|| That this House approve in general the budgetary policy of the government.
He said: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to table the budget documents for 2018, including the notices of ways and means motions.
The details of the measure are included in these documents and I am requesting that an order of the day be designated for consideration of these motions. I also wish to announce that the government will introduce legislation to implement the measures in this budget.
Last week I spent some time with a couple of grade six classes from Rose Avenue Junior Public School in downtown Toronto. It is an extraordinary school. More than 85% of the students have English as their second language. They are bright, curious, and hard-working.
When they had the chance to ask me about today's budget, well, they would have made all members of the House proud. These 10 and 11-year-old students wanted to know what our government was doing for indigenous peoples. They asked about science and discovery, about supporting seniors, protecting nature, increasing immigration, and helping the homeless. They even asked me about Canada-U.S. relations. What impressed me most was how forward-looking each of the questions were.
The children at Rose Avenue School and at schools all across the country care about the future. They understand that the decisions we make today will transform the world that they will grow up in.
They are looking at us to make good decisions, smart decisions, so they can have a better opportunity to follow their dreams, find good jobs, and give back to their community.
This budget is all about that. It is a plan that puts people first. It invests in the things that matter most to Canadians. It builds on their hard work and it keeps us squarely focused on their future.
Budget 2018 is also a plan that respects the choice that Canadians made a little over two years ago. At that time, Canadians had the opportunity to stay the course. They could stick with a government that favoured cuts and a set of failed policies that produced stubborn unemployment and the worst decade of economic growth since the Great Depression, or they could choose a more ambitious and confident approach.
Canadians chose the latter. They put their trust in a new government, because they knew that we put our trust in them. We took that trust, balanced it with sound fiscal management that includes a declining debt-to-GDP ratio, and gave Canadians the tools they need to succeed.
Starting with raising taxes on the wealthiest, so we could lower them for the middle class.
After that, we introduced the Canada child benefit, to put more money in the pockets of low- and middle-income parents every month to help with the cost of raising kids. This summer, two years ahead of schedule, we will ensure that the benefit increases along with the cost of living. The Canada child benefit means that on average, families get $6,800 a year, tax-free, for books, hockey lessons or warm clothes for winter. It means that today, about 300,000 fewer children live below the poverty line, down 40% from what it was in 2013.
To help Canadians feel more confident about their future, we strengthened the Canada pension plan to help workers today and for generations to come.
Thanks to the trust that Canadians placed in us, we are able to help 900,000 seniors, through increases to the guaranteed income supplement. We helped students get ahead with increases to Canada student grants. We cut taxes for small businesses, while ensuring the wealthiest paid their fair share.
We are helping more people find a safe and affordable place to call home with the first-ever national housing strategy. We are working with the provinces, territories, and cities to ensure a stable housing market.
We are giving more children the best possible start in life through investments in early learning and child care. We now have agreements in place with nine provinces and territories to help create more of the high-quality affordable child care spaces we know Canadian families need, tailored to their local realities.
We think about the fact that the vast majority of single moms receiving the Canada child benefit make less than $60,000 a year and now get an average of about $9,000 in total benefits, tax free, each year.
Over the last year, we have really seen these investments pay off. The Canadian economy is doing remarkably well. Over the last two years, hard-working Canadians have created nearly 600,000 new jobs, most of them full time. Unemployment rates are near the lowest we have seen them in 40 years. Our plan is working because Canadians are working.
Today, Canada leads all the other G7 countries in economic growth and Canadians are feeling confident about the future, whether their plan is to pay down debt, save for a first home, or go back to school to train for a new job.
That is why we are able to invest in the things that matter to Canadians, while making steady improvements to our bottom line.
We know there are challenges in the immediate term and we are responding to those challenges. We know businesses are concerned about the outcome of NAFTA talks and tax changes in the United States. We will be vigilant in ensuring that Canada remains a great place to invest, create jobs, and do business. We will do this in a responsible way, carefully, letting evidence and not emotion guide our decisions.
At the same time, we need to stay focused on our long-term goal of building an economy that works for everyone. With a strong and growing economy in place, we believe that now is the right time to focus on the deeper challenges that hold our economy and our people back. That means ensuring that every Canadian has a real and fair chance to work, to contribute to our economy, and to succeed. It is important not just as a matter of fairness, but as a way to ensure Canada's long-term growth.
For the first time in our history, there are now more Canadians aged 65 and older than there are people under the age of 15. That presents a real challenge. As seniors leave the workforce, we need to think about who will fill the gap. We believe that Canada's future success rests on ensuring that every Canadian has an opportunity to work and to earn a good living from that work. That includes Canada's talented, ambitious, and hard-working women.
