Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for sharing a lot of the history of InSite. It is fantastic to hear how that unfolded and how we ended up with the site in Vancouver.
One of the interesting things we are hearing from the other side is a lot of talk about communities and how communities need to have their voices heard. We are representing the community. The member comes from the community where this site is located.
Once upon a time, I had the opportunity to live in the Vancouver area, in the city of north Vancouver, and worked in the downtown east side quite often. I would see individuals on the street in the 1990s with needles in their arms. One of the things that the social workers and the folks in the downtown east side would say was that they wished they had a facility where they could at least monitor these people to ensure they were not dying and give them an opportunity to know that treatment was there, where they knew they could step into a building, not feel judged, do what they had to do safely and then be offered treatment if they were ready for it. InSite is doing that.
Could my colleague comment on that?
Mr. Speaker, on November 8, Typhoon Haiyan slammed into the Philippines with devastating force, killing thousands of people and leaving millions more homeless. In my riding of North Vancouver, the Metro Vancouver Philippine Arts & Cultural Exposition Society, also known as MV-PACES, responded by organizing a typhoon relief event in support of those affected.
This Friday, at 7 p.m., I look forward to joining the team at the new Barangay NorthVan community centre, where we will be holding a telethon seeking donations for the Red Cross. These donations are worth twice their weight, since our government is matching eligible charitable donations through the federal Typhoon Haiyan relief fund.
Following the typhoon's landfall, our government responded quickly by committing $20 million and our world-renowned disaster assistance response team, known as DART, to address the escalating humanitarian crisis. Working together with governments, aid agencies, and dedicated local organizations like MV-PACES, it is both my hope and belief that we will be able to help survivors and save lives.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to this private member's bill today, particularly because it deals with Canada's retirement income system. This is an issue about which I and the Conservative government feel very strongly.
Seniors in my riding of North Vancouver, and indeed across Canada, have spent their lives working hard to build stronger communities within a more prosperous Canada. Many seniors have made great sacrifices to provide the lifestyle and privileges that so many of us enjoy and sometimes take for granted. It is their hard work that has helped make Canada the greatest nation in the world.
We have tremendous respect for Canadian seniors. That is why our government has been demonstrating our commitment to them for more than seven years.
For example, we established October 1 as National Seniors Day. We have funded more than 11,000 new horizons for seniors program projects in hundreds of communities across Canada, including in my community of North Vancouver. We have invested in helping seniors quickly access information about the programs and services they need in their communities. We have passed the Protecting Canada's Seniors Act.
The Protecting Canada's Seniors Act is an important piece of legislation regarding a very critical issue. It will help ensure consistent, tough penalties for crimes involving elder abuse. The act confirms that age and other personal circumstances will be considered as aggravating factors for criminals who target the elderly.
Our government has also taken concrete action to ensure that seniors and pensioners continue to have more money in their pockets, so that they can enjoy the quality of life they have worked so hard to achieve. For example, we have introduced pension income splitting, doubled the maximum amount of income eligible for pension income credit, increased the maximum GIS earnings exemption to $3,500, increased the age credit by $1,000 in 2006 and another $1,000 in 2009, and increased the age limit for maturing pensions and RRSPs to 71 from 69 years of age. The government has also introduced the highly praised tax free savings account and cut the GST from 7% to 6% to 5%. Overall, our action has resulted in the delivery of over $2.7 billion in targeted tax relief to seniors.
Let me tell the House about some of the seniors who are benefiting. People like Harold and Shirley, a retired couple, are real people. For many years, they worked hard and paid their taxes. Each year, they receive $55,000 and $25,000 respectively in pension income. As a result of the actions our government has taken since 2006, they now have more money in their pockets.
Harold and Shirley are expected to pay $2,260 less in personal income tax. This includes about $700, which they have saved by taking advantage of pension income splitting, and about $960 from the doubling of the pension income credit and the increases in the age credit. They are also paying $740 less because of our GST cut. This adds up to a total of $3,000 in tax relief for 2013 alone. This allows Harold and Shirley to keep more of their pension income right where it belongs: in their wallets.
