The House resumed from May 5 consideration of the motion that Bill , be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.
Mr. Speaker, my riding had the honour of a visit from the for a highly anticipated announcement about day cares.
About one month ago, my riding had the pleasure of welcoming the for a long-awaited announcement on child care. The purpose of the visit was to draw attention to our long-term funding commitment to child care. The $7 billion 10-year time frame will support and create more high-quality, affordable child care spaces across our great country.
Over the next three years, these investments will increase the number of child care spaces for low and modest income families by supporting up to 40,000 new subsidized child care spaces. This is incredibly important for Manitoba, the province I represent, because more than 14,000 children are on waiting lists for licensed child care spaces.
Parents who want to return to work need to have quality, affordable, safe day care options.
While creating child care spaces is incredibly important, we need to ensure we have long-term funding, which is equally important. Our government has committed to be a long-term partner, with the provinces, by providing 10-year funding for the spaces created by our initial investment. This is a stable, responsible, and long-term investment by our government for middle-class families.
I would also remind the House that early childhood was one of the priorities identified by official language minority communities during the Standing Committee on Official Languages' study.
It is also a priority for indigenous communities across the country.
I would also like to talk about the historic health care agreements reached between Ottawa and the provinces and territories, with the exception of Manitoba.
Just as there are changes occurring in the workplace, the demands for our health care system are changing. Our government has clearly indicated a willingness to partner with the provinces to bring about transformational changes to meet the health care needs of Canadians.
Our priority should always be the well-being of Canadians and making sure that the care available is equitable and universal.
The question is how best to invest in the future.
Across the country, governments are trying to find ways to adapt to our population's needs for today and tomorrow. Research has shown that receiving better in-home care provides greater benefit to one's overall well-being. That is why our government is investing in better home care and better mental health initiatives that will help families that need it most. There are $6 billion of new money over 10 years for better home care and $5 billion of new money over 10 years to support mental health initiatives. This is over and above a 3% annual increase for the provinces and territories that sign on for better medical services. These targeted investments will strengthen Canada's publicly funded universal health care system and address key health care priorities over the long term. It is what we have heard from Canadians.
The final point I want to highlight is the very important measures we are taking to advance reconciliation with indigenous peoples. This is an issue of particular importance in Manitoba. I am extremely proud of the progress our government has made since the election. For example, as I speak, $58 million are currently being invested in 24 first nations in Manitoba to prevent and address long-term drinking water advisories and improve the capacity and reliability of water and waste water systems. Of these 24 projects currently occurring in Manitoba, one is in the feasibility stage, 10 are in the design stage, and 13 are at the construction stage. These are critical investments toward our goal of ending all long-term drinking water advisories in first nation communities across our country.
In addition, budget 2017 builds on last year's historic investments for indigenous communities. We are investing over $3.4 billion over the next five years in first nations, Inuit, and Métis health infrastructure to strengthen indigenous communities, education and training, and measures to promote language and cultural revitalization.
As a proud Métis, I am particularly happy to see that the Métis National Council and its five provincial federations, including the Manitoba Metis Federation, will receive $85 million over five years to help build governance capacity.
As a proud Métis, I am very pleased with the $85 million in funding over five years for the Métis National Council and the five provincial federations, including the Manitoba Metis Federation, to support and strengthen their governance capacity.
This is another important recognition of the Métis nation in Canada and another step toward reconciliation.
That is a brief recap of budget 2017. It responds to many of the top issues we have heard, which have been raised by my constituents during many meetings over many months. However, there is much more I can go on about.
There are $90 million over five years to enhance and preserve indigenous languages. There are infrastructure dollars. There are $16 billion over four years to support clean tech, as well as dollars for Lake Winnipeg.
Madam Speaker, on March 22, our government delivered its second budget and today I rise to talk about the ways in which budget 2017 is meeting the needs of my riding of Sudbury and, indeed, all of northern Ontario.
Budget 2017 continues on our government's plan to strengthen the middle class, the heart of Canada's and Sudbury's economies, and makes responsible investments. These will provide Canadians and Sudburians with good, well-paying jobs and opportunities in our new innovative economy. Budget 2017 makes smart investments to help adult workers retrain and upgrade their skills, adapt to changes in the new economy, and help young people get the skills and work experience they need to start their careers.
Budget 2017 invests in seniors and in youth.
We are investing in social housing, as well as making investments to support our veterans and first nations. These kinds of investments are needed for communities like Sudbury, which has achieved some measure of success.
For starters, budget 2017 provides a further $25 million in core funding for FedNor, the federal economic development agency for northern Ontario, over the next five years. The increase will boost FedNor's base budget to $46 million a year, reversing years of budget cuts.
Last fall, I worked with my colleague, the , the member for , to draft a growth strategy for northern Ontario. One of the things we heard loud and clear was that northerners want a budget increase for FedNor. They want to reverse years of Conservative government cutbacks. The recommendation to increase FedNor's budget was also supported by our northern Ontario caucus.
I was very pleased to see that our recommendation was taken into account in the budget and that our growth plan for northern Ontario is moving forward.
This is just the start of the good news, because there is a lot more for northern Ontario.
We are very pleased that budget 2017 is advancing Canada's efforts to build a clean economy. It is investing almost $22 billion in green infrastructure, including initiatives that will support the implementation of a pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change. Sudburians understand that a strong economy and a clean environment go hand in hand.
As I have said in this chamber many times before, my riding of Sudbury is an established global leader in the innovation of mining and of mining technology.
Sudbury has built quite a reputation. We are leaders in the mining sector. Our methods are more effective and proven than those anywhere else in the world.
Sudbury companies have been providing clean tech solutions to mining challenges for a generation, and now we are marketing these clean tech solutions all over the world. Today, Sudbury's mining and clean tech cluster consists of more than 300 companies. They employ almost 14,000 skilled workers and experts. Sudbury alone generates approximately $4 billion in revenue each year.
Increasingly, these mining supply and services companies are testing international waters. They are making inroads in the United States, Latin America, Africa, Europe, and Russia. The Sudbury companies behind these projects are using innovation to drive economic and environmental benefits. They are using innovation to create jobs and help strengthen this vital economic engine for Canada. They strengthen Canada's middle class in the process.
I want to share something that makes me even prouder: our government believes in the potential and power of green technologies, which create jobs and fuel innovation.
The global market for clean technologies is already more than $1 trillion per year and it is growing. It is creating well-paying, secure jobs for Canadians. Clean technology has contributed to the fight against climate change and it makes our economy more sustainable. I am proud that our government understands this potential.
This is why our recent budget makes significant investments in clean technology, including $200 million in support of clean technology research in Canada's natural resources sector, $12 million for a clean growth hub that will improve access to federal resources in labs for Canadian entrepreneurs and innovators, and more than $14 million to track our progress so we can report to Canadians. Canadian companies are capturing their share of the emerging global market for mining innovation in clean technology, and we support their efforts. We support them from waste management to biofuels to greener solutions for the oil and gas industry.
This is just the beginning of what budget 2017 means for Sudbury and northern Ontario.
Almost 10% of Sudbury's population is indigenous. There are several dozen first nations communities in northern Ontario, including some of the most remote communities in Canada. Budget 2017 includes a $4-billion investment into on-reserve infrastructure. This much needed investment will provide housing, health centres, and water treatment systems to communities that need them the most. As well, first nations people living off reserve will have access to a $225-million investment over the next 11 years. These investments will go toward needed repairs, renewals, rental subsidies, and new construction. These are important investments being made in first nations communities across northern Ontario.
Already this year, I have had the privilege of announcing $10 million for seniors' health and children's welfare for first nations people in northern Ontario. On top of that, on behalf of the , I was pleased to announced a $1-million investment to support the work of two top researchers in the Health Sciences North Research Institute at Laurentian University.
Their work will focus on finding new ways to address two serious challenges, specifically aging and dementia in first nations, Inuit, and Métis populations.
As well, I was proud to stand with the to announce an investment of more than $9 million to help first nations in northern Ontario raise their children in healthy and safe environments.
