Mr. Speaker, I am sharing my time with the member for .
I am pleased to speak this morning in support of our government's budget. I want to start by congratulating our and our for delivering not only on our election promises, but on building a visionary budget, one which I am confident will irreversibly change the lives of millions of Canadians for the better.
This budget represents a significant shift in the direction of our country. We are asking top income earners in Canada to pay a bit more so that the majority of Canadians will have more money to spend on important staples, such as food, shelter, and child care. This will greatly benefit those on the lowest end of the income ladder.
This is all the more important, as budget 2016 sets the groundwork to bring in a group of people who have suffered generations of failed government policies and neglect toward equal opportunity in government services. Of course, I speak of Canada's indigenous population.
This budget takes the first steps in healing old wounds and bringing about true reconciliation in our country. It is a statement that restores a promise that generations of Canadians have known: that no matter who we are or where we came from, if we work hard, we will get ahead.
Today I want to devote my time to focus on two sets of policies of which I am particularly proud.
This budget announced historic investment in infrastructure and our indigenous peoples, programs that will create a more equitable and prosperous country.
First, with regard to infrastructure, Canada lags behind in investment to our infrastructure. Investment in infrastructure is an investment in our collective future. I compare infrastructure investments to a personal decision that I had to make many years ago. I recall the time that I was accepted into law school. Like most students, I had no money to go to school. However, I looked at it as an investment. I borrowed money. I went to law school, built a successful practice, and paid the money back. I had a more stable career. I put a great deal of money back into the tax system, and I created jobs.
The investment we make in our infrastructure today is analogous to the decisions that individuals and families routinely make. Many Canadian cities are currently experiencing infrastructure backlogs. With the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio of any G7 country, there has never been a better time to invest in building roads and institutions that will keep our economy strong. We have historically low interest rates, currently hovering around 2.5%. This compares with 6%, 15 years ago; 10%, 25 years ago; and 18%, 35 years ago.
Equally important is the need to boost our economy. We know that in many parts of this country there is a dire need to infuse capital to kick-start the economy. Our current commitment to infrastructure does just that. It takes advantage of historically low interest rates, infuses capital into our economy, creates jobs, and secures important, much-needed infrastructure projects for our future. We are allocating $11.9 billion to build infrastructure that we need now, and to make long overdue repairs to aging systems.
On public transit, we are putting $3.4 billion toward phase one of our government's plan to improve public transit in Canada. Public transit opens doors to employment and educational opportunities that are not possible without it. Investment in public transit not only provides a quicker way for people to get around, it helps to equalize the playing field for urban Canadians.
I represent a riding with high youth unemployment. I know that improvement in our public transit system will pay dividends over the coming years to our youth and our community.
In addition to these historic investments, our government has committed $3.4 billion for affordable housing, community centres, and child care centres. These funds will ensure our communities are better places to live and provide more low-income Canadians of all ages with peace of mind.
All of these investments will start to provide an immediate boost to our economy and will better the lives of Canadians in my riding of and across this country.
I am particularly proud of our post-secondary institutions strategic investment fund. Budget 2016 plays a major role in supporting post-secondary institutions in Canada. We have allocated $2 billion in additional funding that will be matched by the provinces and territories, to build and update research labs, training facilities, and on-campus incubators. These investments will ensure that Canadian post-secondary institutions remain leaders in innovation and research.
I am proud to say that my riding is home to the University of Toronto, Scarborough campus, and to Centennial College, both hubs of learning in Scarborough. I am pleased that our was at Centennial College in Scarborough last week to announce the post-secondary institutions strategic investment fund. Many university and college presidents, student groups, and community members were in attendance. We were mesmerized by the incredible demonstrations of talent by Centennial College students, who have the key to the collective future in new technology, the new jobs that we often speak of.
The University of Toronto Scarborough campus has a master plan, which principal Bruce Kidd and members of the Scarborough team shared with the members of this House. The master plan supports the renewal of Scarborough as a region. I believe the post-secondary institutions strategic investment fund will greatly support UTSC in our region and escalate the much-needed development that will lead to a more educated workforce, more equipped scientists, incubation of new businesses and technology, and ultimately more jobs.
As an example, this January 29, I had the privilege of taking part in the opening of the new environmental science and chemistry building at the University of Toronto. It is a magnificent structure. It uses 40% less energy for a building of that size and meets the coveted LEED gold standard. This building houses world-class researchers, and Ph.D. and other graduate students. They are looking to help us. As countries address issues such as global warming and greenhouse gas emissions, the output from this building will help us develop the technologies, policies, and workforce to build the green economy of the future, an economy that can grow and help the middle class.
Let me now turn to our historic investment into indigenous communities. The has made it abundantly clear that there is no relationship more important to him, this government, or our country than the one with our first nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples. I note that this morning the Supreme Court of Canada expanded the definition of Indian under the Indian Act to include the Métis nation and non-status Indians, in the Daniels v. Canada decision. In effect, our investment in indigenous communities is even more pressing today.
Two days ago, our House debated the most recent suicides in Attawapiskat, and the broader issue of suicide in indigenous communities. This is yet another tragedy, but sadly not unfamiliar to those who live in these communities. We know there is no easy fix, and we know that money alone will not fix this problem. However, we know that the long-term solutions exist if government puts its energy and resources to it. Five hundred years of colonization, oppression, and failed policies cannot be undone overnight. The devastating news that we hear from many indigenous communities is a reflection of this history.