This year's economic action plan builds on these efforts and contains more measures to benefit seniors. For example, we are expanding tax relief for home care services to include personal care services for those who, due to age, infirmity or disability, require assistance at home. Our government is supporting palliative care services by providing the Pallium Foundation of Canada with $3 million over the next three years to support training for front-line health care providers. We are assisting in the construction and renovation of accessible community facilities by investing $15 million a year in the enabling accessibility fund.
Seniors are benefiting not only from these measures but also from our country's strong retirement income system. This system is based on three pillars. The first pillar is the old age security program, which provides a basic minimum pension for all Canadians.
The second pillar includes the Canada pension plan and Quebec pension plan. These plans ensure a basic level of earning replacement for working Canadians. They currently provide over $45 billion per year in benefits.
The third pillar of Canada's retirement system includes tax-assisted private savings opportunities to allow Canadians to accumulate additional retirement savings. This includes registered pension plans, registered retirement savings plans, and, as I mentioned earlier, the tax-free savings account we introduced.
Though this three-pillar system is strong, we have taken action to improve it. In 2012, our government passed Bill C-25, the Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act, to provide employers, employees, and the self-employed with an accessible large-scale and low-cost pension option.
For millions of Canadians, PRPPs, as they are called, will provide access to a low-cost pension arrangement for the very first time. They will enable more workers to benefit from the lower investment management costs that result in a large pooled pension plan.
PRPPs are portable and represent a tremendous opportunity for many employees and small businesses that want greater pension plan options as they prepare for retirement.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business welcomed our PRPP legislation, stating that “PRPPs will be an excellent addition to the retirement savings options for small business owners and their employees.”
We agree. PRPPs are an outstanding addition that will benefit millions of Canadians. It is estimated that 60% of Canadians are not provided with a pension plan by their employer. PRPPs would fill this gap.
I would also like to note that the system our government is building on is one of the greatest retirement income systems in the world. Canada's retirement income system is recognized around the world as a model that succeeds in reducing poverty among seniors. It also provides high levels of replacement income to retirees.
Andrew Coyne of the National Post wrote:
By most measures, Canada's retirement income support system is an outstanding success. The poverty rate for Canadian seniors...is among the lowest in the world.
He is correct.
Unfortunately, the bill we are debating today, Bill C-513, does nothing to benefit Canada's strong and world-renowned retirement income system and brings no value to helping seniors. In fact, the private member's bill from the member for York West could seriously impair key aspects of the existing pension and retirement savings system. It falsely claims to provide a retirement income bill of rights, but in fact the bill would only impact pensions that are federally regulated—that is, less than 10% of all pension plans in Canada. To be clear, over 90% of all pension plans in Canada are not covered by this bill.
The bill also unnecessarily duplicates existing provisions in federal pension legislation, such as information disclosure provisions to pension plan members and retirees, and fiduciary requirements for pension plan administrators.
Bill C-513 also falsely claims to enhance the financial literacy of Canadians. Indeed, the bill is repetitive and would introduce needless complexities to our government's actions in this area over the past years.
With financial products constantly evolving, we know that financial literacy is an increasingly necessary skill for all Canadians to learn. As November is Financial Literacy Month, I am pleased to note that our government has taken action to increase the financial knowledge of Canadians. We began by establishing the task force on financial literacy and committing additional funding to the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada to undertake financial literacy activities.
We passed Bill C-28, the financial literacy leader act, to allow for the appointment of a financial literacy leader. Once appointed, the financial literacy leader will work with stakeholders across the country and direct a national strategy on financial literacy. This will empower Canadians by equipping them with the skills they need to make the best financial choices.
This year's budget also committed to better protecting seniors who use financial services. This initiative will be completed by working with banks and other financial institutions to ensure they develop and distribute clear information. This will help ensure seniors get the information they need about powers of attorney and other bank services geared toward seniors' needs.
Our commitment to financial literacy is clear. What is also clear is that this private member's bill is simply not in the best interests of Canadians.
We will continue to take action to benefit Canadians and seniors and to create prosperity for them and for all Canadians.
Mr. Speaker, I appreciate this opportunity today to highlight some of the key initiatives in economic action plan 2013 act no. 2.
I would like to begin by saying that our government is very proud of the steps we are taking to support the economy through today's legislation. As always, we want an open, public, and timely debate on these measures; we also look forward to a detailed committee study in the House and in the Senate.
