Speech to Rotary - Patrick Brown's update on Budget 2012
April 12, 2012
It’s great to be here at Rotary again with all of you on the heels of a new budget, Economic Action Plan 2012, from our strong and stable Conservative majority Government.
I’m confident that what I highlight for you here today is a plan that addresses Canada’s needs for today and over the long-term. A plan that will benefit families, communities, workers, businesses, seniors, and Canada’s economy.
I’d like to begin by saying that, as Canadians, we hold a different level of financial security than other citizens of the world.
Our country took early, prudent action against the effects of the global economic recession back in 2008.
Today, we are in a stronger position for economic growth and long-term prosperity.
In the past two years, our Government has already cut Canada’s deficit from the recession in half. Our economy has created over 690,000 net new jobs since July 2009. We are in one of the strongest fiscal positions in the G-7.
But, we must remember, the global economy remains fragile.
Our Government’s Economic Action Plan 2012, a plan for Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity, builds on Canada’s successes by implementing moderate restraint in government spending.
The majority of savings will come from eliminating waste in internal government operations. By doing this, we will be able to stay on track to balance Canada’s budget over the medium term.
I’d like to be clear on two, very important, overall aspects of our plan.
The first is: we are not raising taxes. That’s a reckless idea that only the opposition parties like to ponder.
The second is: we are not cutting transfers to seniors or other levels of government for health, education or social services.
Creating and Protecting Jobs
What we are doing is working to strengthen the financial security of workers, businesses and families to help create good jobs and long-term prosperity from coast to coast to coast.
To help do this, for instance, we will extend by one year the Hiring Credit for Small Business – a measure we already know works to encourage employers to hire more workers.
We will invest in upgrades to infrastructure such as maintaining safe rail service, renewing the Canadian Coast Guard Fleet, and improving facilities at our borders.
Furthermore, we will increase funding for skills training for students, older workers, and those Canadians with disabilities.
Our Government also realizes that modernizing Employment Insurance goes hand-in-hand with the changing workforce demographic we’re facing ― I’ll elaborate more on this change to Canada’s workforce a little later.
But for now, we’ll create more stable, predictable EI premium rates, and make it easier for out-of-work Canadians to find new high-quality jobs.
Also, our Government will work to reform Canada’s immigration system. It needs to be more efficient and better at meeting our country’s labour market needs.
Supporting Families and Communities
Moving forward, our plan also builds on the action our Government has already taken for families and communities, which includes helping a typical Canadian family save nearly $3,100 on average per year.
We’ll continue to support ParticipACTION, which works with provincial and local partners to deliver community-based physical activity and fitness programs
And, we’ll expand Government support for families, students, seniors, and persons with disabilities with additional funding for ventures such as the Wage Earner Protection Program and an improvement to the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP).
Supporting Research and Innovation
Another part of our plan for jobs, growth and long-term prosperity, includes investing in innovation and world-class research. Economic Action Plan 2012 takes 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.
Budget 2012 also addresses innovation of small and medium sizes companies as well, such as Wolf Steel in Barrie, through the Industrial Research Assistance program.
I am happy to see the budget proposing an additional $110 million per year to double support for companies creating jobs through this program. Page 62 of the budget document highlights our investment in Wolf Steel in Barrie and this serves as a great example of how this approach is working to create jobs in my riding and all across Canada.
You might have heard of the Jenkins report. It found that Canada is not quite up to par with other advanced economies in these two areas of development.
In response to this, our plan includes substantial funding to help create value-added jobs through innovation.
We’ll also commit additional funding to support advanced research at universities and other leading research institutions.
We’ll better support the National Research Council and the Industrial Research and Development Internship program.
I was incredibly happy to make the announcement this past Monday on IBM coming to Barrie.
IBM's data processing centre is coming to Barrie as part of a national research and development project. Our Conservative government in Ottawa is investing as much as $20 million in this project for Barrie.
Construction of the 109,000-square-foot, LEED-certified centre is being completed at 505 Bayview Dr. and it will be ready this fall. The entire project is expected to create 145 full-time research and development jobs. These are not job transfers. These are new jobs. I think in Barrie we have an educated, talented workforce that can fill these jobs. This project will also generate $1.6 million in development charges for Barrie and new annual property tax revenue as well.
The building will include a data centre and a 'node' for the supercomputer that IBM is building. The three sites for the IBM supercomputer 'agile & cloud' computing infrastructure will be Barrie, Toronto and London.
Seven universities in southern Ontario will soon be using high performance and cloud computing infrastructure for research to help solve the world’s most complex problems,
including resource management, urban infrastructure, and neurological disorders, thanks to our government’s investment.
Our Government has been building on the strengths found in our region to support the advancement of science and technology and help create value-added jobs. We are proud to invest in supercomputing infrastructure that will position southern Ontario at the forefront of research and development in areas that are not only critically important to our communities, but also show great commercial promise
These opportunities will be explored through partnerships with local businesses that will be looking to develop new systems for managing traffic, food distribution, electricity, water monitoring, urban planning as well as new tools which can be used to diagnose and treat neurological disorders. To remain on the leading edge of research, consortium members will also turn their attention to the development of next generation hardware and software for supercomputers.
Canada needs more knowledge-based industries to diversify our national economic portfolio beyond the current over-weighting of commodities and natural resources and help eliminate our identified innovation gap.