Budget 2016 will move forward with the goal of renewing the relationship with our indigenous peoples. I believe this budget will serve as a down payment to resetting the relationship. Though programs announced in budget 2016 will not solve the long-standing problems overnight, it is the first step to ensuring that some day soon all indigenous children will be able to have the same hopes, aspirations, and opportunities as any other child in Canada. To this end, budget 2016 proposes an investment of $8.4 billion over five years, beginning in 2016-17, to improve socio-economic conditions, education outcomes, and the well-being of our indigenous population. This investment is a significant increase over funding that would have been made available under the Kelowna Accord.
Of this funding, $2.6 billion is earmarked for improving on-reserve education, including funds for special education and first nations language education. There is $634 million earmarked to improve child welfare, and $1.2 billion is to be allocated toward social infrastructure, with a focus on health and housing. These are investments that our indigenous communities desperately need right now. They will provide youth with the opportunity to build their communities.
Boil water advisories are common in many first nations communities, and we are earmarking $2.24 billion in water and waste water infrastructure.
The spending cap, as mentioned earlier, is a very important challenge that has faced first nations communities. We will remove the spending cap after a number of years where this has stagnated the growth and the needs of indigenous communities.
In conclusion, this budget is one that we should all be incredibly proud of. It invests in our future and the future of our children. It is a statement on who we are as a people, and it opens a new chapter in the relations with our indigenous population. Budget 2016 is a truly inclusive approach to governing Canada, and it will pave the way for the prosperity of all Canadians well into the future.
Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to stand today before the House to speak to budget 2016. This budget is extremely important to allow growth and prosperity to the middle class.
My speech will touch on three major areas: investment in the middle class; our relationship with indigenous people, which is extremely important; and of course the historic investment in infrastructure, which would see growth and prosperity in the near future.
During the campaign, I met a gentleman named Tyler in my riding of , and in talking with him, I realized the challenges he had. He was making a modest income, he had three young kids, and his wife was a stay-at-home mom, supporting the children. With that income, it is quite challenging for families. When we look at how items in the budget could support Tyler's family, it is quite impressive.
By that I mean that the Canada child benefit program would see $1,116 per month going toward the support of his family and some of the challenges of the costs. That represents $13,400 of tax-free money. There is no question that this budget would make a big difference to his family and many young families across the country.
There are many families out there, some who are even more vulnerable and have even more challenges, and this budget would support more than 300,000 families and pull them out of poverty. We would also see nine out of 10 families benefiting from this budget.
It is very obvious that this is a major investment in the middle class. Studies have shown in the past that, when we invest in young families early, it reduces the costs to government in the future. That is the type of government we have here.
The second point I would make is about our indigenous people.
I would like to talk about indigenous people and the challenges they have been facing for far too long. What is really impressive is that this government is going to invest in these communities because they have enormous challenges. Past governments of all stripes did not really invest as much as they should have, and that is why this budget is important.
What kind of investments do we have here? The government is going to invest $8.4 billion to support indigenous people. Furthermore, I am pleased that it will invest $2.6 billion in education. This is vital for primary and secondary education on reserves.
It is very important to note that only 36% of indigenous youth graduate from high school, compared to 72% for the general population. As we can see, this is a very serious situation that must be addressed. That is what this government intends to do. There is also a great need for renovations to school infrastructure in indigenous communities. This money will also be used for that purpose. Furthermore, an investment will be made to provide access to clean drinking water and improve health services and the quality of education. As we know, education is probably the most important thing we can give young people. This investment will help them develop their skills and also help them return to their communities to make a contribution, which is key for any group of individuals.
I would also like to talk about the tax credit for teachers, which is extremely important. Many teachers use their own personal money so that they can add equipment or material to their classrooms. I see this happening often. I have personal experience. I am a teacher, my wife is a teacher, and my two daughters are teachers. This tax credit of 15% would be a big piece to support this initiative, up to $1,000 of course. It recognizes the investment made by teachers and the hard work they do for students across Canada.
For the last part of my speech I would like to talk about the infrastructure investment. When we talk about infrastructure, people think right away about bridges and roads, but the investment in infrastructure by this government is about more than that. It is about social investment, digital investment, and environmental investment. These are much larger categories and would help a greater number of people.
Let me talk about social infrastructure. Many communities in my riding require affordable senior housing. This would ensure that seniors stayed in their own communities where they could see their children and their grandchildren grow. That is important. Statistics Canada has indicated that Nova Scotia has one of the oldest populations in the country. The needs in my riding of Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook are extremely important.
As well, we are seeing investments for veterans. Our government would reopen the nine veteran offices that were closed by the past government. We owe a deep debt of gratitude and appreciation to all veterans for their service. This is one small step, but we are going in the right direction.
Also, with respect to digital infrastructure, rural broadband access is important in my riding and across Canada. I have participated in the rural community caucus, which has clearly announced that broadband is a top priority. Our government would invest $500 million over five years in this budget for high-speed Internet, which would allow small rural and remote communities to thrive and provide people with the necessary equipment for the challenges of the 21st century.