In keeping with previous budget legislation under our government, in addition to having the bill studied by the finance committee, we will recommend even further study to the provisions in today's legislation. It is for that reason that we will be asking the following committees to look at certain portions of the bill: citizenship and immigration; human resources, skills and social development and the status of persons with disabilities; and justice and human rights. Indeed, I will move a motion at the finance committee to this effect once second reading is completed by the House.
I hope opposition members will give their support at second reading as an indication that they genuinely want these committees to study the legislation instead of just playing political games.
On that note, let me outline why the opposition should support this legislation.
Economic action plan 2013 builds on the strong foundation that was laid last year. In addition to the portfolio of initiatives we have introduced since 2006 with affordable measures to create jobs, promote growth, and generate long-term prosperity, it will help to further unleash potential for Canadian businesses and entrepreneurs to innovate and thrive in the modern economy.
Let us revisit the facts.
Today Canada has the strongest job growth among G7 countries since the recession. Our unemployment rate is at its lowest level in four years. It is significantly lower than that of the U.S., which is a phenomenon that has not been seen in nearly three decades. Meanwhile, we have created over one million net new jobs, nearly 80% of which are in the private sector, and our government continues to make new opportunities for Canadians to find employment. Today's legislation does little to detract from this goal.
Both the independent International Monetary Fund, IMF, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD, are projecting that Canada's growth will be among the strongest performances in the G7 in the years ahead. Real GDP is significantly above pre-recession levels and is the best performance in the G7.
While other countries continue to struggle with debt that is spiralling out of control, Canada is in the best fiscal position in the G7. Canada still remains on track to return to balanced budgets n 2015.
However, our government has been very clear that we will not raise taxes on Canadians to balance the budget. Unlike the NDP, which continues to push high-tax schemes, our government believes that keeping taxes low means more money in the pockets of hard-working Canadians, and that in turn helps keep our economy strong.
A recent study by KPMG concluded that Canada's total business tax cost, which includes corporate income tax, capital taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, and wage-based taxes is more than 40% lower than it is in the United States. In short, our government has created an environment that encourages new investment, growth, and job creation, and one that ensures Canada has the strongest fiscal position and the lowest business tax costs in the G7.
Having the lowest overall tax rate on new business investment in the G7 translates into Canada having a competitive business tax system, one that plays a key role in supporting businesses in all sectors of the Canadian economy to invest, grow, and thrive.
Let me share some highlights of our tax relief initiatives.
Our government has implemented broad-based tax reductions that support investment and growth and is delivering more than $60 billion of tax relief to job-creating businesses over 2008-09 and the following five fiscal years.
For example, in order to boost investments and productivity, we reduced the federal corporate income tax to 15% from its 2007 rate of 21%.
In addition, the federal capital tax was eliminated in 2006, and the only corporate tax was eliminated for all businesses in 2008.
Furthermore, we reduced the small business tax rate to 11% in 2008 from 12% in 2007, and subsequently the amount of income eligible for this lower rate was increased to $500,000 in 2009.
Canada's system of international taxation was strengthened in order to better support cross-border trade and investment and to improve fairness.
These measures are part of a policy framework designed to increase our economy's production capacity and improve Canadians' quality of life.
Cutting federal corporate income tax and making other tax adjustments boost the assumed rate of return on investment and reduce capital costs. These measures encourage businesses to invest in Canada and hire Canadians.
That approach increases Canada's production capacity and improves Canadians' quality of life.
Economic action plan 2013 focused on positive initiatives to support job creation and economic growth while returning to balanced budgets, ensuring Canada's economic advantage remains strong today and into the future.
However, the job does not end there. Bill C-4 would implement key measures from economic action plan 2013 as well as certain previously announced tax measures to help create jobs, stimulate economic growth, and secure Canada's long-term prosperity.
Our government's low-tax plan is helping to guide the Canadian economy along the path of sustainable economic growth. Bill C-4 builds on our successes and maintains our government's focus on the economy.
I would like to discuss three key aspects of the bill today: a continued focus on job creation and support for job creators, a firm response to tax loopholes and tax evasion, and an overall respect for taxpayers' dollars.