I would like to tell a story about one such woman. Her name is Joan. I met Joan a few weeks ago at Algonquin College.
Encouraged by her daughter, Joan went back to school after raising her family. When she first enrolled in school, she thought that she was going to study event planning. However, when she got there, she changed her mind because she wanted to pursue a trade. She now wanted to become an apprentice plumber. Joan did not start off seeing herself in the trades, and she would be the first person to say that her choice took some of her friends by surprise, but she also felt it was her true calling. It is work that she is good at, it is work that she wants to do, and she has never looked back.
I mention Joan because it is people like her who have the courage to try new things, to forge new paths, and make our economy strong and guarantee its future.
Over the last 40 years, the rising number of women participating in our workforce has accounted for about a third of our economic growth. That means a better standard of living for all Canadians, thanks to the hard work of women like Joan who entered or re-entered the workforce.
Thanks to these women and their contribution to the economy, family incomes are now higher, fewer children live in poverty, and all Canadians are better off.
At the same time, for as much progress as we have seen, there continue to be persistent barriers that hold too many women back. A few weeks ago, the issued a challenge to the world’s business leaders to hire, promote, and retain more women. As he said, it is not just the right thing to do. It is the smart thing to do.
We just need to do the math. On average, women earn just 69 cents for every dollar earned by men, even though about three-quarters of young women have a post-secondary certificate or degree. Even women who graduate from high-demand fields like science, technology, engineering, and math earn about $9,000 less per year than their male peers. It is an important issue that we need to get at. It is not right, and it is not smart, either.
We know that diversity in the workforce boosts productivity and profitability, and studies have shown that increasing gender diversity alone leads to more growth. According to the Centre for International Governance Innovation, a 1% increase in gender diversity means about 3.5% bump in revenue for those companies that actively seek to hire more women. The results are even better when women are in leadership positions. When women hold leadership positions, companies see stronger financial results, more innovation, and more effective decision-making at the board level.
I can tell the hon. members from personal experience that our cabinet is stronger, our government is stronger, and Canadians are better served because half of the cabinet ministers we have, the people around the table, are strong, intelligent, and effective women.
That is why the House has passed amendments that would require federally incorporated corporations to make annual disclosures about the diversity of their senior management teams and boards of directors. We need to think about what equality can mean for Canada.
The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that by taking steps to advance women's equality, such as employing more women in technology and boosting women’s participation in the workforce, Canada could add about $150 billion to its economy by 2026. RBC estimates that if Canada had a completely equal representation of women and men in our workforce, we could have increased the size of the economy by 4% last year. When I draft budgets, I fight for every decimal point of growth. Even reaching half that goal, boosting our economy by 2%, would be hugely significant. It would mean more middle-class jobs, and more Canadians who have money to pay their bills or save for retirement.
What are we going to do about it, then? How are we going to make sure that more women and girls can be self-reliant and help their families, while helping to grow our economy?
First, we can do this by making progress when it comes to equal pay for work of equal value. In this budget, the government is taking a historic and meaningful step by moving forward with proactive pay equity legislation in federally regulated sectors. We know that we cannot make this necessary change happen for all Canadian women overnight. What we can do is lead by example, trying to encourage all employers to reflect on the way in which work done by women has been too often undervalued, take action to close the gender wage gap, and improve their business prospects.
Second, we need to recognize that some of this gap is due to the fact that child care and caregiving duties in general fall disproportionately on women. In this budget, we are offering a “use it or lose it” incentive to encourage both parents in a two-parent family to share equally in the work of raising their children. With the EI parental sharing benefit, two-parent families who agree to share parental leave could receive an additional five weeks of leave, making it easier for women to return to work sooner, if they so choose. When that precious time runs out, we know that families need greater access to affordable, quality child care, which is why we have already invested more than $7.5 billion in early learning and child care, which would create up to 40,000 new subsidized spaces over the next three years while making existing spaces more affordable.
Third, we need to do more to support greater numbers of women in management and leadership positions.
We are answering the call from members of the Canada-United States Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders and taking a comprehensive approach to helping women entrepreneurs so that they can scale up their businesses, create jobs, and access the mentorship and the capital they need to take their businesses to the next level.
Finally, we know that we cannot push for equality without confronting some difficult truths. Movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp have shed light on disturbing situations and behaviours that too often go unreported. To better support those who have been victims of sexual harassment in the workplace, we will boost legal aid funding across the country so that victims can better understand their rights and get the help they need.