I am working on many major projects in my community: for example, the Burnside-Sackville expressway, the dredging of the inlet in Eastern Passage, the Aerotech Business Park, and so forth. What I like about this budget is that the categories would be set now for us to take advantage of and get these jobs done. It is extremely important that every member in the House, not just Liberal members, has access to these types of categories to help the people in their ridings.
It is a nice feeling to stand here today and know that we are seeing steps toward what we promised to our constituents in this budget, and many of the things we promised are going to get done. Over the next four years, we will see many more great things happen to help and support all Canadians.
Mr. Speaker, this budget reveals the government's real priorities. It shows not what the government said it would do, but what it is really willing to do and where it is really putting the money. The Bloc Québécois is taking this process very seriously.
We want to be absolutely sure that we are speaking on behalf of Quebeckers and that we understand their needs and support them in getting the tools they need to address the challenges they face. That is why we met with about a hundred groups of people from all walks of life, people from cities and the regions, people involved in social and environmental work, workers, students, seniors, and the unemployed. We cast a wide net so that we could accurately convey what Quebeckers want.
Not everyone agreed about everything, of course, but we were surprised at the strong consensus on one important thing: Quebec is not Canada. Our challenges are not the same, our economy is not the same, and our way of doing things is not the same either. Everyone agrees that Ottawa needs to take that into account.
We have identified four key priorities. The first one involves protecting our public services through transfers. Second, we need to rebuild our infrastructure through a flexible, effective program that allocates money quickly so that we can meet the needs and boost the economy. Third, we have to take care of people, particularly through employment insurance, which was systematically gutted in recent years. Lastly, we need to reinvest in the economy, but not in a foolish or haphazard manner. Those investments must meet the needs of the Quebec economy.
Since we are proactive, we even offered some suggestions for obtaining additional revenue: taxing banks and cracking down on tax havens. This budget is zero for four. It provides nothing for transfers, nothing meaningful for employment insurance, nothing to suggest that the infrastructure program will work quickly and effectively, and nothing to meet the needs of our economy. The budget does not meet any of Quebec's specific needs, either socially, economically, or fiscally. We will therefore be voting against this budget.
Of course, the budget does contain some interesting measures. Investments for indigenous communities are long overdue. The federal government's record when it comes to indigenous issues has become a disgrace. Many indigenous people are living in third world conditions. The needs in terms of housing, health care, education, and public safety are overwhelming.
The crisis in Attawapiskat in the past few days has brought to light the sense of abandonment that these people feel every day. Therefore, we applaud the investments that were announced in this budget. Clearly, putting money on the table is not enough. We must meet the needs of indigenous peoples and listen to them. They must be real partners.
It is in the Liberal DNA to centralize decision-making in Ottawa. Quebec knows a thing or two about that. The nation-to-nation approach that the government announced in its throne speech, and that it refuses to use in Quebec, I would add, should be more than just a slogan. Our indigenous brothers need more than money. They also need respect for their differences and their distinctiveness. Otherwise, things will not change. The Indian Act, with its colonial approach, treats them like minors. That law must go.
There is also the new child benefit, which is another attractive measure. We want to see the law before giving our full approval, but I find it attractive, more generous than former programs, non-taxable, and better targeted to those who need it. It remains to be seen how it will be harmonized with Quebec programs.
The OECD finds that Quebec has the best and most original family policy in North America. Our people do good things. A consistent family policy is an effective family policy. Financial assistance from both levels of government, child care services, and parental leave all have to be coordinated. No one should ever fall through the cracks because two government programs are poorly coordinated.
Now that the budget has been tabled and the government has to come up with a program, Ottawa needs to sit down soon with the Government of Quebec to adapt its program to our specific reality. Unfortunately, that is where the fine words end. For the rest, it is disappointment after disappointment.
First, let us talk about transfers. If there was one thing that became quite clear during the pre-budget consultations, it was the need to restore transfers to a level that ensures the viability of the Government of Quebec and the sustainability of the public services that depend on it.
Of all the governments, the federal government has the most room to manoeuvre. As it provides almost no services, it will not feel the impact of the aging population, particularly on health care. Unlike the provinces, whose deficits are recurring because they are structural, the federal government runs a deficit because of a temporary economic slowdown. Economic conditions aside, the trend is clear. The parliamentary budget officer, the Conference Board of Canada, and the Council of the Federation agree that in 20 years, Ottawa will be on track to pay off its debt, while the provinces will be in an untenable financial situation.
The scope of these financial problems goes beyond Quebec. It is the status of province that is not viable. These prospects are quite worrisome. In fact, unless there is harsher unending austerity, Quebec will all but implode.
Health care costs have increased by more than 5% a year, on average, in the past 10 years. By reorganizing services to increase efficiency, Quebec is hoping to limit this increase to 4.4% in the future. The 6% annual increase in federal health transfers was a start in helping Quebec get caught up. After hitting a low of 18% as a result of severe budget cuts by the Liberals at the end of the 1990s, Ottawa now contributes 22% of costs. We are very close to reaching the 25% target set by the Romanow commission, which was put in place by Ottawa. Unfortunately, the Conservatives put a stop to the increase as of next year. At the end of the plan, the federal government's share will have dropped to 18%, the same as it was during the worst years. However, things will be even worse, as a result of the aging population. Everyone in Quebec has been critical of this. We need to continue getting caught up. The government needs to continue increasing transfers by 6% a year, until Ottawa is once again responsible for one-quarter of the system costs. Since this is intended to cover health care costs, the allocation must also take needs into account. It does not make sense to allocate the funds automatically, on a per capita basis. We need to take seniors into account. What is there for seniors in the budget? Nothing. The Liberals are maintaining the Conservatives' cuts. Quebeckers would be better off getting used to austerity and wait lists. This government just confirmed that those times are not over.