While we believe in the benefits of lower taxes, our government fully understands that sustaining an effective tax system also rests on the foundation of tax fairness. That is why economic action plan 2013 is committed to closing tax loopholes that allow a select few businesses and individuals to avoid paying their fair share. Broadening and protecting the tax base supports our government's effort to return to balanced budgets, responds to provincial governments' concerns about protecting provincial revenues on our shared tax bases, and helps give Canadians confidence that the tax system is indeed fair.
The efforts made to ensure that everyone pays their fair share also help keep taxes low for Canadian families and businesses. In so doing, there is more motivation to work, save and invest in Canada.
Since 2006, and including measures proposed in economic action plan 2013, the government has introduced over 75 measures to improve the integrity of the tax system. Today's legislation takes additional steps in support of this objective.
Two examples include further extending the application of Canada's thin capitalization rules—which limit the amount of Canadian profits that can be distributed to certain non-resident shareholders as deductible interest payments—to Canadian resident trusts and non-resident entities, and introducing stiff administrative monetary penalties and criminal offences to deter the use, possession, sale, and development of electronic suppression-of-sales software designed to falsify records for the purpose of tax evasion.
We are also providing the Canada Revenue Agency, the CRA, with new tools to enforce the tax rules to combat international tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance, all while we are taking immediate action to improve the integrity and neutrality of the tax system. Specifically, economic action plan 2013 does this by streamlining the process for the CRA to obtain information concerning unnamed persons from third parties, such as banks; requiring certain financial intermediaries, including banks, to report to the CRA clients' international electronic fund transfers of $10,000 or more; and introducing a new program to stop international tax evasion that would pay rewards to individuals who report major international tax non-compliance.
As the opposition can see, tax fairness is a basic principle that our government is committed to upholding. We make no apologies for doing so. In fact, we are proud of our record and we are building on it.
A level playing field is what Canadian businesses deserve and require, and we are delivering. For example, the Income Tax Act contains a number of provisions intended to constrain the trading of corporate tax attributes among arm's-length persons. Unfortunately, despite the various provisions intended to curtail the inappropriate trading of loss pools, transactions to circumvent these provisions continue to be undertaken.
Our government understands the need to introduce practical legislative measures to ensure that there are appropriate tax implications attached to these transactions. This bill does just that. It introduces an anti-avoidance rule to support the existing loss restriction rules that apply on the acquisition of control of a corporation.
As everyone can see clearly, our government is committed to putting in place the right framework to ensure tax compliance. The Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants had this to say about economic action plan 2013:
The budget looks to close tax loopholes, address aggressive tax planning, clarify tax rules, reduce international tax avoidance and tax evasion and improve tax fairness. It also provides the Canada Revenue Agency with new tools to enforce the tax rules.
The statement continued with a strong backing of our initiatives and stated:
We support efforts to maintain the integrity of the tax base....
The bottom line is this: our government is committed to fighting tax evasion and giving Canadians a tax system they can have confidence in. There are those who would rather take advantage of the system to skip their fair contribution; Bill C-4 introduces strong new measures to combat this and would ensure that any previously mentioned measures from economic action plan 2013 come to fruition.
Lowering taxes is not the only way our government is furthering taxpayers' dollars. Canadians deserve streamlined services and efficient programs.
Today's legislation contains several measures fully in line with our government's respect for taxpayers' dollars. A few examples include modernizing the Canada student loans program by moving to electronic service delivery, improving the efficiency of the temporary foreign worker program by expanding electronic service delivery, phasing out the labour-sponsored venture capital corporations tax credit, and modernizing service delivery for Canadians by accelerating the move from paper-based to automated passport application e-services.
These are all changes that I am extremely proud to speak to. It is measures like these that demonstrate our government's commitment to making it easier for Canadians to access services that are cost-effective and efficient. While many of the changes in Bill C-4 are technical in nature, many provide clear benefits for Canadians.
I know that my constituents back home expect a fiscally responsible government. Let us take the modernization of the Canada student loans program as an example. Students in my riding of North Vancouver rely on this important program to help achieve their goals and make their educational aspirations a reality. This change in Bill C-4 would not only eliminate a cumbersome and often long process of paper agreements and identification but would also provide the government with approximately $10 million in cost savings per year. It is just common sense to provide a better service to Canadians and while saving taxpayers' dollars at the same time. It is initiatives like this that make bills like today's all the more important to pass.