I would like to add that the work we are doing to increase the participation of women in our economy and our society can be seen across our entire budget. No budget decision was taken without being informed by what we call gender-based analysis plus, and I want to thank the for her help in making this possible.
We believe firmly that this must not be a one-time event. It must be how all future budgets are made. We will be seeking to introduce new legislation to make this a permanent part of the federal budget-making process, and we are going to make status of women a full department of the Government of Canada.
With this budget, we are doubling down on our plan to invest in the middle class and in people working hard to join it. We will do that by strengthening the programs that make the biggest difference in people's lives and by making those benefits easier to get.
That includes the new Canada workers benefit, a strengthened, more accessible, and more generous replacement for the working income tax benefit.
The Canada workers benefit will allow low-income workers to take home more money while they work, encouraging more people to join and stay in the workforce and offering real help to more than two million Canadians.
At the same time, we will make it easier for people to access the benefit that they deserve. By making this benefit more generous and by automatically giving the benefit to all those that qualify, we will help lift about 70,000 more Canadians out of poverty.
As I mentioned earlier, we have taken steps to strengthen the Canada child benefit, so that the benefits it delivers keep pace with the cost of living. We are also continuing to make investments that will help people in times of change, whether they are entering the workforce for the first time, retraining for a new job, or planning for retirement.
We are making additional investments in our ambitious innovation and skills plan, including targeted help for women in the trades like Joan, and for newcomer women looking to find meaningful work.
We are also taking steps to ensure that our tax system is fair for all Canadians.
We cannot have an economy that works for everyone if everyone does not pay their fair share. That is why we gave the Canada Revenue Agency $1 billion in our first budgets to crack down on tax cheats and offshore tax havens. With every dollar we invest, we expect $5 in recovered revenue.
It is about fairness.
We are also making sure that the small business tax rate—on track to fall to 9%, the lowest among G7 countries—is available only to small businesses that want to invest, grow, and create more jobs. We are changing the rules for the top 2% or 3% of private corporations, because the wealthiest Canadians should not be able to use private corporations to pay less tax than the middle class.
By making smart investments today, the kind that give more people a real and fair chance at success, we can build a forward-looking economy for Canada, one that responds to the needs of a changing world, and one that will give the young students at Rose Avenue Public School a real chance to grow and to shine in jobs they are qualified for and excited to have.
As the Perimeter Institute’s Neil Turok says, it’s our “curiosity, courage, creativity and a collaborative spirit” that lead us to innovate. That pushes us to create the new technologies that improve our daily lives, make us healthier, drive our economy, and move our country forward.
To foster that spirit of innovation and help build the new industries and jobs that our economy will rely on in future years, we will make significant new investments in Canada’s scientists and researchers to make sure that they have the funding and support required to do their work.
The fundamental science review, led by Dr. David Naylor and engineered by our , told us that to advance Canadian businesses and Canada’s long-term competitiveness, we need to invest in the people behind the big new ideas. That is exactly what we are doing in this budget. Budget 2018 represents the single largest investment in fundamental and discovery research in Canadian history.
More than that, we will make sure that the new money for research supports the next generation of researchers so that we can build a science community that looks more like Canada—more diverse, with a greater number of women.
Our government also believes the most important way in which our future needs to be better than our past has to do with the relationship between Canada and indigenous peoples. Together, we are working to improve the quality of life for first nations, Inuit, and Métis nations people in Canada. This budget invests in new tools to help nations rebuild and to accelerate self-determination and self-government based on recognition of indigenous rights so our shared future is one where indigenous peoples are in control of their own destiny, making their own decisions about their future.
To that end, we are making new investments that will accelerate work to deliver clean, safe drinking water to more indigenous communities, ahead of schedule. We have already lifted 52 long-term boil water advisories and we are on track to have all others eliminated by March 2021.
We are making investments that will help create better opportunities for indigenous peoples to find and keep good, well-paying jobs; that will build more safe and affordable housing in first nations, Inuit, and Métis nations communities; and that will give better child and family service support, with a special focus on prevention, so that indigenous children are not taken from their families and their communities.
To further the important work of reconciliation, we are also investing in the Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund to promote cross-cultural dialogue and create places and spaces dedicated to reconciliation so that more Canadians can be a part of building a new and better relationship with indigenous peoples.
As the has said many times, when it comes to renewing the relationship between Canada and indigenous peoples, we have a responsibility to do better and to do more. This budget will help us live up to that responsibility, for the benefit of indigenous women, men, and children, and all Canadians.
Today's budget is for all Canadians across our country. To bring people and communities together, we will increase funding for multiculturalism, provide new funding to ensure the success of black Canadians, and consult on a new national anti-racism approach to combat discrimination in our country.