It is not just health transfers. Quebec's future depends on its young people. Transfers for education and social programs have not even begun to catch up, as if education and child care services were not important. The government was asked to increase transfers by 6% per year until they got back to the same level as before the cuts that were made in the 1990s. That would represent nearly $900 million a year for Quebec. What is in the budget? Nothing.
As I said earlier, the federal government provides almost no services, and when it does, it does not manage them very well. What the Liberals and Conservatives have been doing with employment insurance for the past 20 years is outrageous. EI was supposed to be an insurance program, but it has turned into an employment tax. Rather than providing workers with insurance for when they fall on hard times, the government is charging them extra taxes. The government has let workers down. It has put women, young people, and seasonal workers in dire straits. They have had to go on welfare because they are not eligible for EI. Ottawa is treating seasonal workers like fraudsters. The government is forgetting that it is not the workers who are seasonal but the jobs. Like everyone else, these honest citizens still need to eat 12 months a year.
There is not a lot of tourism in the Gaspé in winter. Not a lot of construction either. Trying to pave a road in the middle of January is impossible. Trying to find a teaching position in July is impossible. These people are not fraudsters; they are the very people for whom employment insurance was created during the depression in the 1930s. People everywhere told us that they wanted the government to restore employment insurance, which has been gutted. That is what we asked for. Employment insurance must once again become what it should never have stopped being: insurance. The system must once again be accessible and independent. Ottawa must stop dipping into the fund as though that money were its own.
Is there something about this in the budget? Precious little. Ottawa reduced the waiting period, which is good. However, it did nothing to make the system more accessible or to extend the benefit period. What is worse, Ottawa is extending benefits in regions where the economy is tied to oil production, but not anywhere else. Montreal's unemployment rate is higher than Calgary's, but the government is extending benefits for Calgarians only. Seasonal workers in the regions are worried.
Benefits run out at this time of the year, yet there is nothing for them. We have gone from having a broken system to having a system that is broken and unfair. That is not what I would call an improvement.
Let me say a few words about infrastructure. The federal government is currently contributing roughly $1 billion to Quebec's infrastructure through the various building Canada plan programs. That funding represents only roughly 5% of public infrastructure spending in Quebec, while the Government of Quebec covers the other 95%, including for health, education, and the municipalities. Needless to say, the additional investments announced by Ottawa are welcome. However, it is not enough to just put money on the table. The money needs to be made available quickly and the programs need to be flexible enough to meet the needs on the ground, something that only the authorities in Quebec City and the municipalities can determine.
The experience with the 2009 infrastructure plan is instructive. Ottawa wanted to interfere in the choice of projects, which made the whole process unending: 27 months to conclude a framework agreement that opened the door to studying the first projects, followed by negotiations, project by project, for 15 months on average. It took three and a half years before money was released from the federal treasury, which meant the program had to be extended. The same thing happened with the 2014 program. The money was frozen in Ottawa because of federal-provincial squabbles caused by the federal government's attempts to interfere.
If the government really wants to have more money available to fight the economic downturn now, it must not repeat the same mistakes. The only federal infrastructure program that works well is the federal gas tax fund. The provinces receive block payments, and Quebec and the municipalities jointly select the projects to be funded. It is simple, quick, and effective.
What did the government present in its budget? In its new programs, the Liberal government decided to keep doing things the same old way, even though it is not working, rather than doing something that works. By all indications, the municipalities are once again victims of the bickering between Quebec and Ottawa that will have federal interference paralyzing the process for months, if not years, even though the needs are urgent now.
Worse still, the community infrastructure funds that will pay for projects like community centres, cultural infrastructure, and social housing were incorporated into the propaganda funding for the 150th anniversary. Will municipalities and community groups be forced to spread federalist propaganda in order to access funding? This feels just like the Liberal sponsorship scandal all over again. By all indications, these programs, as they are now, will be completely ineffective, and the municipalities will not see one red cent of the money promised for a very long time.
This brings me to economic policy. The government said that it wanted to reinvest in the economy, that it wanted a more sustainable economy. We agree. When the Conservatives were in power, all they cared about was oil and western Canada. Look where that got us. Now it is Ontario's turn to reap the benefits of federal largesse. Once again, Quebec is being ignored.
The Quebec economy is different than the Canadian economy. People often forget that. Canada has a subsidiary economy, particularly in the oil and auto sectors. Protecting head offices is not a Canadian priority. The country's economy is not terribly innovative, and its businesses do relatively little R & D.
Things are different in Quebec. Quebec accounts for 45% of Canada's technology exports. Quebec entrepreneurs invest 50% more in research than their counterparts in Canada. That information is from Statistics Canada. Quebec has an aerospace sector and a multimedia industry. Quebec has renewable resources like hydroelectricity and forests. That is Quebec, and federal policies must reflect that.