I have talked about how we are working hard to make our tax system fair and how we are doing everything possible to maximize taxpayer money, but I have not forgotten about an area that Canadians have on their minds: jobs.
Quite simply, our government values job creators and we have been working hard with them in recent years to ensure that they are in the best position possible to provide jobs for Canadians.
The legislation I have the privilege of speaking about today introduces some new ways our government can support job creation in this country. Examples include extending and expanding the hiring credit for small business, which would benefit an estimated 560,000 employers; increasing and indexing the lifetime capital gains exemption to make investing in small business more rewarding; expanding the accelerated capital cost allowance to further encourage investments in clean energy generation; freezing employment insurance premium rates for three years, leaving $660 million in the pockets of job creators and workers in 2014 alone.
Let me elaborate on one of these measures that I think will have a big impact for small businesses.
Among the many ways that Canada's income tax system supports small business owners, farmers and fishermen is the lifetime capital gains tax exemption, the LCGE. In order to increase the potential rewards of investing in small business, farming and fishing, economic action plan 2013 proposes to increase the LCGE from $750,000 to $800,000 in 2014. The exemption helps these entrepreneurs better ensure their financial security for retirement and facilitates the intergenerational transfer of their businesses. In 2007 our government increased the LCGE to $750,000 from $500,000, the first increase in the exemption since 1988.
In addition, to ensure the real value of the LCGE is not eroded over time, economic action plan 2013 proposes to index the $800,000 LCGE limit to inflation for the first time ever. The first indexation adjustment will occur for the 2015 taxation year. This is added security for the small business owner and provides financial freedom to create new jobs.
The initiatives set out in economic action plan 2013 are based on domestic government measures to improve the overall strength of Canada's tax system and to once again demonstrate our government's commitment to using taxpayers' money responsibly.
With a comprehensive and forward-looking agenda, these initiatives will deliver high quality jobs, economic growth and sound public finances.
Economic action plan 2013 would allow Canada to meet these challenges and emerge from them stronger than ever today and in the future.
While the opposition continues to focus on issues that do not matter to Canadians, our government remains focused on the task at hand. Economic growth did not stop at the last budget or the last budget implementation act for that matter. We continue to look for ways to maximize taxpayer dollars, increase the efficiency of the inner workings of government and make certain that job creation and economic prosperity are at the forefront of any new legislation. In this respect, the bill would make significant improvements that would benefit Canadians. I urge members of the House to pass it.
Mr. Speaker, in fact, CIBC World Markets stated in a report in December 2012 that 30% of businesses in Canada were facing a skilled labour shortage.
Furthermore, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce also pointed out that the skills shortage was the primary issue for its members.
Therefore, to help Canadians connect with available jobs, economic action plan 2013 sets out a three-point plan to address these challenges.
First, it introduces the new Canada job grant, which provides $15,000 or more per person, combining federal, provincial, territorial and employer funding. Once fully implemented, it is expected to provide nearly 130,000 Canadians each year with access to training at eligible institutions, including community colleges, career colleges and trade union training centres.
The CEO of the National Association of Career Colleges recognized the importance of these efforts when he said:
Thanks to the reforms proposed in this budget, including the new Canada Job Grant, an increased number of unemployed and underemployed Canadians will be able to obtain the training that they need to access jobs that are in demand now, and will be in the future
Second, our plan will create opportunities for apprentices. Supporting apprenticeships is a critical component in addressing Canada's work shortage because they allow students to learn skilled trades while gaining paid on-the-job work experience. Our government recognizes the value of apprentices, which is why we have invested nearly $2.7 billion per year since 2006 to support skills and training programs and have made support for apprentices and the employers that hire them a priority. It is evident in programs like the apprenticeship and incentive grant, the tradesperson's tools deduction and the apprenticeship job creation tax credit, to name a few.
In order to reduce the obstacles to the recognition of skilled trades and to improve the opportunities available to apprentices, our government will work with the provinces and territories in order to harmonize the requirements for apprentices and examine the use of practical tests as an evaluation method in targeted skilled trades.
