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View Sonia Sidhu Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Sonia Sidhu Profile
2019-06-04 13:08 [p.28485]
Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in the House today to speak to the 2019 budget. This budget is called “Investing in the Middle Class”. Improving life for middle-class Canadians has been our number one priority since we were elected.
Four years ago, the people of Brampton South elected me to represent them. Since 2015, I have been working in Ottawa to deliver on the promises I made throughout my campaign. Everyone in this House has made a commitment to serve Canadians. This is partly done by investing in initiatives that will boost the quality of life for all Canadians. The budget this year is an example of the opportunities that Canada can provide to Canadians.
Our government's commitment to serve Canadians through investment can be seen in Brampton. In 2016-17, Brampton was given almost $60 million through the gas tax fund, and in 2017-18 we introduced a one-time top-up to the gas tax fund for infrastructure investments. For the 2018-19 fiscal year, Brampton was given over $33 million.
Since November 2015, we have had millions of dollars in federal funding for infrastructure projects that will benefit the city of Brampton. In addition, Brampton will benefit from a federal investment in the GO Transit Metrolinx regional express rail. From the $1.9-billion investment, over $750 million will be invested in the Kitchener corridor to improve commute times for residents of Brampton, Peel, Toronto and Wellington.
People in the middle class deserve a government that recognizes their potential and encourages their growth. I believe that the budget represents our belief in them as it looks toward our promising future. Canadians have put their faith in our government to present new ideas and deliver results. The 2019 budget reflects the needs of families, employees, students and seniors. It is a solid plan to give them a better future.
A better future starts with investing in young people and their education. Students are often kept from pursuing their education because of financial obstacles. The 2019 budget would lower interest rates for students and give them a six-month period to pursue their future plans before gathering interest on loans. The budget also seeks to support students who are parents or have disabilities. It also promotes programs that encourage the enrolment of indigenous students in post-secondary education.
These are just some of the ways in which we advocate for the success of the next generation. Budget 2018 strengthened our economy and ensured a low unemployment rate.
This is also the time to address the climate emergency. Budget 2019 has a strong plan to create eco-friendly solutions while maintaining an affordable lifestyle for Canadians. The budget intends to make zero-emission cars $5,000 cheaper, as well as encouraging their building. The creation of a home retrofit program will lower electricity and energy bills for Canadians.
We have been fighting climate impact since 2015. We have invested $1.5 million in Brampton under Public Safety Canada's national disaster mitigation program for the riverwalk study. We committed $175,000 for an environmental assessment strategic plan and sustainability framework for it as well. We have also committed $10 million for 10 water projects in Brampton and $22 million in funding for erosion protection initiatives in the Toronto, Peel and York regions.
Thinking of the future generations also includes supporting new families. An issue we see come up again and again is the struggle for young families to invest in long-term housing. The 2019 budget introduced the first-time homebuyer incentive, which would encourage home ownership by making housing cheaper. The incentive would help thousands of first-time homebuyers over the next three years. Budget 2019 also makes plans to build 42,000 new rental housing units, as well as to provide $300 million to begin the housing supply challenge. Through these changes, we are promoting happy homes without unnecessary costs.
Access to affordable housing is essential to promote the security and well-being of all Canadians. When Canadians are provided with a comfortable home life, it is easier for them to do well in the workplace. So far, we have been successful.
However, because our workforce and economy are continuously growing, employees can be left without access to training that improves their professional skills in their present and future jobs. The 2019 budget introduced the Canada training benefit program, which would give working Canadians better and more consistent skills training, financial aid to pay for the training, employment insurance support and job security. This is the next phase in our plan to strengthen the middle class.
While the middle class flourishes, there is still a percentage that has been left behind. Without quality health care, Canadians face some of the highest drug prices, leaving them unable to afford the prescriptions they need. No one should have to choose between buying the medicine they need or putting food on their table.
I am proud to be a member of the health committee, where I helped study the development of a national pharmacare program. We then made 18 recommendations to the government through the report “Pharmacare Now: Prescription Medicine Coverage for All Canadians”. I am proud to see the government acting on the report.
Budget 2019 aims to make prescriptions more affordable by announcing plans for the Canadian drug agency, which will work to lower prescription costs. The Canadian drug agency will connect all provinces and territories, giving them access to prescriptions. Through this plan, Canadians will save $3 billion each year.