I was surprised to see the level of support for an economic policy that meets our needs among all the people we heard from in the pre-budget consultations. On the left and on the right, in urban and rural areas, there must be support for business innovation. We must support investment, especially since the weak petrodollar makes production equipment more expensive. We need a real aerospace policy that supports our major players, who are world leaders. We cannot say it enough. We need programs that support our SMEs, which are also innovators. What we need is a real innovation strategy.
Quebec has a 21st-century economy. Our strengths lie in sectors that will grow in the future: technology, the environment, renewable resources, and culture. Quebeckers are creative.
The federal government's policy is unbelievably poorly adapted to our needs, and things are not improving under the new government. It wants to do more research itself. That is fine. It wants university researchers to do more research. That is fine as well.
However, at the end of the day, the government wants to make up for the fact that businesses elsewhere in Canada do not innovate much, and it is not proposing to support innovative Quebec companies. Its policies do not seem to take into account that Quebec is Canada's technology engine.
We are not asking for charity: $1 billion for Bombardier is 10 times less than the $10 billion invested in GM. All we are asking for is a policy that addresses our needs. That is all.
In that respect, this budget is downright disastrous. It does nothing for the sectors our economy is based on. There is nothing for Bombardier or the aerospace sector in general, nothing for the forestry sector, nothing for the farmers who were sacrificed in the negotiation of the agreements with Europe and Asia, and no sign of a plan for electric transportation.
What is worse, if the government uses our money to make up for low innovation spending by Canadian businesses outside Quebec, it could end up creating competitors for us west of the Ottawa River.
The budget allocates a significant amount of funding to government research concentrated in Ontario and university research that focuses on the needs of industry. The government intends to then turn over the findings of that research to industries that are not very innovative to help make up for their shortcomings.
There is nothing for our innovative Quebec industries. However, the government plans to allocate new funding to oil companies: $50 million to help them cause less pollution. The government has set aside money for the automotive industry and has extended the program that funds the industry's research until 2021.
There is nothing for Quebec. The Conservatives told Quebec no with a smirk. The Liberals are telling Quebec no with a smile, but when it comes right down to it, the answer is still no.
In the last election, for the first time in 30 years, Quebeckers elected a majority of government members. Quebeckers have tried everything to succeed in a country that is not their own.
Budget 2016 gives us an idea of what that has accomplished. The is working to kill Bombardier, the is working to dismantle Air Canada, the is working to starve unemployed workers and empty out the regions, the is working to choke the government, and the Quebec Liberal caucus is applauding their efforts.
Obviously, we can draw only one conclusion from the federal budget, and that is that Quebeckers cannot count on a Canadian party to develop Quebec; Quebeckers cannot count on a Canadian government to develop Quebec; they can only count on themselves.
Taking charge of our destiny and relying on our own strengths has a name. It is called the emancipation of a people, of a nation. It is called independence.
Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased and proud to stand here and support this budget.
I know everybody is listening to thousands of pieces of information about programs here and there, but the big thing about the budget is that it invests in two important things. It invests in the economy and creating jobs, and it invests in people, helping Canadians have more money in their pockets spend, to afford to do things they need, and to cope. For me, these two key issues are very important.
First and foremost is the economy. We need to invest in the economy now. We have had a stagnant economy and not very good job creation over the past 10 years. Everything has stayed steady because we have depended on one commodity only to float the economy and jobs, and we have seen what has happened. We have no control over global markets, and oil prices have gone down.
We are trying to diversify the economy, not only by investing in natural resources, of which we have a lot, but also by investing in the 21st century economy, creativity, and innovation. To do that, we have to reinvest in those areas that have been ignored for quite some time.
We want to kick start the economy now so it can start moving and then develop a long-term economy. Therefore, we are investing immediately in infrastructure.
As members well know, we are investing $11.9 billion in infrastructure, which is phase one. I want to point out that this budget is not the only and final budget this government will bring in. This is our phase one budget. When we invest in infrastructure, we are investing in green infrastructure, looking at waste water, encouraging electric vehicles, simple things like that which will move us forward.
We know that infrastructure brings jobs and gets people working immediately. Therefore, we are building roads and bridges. Road and bridges have to take our people, goods, and services across the country to ports and areas in which we can move them around the world. It is an important investment. For public transit alone, we are talking about $3.4 billion over three years.
Also, what most people do not understand is that from coast to coast to coast, ferries are important points of transportation. British Columbia will benefit from the 25% tariff being taken off of ferries. This will allow us to have bigger and better ferries, and to fix the ones we have right now. Again, when we can move our goods and services, that puts us into the competitive arena.
We are also investing in social infrastructure. We are investing in housing, which is the first part. Building new housing and renovating old housing is real work for real people, which will continue over the next five years and into the future. As the economy grows, we will see more building going on.
We are talking about the spectrum of housing. It is not only low-income and social housing in which rent is geared to income, but we are also looking at building home care for seniors. We are looking at how we can work with provinces and municipalities to build affordable housing. Because of that, the affordable housing budget of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation has been doubled.
When the Liberals first brought in a national housing strategy back under Lester Pearson, CMHC was created. However, CMHC seemed to have lost its way in the last 10 years. Now we have now brought it back to do what it was supposed, which is to invest in affordable housing.
Many Canadians and their children cannot afford to buy houses, and may be living farther away. However, investing both in housing and transit closes that loop. In other words, we can get them to work and back home in a faster period of time.