This will ensure more apprentices complete their training and encourage mobility across the country. In addition, economic action plan 2013 announces that our government will support the use of apprentices in federal construction and maintenance contracts. We will also ensure that funds transferred to provinces and territories through the investment and affordable housing program support the use of apprentices. As part of the new building Canada plan for infrastructure, the government will encourage provinces, territories and municipalities to support the use of apprentices in infrastructure projects receiving federal funding.
Finally, economic action plan 2013 will also support labour market participation and a more inclusive skilled workforce with a range of measures that provide support to groups that are under-represented in the job market, such as persons with disabilities, youth, aboriginal people and newcomers, to help them find good new jobs.
I will give a few specific examples of some of the initiatives that will help make this three-point plan a reality.
To begin, our Conservative government recognizes the contributions persons with disabilities can and do make to the economy. That is why economic action plan 2013 will enhance skills training opportunities for Canadians with disabilities through a new generation of labour market agreements for persons with disabilities. These agreements will be introduced by 2014 and are designed to better meet the employment needs of Canadian businesses and improve the employment prospects for persons with disabilities.
Economic action plan 2013 also recognizes the importance of engaging with employers that are committed to promoting the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the workplace. That is why it provides an investment to support the creation of the Canadian employers disability forum as recommended by the Panel on Labour Market Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities.
The forum, an initiative led by a number of Canadian businesses, including Loblaw Companies Limited, will be managed by employers for employers to facilitate education, training and sharing of resources and best practices concerning the hiring and retention of persons with disabilities. Under the leadership of the forum, employers will help to promote and further the invaluable contributions that persons with disabilities can make to business.
In addition, in order to help more persons with disabilities acquire the experience they need to participate fully in the labour force, we are going to modernize and expand the opportunities fund for persons with disabilities in order to find demand-driven training solutions for these Canadians and to make it more responsive to labour market needs.
However, there is still more to come.
Economic action plan 2013 also extends the enabling accessibility fund on an ongoing basis at a level of $15 million per year to support capital costs of construction and renovations related to improving physical accessibility for persons with disabilities through projects with demonstrated community support, including workplace accommodation.
However, we are not the only ones who think these initiatives will help persons with disabilities find employment. In fact, the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, CCD, also agrees. According to the CCD, it was pleased to see that economic action plan 2013, “continued support for Canadians with disabilities through extension of the Labour Market Agreement for Persons with Disabilities, and the fact that the Enabling Accessibility Fund and the Opportunities Fund have been made permanent programs”. It goes on to say that it is “pleased to see the creation of a Canadian Employers’ Disability Forum that will seek greater engagement of the private sector in expanding employment opportunities for Canadians with disabilities”.
The praise does not end there. I think the Canadian Association for Community Living has it right when it openly supported our government's plans, saying:
Budget 2013 sets the right tone and target for people with disabilities...We know the tremendous potential that exists throughout this country to enable the 500,000 working-age Canadians with intellectual disabilities to join and help build Canada’s labour force.
Economic action plan 2013 also proposes strategic investments that target youth at different stages of their educational and early labour market careers. Providing young Canadians with the information and opportunities to make smart education and employment choices is essential in securing Canada's long-term economic prosperity. Indeed, economic action plan 2013 promotes education in high-demand fields by reallocating $19 million over two years to inform young people about fields of study that will help them get in-demand jobs, including science and engineering, mathematics and the skilled trades.
This also confirms our government’s commitment to Pathways to Education, a non-profit agency that provides a wide range of types of support to students from low-income communities, including tutoring and mentoring, in partnership with the private sector, other levels of government and community organizations.
Early support for high school students has been shown to drastically increase post-secondary education prospects for young people and ultimately employment. Since 2001, more than 1,000 students have graduated from the program, with 73% pursuing further studies. Because the transition to a first job can be challenging, economic action plan 2013 also provides support for an additional 5,000 paid internships for recent post-secondary graduates, ensuring they get valuable hands-on work experience to ease this transition.
Our investments in Canada's youth are also evident in the $330 million per year for the youth employment strategy to help young Canadians get the skills and work experience they need to transition to the workplace and the ongoing summer jobs program, which is an extremely popular program in my home riding of North Vancouver.