With less time spent worrying about their health, housing and job security, Canadians will have more time to focus on the things they care about. For many, this involves becoming more involved in their communities.
Infrastructure funding is necessary to get ahead with local and municipal governments, which is why we are investing an additional $2.2 billion into infrastructure funding, especially under the circumstances where certain provincial governments have not been doing their part. Budget 2019 recognizes that advances in public transit, housing and community facilities make all the difference.
Local projects and community services are at the heart of Canadian society. Included in these services are locally based projects that encourage seniors to be active members of the community. Seniors have made significant contributions in these areas and are now more than ever capable and interested in participating.
Budget 2019 aims to maintain the guaranteed income supplement to ensure seniors get the most out of their retirement. It also takes direct action to protect their pensions by automatically registering seniors who are 70 or older but have not applied yet to receive their retirement benefits with the Canada pension plan. This will help tens of thousands of seniors across Canada.
Our budget also supports pay transparency, something our government has pushed for relentlessly. These measures will make it easier for our government to look at wage gaps and begin to solve them. This will help improve the status of women further. We know that when women make only 87¢ on the $1 compared to men, something is wrong.
Several countries, including the United Kingdom and Germany, have pay transparency measures. Canada needs to join these countries in making wages available for public view. When we can inspire employers to act on unfair wage gaps, we will improve the status of women all over Canada. This is not only the responsible thing to do, but it is morally right.
Budget 2019 is not just a list of numbers, names and affected demographics. It is a detailed plan of action, which can lead Canada into a better and brighter future. By investing in the middle class, we invest in all Canadians. This budget represents what our nation's focus should be. Informed, careful and planned budgeting is what will lead to Canada's prosperity.
I urge my fellow members to support the budget.
View Darrell Samson Profile
Lib. (NS)
Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to stand in the House tonight to speak to this important budget, budget 2019.
As members and Canadians know, the economy has been moving very quickly and successfully. Canadians have created over one million jobs since 2015, and over 110,000 jobs in the last month alone. That is extremely impressive.
We have also seen, with our investment of the Canada child benefit, that we lifted over 300,000 Canadians out of poverty. That is another very important signal of success that we have moved forward on for our economy. As well, we have seen and are seeing the lowest unemployment rate in 45 years. When we took office here, the unemployment rate was at 7.1%. It is now at 5.7% to 5.8%. That is a strong indication of how strong our economy is moving forward. That is because of the budgets and investments we have made over the last four years. This budget is a continuation of that philosophy.
I want to talk about veterans. As members know, I have the largest number of veterans in Nova Scotia and Nova Scotia has the highest number in the country per capita. We have made some big investments over the last three and a half years for veterans, of over $10 billion. Even in this budget, we have again made some major steps forward.
The first budget was on transition. We have been working hard to find a seamless approach with a joint committee between DND and Veterans Affairs. It is in place and we are seeing some very positive steps forward in that area. However, we were only focusing that transition on ill and disabled veterans. Now we have included, in this bill, non-ill veterans, which is another very important factor.
We have enhanced the education and training benefit for veterans, which is $40,000 for six years of service or $80,000 for 12 years. We have now added the reservists to the list of those who can benefit from those programs. Those are very big steps that the veterans community was asking for and that we were able to put forward.
The other investment is the veterans survivor fund. Prior to this budget, the benefits and pensions of veterans who got married after the age of 60 would not be moved over to their spouse or partner. We made sure that we would bring forward investments to correct that as well, which was another important ask from our veterans community.
There are also investments in the Juno Beach Centre. We are celebrating, on June 6, the 75th anniversary of D-Day. We want to remember the loss of over 14,000 Canadians during that important time.
That is just a quick run-through of some of the investments in the veterans sector. Let us talk about the young people in this country.
We need to make sure that we are helping those young individuals to move forward and we have included some major steps in this last budget. Regarding student loans, we know that if students get a job they have to make over $25,000. We talked about that in previous budgets. Now we are saying that they will pay a prime rate but will not have to pay the plus 3%, which was a big one. Also we said that there will be no interest on the loan and no payments for the first six months, which is a big change as well.
