Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to address the chamber on a wide variety of issues. This evening is special in the sense that we are talking about the budget. When we talk about the budget, we talk about priorities and I am happy to share my thoughts on the government's priorities.
As the member for Winnipeg South pointed out, he and I go back 30 years, both on the provincial and national scene. I have learned to respect many of the things he does, especially on issues surrounding the environment, women's issues and Churchill, Manitoba. These are the types of issues he really digs his teeth into and produces tangible results. I respect the effort he puts in, day in and day out, in serving the constituents of Winnipeg South. Combined, we bring the south end of Winnipeg to the north and the north to the south. As he pointed out, it is friendly Manitoba and it has always been a pleasure to work with him in many capacities.
Having said all of that, I would like to pick up on a couple of points. The overriding issue for me has always been to demonstrate that, as a government, we have been very effective in a relatively short period of time. The budget is all about priorities and ensuring the economy and the social fabric continue to move forward. When I say the social fabric, I am talking about diversity. One of the most compelling facts is the number of jobs that have been created since we have been in government: one million jobs. That is a significant achievement.
When we talk about those one million jobs, we ask ourselves how that happened. It is because we have a government that is committed to working with Canadians in all regions of our country. We have a government that is committed to working with many different stakeholders, provinces, territories, indigenous people and municipalities, and by working with Canadians, we were able to deliver in a very tangible way.
I referenced something the other day and I want to repeat it. From day one, we have been focused on Canada's middle class and those aspiring to be a part of it, and that has been demonstrated from the very first piece of legislation we introduced, which my colleagues will recall was Bill C-2. It is what gave the middle class of Canada a substantial tax cut, putting hundreds of millions of dollars into the pockets of Canadians.
If we carry that piece of legislation over to the budget of 2016, the very first Liberal budget under this administration, we saw substantial increases to the guaranteed income supplement, which lifted tens of thousands of seniors out of poverty. There were also substantial increases to the Canada child benefit that completely reformed it, which again lifted tens of thousands of children out of poverty. Through those things alone, we invested in Canadians in very real and tangible ways. We put hundreds of millions of dollars into the pockets of Canadians in all regions of our country. In Winnipeg North alone, there is $9 million a month for children, every month, in the form of the Canada child benefit.
This is how to support the middle class and those aspiring to be part of it and how to give a helping hand to those who really need it. By doing that, we increased the disposable incomes of Canadians. It meant more money was being spent in our communities in all regions of our country, and by doing that, we created jobs.
Take that into consideration along with the historic investment in Canada's infrastructure. In the most recent budget we have seen an additional allocation for municipal infrastructure investment. That investment in infrastructure means hundreds of millions of dollars being invested in every region of our country, creating more jobs.
Why have we been able to create one million jobs by working with Canadians? Compare what we did in the last three and a half years to the 10 years of misery with the Harper regime. For Canadians who follow the debate on the budget they will see there really is no change in the opposition today. The only change is the incredible amount of influence that Doug Ford has with the Conservative Party. The Premier of Ontario now sits on that small circular table with Stephen Harper and the current Conservative leader.
An hon. member: Who is in charge?
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: That is a very good question that is being posed. Many would suggest that nothing has changed, it is still Stephen Harper. Many would argue it is Stephen Harper behind the curtains. He is still the driving force with the Conservative Party. There is no change.
Every so often Conservatives give a special invite to that circular table. One of the individuals recently there was Jason Kenney from Alberta. There are some interesting individuals at the top of the leadership.
Imagine the discussion. Doug Ford says, “Just wait a minute, Mr. Leader of the Opposition, I need more time to figure out this environment thing”. As Canadians from coast to coast to coast wait for the Conservative Party to tell us what the plan is, we have to wait for Doug Ford to give instructions to the current opposition leader. Sadly, I do not think that is the limit. I believe that Canadians would be surprised at the degree to which the Conservative Party really takes its direction from individuals like Stephen Ford.
That was a Freudian slip: Stephen Harper and Mr. Ford.
The point is that we would like to see more transparency coming from the Conservative Party. At some point its members have to start telling Canadians what they are proposing. It was not that long ago that the current leader of the official opposition said the deficit would be four or five years. Before long the Conservatives are going to adopt the same policy in regard to what we are talking about on the deficit.
It is important for Canadians to realize whenever we talk about deficits that the Conservatives like to give advice, but when Stephen Harper became the Prime Minister of Canada, he inherited a multi-billion dollar surplus. Before the recession, he had already squandered it and turned it into a multi-billion deficit.
Year after year of Stephen Harper Conservative rule in Canada, the deficit was accumulated in excess of $150 billion. Is it any wonder we do not take advice from Conservatives when it comes to managing the deficit, let alone the economy? We have been able to do in three and a half years what took the Conservative Party on the employment file almost 10 years to do. We know we have to invest in Canadians. We have to invest in infrastructure. We believe in Canadians, not just serving the rich.
Conservatives say they support tax cuts. That is balderdash. When they had a chance to vote for tax cuts, what did they do? They voted no. When they had the opportunity to say the rich in Canada, that one per cent, should pay a little more, they voted no. It is a Conservative Party that caters to its friends. The middle class of Canada is no friend of the Conservative Party. I believe that we have a government that will continue to work—