Our government will invest more than $11 billion under its new national housing strategy. These investments cover initiatives designed to build, renew, and repair Canada's stock of affordable housing. They will ensure that Canadians have adequate and affordable housing to meet their needs. This includes $225 million to improve housing conditions for indigenous peoples, as I have just said.
Through budget 2017, our government is advancing reconciliation as well with the indigenous peoples. It is advancing reconciliation through investments in infrastructure and first nations and Inuit health, through actions to strengthen indigenous communities, funding to support education and training, and measures to promote language and culture.
What I heard most often when I was going door to door before the 2015 election is that Sudburians wanted their federal government to start investing in social housing again. Our government heard that message. Our government has taken the necessary steps and is showing leadership on this.
In fact, housing is the largest single commitment in budget 2017. Our government's commitment is to rebuild, renew, and repair Canada's stock of affordable housing, and we will do that. Those initiatives include responses to indigenous housing crises on and off reserve. It is also promising more money for the provinces and municipal partners to spend on their own housing priorities.
Our government will create a new pooled investment fund that would pool resources among many housing partners, including the private sector. The fund would also expand an existing lending facility for municipalities and for the construction of new affordable housing.
One of the first things I did as an MP was to meet a number of housing service providers in Sudbury. I was shocked to learn that the Greater Sudbury Housing Corporation alone has a backlog of deferred maintenance of more than $10 million. The corporation also has an ambitious energy management plan. The plan would retrofit most of the properties to make them more sustainable, energy efficient, and comfortable. A $3-million investment would pay itself back in 20 years. These are exactly the kinds of projects our government needs to be investing in, and I want to help get these off the ground in Sudbury.
There is so much more in budget 2017 to support middle-class Canadians and those working hard to join the middle class.
There is help for unemployed people to access the training and employment support they need. Budget 2017 boosts the federal support by almost $3 billion over the next six years.
For the people of Sudbury looking for work, this means more chances to update their skills, gain experience, or get help to start their businesses. It also means more support, such as job counselling, for planning their career.
In addition, we are identifying skills gaps with employers and exploring new and innovative approaches to skills development with the provinces. Adult students can face challenges in pursuing learning. Part-time students from Sudbury, as well as adult students with dependent children, will be eligible for Canada student grants. This means more non-repayable assistance for adult learners and workers. It will help them manage the high cost of post-secondary education. It will help them in balancing the financial pressures of raising a family.
As a tax lawyer, I understand the importance of a fair and equitable tax system. Our government has committed to undertake a wide-ranging review of tax expenditures. The review's objective is to eliminate poorly targeted and inefficient tax measures. The review will allow our government to identify opportunities to reduce tax benefits that unfairly benefit the wealthiest Canadians.
Under budget 2017, we are making changes to simplify the tax system by making existing tax relief for individuals and families more effective and accessible. For example, since our new Canada child benefit was implemented, more than 7,400 families in Sudbury alone have benefited from increased payments.
It is quite the investment for families in Sudbury.
The other side of the taxation coin is collections. When some choose not to pay their fair share of taxes, it places an unfair burden on the tax system, and on other Canadians.
Those are only some of the measures that are in the budget. I will take any questions on it, because I am so proud of the budget, which is investing in Sudburians and Canadians across Canada.
Madam Speaker, I really do appreciate the opportunity to participate today. I consider myself fortunate because I am going to be one of probably some 50 members of this House who are going to be able to stand and speak to the budget, because of the government invoking closure. That means that some 289 members are not going to get a chance to speak on behalf of their constituents on this budget. We certainly feel in the opposition that it is unfair. After the Liberals campaigned on openness, transparency, not using closure, and not bringing forward omnibus bills, we see where all of those promises have gotten us.
I want to take a few minutes to address a few of the issues in the budget. After the delivered the budget, I was asked by the media in Calgary for my comments. I said it was a Seinfeld budget, a budget about nothing. Yesterday, the finance committee had Department of Finance officials before it to start to go through the budget division by division. One of the things that became quickly apparent was that I was wrong. It is not a budget about nothing; it is a budget about tax increases and the removal and rescinding of a number of tax incentives that exist.
I want to focus, on behalf of the constituents of Calgary Signal Hill, on some of the taxation measures in this budget document. I know there are other issues that, if one had more time, one could certainly debate. I know some of my colleagues have already debated the division around removing the independence of the parliamentary budget officer. I know we are going to have a debate around the infrastructure bank, so I will leave those to other speakers.
I want to talk about some tax measures and the removal of a tax credit, which is really unfortunate. First, let me talk about the rescinding of the transit pass credit that the Conservative government brought in a number of years ago. The government likes to talk about the middle class and those who are attempting to join it. If there ever was a tax relief that appealed to either the middle class or those hoping to join the middle class, it was this tax credit on the transit pass. It is only $250 for the average user of a transit pass across the country, but that is not that one per cent on whom the government keeps saying it is increasing the taxes. That is a direct tax on Canada's working people and those who use public transit. I know that the bureaucrats have told the minister that this is just a nuisance for them to administer. We have to assume that the government is going to take the advice of the bureaucrats and not listen to working Canadians, who every day try to get to work on our transit systems, and not give them that tax credit. I think it is deplorable, quite frankly.
The second tax measure that is not in this budget bill, but was raised by the minister and is going to be taking place, is the reduction in the petroleum drilling incentives grant that has been in existence for a number of years. I was told yesterday at the finance committee that there will probably be some future consultations and it will appear in the fall budget bill. I would like to be part of those consultations today.
I represent a riding in Alberta that has taken the hit of the downturn in oil prices globally. Recently, with the uptick in oil prices, we have had an opportunity for a number of companies that are in the exploration business to resume drilling activities, which is putting Albertans back to work. With the removal of this drilling incentive, many of those drilling companies are going to do one of two things: they are going to take that drilling rig and park it back in the yard, or they are going to take it across the border and drill in the United States where the incentives and the bottom line are much better.
The government can talk all it wants about creating jobs, but if it wants to create jobs in Alberta, removing this incentive is not a way to do it. If the government is listening and it is not part of the budget bill, I would strongly encourage the government to back off on this initiative before bringing forward its budget bill in the fall.
I know that a number of members have commented on and have raised this issue, having heard from their constituents regarding the increase in what is described as sin tax by governments, the taxes on alcohol and cigarettes. It is hard to argue against an increase in sin taxes; however, what the government needs to take into account is the spinoff effect of the increase in alcohol taxes.
The Canadian restaurant association has been very public about saying that it was blindsided by this, and it is going to significantly impact small businesses in this country. Again, I am an Alberta representative, and we have an Alberta government that has been hammering the same industry with increases in sin taxes and minimum wage, and a carbon tax. Now the federal government loads on additional taxes. Small businesses involved in the restaurant industry, not to mention those in the wine and beer industry, are clearly going to feel the impact of this.
During their campaign, the Liberals promised to reduce small business taxes. In fact, they did that to match what the other parties were saying, and then once they formed government, they reneged on that promise. Now they are hitting small businesses with this additional tax.
Those are just three areas, because I have limited time. I want to focus a little on one other chilling aspect of the budget document. In committee yesterday we were going through the budget implementation bill. There is an important division to which I would draw all members' attention: part 4, division 2, under the title “Public Debt”, “Enactment of Borrowing Authority Act”. What this particular division does is allow the government to go out and borrow up to a maximum. This particular bill, and it is right here in the bill, allows the government to borrow up to $1.3 trillion. We are talking trillions here.
That covers the current debt, which is almost $700 billion today. It covers some $275 billion in debt that crown corporations have incurred. Then there is a bunch of provisions in there, the differential of some $300 billion for future debt and also for a contingency fund.
Let us just take a minute and talk about our debt situation. The member for Louis-Saint-Laurent has asked the on numerous occasions—I think it is up to 25 or 30 times—when we are going to balance the budget. He refuses to answer that question. We have to assume that he is refusing to answer the question because his finance officials were correct when, the day before Christmas, they released a document that said we will not balance the budget until 2055.