For first-time homebuyers, we have set up an opportunity for young people. If they are purchasing a home for $400,000, they would have to put 5% down, which would be $20,000, so their loan would be $380,000. However, with the shared-equity strategy that we have put in place, their loan now is $340,000 and that is major. That is a savings of $225 per month. If I run that through for 30 years, it is $81,000 that an individual would save. That is a very important investment, as members can note.
As for student summer jobs, when the Conservatives were in power the number of summer jobs was the lowest that had existed in this country. Now that we are in 2019, there is the greatest number of summer jobs. In my riding alone, there are 255 individuals who are going to or are working in those summer jobs. That is $770,000 invested in that portfolio for students in my riding. As members can see, it is a broad approach that we are bringing forward, a coordinated strategy.
Then, we have brought in some investments in the Canada training program, which is a very important new program. It is tax free and people can save up to $250 a year, $1,000 every four years, for upgrading. That is something that we did not have access to. All members in the House know that young people today will often change jobs. The technology is moving so rapidly that this training is essential. We also have a program where people can draw from EI during the four weeks they are attending upgrading courses, which is extremely important.
We need to talk about seniors. We know that by 2034, seniors will represent about 25% of Canadians. That is a very high number. In the Atlantic provinces, the number is even higher than that. We need to focus on seniors. My riding of Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook in Nova Scotia had the highest increase between 2011 and 2016. The Conservatives were going to move the retirement age to 67 and we said that was unacceptable. Canadians who have worked up to the age of 65, if they so desire to retire, they should be able to retire in dignity. Therefore, we ensured that the age of retirement stayed at 65, which was a crucial investment.
We have made investments to the GIS, the guaranteed income supplement, in two areas. The first one is a big investment of approximately $950, which allowed 700,000 seniors to move above the poverty line. That was very important, as well.
On health care, pharmacare, we are going to move forward. We have had a committee study a national pharmacare program. We should be able to deliver that in the very near future. We have made some investments in the Canadian drug agency to lower the costs. A national dementia strategy is very important. I met with a group in Sackville last week, in my riding. Northwood is trying to open an adult day program for dementia patients. Again, that is very important as well.
I must also include some of the investments on reconciliation with indigenous peoples. We have eliminated over 80-some boil water advisories. We have promised that by 2021 there will be no more boil water advisories. There is an investment for indigenous peoples for entrepreneurship and economic development, and for start-ups and expansion for Métis small businesses. Those are big investments for indigenous people.
I would like to finish off, of course, with the African Nova Scotian community. We have made some major investments there as well. The black community is the oldest black intergenerational community in Canada. It has the biggest Black Cultural Centre in Canada. Two months ago, the Prime Minister was in the Preston area. It was the first time a Prime Minister ever stepped into the Preston area.
There are some very successful initiatives that we are moving forward on. One is the anti-racism strategy investment, which will allow community-based focus groups to come forward with all kinds of different projects. There is also some capital investment, up to $25 million over five years, for projects and capital assistance to help the vibrant black community continue to grow.
I have to close with the trade deals. We have brought three trade deals to the table, successfully. That is 1.5 billion people trading in and out of Canada.
View Randy Boissonnault Profile
Lib. (AB)
View Randy Boissonnault Profile
2019-06-04 20:11 [p.28541]
Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a moment, as a first-term parliamentarian, to thank each of the hon. members who shared their remarks with us this evening, at the end of their distinguished parliamentary careers. There were many life lessons in those comments. There were many words of wisdom, a few funny stories and indeed things that I hope to be able to reflect on and learn from with multiple mandates in this chamber. However, as members know, that is up to our residents so I look forward to a vigorous campaign this summer and into the fall.
It is the great honour of my life to serve in this chamber and to represent the residents of Edmonton Centre. Therefore, tonight I would like to share my reflections on Bill C-97 and, more particularly, how this 2019 budget says very clearly that our government, budget 2019 and I are here for Edmonton.
I want to start with those people who paved the way for us. I want to start with the seniors and to acknowledge the tremendous sacrifice that seniors have made to build up our communities, to build up our country and, in my case, to build up the city of Edmonton. I honour and respect the wealth of knowledge that they carry with them and the experience and the skills that they continue to contribute and that we want to see them contributing today.
In budget 2019, we recognize the contribution that seniors have made to Canada and we are returning the favour by investing in them. Budget 2019 would help to support their active participation in society, including through work, and would smooth the transition to retirement for seniors when they choose to leave the workforce. I have seen the very good work that the horizons program for seniors has done to reduce social isolation.
