle class. The middle class is the true driver of economic growth and job creation in our country, and it needs our help.
Having run on, and been elected on, this plan, I am proud to support this legislation, which delivers on our promise to cut taxes for the middle class that has gone far too long without a raise. This is the fair thing to do; this is the right thing to do.
In the economic update of a few days ago, the Minister of Finance made clear that we were facing difficult economic times. We know that times of economic difficulty exacerbate inequality.
Bill C-2 would cut the tax rate on income earned between $45,282 and $90,563 in 2016 to 20.5% from 22%, and it would introduce a new tax rate of 33% on income in excess of $200,000.
As of January 1, the government is putting $3.4 billion in the pockets of about nine million Canadians each year.
Single individuals who benefit would see an average tax reduction of $330 every year, and couples who benefit would see an average tax reduction of $540 every year.
To help pay for this middle-class tax cut, the government is asking the wealthiest Canadians to contribute a little more. We are therefore creating a new top personal income tax rate of 33% for individual taxable incomes in excess of $200,000.
Earlier, I mentioned the importance of helping the middle class, and those working hard to join it. It is critical that as a government we remember those most vulnerable in our society. In budget 2016, we will see a major step forward in helping our most vulnerable, through the introduction of the Canada child benefit.
I would like to discuss what this measure will mean for Canadian families.
This new tax-free income-tested benefit will lift hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty. Nine out of ten Canadian families will be better off.
The proposed Canada child benefit will simplify and consolidate existing child benefits. It will replace the universal child care benefit, which is not income tested. As we have committed, the new Canada child benefit will be better targeted to those who need it most.
We aim to have payments under the CCB begin this summer. It will give a new generation of Canadians just a bit more space to be children and to grow into a Canada that has prepared itself for them through long-term investments. That includes things like skills and labour strategies to unlock the potential of greater productivity, without making people work longer and harder for less.
Our most vulnerable will also benefit from our historical commitments to infrastructure. They will benefit from our commitment to social infrastructure in things like affordable housing, but also targeted investments in public infrastructure that will grow the economy and get Canadians moving, and green infrastructure that will open up new sectors while addressing climate change.
Canadians elected us to do these things, and they are supportive on the work we are doing.
Recently the Minister of Finance and the parliamentary secretary fanned out across the country, asking Canadians directly what our government could do to better support the middle class. They met with indigenous leaders, business leaders, cultural leaders, all with the intent of listening to Canadians and engaging in discussions to find practical solutions to the difficulties they were facing.
These pre-budget consultations continued online until very recently. The response rate and comments received were tremendous. With over 200,000 interactions with Canadians and more than 500,000 online submissions, this has been the largest pre-budget consultation on record.
Throughout the course of these consultations, Canadians confirmed that they wanted a government that delivered on strengthening the middle class and helping those working hard to join it, and we will deliver.
Our plan to grow the economy is now more important than ever. As the minister reiterated at the finance committee and in the House, the other parties' balanced budget proposals would have led to massive cuts at a time when the economy needed more investment. Cuts at this time would have led to more layoffs and less flexibility.
After 10 years of weak growth, we have a plan to grow the economy. As Bill C-2 clearly demonstrates, we have already started. It is a plan that we are proud to put forward and proud to be implementing. I know some in the House disagree, and members on our side will be happy to hear their perspective and happy to debate them. However, ultimately, we will not be deterred from implementing a plan that will help Canada by investing in it and in its talented, resourceful, and well-educated people.
The tax relief proposed in the legislation will help millions of Canadians. It will give middle-class Canadians more money in their pockets to spend, invest, and grow the economy. I encourage all members of the House to vote for this important legislation.