What does that mean to Canadians? First of all, it means that we currently pay $25 billion a year in interest payments alone, and that is only going to go up. What does that mean to an individual Canadian? It means that each Canadian owes $17,563, and it means that, in the 10 minutes that I have been speaking, our debt has gone up by another $0.5 million. That is the seriousness of this particular strategy of the federal government.
I could go on for quite some time, but while I am up, I also want to put my stake in the ground, as the member for has done. Within the budget, the federal government has said it is going to consult on the proposed tax changes for the farming community. If this is the consultation process, let us be on the record to say that, clearly, this is not something that the federal government should be doing. I hope that when it comes forward in the fall, common sense will prevail and this is one that it will back off on, along with the petroleum drilling incentive that it is planning to cancel.
I will sum up with one—
Mr. Speaker, it is my distinct pleasure to rise in this House to speak to budget 2017 and to talk about the positive impacts it will have in my riding of Brampton West.
Before I begin, I want to take this opportunity to thank the for putting forward a budget that continues to help middle-class families and those working hard to join it. It builds on our ambitious last budget, and I have seen first-hand the impacts it has had on families in Brampton West and right across Canada.
One of the first things we did as a government was to lower taxes on our middle class and raise taxes for the top 1%.
Our Canada child benefit has helped thousands of families in my riding of Brampton West. I hear this constantly from my constituents, who have benefited from this policy. It has helped them enrol their children in summer camps or even put food on their table. This is real change.
Budget 2017 is the next step in our government's ambitious plan to make smart investments that will create jobs, grow our economy, and provide more opportunities for middle-class Canadians. I will focus on three aspects of the budget that are very important to my riding of Brampton West: health care, especially mental health and a caregiver tax credit; housing; and, finally, our youth.
I would like to speak about a particular family I met in my constituency office a few months ago, the Dhillon family. They were going through a very pressing time. They were extremely stressed, knowing that Mr. Dhillon's aging mother needed constant care. They told me that Mr. Dhillon had to quit his job so he could provide support to his mother in her deteriorating state. The cost of one income-earner not being able to work was great. We are seeing a similar situation today with families all across Canada.
Providing support to families in this situation is crucial. As a registered nurse and as the member of Parliament for , I am proud to be part of a government that recognizes these extremely important challenges and takes action. Budget 2017 proposes to invest $6 billion over 10 years to provide Canadians with improved access to home, community, and palliative care services, as well as more support for caregivers. This means that more people will get the care they need in their homes and that more families will be getting more support from their government.
Right now Canadians who are caring for loved ones face a caregiver credit system that is very complex and difficult for families to navigate, so we have simplified it by introducing the Canada caregiver credit. This new non-refundable credit would provide greater support to those in need and would apply to caregivers whether or not they live with the family member who is receiving the care. This measure will provide $310 million in additional tax relief and will support families struggling to take care of their loved ones. I know how significant this investment is for families like the Dhillon family in my community.
Another reality that is far too true in our community and our country is the lack of support systems for mental health. I had the opportunity to participate on a ride-along with a Peel police officer in Brampton West last summer. During the one-night shift, we did about 15 calls, and 11 of those calls were related to mental health. That is a sad reality in our communities.
While great strides have been made to improve our understanding of mental illness and its impact on people's lives, wait times to see a mental health specialist in certain regions of our country can range up to 18 months. That is just completely unacceptable. That is why I am extremely proud of budget 2017, which will invest $5 billion over 10 years to support mental health initiatives. These investments will have a significant impact in Brampton West and all across Canada. Improved access to mental health supports will result in improved health outcomes and shorter wait times for hundreds of thousands of Canadians.
We know this is just a start, and I would like to thank my colleague, the hon. , for the leadership she has shown on these very important issues.
I would like to now address how budget 2017 will improve access for Canadians to housing that is safe and affordable. It is an issue I hear about almost constantly in my constituency office. The rising cost of housing in Brampton results in many people not having access to adequate housing.
The wait time in order to get access to a subsidized unit within the Region of Peel is currently seven and a half years, which is one of the longest wait times in Ontario. I hear about seniors not being able to afford housing because they live on a fixed income. I hear about low-income families not being able to access social housing because of the long wait times, as I just stated.
I need to reiterate that all Canadians need and deserve housing that is safe and affordable. Without it, Canadians feel less secure, making it harder to accomplish every other goal, from raising healthy children to pursuing education to getting good jobs and opportunities.
Budget 2017 would make a historic investment of $11.2 billion over 11 years to build, renew, and repair Canada's affordable housing and to ensure that all Canadians have their housing needs met. This would include $5 billion that would go toward our new national housing fund to address housing issues in our cities, including co-op housing.
An additional $2.1 billion over the next 11 years would go toward a homelessness prevention strategy, working with communities across the country to combat homelessness and to provide support to mitigate underlying issues that lead to homelessness.
Finally I would like to turn toward an issue that is very close to my heart, our youth.
I am very proud of our Brampton West youth council, which continues to advocate for issues that are important for the youth in my community. One of the issues that it has continued to raise is about uncertainty about the future, about lack of support to pay for college or university and then about finding good, well-paying jobs after their education.
I am also very proud to report that Brampton will be home to a new Ryerson University campus soon. That is why investments in post-secondary education are essential to my community in Brampton West.
Budget 2017 is investing in post-secondary education, making it more accessible and affordable, building the skills for tomorrow, and helping youth gain the work experience that they need to succeed.
We are investing $12.5 million over six years for a pilot project to explore new ways to increase awareness for the Canada learning bond and to reduce barriers to access among low-income families.
We are also investing $59.8 million over four years and $17 million per year ongoing to expand eligibility for Canada student loans and grants for students in part-time studies to help even more students qualify for student financial assistance.
To build the skills of tomorrow, we are committing $10.8 million over five years for hands-on learning experiences to introduce diverse groups of young Canadians to the power and potential of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields, as well as investing $50 million over two years for a program to provide coding and digital skills education to more young Canadians.
To help youth gain work experience, there will be an investment of $395 million over three years in the youth employment strategy for additional employment and skills development opportunities for our youth. These investments will ensure that our youth are able to access every opportunity possible now and in the future. I am extremely proud of that.
These are just some of the initiatives in budget 2017 that will have a significant impact in my community of Brampton West. I am very proud of our government, our , and our , who really listened to Canadians and put forward a budget that has taken steps to address the real challenges and issues that every Canadian faces every day.
I am proud to support this budget on behalf of the constituents of Brampton West and I hope that my hon. colleagues from across the country will do the same.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to discuss our government's plan to build a stronger middle class through what I see as a three-pillar approach. It is an approach that includes investments in infrastructure, a focus on innovation to ensure that our economy continues to unlock new possibilities, and the final pillar, continuing investments in lifelong learning and skills training for Canadians to help them succeed in an evolving 21st century job market.
Budget 2017 would continue our government's bold vision for a more prosperous Canada and a brighter future for all Canadians, including the residents I have the privilege of serving in the riding of Vaughan—Woodbridge. Bill , the budget implementation bill, would ensure that the plan laid out in budget 2017, a plan to strengthen the middle class and to help those working hard to join it, is fully implemented.
Bill C-44 contains a number of measures I am particularly proud of and represents my core values of compassion, inclusiveness, and a desire to ensure a better future for my children.
Measures in the budget include our government's commitment to provide stable, predictable, and longer-term funding for all provinces for home care and mental health care services over the next 10 years. In my province of Ontario, the home care and mental health care funding component would amount to a $4.2-billion investment over 10 years, which would improve access to home care, home-based palliative care, and community-based care.
In addition, Bill C-44 would introduce a new Canada caregiver credit and would change the employment insurance caregiver benefit. The new Canada caregiver credit would simplify existing tax measures for caregivers by replacing the existing caregiver credit, the infirm dependent credit, and the family caregiver tax credit with a more inclusive and enhanced benefit. This new credit would be better targeted and would extend tax relief to some caregivers who may not have currently qualified due to the income level of their dependents. The fiscal impact of this measure over the next four years would be $310 million to Canadians in this situation.