I can see the work that we have done to make sure that seniors are able to retain more of the income they now spend. Seniors asked me at the doors why we were clawing back some of the money that they make when they go to work at the Walmart or their kids' school. They asked why we were taking some of that money and we listened. The Minister of Employment, the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and the Minister of Seniors were very clear. Now seniors will not pay tax on the first $5,000, it is not going to be clawed back from their GIS and 50% of the next $10,000 will also be exempt. That is $7,500 on the $15,000 that seniors make that will now be in their pockets.
Unfortunately, some seniors are penalized. When they try to keep working, they see significant cuts to their benefits. That is why we listened to seniors and changed the program.
As I mentioned, that is why we are making changes to the GIS allowance benefit. It would begin in the July 2020 to July 2021 benefit year.
Our government respects seniors. Seniors are respected in the budget. We listened to them and we took action.
On innovation and jobs, our government and I are building, together with western Canadians, a strong and competitive west by focusing on business development, innovation and community development. We have pledged to do that by increasing support to Western Economic Diversification Canada with a $100-million increase over three years to increase its programming across western Canada. That means more jobs and more investment in companies. It means more companies will be able to scale up in Edmonton, in Red Deer, in Calgary and across the west.
We have also provided $100 million to the Clean Resource Innovation Network that will help make Alberta's oil and gas even greener and even cleaner.
As members know, when tragedy strikes every second counts, and that makes helicopters an indispensable tool for getting people the care they need quickly and efficiently, which is especially true across such a vast region as western Canada. Since 1985, STARS air ambulance, known as Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service, has provided rapid and specialized emergency helicopter ambulance service to patients who are critically ill or injured in communities across Manitoba, British Columbia and Alberta.
STARS has contributed to saving hundreds of lives and it has helped all of us in some of the worst tragedies: helping after the Pine Lake tornado in July 1999; saving people during the floods of Calgary in 2013; providing transportation away from the fires that swept through Fort McMurray in 2016; and, when the nation's heart sank at the Humboldt crash, helping get those survivors to safety.
Our government recognizes the vital role that STARS plays in delivering access to emergency care for the communities it serves. Our budget will put five new emergency medical helicopters in the air, with a $65-million allocation in budget 2019, making sure that STARS can renew half of its aging fleet and continue its life-saving work.
One of the key aspects of this budget, and even this government, is the hard work we do on behalf of all Canadians, including LGBTQ2 Canadians.
All Canadians deserve our respect, and that includes LGBTQ2 Canadians. That is why I am so delighted to state that in budget 2019 we have included, for the first time in the history of this country, an allocation of $20 million over two years for capacity-building and community-level work for LGBTQ2 service organizations in Canada. This means that community-based organizations that have been shut out and not able to apply to the federal government for anything, ever, will now have that opportunity, starting later this summer and into the new year.
I want to pause and thank the Minister of Finance and member of Parliament for Toronto Centre and his team for this historic investment in budget 2019. It did not have to be there, but it is there. I want to thank the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and MP for Peterborough—Kawartha and her team, because that is the department that will flow the money. I want to thank the LGBTQ2 Secretariat that resides in the Privy Council Office. Without its steadfast work, without its coordination, this would not be possible. I want to thank my own team. To each of them, I want to say that they have made history and they will change and save lives.
Why is the pan-Canadian suicide prevention service, money that we put aside for the national suicide prevention line, so important? It is $25 million over five years.
Earlier today, I was at something called Children First. It was a luncheon and colleagues from the other side of the aisle were also there. We each got paired up with a young person, and I was paired up with 11-year-old Ethan from PETES, an elementary school. We started chatting, in front of a hundred of his colleagues. I asked him what he likes to do. He said he was a video games guy; he likes to play, draw and dance. Then I asked him, “When you talk with your friends, what are some of the big things you want adults to fix?” He looked me straight in the eye and said, “Can you stop bullying? Can you stop people from hurting other people?” I asked if he knew someone who was bullied, and he said he was. It scared him. It ruined his life, and he was quiet for way too long. He became really depressed and had suicidal thoughts. This is an 11-year-old kid who was opening up to me in front of a hundred people at a luncheon today. He asked if we can do something to keep more kids safe.