We are also investing in the new 21st century economy. We are looking at investing in research and development, and science. We are looking at investing in areas such as commercializing our technology, which is a huge. We have universities that are second to none. They are coming up with important new discoveries, and the ability to commercialize some of that work is very important.
We developed the ebola vaccine here and we sold it, gave it away to a big company. We now have to buy it when we want it. That is not the kind of industry. We want to be a place where people can come here and talk about how we can develop good pharmaceuticals.
Over the years, we have shown excellence in environmental medical technology. This is where good, well-paying, solid, environmentally friendly green jobs will come from, and it will give Canada a name in the world as a niche market and a place when looking for this environmental technology.
I do not know if many people know this, but we happen to be best for sound and special effects in film, not just in North America but in the world. Everyone is beating a path to our door because of our new ability to deliver sound and special effects. This creates jobs. These jobs start at $63,000 a year. We are not churning out people in film school fast enough to fill those jobs. Canada can excel in communications technology, film, arts and culture and be the place the world looks to when it wants to find excellence.
We are looking at our ability to develop communications technologies, green technology and translational technologies. We are actually able to develop innovations in health care that we can commercialize to the rest of the world. Therefore, that translational research is very important. That is the kind of technology, the kind of new economy about which we are talking. That is where Canada can begin to excel.
With regard to aerospace, we have McDonnell-Detweiler, the Canadarm, the ability to bring in things like CASSIOPE that can download and upload enormous amounts of information and time. RADARSAT, which Google and all of the world now uses to tell us who is on what street and how to get from A to B, is Canadian, developed in my province of British Columbia with McDonnell-Detweiler. Let us go back and gear to be excellent in certain things. When we talk about investment, this is an example.
I am just reminded, Mr. Speaker, that I may be splitting my time with the member for .
We are talking about that kind of investment in the economy, but the economy is not just an abstract thing. The economy is people. People are the ones who work, who produce, who make Canada competitive. Therefore, we are looking at how we invest in people so Canada can once again become a more productive nation and be competitive in a global economy. We have not been doing that very well.
We are reinvesting in skills so people can transition from economies that are not doing particularly well to the new economies. Retraining people is a huge investment, and it is an important one for people in the workforce.
Let us look at the young people coming into the workforce. We are now doubling the Canada student summer job program, with apprenticeship programs. By doubling it, every year 35,000 new students in university will be able to learn and train for these new jobs. This had been severely cut under the last government. We are bringing this back. We are telling students who come out of university that until they find a job that will pay them $25,000, they do not have to repay their loans.
We are bringing in grants for students to go to university and stay in university, up to a thousand new dollars a year.
We are investing in the fastest-growing population in our country, which is the aboriginal people. If we recall, there was something called the Kelowna accord under a past Liberal prime minister, Paul Martin. It would have invested $5 billion over five years into housing, education and health. It would be administered by aboriginal people for aboriginal people in partnership with the provincial and federal governments.
As soon as the last government came in, it was cancelled. That meant there were 10 years in which none of those programs were used, and aboriginal communities were 10 years behind in being able to participate fully in the economic, social and political life of our country. We have now brought it back. Ten years is almost a lost generation.
We had an emotional debate in the House about what was happening in Attawapiskat. This is not a new thing. It is because of despair and hopelessness. Communities need to participate fully in the economic life of their country and know there is hope that their next generation will do better, that they can find meaningful work in which they can find dignity. This is important. Working with indigenous people on a nation-to-nation basis is very important.
I could go into arts and culture, which creates 1.1 million jobs in this country and brings about $37 billion a year into our GDP.
These are the things we are investing in, people, the economy, jobs, and putting Canada back on the world stage.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to the 2016 budget. The document was created after listening to what thousands of Canadians wanted to see from their government. It reflects the priorities of Canadians and embodies the real change that the people of Parkdale—High Park voted for on October 19 last year.
Today, I want to organize my thoughts around three central themes that infuse the core of this document: first, our government's commitment to a fair and more inclusive society; second, our objective of helping Canadian children thrive; and third, the goal of creating a long-term vision for Canada.
On the first theme, I came to this country as a Ugandan refugee in 1972. I was 10 months old at the time. My father, my mother, my four-year-old sister, and I arrived with nothing more than a couple of suitcases. However, we lived in a society where my sister and I, the children of working-class parents, had access to the same opportunities as everyone else. We were treated with respect and dignity. We were shown that no matter where we came from or how limited our means, we lived in a country where our success was limited only by our imagination and our capacity to work hard.
However, over the last 10 years, the previous government systematically eroded the foundation of that fair and inclusive society, putting in place barriers to success and limiting rather than empowering people to reach their full potential.
I am proud that our new government is doing things differently. We are committed to restoring a fair and inclusive society
First and foremost, as part of that commitment is repairing our relationship with indigenous peoples. Over the generations, that relationship has suffered from both passive neglect and active hostility. First nations, the Métis nation, and the Inuit do not enjoy anywhere near the same quality of life as other Canadians. With the 2016 budget, our hope is that this relationship can begin anew. Our government is taking its first steps by launching a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women. Coupled with this, we are investing $8.4 billion over five years to create opportunities and improve the socio-economic conditions of indigenous people. Correcting this relationship and improving the plight of our first peoples is not only beneficial for the collective, it is also a moral imperative. I know that the residents of my riding know this as well.