In addition, Bill C-44 would create a new employment insurance caregiver benefit. Presently, EI benefits are available to eligible caregivers in cases where a loved one is gravely ill and at significant risk of death or where a child is critically ill or injured. However, the existing provisions miss a lot of Canadians who provide informal care for seriously ill family members.
I am very proud to say that budget 2017 would dedicate nearly $700 million over five years to create a new benefit to assist caregivers. This new credit would cover a broader range of situations where adult family members are providing care to an adult family member who requires significant support to recover from critical illness or injury.
I wish to focus a majority of my remaining time and remarks on our government's historic plan for investments in infrastructure. It is a plan that would commit nearly $180 billion-plus in investments over the next 12 years. This significant investment would be guided by a firm principle that investing in Canada and Canadians from coast to coast to coast would create long-term economic growth, build inclusive communities, and support a low-carbon, green economy.
Our government was elected on a platform that committed to making significant investments in infrastructure, a plan that included the development of an infrastructure bank. I am pleased to say that Bill , the budget implementation act, would create the new Canadian infrastructure bank, which would oversee the investment of approximately $15 billion in infrastructure projects.
In my humble view, a view shaped by my nearly 25 years in the global financial services sector, the creation of the Canada infrastructure bank would provide the ability to accelerate and expand investments in infrastructure in Canada from coast to coast to coast by leveraging private capital.
Canada is blessed with a multitude of natural resources, but we are also blessed with significant human capital resources as well as financial institutions that manage literally tens of billions of dollars for Canadian pensioners from coast to coast to coast.
In Ontario, firms such as the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, OPTrust, the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan, and OMERS collectively manage hundreds of billions of dollars for pensioners. These are globally respected firms that employ Canadians. They provide ongoing benefits for their retirees, be it teachers, hospital workers, janitors, or engineers, who in turn support our economy with their spending. These institutions would be ideal partners for the infrastructure bank in undertaking strategic investments to help strengthen and grow the Canadian economy.
I cannot understate the importance of the Canada infrastructure bank as a new and innovative financing tool to help public dollars go further and to help build infrastructure projects in Canadian communities.
For Canada and all Canadians to succeed, we must be innovative. We must foster an economy that is flexible and adaptive and that responds to technological change and globalization, an economy that will lift literally millions out of poverty and not leave anyone behind. It is one of Canada's core national values, and our obligation as a government, to ensure that no Canadians are left behind and that they have the skills and tools necessary to thrive in the 21st century. The Canadian infrastructure bank would be a tool that would create good middle-class jobs and ensure a brighter future for all Canadians.
Let me say again that our plan to invest nearly $180 billion in infrastructure over the next 12 years is historic.
I would like to close by outlining some of our commitments contained in Bill and budget 2017. One is $29 billion for public transit to build new transit networks and service connections to get people to work and home again more quickly in the evenings to their families, or in my case, to my daughters' swimming lessons.
This year, the city of Vaughan and my riding will see the benefits of our government's infrastructure investments with the Toronto-York Spadina subway extension set to begin operation. The TYSSE is already transforming the city of Vaughan with the development of a revitalized city centre that will eventually be home to approximately 30,000 to 40,000 new residents and nearly 20 million square feet of new office, commercial, and residential space.
We would invest $26 billion in green infrastructure to ensure that all Canadians have access to safe water, clean air, and green communities. I am proud to state that we will ensure that all our children, including my two daughters, inherit a country cleaner and greener than we did.
Budget 2017 would deliver a further $25 billion for social infrastructure that would provide safe, adequate, and affordable housing as well as access to high-quality and affordable child care spaces. Our recent historic announcements related to housing would ensure that we would see inclusive growth that would enable all Canadians to step up and contribute to a brighter future for their families.
There would be $10 billion for trade and transportation corridors that would provide safe, sustainable, and efficient transportation systems and allow Canadian companies to access global markets, creating more high-paying jobs for middle-class Canadians.
Finally, our $2-billion investment in rural and northern communities would ensure that these communities would have the necessary resources, including broadband infrastructure, to help them succeed.
I am proud of our government's commitment to invest in infrastructure and the future of this great country. It is the right thing to do.
Bill , the budget implementation bill, is the beginning of the implementation of budget 2017. It is the right legislation to ensure a stronger, more prosperous middle class, to ensure that those who are working hard to join it do so, and to ensure that all of our children, including my daughters, Natalia and Eliana, who are at school today, have a bright future ahead of them.
Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to speak to Bill , the budget implementation legislation.
It is important to acknowledge that time allocation has been moved by the government on this bill. When the Liberals were in this section of the House of Commons, they screamed from the highest rooftops that this was undemocratic. They are moving closure at a record pace, even more than was done under the Harper administration, and that is unfortunate.
For the practical person who is watching the debate at home, this means some members will not have a chance to talk about how the budget will impact them, their ridings, and the country in general. Time allocation is done for expediency.
Bill is being called an omnibus bill. The omnibus approach is a lazy style of governing. The government does not have to move legislation through the proper parliamentary process and procedure in order to get it done. In layman's terms, it basically means the government is putting all kinds of things into one giant box and then shoving them out the door versus going through things individually and ensuring legislation is done properly. Over 30 pieces of legislation would be affected by the bill. This is not like setting up a household budget. This is about making strategic decisions with respect to the rules of how legislation goes through the House of Commons.
It is important for people to understand the necessary and proper planning process for certain legislation. Things will end up in the courts and will cost taxpayers more money. Things will not get the necessary review they need. Issues involving businesses, consumers, the environment will all be impacted by Bill , because the Liberals are, quite frankly, lazy, and that is unfortunate.
Since the Liberals took office, their record shows that committees have been underutilized. That is because very little legislation has come to the House. Plenty of people and organizations want to provide input, but this denies them that opportunity to change things.
I want to talk about a couple of things in the budget bill that relates to issues on which I have been working. They are important not only to my constituents but to all taxpayers across the country.
Manufacturing is one of the issues on which I want to focus. Manufacturing in the United States and other countries around the world is seen as a key sector for national interests. An argument has been made for the national security of a nation state to have solid manufacturing in that country.
The Liberal government's approach to manufacturing has not been a healthy one. The went through southern Ontario. He singled out manufacturing in London, saying it was past what should be done and that we needed to find different ways. No one has ever argued against innovation and change. No one has ever argued against adding supplementary elements to our economy. However, we have always had to fight for manufacturing and we have seen great success from that fight. Our national coffers have been filed by the wealth from manufacturing over the last number of decades. To this day, manufacturing is over 10% of our GDP relating to what we can bring in as income.
On top of that, we have revenue from taxation that comes in from employees who work in the manufacturing sector as well as the taxes that come in from benefits in other types of support systems, which help people to have a decent job, to send their kids to college or university, to invest in a small business, or to get additional training for the future.
For nearly a decade, I have fought in this place for the automotive sector to be singled out for a specific manufacturing strategy, which has been done by most industrial states. The automotive sector is losing out in this budget by the mere fact that it is lumped in with other types of manufacturing or other types of initiatives, including agrifood. Both of these sectors deserve their own strategies.
Agrifood is another sector that relates to national security when we look at food safety, food management and economic development by having stability. Agrifood deserves its own separate strategy.
Manufacturing and auto, in particular, is lumped in again as opposed to a separate auto innovation fund designed specifically to meet some of the exciting challenges and opportunities in the automotive industry.
Before NAFTA, Canada was number two in the world in auto assembly and manufacturing. In fact, before we signed onto the free trade agreement with the United States, we had been very successful through a negotiated agreement called the Auto Pact. Assembly and manufacturing in Canada was at unprecedented levels because we tapped into the skill set of employees. We also exported automobiles to many parts of the world, but predominantly to the United States. We created quite a system of wealth, education, training, expertise, industrial development, and innovation that was critical.
