Dave MacKenzie Shows his Support for Budget 2011 with a Speech in the House of Commons Chambers

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my good friend and colleague from Wild Rose. Let me congratulate you on your appointment to the chair. I know you will do a great job in the House and with civility breaking out all over, it will be an easy job.

I would also like to thank the great people of Oxford for instilling their trust in me again to represent their interests in Ottawa, as well as my wonderful team of volunteers who were indispensable in making my re-election a reality. I would be remiss if I did not thank the great staff who represent me in my riding of Oxford and do a tremendous job. They make me look good and I appreciate that.

I am eager to move from the March 22 presentation of the budget to where we are now. It was derailed with an unnecessary election and Canadians and the people of Oxford spoke on May 2. They gave us a clear mandate to move forward with budget 2011 when they made their wishes clear at the ballot boxes across this great nation, giving Canadians a long overdue, strong Conservative majority in the House of Commons.

We on this side of the House will honour their directive by keeping our promises and commitments to secure economic recovery for all Canadians today and for generations to come. On this side of the House we plan to continue to do this by supporting job creation, strengthening our families and communities, investing in the economy of tomorrow by providing increased support for research and technology, and by working diligently to preserve Canada’s fiscal advantage to keep it on the right track to balanced budgets by eliminating ineffective spending, limiting spending growth and closing unfair tax loopholes. The next phase of
Canada’s economic action plan would keep taxes low to promote jobs and economic growth while supporting Ontario families and seniors.

Let us talk about the unnecessary election triggered by the opposition that kept much-needed cheques out of struggling Canadian seniors’ pockets. We believe this to be an injustice to Canada’s backbone and will do everything within the parliamentary limits to ensure that Canada’s seniors are treated with the respect they deserve.

Our first step is to ensure support for seniors in the next phase of the economic action plan. The plan builds on the support in place for seniors by announcing new measures to improve the quality of life and expand opportunities for older Canadians, including those living in my riding of Oxford.

A new guaranteed income supplement top-up benefit targeted to the most vulnerable seniors effective July 1, 2011 will be available to seniors with little or no income other than old age security and the guaranteed income supplement. These seniors will receive additional annual benefits of up to $600 for single seniors and $840 for couples. Single recipients with an annual income other than OAS and GIS of $2,000 or less and couples with an annual income of $4,000 or less will receive the full amount of the benefit.

There would be a provision of $10 million over two years to increase support for the new horizons for seniors program, which provides funding to organizations that help ensure that seniors, including those in my riding, can benefit from and contribute to the quality of life in their communities through active living and participation in social activities.

The residents of Oxford are not strangers to the new horizons for seniors program. Most recently, the South Gate Centre in Woodstock, the Town of Tillsonburg Non-Profit Housing Corporation and the Victoria Order of Nurses-Oxford Branch received funding under this program to improve the quality of life for seniors across Oxford.

However, we did not stop there. We also introduced $50 million over two years to extend the targeted initiative for older workers program until 2013-14. This is a federal-provincial-territorial employment program that provides a range of employment activities for unemployed older workers in vulnerable communities with populations of less than $250,000 to help them stay in the workforce. That is up to $840 million in new financial support for needy Canadian seniors. That is a budget I can throw my support behind.

Many families in Oxford will also be able to benefit from several important initiatives in this budget. Grants of up to $5,000 are available for people to make improvements to their homes and make them more energy efficient. This would save them energy costs over the long term, as well as benefit the environment.

Two important tax credits would allow families to receive a tax receipt for expense related to providing care for family members as well as extracurricular activities for their children.

The family caregiver tax credit would provide $2,000 for caregivers of loved ones with infirmities, including for the first time spouses, common law partners and minor children.

The new children’s arts tax credit would enable hard-working families to claim up to $500 in eligible fees for programs associated with arts, cultural, recreational and developmental activities.

The rural areas in my riding rely on the excellent service of our volunteer firefighters. I am so pleased that the constituents in my riding who are volunteer firefighters will now be eligible to receive a $3,000 non-refundable tax credit. I have heard from many constituents expressing their support for this tax credit.

Seniors are the backbone of our great nation and students are our bright future. We want all students to succeed in the global economy with the help of the best education possible.

The next phase of Canada’s economic action plan includes several measures to help students acquire the education and training they need to prosper, such as student loan forgiveness for doctors and nurses working in rural and remote areas. Practising family physicians will be eligible for federal Canada student loan forgiveness of up to $800 per year to a maximum of $40,000. Nurse practitioners and nurses will be eligible for federal Canada student loan forgiveness of up to $4,000 per year to a maximum of $20,000.

We will also be extending tax relief for skills certification exams, making all occupational trade and professional exam fees eligible for tax relief through the tuition tax credit.

In addition to these wonderful initiatives to further aid Canadian students, we are doubling the in-study income exemption from $50 per week to $100 per week. This initiative will benefit over 100,000 students by allowing them to work more without negatively affecting their loans.

We understand that family support and involvement is key to any undertaking, whether it be professional or personal. That is why we are increasing the family income threshold for part-time Canada student loan and Canada student grant recipients, bringing the eligibility thresholds in line with the thresholds used for full-time students.

The residents of Oxford and all Canadians can look forward to $15 million in ongoing funding to the Canada periodical fund, which supports the distribution of publications in Ontario and across the country. I know that many newspapers serving Oxford and the rest of rural Canada will applaud this initiative as they have been recipients of the funding in the past.

Also, municipalities across Canada can rest assured the next phase of Canada’s economic action plan includes legislation to make the gas tax funding for municipalities permanent. Canada’s government will be putting into law the permanent annual investment of $2 billion in gas tax funding for cities and towns to support infrastructure projects. Over four years the municipalities of Oxford will receive a staggering total of $25,216,242.

I like many Canadians understand that farmers feed cities and that is why the initiative for the control of diseases in the hog industry will be extended by an additional two years. The government will be providing $24 million over two years to enable the Canadian Swine Health Board to complete initiatives directed at national biosecurity standards and best management practices that will benefit hog producers across the country.

There is so much more that I could say about the whole budget. I just wish that the budget had stood on March 22 to reach the stage that it is at today before the House so that Canadians would have the benefit of all of the good things in this 2011 budget.

Please visit www.budget.gc.ca to view Budget 2011.