The platform is expected to help increase Canadian competitiveness in the global economy by bringing new specialized skills in data management and analysis, software engineering and production to southern Ontario. As a result, communities like Barrie, across the region and country stand to benefit from new economic opportunities and diversification.
Ten, even five years ago, there was a sense of pessimism that Barrie could ever win these jobs. These are high-paying, highly skilled jobs that are going in our back yard. Canada is world renowned known as a major player in the energy sector, but not held in the same regard when it came to innovation or new technology. This announcement is a great indicator that we have turned the corner.
This is the type of technology we're going to see in cities across the world for years to come and I am so pleased that Barrie was selected by our government for this partnership with the University of Toronto and IBM.
Making Canada the Best Place to Invest
Yet another part of our plan includes creating a Canada in which businesses want to invest.
Since taking office in 2006, our government has supported small business by keeping tax rates low. I am pleased that our Government did not follow the call from the other parties in the house to rollback the series of graduated business tax reductions passed by a majority of parliamentarians in 2007. Some parties even wanted to rollback and increase the burden on business by saddling them with taxes surpassing pre-2007 levels. These reductions were designed to keep Canada competitive with our trading partners and our government understood that this strategy was working for Canadian business. We understand business needs clear timelines to plan correctly. We kept our promise and we know business appreciates that.
We continue to be committed to corporate tax rates being one of the most attractive the world to encourage even more investment from abroad into our great country and we’ll continue to undertake the most ambitious trade expansion plan in Canada’s history, strengthening our ties with the US, seeking new free trade agreements with India and the European Union, and building upon our relationship with the Asia-Pacific region including exciting new opportunities with Japan and Thailand.
Old Age Security
You might remember that earlier I touched on how Canada’s workforce demographic is changing.
As an example, the average life expectancy of Canadians is on the rise. The largest age cohort in history, the baby boom generation, is already at or close to retirement.
Meanwhile, Canada’s birth rate has been dropping.
There are currently four working, tax-paying Canadians for every senior. In twenty years, there will be just two.
Also, consider it has been estimated that the cost of Old Age Security will grow by $70 billion in just under twenty years if no action is taken.
That’s why, on its current path, OAS is unsustainable.
Our Government will work to protect the retirements of current and future seniors by increasing the eligibility age for OAS from 65 to 67.
On this issue, we’re being proactive. The change will not come into effect until 2023.
We’ll gradually phase it in so that those who are 54 years of age or older as of March 31, 2012, will not be affected.
This is action that is needed to sustain OAS for future generations of recipients.
Action on the Environment
Canadian families deserve the cleanest air, water, and environment possible. That’s why, since 2006, our Conservative Government has made major investments to preserve our environment and protect the health and well-being of Canadian families for today and tomorrow.
Economic Action Plan 2012 builds on our Conservative Government’s impressive record of supporting a cleaner and more sustainable environment.
This budget proposes $50 million over two years for the protection wildlife species at risk. The Species at Risk Act is one of the Government’s main conservation tools to
protect wildlife species, maintain healthy ecosystems and preserve Canada’s natural heritage.
We are also committing to the creation of a new near-urban national park in Rouge Valley (Ontario). And I am particularly pleased with our committing to the continued support of Canada’s lakes – including Lake Winnipeg and Lake Simcoe.
In 2008, the federal government’s unprecedented $30 million funding for Lake Simcoe clean-up was an extremely welcomed initiative for the residents of Barrie. Phosphorus levels were becoming alarmingly high and our government acted where no other federal government had done so before.
The health of our lake is paramount to the future of the City of Barrie and the surrounding area with tourism being so important to my region. The progress we have made so far is very encouraging. There have been significant declines in these levels but there is still more work to be done. Lake Simcoe is cleaner and the Minister of Finance saw this as a good investment. This is great news for Barrie and I appreciate his continued support.
What I’ve highlighted so far just skims the surface of all the ways our Government is supporting families, communities, workers, businesses and seniors through our plan for jobs, growth and long-term prosperity.
For instance, I haven’t yet mentioned we’ll eliminate the penny. Did you know it costs you, the taxpayer, more than a penny-and-a-half every time one is made? By stopping production of the penny this fall, our government will do what should have been done years ago. An independent study estimated the economic costs of maintaining the penny amounted to $150 million.
Pennies take up far too much time for businesses and consumers alike, and many agree it should have been done away with long ago.
Eliminating the penny is a lot like the penny itself. Producing pennies may not seem like much in the context of the entirety of the federal budget much in the same way that a single penny is not what makes or breaks a family’s monthly budget.
However, as small as these small things may seem to be, they can certainly add up to something significant over time. Former US President Ronald Regan once said “Government is the people's business and every man, woman and child becomes a shareholder with the first penny of tax paid.”
We have a responsibility to our Canadian shareholders. No amount of cost is insignificant. No amount of waste is acceptable.
As with the elimination of the penny, there is a pattern to everything I’ve presented today, and that pattern is long-term success.
Success for you, your children and grandchildren. Success for today’s workers, businesses and future entrepreneurs. Success for seniors as well as future retirees.
I’m confident our Government’s plan is the right one for Canadians today, tomorrow, and from coast to coast to coast.
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