Speaking Notes for a Speech on the Budget

March 26, 2013

Mr. Speaker, thank you for this opportunity to speak about yet another excellent budget presented by the Finance Minister.

I must say Mr. Speaker that this is the ninth time in a row that the minister has addressed the issues that were discussed in my pre-budget consultations in my great riding of Leeds-Grenville.

And I know that my constituents are pleased with what they see on the pages of this latest budget.

There are a great number of items that address my riding but let me explain a few.

Economic development is a key issue in my riding. We are always eager to welcome large plants and businesses to the riding but more often than not, the businesses that are starting up and expanding in my riding are small businesses.

And, more often than not they need a hand up along the way.

That is where the Community Futures Development Program comes into play.

This is the economic development arm of the federal government at work on the ground in ridings such as mine.

Working with a volunteer board of directors that is made up of local people, these boards know what is needed in the communities they serve.

Over the past few years they have received an additional shot in the arm through the Eastern Ontario Development Fund.

This is a $10 million a year fund that is shared throughout eastern Ontario and it has allowed a great deal more work to be undertaken to aid economic development.

From feasibility studies to direct aid, this funding is making a huge difference throughout Leeds-Grenville.

Mr. Speaker I am pleased that the Finance Minister is renewing the Eastern Ontario Development Program for five years beyond 2014 through continued funding in Fed-Dev Ontario.

And while I am on this subject I want to take this opportunity to thank the hard working folks at the three CFDCs that serve my riding; the Thousand Islands CFDC in Brockville, the Grenville CFDC in Prescott, and the Valley Heartland CFDC in Smiths Falls.

I know their work is appreciated in their areas.

Mr. Speaker, my riding is a border riding. The mighty St. Lawrence River, the route that brought the explorers inland to discover what is now Canada, is a narrow boundary that separates my riding from the United States.

Leeds-Grenville is fortunate to have two border crossings -one is directly south of here at Johnstown, and a second is in the heart of the Thousand Islands near Lansdowne.

Last spring I was pleased to be able to participate in the grand opening of the refurbished border crossing at Johnstown. That renewed facility has been received with great enthusiasm in my riding.

The question arose again at that time, of the refurbishment of the busy Lansdowne crossing. More than 2 million vehicles, private and commercial, cross the bridges each year at that border facility.

By any measure, this is a busy crossing.

I am pleased to see that there is a commitment to upgrade the border facilities at the Thousand Islands crossing in this budget. I know that this refurbishment will be well received also and provide better service for travelers and commercial operators returning to, or entering into, Canada.

Let me speak for a few minutes about infrastructure.

Many communities along the St Lawrence River in my riding are older communities, having had their start when the United Empire Loyalists arrived to settle eastern Ontario.

Still others, such as Kemptville in North Grenville, are expanding raidly.

One common issue among them all is the need for infrastructure building and renewal.

When I meet with municipal officials, this is a common theme.

They appreciated when our government made the gas tax permanent. This gave them a stable predictable source of funding and all municipalities have used this money wisely.

Just last week I was in Brockville celebrating the completion of a major project on that community’s recreation centre that was partially paid for by gas tax money.

All of the communities in my riding are pleased with the renewed commitment to infrastructure funding.

The new long-term infrastructure program will provide $70 billion over 10 years which we have already heard is the largest and longest commitment of infrastructure money in Canada.

Mr. Speaker, $32.2 billion of this goes to the Community Improvement Fund to build roads, public transit, recreational facilities and other community infrastructure.

I know that this fund will be well used by the communities in Leeds-Grenville.

There is $14 billion for the renewed Building Canada Fund to support major economic projects of national and regional significance.

There were several major projects undertaken in my riding that have regional significance during the last round of this type of funding. The Port of Prescott is an example where infrastructure was refurbished to ensure that area municipalities could continue to obtain salt for their roads without having to truck it from the Sarnia area.

Area farmers are able to drop off and store corn at the new facilities.

And this is just one example for where this fund was used previously.

I know that municipalities in my riding are waiting for details on this fund.

Mr. Speaker I want to also speak briefly about the new initiative for re-training – the Canada Job Grant.

My riding was hit hard by the closure of manufacturing plants. Every community in my riding was affected as factories closed in the wake of the economic adjustment that has taken place over the past decade.

I am talking about plants that had been operating in communities in one form or another for, in some cases, close to, or more than, a century.

These were plants where people growing up in these small towns knew they could get work when they graduated from high school, college and university.

When the plants closed, many of these hard-working people didn’t know anything else and didn’t know where to turn for another job.

Thanks to programs instituted by our government many were able to receive retraining, acquire new skills and move onto new jobs.

But there are still some who have been left behind. Either they were trained for jobs that don’t exist or don’t meet their expectations, or they were unable to find a meaningful program.

The Canada Job Grant will help these folks and many others across Canada.

Employers and employees will meet in the marketplace and with the help of the Canada Job Grant outlined in our budget employees will receive direct training for a jobs that exist.

They will know that when they are finished their training they will be able to get to work and start earning money.

Mr. Speaker, the Canada Job Grant will provide at least $15,000 for re-training. We know that the average re-training cost is about $7,000 and takes well less than a year.

So in a minimal amount of time there will be an employer with a job filled and a previously unemployed person in a productive job.

The budget also strengthens the apprenticeship program making it easier to get needed experience for journeyman status and provides tools for persons with disabilities, youth, aboriginals and recent immigrants, to find work.

Businesses will be helped to succeed and grow with a two-year extension of the temporary Accelerated Capital Cost Allowance for new machinery and equipment; an extension and expansion of the temporary Hiring Credit for small business; and an increase in the lifetime capital gains exemption to $800,000 for small business owners, farmers and fishers and indexing the new exemption limit to inflation.

All these items are great news for the businesses in my riding.

The government will continue its support for advanced research, supporting business innovation and enhancing Canada’s venture capital system.

Families have not been forgotten in the new budget as well.

New tax relief will be provided for families adopting a child, using home-care services, and purchasing a number of items such as baby clothing, sporting goods and exercise equipment that will have the import tariffs removed.

These may seem like small things, but they make a big difference to the pocket-books of most people in my riding.

A new consumer code will be developed for people using financial products and the government will work with provinces to help protect the vulnerable who use pay day loan services.

The government will provide close to $1.9 billion over five years to create more affordable housing and to combat homelessness.

One of the items that I see as very important in my riding is the new super credit for those who are donating to a charity for the first time, or who haven’t donated for more than five years.

There are many charitable organizations in my riding and I myself have been able to help support my local United Way through a charity hockey game each year.

This new super credit will help encourage people to give to help others in their community.

Mr. Speaker there are two final points I wish to make.

First, is that the finance minister has accomplished all of this without raising taxes and without cutting transfers to provinces for health care, education and other important services.

In 2013-14 total major transfers to Ontario will total $19.9 billion – almost $3.2 billion through equalization, almost $12 billion through the Canada Health Transfer and $4.7 billion through the Canada Social Transfer.

As well, the finance minister is on track to eliminate the deficit by 2015-16.

There is much more outlined in the budget document but overall it is an excellent budget for my riding of Leeds-Grenville and once again I want to thank the finance minister for listening to the people of Leeds-Grenville.