Organizations in Parkdale—High Park have already been taking action. I am proud of the work that Wigwamen has been doing in my riding to rebuild this relationship. Wigwamen is Ontario's oldest and largest urban indigenous housing provider, with 214 units throughout Toronto, including in Parkdale—High Park.
Our commitment in this budget to fostering a fair and more inclusive society extends to protecting many of our most vulnerable. We are working toward lifting seniors out of poverty. Our government is restoring the retirement age from 67 to 65, and increasing the GIS that is provided for single low-income seniors by nearly $1,000.
Budget 2016 also targets housing and homelessness. Our social infrastructure investments include $504 million over the next two years alone to construct affordable housing units, and $573 million to address repair backlogs in social housing.
More importantly, this budget dedicates $112 million in the next two years alone to homelessness, which also includes much-needed support for things that relate to mental health and addiction.
Budget 2016 also strengthens protections for the survivors of domestic violence. Our infrastructure plan will allocate $90 million over two years for the construction and renovation of shelters and transition houses for victims of violence. Unfortunately, my riding is no stranger to this issue. For 23 years, the excellent staff at The Redwood shelter in Parkdale—High Park have been providing a safe and empowering space for women and children fleeing domestic violence. Notwithstanding its incredible work in our community, the need for safe spaces for women fleeing domestic violence in Toronto and other cities around Canada persists. This budget acknowledges that and works toward fulfilling that need.
A fair and inclusive Canada is one that promotes access. Budget 2016 will also make the objective of post-secondary education more attainable by doubling the size of the Canada student grant for youth from low-income and middle-income families.
We also know that helping people afford an education alone is not enough. We are committed to helping our youth transition from the classroom to the workforce by investing $495 million next year alone in the youth employment strategy. Again, the task of preparing our youth to succeed involves the community, and West Neighbourhood House in my riding has been contributing to this task for decades. Through the Toronto Youth Job Corps program, West Neighbourhood House in Parkdale connects youth to the workplace through employment, school, or training for young people between the ages of 16 and 29. It is helping kids who are out of school and out of work develop important life and employment skills that will help promote future success.
This budget's commitment to enhanced funding for youth employment reflects the fact that we value the work being done by entities like West Neighbourhood House.
Helping our children thrive is the second thematic point. The task of positioning our youth to succeed and contribute to our collective well-being begins much earlier than the post-secondary education that I just referenced. Evidence shows that children who have a strong start at the beginning of their lives have a greater chance of success later on.
Time and again at the doorstep, young families in my community of Parkdale—High Park told me about how difficult it is to raise kids in today's economy. I have two young boys of my own: Zakir is age five and Nitin will be two tomorrow. If I could be permitted a brief indulgence, Mr. Speaker, I would just like to say happy birthday to my little guy and that I will see him tomorrow.
More importantly, as a father of a young family, I know that it is rewarding raising a family, but it is very challenging in this economy. Enter budget 2016. It will give Canadian families more money to help with the high cost of raising their children by replacing the current complicated system of child benefits with a single CCB, the Canada child benefit. It is simpler and it is more generous.
Gone are the days of the previous government's universal benefits cheques sent to persons with seven-digit salaries who frankly do not need government help in raising their families. Gone also are the days when the previous government would issue a cheque, only for it to be clawed back by the taxman the following April.
This new child tax benefit is tax-free, and it is targeted so that low-income and middle-income families will receive more benefits than those with the highest incomes.
We campaigned on a very specific promise to deliver assistance to those that need it the most. This targeted Canada child benefit coupled with the middle-class tax cut that we passed on January 1 this year will do exactly that.
Turning to the third point, we have a long-term vision for Canada that is encapsulated in this budget. Some of the aspects of that vision have already been articulated from the day we assumed office.
We believe in equality; hence, we have a gender equal cabinet.
We believe in evidence-based policy; hence, there is the immediate reinstatement of the long-form census.
We believe in daring to name the danger of climate change; hence, we renamed the ministry, led in Paris at the COP21 summit, and invested $3.4 billion in this budget alone, for the next five years, to address climate change.
We also believe in compassion. A subject near and dear to my heart, we have accepted 26,000 and counting Syrian refugees into this country.
With this budget, another part of our vision becomes clear. We believe in Canadian culture. The support in this budget for the CBC and other organizations that promote Canadian culture illustrates this.
The residents of my riding include a large number of artists, writers, filmmakers, TV producers, musicians, actors and editors. They contribute to the culture of Toronto, and they are a huge economic engine for our country. We believe in cultivating that creative and economic engine, not impeding it. That is why this budget includes an investment of $1.3 billion over five years to support arts and culture organizations, including $550 million alone for the Canada Council for the Arts.
Our plan is not simply about promoting Canadian creative output, it is also about preserving Canadian cultural icons. Time and time again on the campaign trail and thereafter, the residents of Parkdale—High Park told me that, after a decade of neglect, to save the CBC. We have listened, and we have responded. Budget 2016 commits $675 million to the CBC over the next five years as a reaffirmation of the vital voice that CBC/Radio-Canada plays in our public discourse in promoting our two official languages and supporting our shared culture and values.
