May 9, 2012
I am certainly proud to rise today in support of the Budget 2012 Implementation Act tabled by the Honourable Finance Minister. This budget not only delivers strong results for today’s economy, it holds sound promise for the future of all Canadians. By identifying the economic challenges facing future generations, the Government has developed a thorough plan to tackle these challenges and inspire hope in our young people.
Canada’s Economic Action Plan 2012 is a plan for jobs, growth, and prosperity. It includes many important measures to expand our economy. It preserves the quality of life of all Canadians.
According to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities President Berry Vrbanovic:
“Canada’s municipal leaders welcome today’s commitment by the federal government to continue working with cities and communities to rebuild the local roads, water systems, community centres and public transit that our families, businesses, and economy depend on...Today’s budget continues building a new infrastructure partnership that creates jobs and strengthens Canada’s future economic foundations.”
Let’s take a closer look at some of the new initiatives introduced in this Budget which will deliver future prosperity for all Canadians.
One such measure recognizes the importance of a well trained, highly educated workforce. In my riding of Kitchener Centre, I’ve had the opportunity to meet with plenty of skilled youth attending our local post secondary institutions of Wilfred Laurier University and University of Waterloo, Conestoga College, and others. In speaking with these bright young minds, I am constantly reminded of how essential it is that these individuals have jobs to look forward to upon completing their studies.
This budget addresses their worries about finding suitable employment opportunities. It offers additional avenues to young people to train for careers in new and exciting fields.
The Youth Employment Strategy, begun in 2011, is a program created to reduce barriers to employment faced by some of our young people. It has helped to connect 70,000 young Canadians with job experience and valuable skills training. In particular, one of this program’s streams – the Skills Link program had a significant impact in my riding. I am pleased that our Government has committed to deliver an additional $50 million over two years to further enhance the Youth Employment Strategy.
Now, in addition to tackling the challenges of the uncertain job market that young workers generally are facing, we cannot neglect the difficulties disabled Canadians are facing as well. Improving labour market opportunities for those living with challenges has always been a key agenda item for this government, and we remain committed to that item with this budget. For example, Economic Action Plan 2012 delivers $30 million over three years to the Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities. I know that this fund has provided opportunities to people in my riding in connecting them with valuable work experience. We can never overlook the importance of integrating the skills and experiences of every Canadian into our economy.
Mr. Speaker, we should also commend the Government for its commitment to helping to expand small businesses. In my riding of Kitchener Centre, I am consistently amazed by many small business owners and their willingness to find innovative ways of doing things. This progressive spirit confirms to me why small businesses can and will be prepared to compete in an increasingly competitive global economy.
To illustrate this government’s commitment to small business, I will start by noting that Budget 2012 extends the temporary hiring credit for small business by one year – an investment of $205 million. An investment like this not only reduces payroll costs but it helps small businesses to retain more of their earnings for expansion. It permits them to create new jobs!
Building on this dedication to expand small and medium-sized businesses, we have proposed an additional $95 million over three years to make the Canadian Innovation Commercialization Program permanent. This program has shown exceptional results. It connects small and medium-sized companies with federal departments and agencies. It builds their capacity. In supporting programs like this, we are providing a solid foundation for these companies to compete in the marketplace. We position them to further create high-value jobs and long-term economic growth.
In addition to our commitment to building the private sector and helping small businesses, Budget 2012 offers much more.
In keeping with our promise to ensure prosperity for years to come, we have also upgraded our social programs to ensure future generations have a secure retirement to look forward to. We’ve given 10 years’ notice of a gradual increase in the age of eligibility for Old Age Security starting in April 2023. We are also allowing for the voluntary deferral of the basic OAS for up to five years starting on July 1, 2013. These important changes will ensure that the cost of the Old Age Supplement remains balanced and proportionate well into the future.
Moreover, following a triennial review of the Canada Pension Plan by finance Ministers, we’ve confirmed that the plan will remain sustainable for at least the next 75 years giving our young people an assured sense of financial security.
By making responsible decisions like these Mr. Speaker, we are able to make considerable investments in skills training. We can support our science and technology sectors creating an optimal environment for high-value jobs. As our financial situation changes, older business practices are continually being superseded at a rapid rate in an emerging knowledge-based economy. Following an extensive review conducted by an expert panel in Fall of 2011, a number of recommendations were made on how the Government could improve our support for innovative businesses. Canadian businesses spoke, and the Government listened.
We knew we needed a new approach to directly support innovation in Canada and this budget delivers. Economic Action Plan 2012 contributes $1.1 billion over five years for direct research and development support. It also makes $500 million available for venture Capital. This funding will go towards research collaborations, new procurement opportunities, and applied research financing.
Innovation leads to success. I’ve seen many examples of this in my riding.
Of course, a driving premise behind this budget, and every Conservative budget to date, has been keeping taxes low so that hard working Canadian families can continue to thrive during globally challenging times.
Unfortunately, our friends across the aisle still seem not to understand the importance of this low-tax agenda. They believe that raising taxes will somehow magically create prosperity.
I cannot stress enough the savings this low-tax approach will deliver for Canadians. Our Government paid down over $37 billion in debt between the years of 2006 – 2008, before the global recession, which maintained Canada’s low net debt position through the recession.
And even still, we were able to implement a remarkable stimulus phase included in Canada’s Economic Action Plan.
Even in times of global economic fragility, the Government is continuing to focus on the drivers of job creation and growth. Learning from the International landscape has shown us the importance of taking action now, rather than delaying. We are prudent. We are far-sighted. We are planning for the future.
I am reminded of a comment made by one of Canada’s great Prime Ministers, Wilfred Laurier; “In 1908 Canada has become a star to which is directed the gaze of the whole civilized world. That is what we have done”, he declared.
Today over 100 years later we can once again say that Canada has become a star to which is directed the gaze of the whole civilized world. That is what the Government has done with our Economic Action Plan. And that work continues with this Bill.
We’ve delivered many promises to date, and I remain proud to support a Government that will continue to place priority on a balanced budget and building a strong economy for all Canadians.