With NAFTA, our Auto Pact agreement was challenged, and we lost it. At that time, the Liberals did not even bother to take us to a secondary challenge at the WTO. The government abandoned it. It is quite shocking in the sense that almost every other country will always fight to the end for something. Not only did the Liberals sign an agreement that killed our dominance in that industry, but they simply gave up. We have a historical problem with the Liberal Party.
The budget shifts away from a special $500 million fund. Then the auto parts manufacturing fund is being lumped together with other elements. To be fair, the government has increased the overall amount of money going into that fund, but it is very small compared to our competitors to the south, Mexico and other places in the world. However, it did go up somewhat. The problem is that the types of different qualifications of that fund have been opened up, instead of having a special designated fund with over $500 million for innovation, especially when we look at autonomous vehicles, hybrids and electric vehicles. Canada has not a had a greenfield, a brand new auto plant manufacturing development, in over 15 years, so there are significant challenges to begin with.
With all those things put together, we have abandoned that type of approach. I will still champion and continue to fight for auto manufacturing jobs and benefits, especially right now. Canadians want that. Canadians want to work in a stable employment environment that has decent wages for the amount of effort, education, and training they put into it. They would have benefits so they could live their lives and ensure that if they had health issues, they would be paid. They would have a value-added industry with a connection to personal relationships, the fact that they could take pride in the work they did and contribute to the overall economy. They would have accountability. Last year, so many workers did not come home safely from their job. Some children were left without fathers and mothers because of industrial accidents. In the past, jobs in the auto sector had some accountability and a working relationship to improve those things.
We have lost out on those types of opportunities because of a lack of industrial strategy. Canadians are asking for that. They want to be part of a greater communal effort to improve their quality of life and to raise the quality of life for the middle class. The budget fails in many respects because it has abandoned the strategies necessary to that.
When we look at the watering down that is taking place on this one specific element I have talked about in terms of the auto manufacturing issues, it is a missed opportunity given the industrial development and advances environmentally and economically in the industry, and because of that, I cannot support this budget.
Mr. Speaker, I am proud to stand today to speak in support of budget 2017, specifically in relation to Canada's youth and our young generation.
My riding of Mississauga—Erin Mills contains the renowned University of Toronto Mississauga campus. When we door-knocked and I met with constituents over the past year, one of the recurring themes that kept arising and continues to arise is the concern among our youth about their security in the future, their job prospects, and their career prosects. I am very happy that budget 2017 addresses all of this.
Young Canadians will be the ones who drive the future growth of Canada's economy, yet too many struggle to complete the education they need to succeed now and in the future. Even young Canadians who do well in school can find it difficult to get the practical work experience they need to find and keep good, well-paying jobs after graduation. To help young Canadians succeed, budget 2017 proposes a number of measures that will help create good, well-paying jobs and support young Canadians as they transition into the workforce.
Canadian youth have the talent and the drive to succeed in the labour market. To help them make the transition from school to work and get a strong start in their careers, the government invests in the youth employment strategy, a government-wide initiative to help support Canada's newest workers. Last year, the government announced new investments in the youth employment strategy and the Canada summer jobs program, which help to create short-term job opportunities for students between the ages of 15 and 30. This initiative specifically created hundreds of jobs for students in my riding of Mississauga—Erin Mills.
These investments are supporting the creation of over 5,000 opportunities for young Canadians under the skills link stream, which helps vulnerable youth overcome barriers to employment; nearly 2,500 new green jobs that help young Canadians learn about their natural environment and contribute to economic growth in the environmental sectors; and additional job opportunities for young Canadians to work in the heritage sector through the young Canada works program. To further expand employment opportunities for young Canadians, budget 2017 proposes to provide an additional $395.5 million over three years starting in 2017-18 for the youth employment strategy. Combined with budget 2016 measures, these investments will help more than 33,000 vulnerable youth develop the skills they need to find work or to go back to school; create 15,000 new green jobs for young Canadians; and provide over 1,600 new employment opportunities for youth in the heritage sector.
Budget 2017 presents youth with a new and ambitious approach to work-integrated learning. Co-operative education and work-integrated learning programs such as the ones offered by various universities in Canada are a proven way for students to get the work experience they need to build their resumés and build a network of professional contacts. To create new co-op placements and work-integrated learning opportunities for post-secondary students enrolled in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM for short, and business programs, budget 2016 provided $73 million over four years for job-creating partnerships between employers and interested post-secondary institutions. This investment is expected to create up to 8,700 new work-integrated learning placements over the next four years, making more opportunities available to young women and men interested in STEM.
Young Canadians are curious, talented, entrepreneurial, and well educated. These are traits that make them well positioned to deliver the next great breakthrough in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. In order to unlock this potential, young Canadians need to have equal access to the formative experiences that can spark new ideas and inspire careers in these important fields. This is especially true for those young Canadians who are traditionally under-represented in the STEM fields, including women and indigenous peoples.
The PromoScience program helps to introduce diverse groups of young Canadians to the power and potential of these exciting fields through hands-on learning experiences such as space camps and conservation projects. To support these efforts, budget 2017 proposes to invest $10.8 million over five years, starting in 2017-18, to allow PromoScience to support more STEM learning activities for Canadian youth, in particular, under-represented groups.
Teachers also play an important role in keeping students engaged in formal STEM learning and in developing the culture of innovation that Canada needs today and in the future. Budget 2017 proposes to invest $1.5 million over five years, starting in 2017-18, to expand the prime minister's awards for teaching excellence, to include 17 new STEM-themed awards. These awards will recognize teaching excellence and allow for broad sharing of teaching practices at the national level.
To help more Canadians learn about and celebrate extraordinary accomplishments in research excellence, budget 2017 also proposes to create a new prime minister's gold medal. This award would recognize scientific excellence and bring greater international acclaim to Canadian scientists and researchers.
To create even more work-integrated learning opportunities for Canadian students, the government announced it would renew and expand federal funding for Mitacs, a not-for-profit organization that builds partnerships between industry and educational institutions. Budget 2017 proposes to provide $221 million over five years, starting in 2017-18, to achieve this goal and provide relevant work experience to Canadian students. This investment in Mitacs' work-integrated learning programs would help deliver 10,000 internships per year to post-secondary students.
Meric Gertler, the president of the University of Toronto celebrated this investment and added, “The Government of Canada is to be commended for this investment in Canadian talent through Mitacs. It will provide career-building opportunities for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows, and top-quality expertise for businesses and other organizations. These are key factors in building our country’s capacity for innovation and in driving our long-term prosperity.”
In addition, budget 2017 is set to renew investments in Pathways to Education Canada. Each year, too many young Canadians drop out of high school, often because they do not have access to the basic supports needed to succeed in school. To help these young students, the government provides support to Pathways to Education Canada, a charitable organization that helps youth in low-income communities across Canada complete high school and successfully transition into post-secondary education and employment.
Budget 2017 proposes to renew the government's support for Pathways to Education Canada by providing $38 million over four years, starting in 2018-19. With this renewed funding, Pathways to Education Canada would provide more vulnerable youth with the supports they need to succeed in school, including tutoring, career mentoring, and financial help, such as scholarships and internships.
Furthermore, budget 2017 provides solutions to reducing employment barriers for first nations youth living on reserve. First nations youth on reserve face unique challenges to enter the labour force. It is important that youth have the supports they need to access employment opportunities so they can begin careers that will benefit them over the course of their lifetimes. To help first nations youth acquire better pre-employment skills, access education and training, and overcome barriers to employment, budget 2017 proposes to invest $39.2 million in 2017-18 to provide case management services for youth living on reserve.
Budget 2017 takes the next step in the government's long-term economic plan, understanding that in the face of unprecedented change, a confident Canadian middle class and an empowered youth will always be the beating heart of our country and the engine of our economy.
Mr. Speaker, as the member of Parliament for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, I am pleased to take this opportunity to thank the voters of my riding for giving me the responsibility to represent their interests in the political affairs of our nation. While my constituents are pleased with the calibre of representation they receive from their federal member of Parliament in Ottawa, their worst fears are being realized by an arrogant who is totally out of touch with the concerns of average, everyday Canadians.