To help more people find an affordable place to call home, we are working on innovative solutions, such as the rental construction financing initiative that will build an additional 14,000 new rental units across the country.
To safeguard Canadians’ privacy and protect both our digital economy and our country, we are making an investment of over $750 million in cybersecurity.
To help families and communities being devastated by the opioid crisis, we will make investments of $230 million, including additional emergency funding for provinces and territories so that people can access evidence-based treatment services and get the help they need.
To help workers in seasonal industries like fishing and tourism, we will work to address the “black hole” in employment insurance benefits, helping families make ends meet until the new work season begins.
Together with our provincial partners, we will protect forestry jobs by stopping the invasive spread of spruce budworm in Atlantic Canada.
Across the country, we will make new investments to support safe and accessible small craft harbours, which are essential to Canada’s fisheries industry and coastal communities.
The Government of Canada will do more to support our official language minority communities and ensure the dynamism and vitality of the Canadian Francophonie.
We will create jobs in regions and rural communities across Canada and provide tailored support for women entrepreneurs through investments in our regional development agencies, such as ACOA, the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, CanNor, FedDev, FedNor, and Western Economic Diversification.
We will also do more to help vulnerable people around the world by making the largest new investments in international assistance in more than a decade, including greater support for the world’s women and girls, through Canada's feminist international assistance policy.
There are challenges in our country. Today, at least one in 10 Canadians cannot afford the prescription drugs that they need, and every year over one million Canadians are forced to give up food and heat in order to afford their medicines. To address this, we have created an advisory council on the implementation of national pharmacare to be headed by Dr. Eric Hoskins. His team will have a mandate to study, evaluate, and ultimately recommend options on a path forward on pharmacare that puts Canadians first.
Finally, this budget recognizes something that every Canadian understands, which is that our quality of life and our present and future prosperity are deeply connected to the environment in which we live. The extraordinary beauty of Canada's parks, nature, and wild spaces are essential to our identity as Canadians.
For my family, it was the chance to witness first-hand the majestic beauty of Canada's north. We have all had experiences like these, whether it is camping with our families or going for a quiet hike alone in the woods. How many of us have gone ice fishing with our friends, learned to swim at the end of a dock in a freezing cold lake, watched our kids skip rocks on the shore, or play in the leaves on a breezy fall day? These are the experiences that help to define us as Canadians.
When we encouraged Canadians to visit our national parks last year, they responded by the millions. Some parks were so busy they had to turn people away. We saw how popular our free admissions program was, and that is why we decided to make Canada's national parks permanently free.
Unlike past governments, we know that Canadians deserve more than just good enough when it comes to protecting the land that we love, so we are helping to deliver one of the largest commitments to conservation in Canada's history with an investment of $1.3 billion to conserve more land and waters, preserve biodiversity, and protect wildlife in our country. This will include a $500 million investment from the federal government to create a new $1 billion nature fund in partnership with corporate, not-for-profit, provincial, territorial, and other partners.
Canada is one of the most beautiful places on earth and it is up to all of us to help keep it that way.
Over the last several months, as I travelled the country in preparation for this budget, I had the opportunity to meet with Canadians and hear their stories, stories of hardships and frustration, but also stories of generosity and hope. I am inspired by those stories, and I am inspired to do even more to help the next generation break free from the barriers that have held us back for too long.
In my life, I am proud to have two young women and two young men who call me dad. I was home alone a few weekends ago and I noticed a new poster hanging over one of my daughter's beds. In bold handwritten lettering there was a quote from Malala that said, “We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.”
For me, it was a blinding flash of the obvious. She gets it. The next generation gets it. The children at Rose Avenue Junior Public School get it too. It is time for the rest of us to catch up.
Before I got into politics, I worked in the private sector. I have opportunities now, as Minister of Finance, to meet regularly with Canada’s top business leaders and CEOs. There is not one leader out there who would stand for anything that arbitrarily would hold back half the people in their organization. It just does not make sense, yet as a society, we allow it to happen, not arbitrarily but systemically.
That changes today with this budget built for all Canadians. With this budget, we are tackling the challenge of equality head-on, asking tough questions, and beginning to provide important solutions. We are taking steps to track our progress, so our government and all future governments may be held accountable for that progress, progress that I look forward to making in collaboration with all members of the House, including the members of the finance committee, and with our colleagues in the Senate.
There really is no turning back. The head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, said, “Equal pay and better economic opportunities for women” were “an economic no-brainer.” Our government agrees.
We will continue to work hard to show Canada and the world how good we can be, how fair we can be, and how smart we can be. We will all be better off because of it.