In addition to providing support for Canadians with disabilities and today's youth, our government is providing support to Canada's young aboriginal population as well. While young aboriginals are under-represented in both the labour market and in post-secondary institutions, there is tremendous potential for long-term success and economic prosperity.
That is why economic action plan 2013 invests $241 million over five years to improve the on-reserve income assistance program to help make it easier for first nations youth to find the skills and training needed to secure employment.
We are also going to work with the first nations to improve this program in order to ensure that young recipients who are in a position to work are encouraged to take the training required to find a job.
The new first nations job fund, totalling $109 million over five years, will fund the provision of personalized job training to these recipients. Economic action plan 2013 also confirms our government's commitment to consult with first nations across Canada on the development of a first nations education act.
At the same time, it proposes $10 million over two years to Indspire to provide post-secondary scholarships and bursaries for first nations and Inuit students. Led by Roberta Jamieson, Indspire has a proven record of success, providing scholarships to over 2,200 aboriginal students annually and raising significant support from a range of corporate donors to help support student success.
Indeed, Jamieson herself recognized the significance of this investment by saying:
With the federal government’s commitment of $10 million and its endorsement of Indspire's plan to match the funding with investment from the private sector, we'll be able to provide a total of $20 million in new funding for students.
Through this new investment, Indspire can provide scholarships to thousands of young people from first nations and Inuit communities, helping them to achieve their full potential and strengthening aboriginal communities throughout the country.
However, there is still more. Economic action plan 2013 also proposes $5 million over five years for Cape Breton University's Purdy Crawford Chair in Aboriginal Business Studies to encourage business studies by aboriginal students. This initiative will help build a brighter future for aboriginal youth and help to promote independence and economic self-reliance for aboriginal communities.
Every one of the initiatives that I have outlined so far will help connect Canadians with high quality jobs, improving not just their personal circumstances but also supporting their families, communities and the Canadian economy.
There is something else that our government has been doing since 2006 that helps to keep our economy strong as well, and that is keeping taxes low. The opposition might be interested to know that since 2006 we have cut taxes over 160 times, reducing the overall tax burden to its lowest level in 50 years. In fact, we have cut taxes in every way government collects them: personal taxes, consumption taxes, business taxes, excise taxes and much more. Overall our strong record of tax relief has meant savings for a typical family of four totalling over $3,200. This includes cutting the lowest personal income tax rate to 15%; introducing pension income splitting for seniors; reducing the GST from 7% to 5%; introducing and enhancing the working income tax benefit; introducing the tax-free savings account, the most important savings vehicle since RRSPs; reducing the small-business tax rate from 12% to 11%; and more.
It does not stop there. In economic action plan 2013, we extended and expanded the hiring credit for small business, helping an estimated 560,000 employers and saving them about $225 million in 2013 alone.
It is clear that our government has a plan to keep Canada's economy strong. Indeed, it is our economic leadership that helped Canada emerge from the worst economic recession since the Great Depression better than most other countries in the world. Not only does Canada have the best job creation record since the depth of the global recession, with over one million net new jobs created, but the IMF and the OECD project that Canada will have among the strongest economic growth in the G7 in the years ahead.
The primary responsibility of all nations is to balance efforts made in support of job creation and economic growth, while fulfilling their commitments to reduce the deficit and return to a balanced budget in the medium term.
Indeed, this is what Canada has done and what we will continue to do. In fact, the Vancouver Board of Trade recognized this balance by saying:
The government is demonstrating a commitment to returning to a balanced budget in the short term, but at the same time, supporting economic growth and job creation.... Given the state of the global economy—where we are seeing recessions, drops in national and sub-national credit ratings, and out-of-control deficits—we are truly fortunate in Canada to be contemplating balanced budgets, receiving AAA credit ratings, and growing our GDP.
It is unfortunate that the NDP and the Liberals do not share this view. While we are building a stronger Canadian economy and returning to balanced budgets, the Liberal leader openly admits he does not have a single idea on the economy and the NDP leader keeps pushing higher taxes and big spending schemes. We have a different route and we are going to take that route.
The electoral district of North Vancouver (British Columbia) has a population of 122,371 with 87,034 registered voters and 216 polling divisions.
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