What Parliament has before it today with Bill is more than 300 pages of out-of-control spending to implement another deficit budget that promises to mortgage the future our children, their children, and the generation after that. For a government that claims to be implementing its election promises, I have yet to be shown where the promise of budget deficits until maybe 2055 was told to voters. The worst parts of this budget are the huge deficit and that it continues to fail veterans. The Liberal Party talked a mean game when it preached to have empathy for veterans.
Unfortunately, the biggest failure of the government, after cutting $12 billion from the defence budget, was not insisting on the resignation of the . The minister has disgraced his office, his comrades, and his position. This is a deplorable situation. He lacks the courage to even provide a real explanation for his repeated need to embellish the truth, and he lacks the courage to do the right thing and fall on his sword, which is what honourable soldiers would do if they found themselves in the situation of the Minister of National Defence, which is entirely of his own making.
The has, with his deficit budget, betrayed soldiers and veterans like Warrant Officer Roger Perreault. Unlike the , for whom stolen valour was his way to curry favour with his boss Gerald Butts, who is the architect of the Green Energy Act in Ontario and who provides the talking points for the , Warrant Officer Perreault is a Canadian hero. He was critically injured serving his country in Afghanistan.
On February 8, I posed a question to the government on behalf of Warrant Officer Roger Perreault, a member of the Canadian Armed Forces, regarding his eligibility for the critical injury benefit. Unlike the current who prefers to embellish his service record, Officer Perreault was an Afghanistan veteran who, in the process of serving his country honourably, was critically injured by a roadside bomb. He is being denied the critical injury benefit, being told that at age 46 his injuries are the result of his body wearing out. It is unbelievable. Rejected by the Liberal government for the critical injury benefit in March 2016, he appealed that decision, only to be denied his next appeal.
Veterans are not interested in hearing how many new bureaucrats have been hired or that empty offices are being opened in a government-held riding. Veterans want action. What happened to the election promise to draw, from all circumstances of a veteran's case and all the evidence presented to the government, every reasonable inference in favour of the applicant? Warrant Officer Perreault and other Afghanistan veterans are the real Canadian heroes. Let us start treating them like heroes.
Budget 2016 marked the beginning of a second Liberal era of darkness for Canada's women and men in the Canadian Armed Forces. The decision to relocate or re-profile—which is Liberalspeak for cut—$8.5 billion in defence allocations in budget 2017, in addition to the previous cuts, confirms the worst fears of our women and men in uniform. Canada's veterans are being told that they should just wait, that tomorrow and the next budget will fix everything. It is the tomorrow budget, but tomorrow never comes. It is a false economy to plan on denying veterans benefits with the expectation that the veterans will eventually give up fighting for what they are entitled to receive.
In addition to the treatment of veterans, this budget fails Canadians by what it hides from Canadians. What is not explained to Canadians with this budget, and so much of what the government is doing behind the backs of Canadians, is the real impact of plunging this country into a series of massive deficits in pursuit of agenda 2030: the radical UN climate agenda that is bankrupting individual Canadians and causing massive financial hardship.
Canadians are asking where the line item is in this budget bill to compensate for losses, damages, and the destruction of private property due to environmental policies that have not been properly costed, including a proper cost-benefit analysis.
Canadians are being misinformed that radical environmental policies are necessary to save Canada and the world, with no explanation of cost or whether many of these policies are really necessary or just another tax grab, like the Liberal carbon tax.
Residents in my riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke are only now finding out about plan 2014, after reading about it from American media sources, which has forced some media in Canada to report about it. Plan 2014 was an agreement signed by the dying Obama U.S. administration after the recent American U.S. election but ratified before the new president had taken office. It was signed on December 8, 2016, the day the lame duck U.S. vice-president, Joe Biden, showed up in Ottawa for a visit shrouded in secrecy and speculation as to the true nature of his trip.
Plan 2014 was never brought before Parliament. There was no discussion or debate regarding the cost, including who would pay for the losses. The plan contains no promises or built-in provisions for more federal or state aid to deal with problems it might cause. This treatment is quite different from the treatment given by the Liberal government and the to nations in Africa, who are given billions of Canadian dollars, taxpayers' dollars, to fight climate change in their countries. The official readout for Biden's Ottawa visit stated “combating global climate change” and other things.
The plan 2014 agreement changes a regulating system that had been in place on the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River since 1958. Plan 2014, which is designed to more closely mimic the lakes' natural ups and down, adds muskrats, fish, and other wildlife to the list of interests regulators must now consider when they decide how much water to release.
The new regulation blocks the flow of water through the Moses-Saunders dam located on the St. Lawrence River between Cornwall, Ontario, and Massena, New York. By blocking the flow of the St. Lawrence, the entire Great Lakes watershed has now backed up. One of its many goals is to create 64,000 acres of wetland to fight climate change. Another goal is to increase hydroelectric power.
The mismanagement of the electricity sector in Ontario is well documented. The Province of Ontario has been politically interfering with the water dams that produce electricity to pay for its failed energy policy by holding back too much water in the reservoirs. With too much water in the reservoirs, there was no place to accumulate the winter melt and any additional rains from the late spring. This is backed up in the Ottawa River watershed and into the St. Lawrence, flooding Montreal as well as the Ottawa Valley and the Great Lakes.
The combination of Ontario's failed electrical policies and the decision by the government of the Ottawa Liberals to change a 59-year-old water agreement between Canada and the U.S. has created a manmade crisis. We had a late spring, and we have the perfect storm of incompetence.
Climate change gets blamed for everything these days, including the deficit budget. The Liberal government in Ottawa has adopted the practice of the Liberal Party in Toronto in blaming every bad policy as necessary to fight manmade global warming. Taxpayers have every right to be skeptical.
Flooding in my riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke is beyond crisis, as residents watch their front yards turned into wetlands. On behalf of the flooded residents, I contacted the , who was too busy sandbagging calls for his resignation to respond to the cries for help to fill sandbags to hold back the rising waters. There is no doubt that, had the Liberals responded to my call for help back on April 21 with a flooding crisis, the damage and destruction could have been reduced.
The bill to the federal and provincial Liberal governments, who share blame for this crisis, will be substantial. Will municipalities be expected to borrow from the Liberals' infrastructure bank, which is referred to in this legislation, to rebuild the destruction of the infrastructure, taxpayers borrowing their own tax-paid dollars and then paying $9 billion in interest payments?
Bill is filled with distorted incentive, blame avoidance, credit taking, ideological policy, finger pointing, and the competitive and duplicative provision of programs in popular spending areas. It is time to send budget 2017 back to the drawing board.
Mr. Speaker, it is always a privilege and an honour to rise in this House, especially when we get an opportunity to speak to budget 2017, Building a Strong Middle Class
Our government has been hard at work ensuring that Canadians in the middle class and those working hard to join it have the policies that put Canadians first, but today I want to speak about things that in a changing economy can have a real impact on the lives of Canadians and how our budget is going to help Canadians thrive over the long term. Our success as a country will be determined by our ability to prepare for and adapt to these changes to grow and strengthen the middle class and those working hard to join it.
As a large country that relies on trade for its economic success, Canada needs to ensure that people and products can move quickly and safely, whether from home to work or from harvest to warehouse. The success of many companies depends on high-quality transportation infrastructure to get goods to market.
Here are some names in the agrifood sector in Brampton that members may recognize: the Coca-Cola bottling group, Maple Lodge Farms, Loblaws Companies, Italpasta, Sun Rich Fresh Foods, Maple Leaf Canada, Bacardi Canada, and Frito-Lay Canada.