In conclusion, this budget is transformative. After 10 years of neglect, this budget signals to Canadians that they finally have a government that is willing to invest in this country, in its people, in its institutions, and in its infrastructure.
Most importantly, the budget illustrates our government's commitment to creating a more fair and inclusive society, and helping all Canadian children get the best start in life possible.
Budget 2016 crafts a long-term vision for this country that reflects our shared values, values like equality, compassion, and a commitment to evidence-based policy. I am proud of this budget, and I will be wholeheartedly supporting it. I urge all members of this House to do the same.
Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for .
While I was pleased to see some measures, such as a short-term extension of employment insurance benefits for oil and gas workers in my riding and some investments in social housing, I found that the budget borrowed heavily from future generations, without a plan for job creation and without any sort of thought toward returning to a balanced budget.
The budget borrows a lot of money. It will borrow $30 billion this year and over $100 billion over the next four. How can Canadians trust a government that has broken its promises right out of the gate? The government demonstrates an attitude of entitlement and an absolute disregard for the hard-working taxpayer.
The has said he wants to place emphasis on our young people, but the only thing he is doing for our nation's youth is simply saddling them with a horrendous debt and thereby making it extremely difficult for them to move ahead in life after graduating from school.
I have listened to union economists, Liberal politicians, and various pundits talk about how insignificant this deficit is, so let us talk about that.
The budget borrows $118 billion over six years from future generations. To put that in perspective, the Bow tower, which is the tallest skyscraper in Calgary, cost $1.2 billion to build. This means that our present budget could build 100 Bow towers. That is 50 skyscrapers more than the entire downtown core of Toronto.
The most worrisome part of the deficit is that there is absolutely no plan to eliminate it.
I would like to take a closer look at the budget and what it means for the hard-working people of Lethbridge that I represent.
First, let us look at jobs. I was saddened by the fact that there is no long-term vision to get Alberta's economy back on track. The budget confirms that the government is not interested in helping Alberta recover from a terrific downturn in the oil and gas industry and the loss of tens of thousands of jobs. The government's lackadaisical approach to job creation simply will not benefit anyone.
I am both proud of and confident in the entrepreneurial spirit and strong work ethic of the people of Lethbridge. I represent thousands of small business owners who are smart, willing to take calculated risks, and eager to give back to the community by creating jobs. Small businesses are the heartbeat of the Canadian economy. They drive our innovation and entrepreneurial effort as a nation and they employ more Canadians than any other sector.
During the campaign, the Liberals promised to lower taxes on small businesses. However, they have failed to come through. Our Prime Minister lied. This broken promise will cost small businesses across Canada a billion dollars a year, money that could have been reinvested to create jobs.
Let us talk about families.
Our previous Conservative government made families a priority. This was rooted in our belief that families are the fundamental building block of Canadian society. In order to pay for their new child benefit, the Liberals have eliminated the universal child care benefit, the children's fitness tax credit, and the children's art tax credit. Furthermore, the Liberals have also followed through on their threat to eliminate income splitting for Canadian families, an initiative that helped thousands of families in the Lethbridge region.
The government claims that families will get more money under its child benefit plan, but when we look at it closely, we see the big picture: the middle class actually loses out. Parents understand better than government what is in the best interests of their children, but the budget removes choice from parents, limits options for families, and ultimately puts more power into the hands of government instead of the hands of parents.
I was disappointed to note that the infrastructure spending proposed to trigger economic growth is already earmarked for big cities, in particular Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, and Vancouver. This appears to be a big-city budget that would do very little for a small centre like Lethbridge.
Furthermore, there is little in the way of investing in rural areas. In my area, we have many roads and bridges in the county that have not been repaired or maintained since the 1950s. These roads and bridges are used each and every day to help get agricultural commodities to market, which is very important for Canada as a nation. Overall, the budget is in blatant disregard of our primary producers and ignores their needs, thereby ignoring the needs of Canada as a whole.
I would like to draw attention to two other areas that I am quite passionate about. Those are persons with disabilities and our nation's young people.
As in the Speech from the Throne, there is a glaring omission, and that is help for persons with disabilities. The only immediate item for people with disabilities is a small $2-million-a-year increase to the enabling accessibility fund, a $14-million fund that was created by the late Jim Flaherty.
This is in contrast to the Conservative budgets, which created new programs such as the registered disability savings plan and the Canada disability savings grant to help families save for the future of a child with a disability. As well, Jim Flaherty created the enabling accessibility fund in order to create access to public spaces by persons with a physical impediment. The Liberal government promised to introduce a national disabilities act, but this promise, like so many others, has not come to fruition in the 2016 budget.
It is my sincere hope that in the coming years, the new government will actually meet with representatives of the community of persons with disabilities in order to understand the significant challenges that they face each and every day. I have had the immense privilege of listening to many of their stories and I am encouraged and amazed by their perseverance, resilience, and hope. I believe the Liberal government can do better—in fact, must do better—to build an inclusive Canada.
The Liberal government describes itself as a champion of young people. The has expressed that he intends to prioritize Canada's youth, but the monetary lines in the budget simply do not match his rhetoric.
That said, there are a few good things in this budget that I can support—
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mr. Anthony Rota): Order. If I could have your attention, please, we do have a member who is speaking. If we could have a little respect in the room, we would certainly appreciate it. Thank you.
I am afraid it will only be about 30 seconds more, but please go ahead.