As announced in the 2016 fall economic update, this government will invest $10.1 billion over 11 years in trade and transportation products. This investment will build stronger and more efficient transportation corridors to international markets and help Canadian businesses to compete, grow, and create more jobs for Canada's middle class. As part of the $10.1-billion investment, we will launch a new national trade corridors fund to prioritize investments that address congestion and bottlenecks along vital corridors and around transportation hubs and ports that provide access to world markets. Building on Transport Canada's gateways model, this fund is expected to target congestion and inefficiencies at marine ports as well as along the busiest rail and highway corridors to ensure that small- and medium-sized businesses in Brampton can produce in Brampton but have access to markets all around the world.
An additional $5 billion or more would be provided through the Canada infrastructure bank to address trade and transportation priorities. In addition to identifying priority investments that would help streamline transportation along Canada's major trade corridors, the fund would look for ways to improve the flow of supplies to northern communities, which is important, and unlock economic development in Canada's three territories and create more well-paying middle-class jobs.
As elsewhere in this country, there are countless people in Brampton who drive trucks to and from our southern neighbour to support their families. Their livelihoods depend on a transportation sector, a booming economy, and a strong trade relationship with the U.S.
Expanding Canada's trade links requires an important discussion around our economic success. Strong trade relationships create more opportunities for middle-class Canadians to succeed and prosper. According to the Brampton Board of Trade, Brampton sees roughly $6.7 billion in goods sold to the U.S. Over 420 Brampton companies export to the U.S. and consider the U.S. to be their most important trading market, responsible for over 34% of their sales. That is why the government is engaging with the United States, with which we share one of the most successful economic relationships in the world, highlighting the fact that our strong interconnected trade relationship is balanced and beneficial to millions of middle-class families on both sides of the border.
We are also prioritizing trade and investment with key markets in fast-growing areas such as Asia, including with China, India, and Japan, to deepen Canada's ties with this continent and create jobs here at home. Succeeding in the global economy of tomorrow requires openness to the world and strategic partnerships. A key example is the March 22 announcement by the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank that it has accepted Canada's application for membership.
Membership in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank will help enable high-quality infrastructure and other development projects that would have benefits for people in the region, as well as for Canadians, by supporting inclusive sustainable economic growth in Asia and beyond. Budget 2017 proposes to invest $256 million over five years to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
When it comes to the engines that power our economy in Canada, Canada's agriculture and agrifood sector accounts for more than 6% of Canada's GDP and employs one out of every eight Canadian. The industry is strong, and in recent years farm revenues, annual exports, and farm incomes have reached record highs, but there is room for improvement, driven in part by the innovative potential of value-added products as the middle class grows in Asia and demand for food rises. Budget 2017 introduces a series of measures to help our agricultural producers and processors excel.
For over 15 years, federal, provincial, and territorial governments have relied on agricultural policy frameworks to promote a collaborative approach to agricultural programming that encourages investment, adaptation, and sustainable growth in the sector. These frameworks have provided the foundation for government agricultural programs and services.
The current agricultural policy framework is set to expire in March 2018. We are committed to working with provinces and territories to develop a new policy framework that supports sustainable growth, innovation, and competitiveness, and helps the sector to adapt to a technology-driven reality.
As part of the development of the next framework, which will be launched in 2018, we will consider the ways in which innovation in agriculture can help strengthen the sector as a whole and create more well-paying jobs for middle-class Canadians.
Brampton is part of the Ontario food cluster, the second-largest food processing cluster in North America. Ontario is home to more than half of Canada's food processing companies. Just a short drive from my neck of the woods, the Ontario food terminal is the largest wholesale fruit and produce distribution centre in Canada and the third-largest in North America, distributing an average of 5.4 million pounds per day.
As part of the innovation corridor, companies in Brampton, like Embassy Flavours, Zadi Foods, Hans Dairy, and KFI lncorporated would have the ability to rely on an innovative agrifood sector, a strong trade relationship, and dependable transit infrastructure. They rely on their governments for this.
That is why our government is taking a multi-faceted approach in budget 2017 to harness change for our benefit. When the middle class is strong and when people feel optimistic and confident about the future, Canadians can and will succeed. When middle-class Canadians believe their hard work can translate to a better life for themselves and their children and grandchildren, they become an unstoppable force.
We know that better is possible and we know the best way to deliver more prosperity to the greatest number of middle-class Canadians is by making smart investments in people and in the economy. The tools that are needed to help Canadians succeed and prosper over the long term are included in budget 2017.
Mr. Speaker, I want to start by saying that it is not in my nature to admit defeat at the outset, but this sure feels like an impossible task. I have 10 minutes to do an in-depth, detailed analysis of Bill .
I will start with the title: an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2017—so far, so good—and other measures. Obviously, those measures are not listed. I think a list of the measures that are not mentioned would be three or four pages long. This bill is 290 pages long and amends 30 separate acts.
Let no one think this is an omnibus bill. That was how the Conservatives did things. The Liberals will probably come up with some other name for it, but it is all the same thing.
Worse yet, if we in the NDP wanted to pool our resources together and tackle this budgetary measure, Bill C-44, together as a team, we would not be able to. Time allocation has been invoked, which means that many members of the House, who were elected to be the voice of their constituents in Ottawa, will not be heard yet again because apparently the Liberals have heard enough from us.
I am sorry, but we are light years away from a democratic measure and a democratic discussion or exchange worthy of this place. I will have to pick and choose from the items in this budget that I want to address.
When my speaking time is up, then I will give the floor to one of the few people who will have a chance to speak in the few hours remaining in this debate.
This bill contains not a single tax measure that would restore some semblance of balance among the citizens of this country. There has been a lot of talk about the middle class. The Liberals mention it in practically every paragraph. Strangely enough, those who are part of it are the ones who will be most affected. I have an example that illustrates my point quite well. I could go off on a long diatribe about how there is nothing in this budget to help people who, unfortunately, by a quirk of fate, lose their jobs at some point in their career and must relocate. The budget does absolutely nothing to establish fairer eligibility standards.
Over on this side of the House, we have often advocated for a single eligibility threshold of 360 hours. There is nothing on this in the budget. At present, six out of ten workers who pay premiums are not eligible for benefits when they need them. Let me remind the House that the government is not putting one red cent into EI.
The Liberals are very skilled at window dressing, and there really is something in the budget for employment insurance, in particular parental benefits. It is a well-intentioned measure that, in the end, does not amount to much. To create a better work-life balance, I suppose, and to allow parents who choose to do so to stay home longer after their children are born, they are now being told that parental leave will be flexible and can be extended. However, the amount of benefits they will get will not increase.
A parent can use their credit, if I can call it that, for up to 18 months and receive benefits equal to 33% of their salary. The parent can also choose to take 12 months off and receive 55% of their salary. Obviously, living on 55% of their income already requires substantial changes to their lifestyle in order to make ends meet every month. However, it is for a good cause, namely having a new child in the family and spending the first months, even the first year, with their child. That is important. That person is also prepared to make a certain number of sacrifices and adapt to the situation.
However, can middle-class people really afford to take 18 months of leave with 33% of their income? Once again, the government will claim over and over to have helped the middle class when the only ones who will actually be in a position to benefit from the measure are those who are wealthy enough to live off 33% of their income. This measure sounds good in theory, but in practice it is aimed at a completely different group.
I would like to draw members' attention to something else: the budget watchdog. It may not be the nicest expression, but it is definitely an accurate one. I am talking about the parliamentary budget officer. If there is one resource that is absolutely essential for all members of the House in order to fully grasp the measures that are put before us and to introduce effective checks and balances, it is the work of the parliamentary budget officer, who, in theory, is completely independent.
The parliamentary budget officer will now have to have his work plan approved by the Speaker of the Senate or the Speaker of the House. In theory, both are independent, but in reality, that is certainly debatable. According to the parliamentary budget officer's research, in the 17 countries with such an office, no such approval is required and political interference is not allowed. Once again, the Liberals have come up with a proposal that is novel, but not noteworthy.
The Liberals want to prevent the parliamentary budget officer from being a watchdog, as I mentioned earlier. For example, if this bill had already been passed, we would not have known that the Liberals' tax plan benefits the wealthy, nor would we have uncovered the real cost of the F-35s. Furthermore, individual members will no longer be able to ask the parliamentary budget officer to conduct research, which I feel is a disaster. As we know, sometimes there are important items that concern a riding or a very specific region, but not all of Canada, and which require study as though they were of general interest. I have some examples from my own riding, but I will not expand on them because my time is quickly running out.
To conclude on this point, I would like to quote Jean-Denis Fréchette, the parliamentary budget officer, who said: “I think this bill is problematic. I think it is weaker than the existing legislation.” He is more polite than I am, but that is understandable, given his position.
Regarding prior approval for the parliamentary budget officer's work plan, he said that he:
|| ...can easily imagine that a Speaker might not approve a future parliamentary budget officer's decision to assess the fiscal impact of a controversial spending initiative because it would affect the Speaker's party's chances of getting elected.
Those are the parliamentary budget officer's words, not mine. He added that it was difficult to understand how the measure could really work in the interest of greater transparency and get us the results we need.
In the short time I have left I would like to talk about the cuts to international aid. We know that Canada is probably on track to achieve its worst record in international aid. The announced not too long ago that organizations working in this area would just have to learn to do more with less. That is an old refrain that we have been hearing for ages, and apparently, it will not stop under this Liberal administration.
With respect to tax credits, there is an absolute abyss between what is in here for the middle class and what is in here for the wealthy. Instead of keeping the public transit tax credit, which helps everyone, the Liberals are getting rid of it, but big corporate CEOs get to keep their tax breaks. On the one hand, we have a legal loophole worth about $800 million per year, and on the other, we have a tax credit that truly is for middle-class people because they use public transit a whole lot more than CEOs do.
They are getting rid of a tax credit that cost about $200 million. If that is not a double standard, I do not know what it is.
Here is what Mark Hancock had to say about Bill : “If you’re an infrastructure bankroller or a billionaire tax dodger, today is a good day. For working Canadians, not so much.”
Mr. Speaker, I am proud to stand in this House today and highlight the many positive investments budget 2017 makes in northern Ontario and how these investments would benefit the people who live, work, and play in Thunder Bay—Rainy River.
Our government is committed to moving forward on its plan to make a meaningful impact in the lives of northern Ontarians, and budget 2017 does just that. Under the previous government, significant cuts were made to FedNor, causing economic hardship across the region. With budget 2017, FedNor will receive a $25 million increase over five years to promote job creation and economic growth in northern Ontario.
Along with my colleagues in the northern Ontario caucus, I am pleased with the dedication to strengthening our economy and recognizing the key role our region plays in Canada's economy as a whole.
The also launched the prosperity and growth strategy for northern Ontario, a targeted approach to economic development through innovation. This strategy will focus on ways to build on the unique strengths and competitive advantages that northern Ontario has in mining, resources, and agriculture, among other sectors. The strategy will identify ways for these sectors to seize new opportunities in emerging industries, such as clean technology, and develop new businesses that will create the well-paying jobs of today and tomorrow for northern Ontarians.
This regional strategy for northern Ontario is part of the Government of Canada's innovation and skills plan, an ambitious effort to make Canada a world-leading centre for innovation that will create more well-paying jobs and grow the middle class. The goal of this plan is to encourage innovation and attract global investment in every region of the country. It will provide Canadians with the support they need, wherever they live and work, to continuously learn, enhance their skill set, and be equipped for the jobs of the future.
On top of this, budget 2017 invests $2 billion into infrastructure projects in rural and remote communities. This will have a real impact on families in Ontario's north. No longer will FedNor serve as a catch-all for projects in Ontario's north. This shift will free up important FedNor dollars that can then be invested in innovation and economic development, which is why FedNor was initially created. This is an important change in how our government addresses the needs in northern Ontario.
Growing our economy in northern Ontario also means investing in our people and making smart investments. Budget 2017 is assisting in transforming northern Ontario into a world-leading centre for innovation, creating more good, well-paying careers that will help strengthen and grow the middle class.
We are taking measures to ensure that our forestry industry is innovating and growing new opportunities for expansion, such as the partnership between Resolute Forest Products, FPInnovations, and Lakehead University at Resolute's facility in Thunder Bay.
Our government is also supporting early-stage mineral exploration through the extension of the mineral exploration tax credit. Budget 2017 will also create a new strategic innovation fund to attract, support, and grow Canadian businesses in areas such as agrifood, digital, clean tech, and advanced manufacturing.
Northern Ontarians also know the importance of having access to reliable, fast Internet. Our government is working hard to ensure people in Thunder Bay—Rainy River and across the country have access to high-speed Internet. Through budget 2017 we are supporting the affordable access program for low-income families, and the expansion of high-speed broadband for rural communities.
This is in addition to budget 2016's $500 million to support expansion of high-speed broadband for rural communities. This means that in the future families, individuals, and small business owners in Murillo, Kakabeka Falls, Barwick, Mine Centre, and across the riding will be able to enjoy the benefits of reliable and fast service that broadband provides.
When I was knocking on doors in Thunder Bay—Rainy River, many community members also expressed concern over access to health care services. Through health funding agreements with Ontario, we are providing additional support so families can get the mental health care and home care they need. We are also improving access to pharmaceuticals to help lower the cost of prescription medication and make sure people in Thunder Bay—Rainy River can afford medications.
Thanks to budget 2017, northern Ontarians will have better access to the health services they deserve. We are also working to create good, well-paying middle-class jobs.
Budget 2017 helps Canadians to get the skills they need through employment insurance without the fear of losing benefits.
We are also supporting greater career flexibility for parents of young children with the creation of up to 40,000 new early learning and child care spaces over the next three years. These investments are about growing the economy in northern Ontario, supporting families, and investing in our future.
I cannot speak to the positive benefits that budget 2017 has on my riding of Thunder Bay—Rainy River without noting the continued commitment this government has to renewing the relationship with Canada's indigenous peoples. Budget 2017 builds on the historic $8.4 billion investment in indigenous communities made by our government in budget 2016. We are improving access to primary care, mental health services, and home and palliative care, and providing greater support for maternal and child health for first nations and Inuit through an investment of $828.2 million over five years.
Budget 2017 also invests in protecting, preserving, and revitalizing indigenous languages and culture. I am especially proud of the investments budget 2017 makes in improving access to post-secondary education for indigenous learners. Our government has committed $90 million to improving the programs, which would provide more indigenous learners with the resources necessary to achieve their academic goals.
However, we did not stop there. Budget 2017 invested an additional $25 million over five years in Indspire, with an additional leveraging from the private sector of $15 million. Indspire is a non-profit organization that provides scholarships to more than 12,000 indigenous learners, many of whom are ineligible to receive funding through other programs.
We have also invested in the aboriginal skills and employment training strategy, ASETS, to help them meet the growing demand from indigenous peoples for skills development and job training. Budget 2017 also renews support for Pathways to Education, which helps vulnerable youth in Ontario complete high school and successfully transition to post-secondary education and employment.
Not only do these investments in education mean more indigenous students will be attaining post-secondary success, but they also mean that our educational institutes in northern Ontario, such as Lakehead University, Confederation College, and Seven Generations Education Institute, will have more students to serve and our region will see more skilled workers enter the workforce. These investments demonstrate our government's commitment to closing the inexcusable educational gap that exists for indigenous Canadians and will mean a better future for all Canadians.
The well-being of our veterans is also a very important issue in my riding. I have heard from a number of vets in my riding about the positive impact the reopening of our Veterans Affairs office has had on their lives since the previous government closed the office. The government is committed to ensuring that we deliver the programs and services our veterans need as they transition from military to civilian life. However, there is still more work to be done.
Budget 2017 continues that work with support to ensure veterans receive the skills, training, and education they need to succeed; better support for the families of ill and injured veterans; and investments in mental health support for veterans at risk. This includes the creation of a centre of excellence for PTSD and related mental health conditions that disproportionately affect veterans and their families.
These are just some of the ways in which budget 2017 is addressing the needs of people in Thunder Bay—Rainy River, and I am proud to be part of a government that is focused on building a better Canada for all Canadians.