He wanted to make sure that people would listen. He was not sure that if he told an adult, somebody would listen. The people we will employ on this pan-Canadian suicide prevention hotline will listen to people like Ethan, and that is why budget 2019 is going to make a difference in the lives of so many Canadians.
Turning to another pressing issue in Edmonton Centre, it is important that we do better for, with and by indigenous people, particularly urban indigenous communities. About 60% of indigenous people in Canada live in an urban setting, and Edmonton is home to Canada's second-largest indigenous population. That makes indigenous supports in urban settings a priority for me and for our government. We are investing in safe and culturally relevant community spaces, with $60 million over five years to support capital infrastructure in friendship centres.
With budget 2019, our government is on track to end boil water advisories in Canada by 2021. That affects first nations people whether they are in urban settings or across the country. I attended the Kehewin First Nation sod turning in February. By January 2020, that will be the last boil water advisory for any first nation in Alberta.
With the minute I have left, I want to talk about why an urban riding like mine needs infrastructure. We have the youngest city in the country, with an average age of 34, which is putting me on the other side of the young age now. When a city is that young and dynamic, we need infrastructure, like transit. We have invested almost $1 billion in the transit system that would go through my riding all the way to West Edmonton Mall and to Lewis Estates, so that parents can get home to their kids faster, so that young professionals can get to their activities after work, so that our dynamic economy can continue to grow.
In an urban riding like mine, we need to see commerce increase, and we need people to be able to get home to their families. Our government has listened. Our historic investments in infrastructure will continue, with $16 billion a year over the next nine years. That is improving lives. It is making things better. That is why, with budget 2019, our government and I are here for Edmonton.
View Larry Bagnell Profile
Lib. (YT)
View Larry Bagnell Profile
2019-06-04 20:27 [p.28544]
Mr. Speaker, I want to go over some things in this budget that would benefit Yukon, in particular, and then some general things that would help the Yukon, as well as all Canadians.
First, as I said earlier tonight, Canada is the only Arctic country in the world, of the eight Arctic nations, that does not have a university north of 60. This budget is historic for Canada because of the $26 million going to Yukon College to build a science building, one of the key items that are needed. Next year, Yukon College will become Yukon university and Canada will be in line with the rest of the nations. The first course, which is not offered anywhere else and is also historic, will be a bachelor of indigenous governance. Because there are over 600 first nations in Canada, and Inuit, there will be a huge take-up on that particular course alone.
The territorial government has to deliver on education, health care, all of the things that provinces have to deliver, and there are great increases: $47.2 million for territorial financing, $2.3 million for health transfer and $0.6 million for social transfer, for a total of $50 million. Just to put that in perspective, Yukon is 1/1000th of the population, so if that were the same across the country, that would be $50 billion. It shows strong support for the territorial government. From what I remember, the other two territories will receive even more than that.
Before I go any further, I meant to start with something unrelated to the north. I am also the chair of the Northern and Prairie Caucus, and I want to mention another very innovative thing in the budget, the money for a water institution or program in the Prairies, which is hugely forward-thinking because it affects so much. The PFRA, one of the most popular institutions in Canada, was closed a number of years ago. The Liberal member from Saskatchewan brought this idea forward, and the Minister of Finance is financing a study to look at water, which is so important in the Prairies, including flooding, drought, the glaciers being reduced, water supply, irrigation, all of those things. This is a very forward-thinking item in the budget, and I thank the member from Saskatchewan.
I also have an ask for a women's centre in Watson Lake. I know those members are in Ottawa today.
In the north, the equivalent of western diversification or the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency is called CanNor. Once again, it is receiving a great increase. We lobbied hard for this. It will receive $75 million over five years for a diversification program. There was an increase for tourism in the north of $5.1 million over two years. Tourism is Yukon's biggest private sector employer. The two biggest industries are tourism and mining. I treat tourism like a lost sector in Ottawa. It is much bigger than many other sectors, but over the decades, it has not nearly gotten the attention or support that it should have. We have a tremendous tourism minister now, with a new tourism strategy and great funding. I will mention more later in my speech.
I will talk about the northern trade corridors. I talked about how big $50 million was, but the north has been assigned $400 million in the trade corridors program, which is a massive amount. It is far more than in other parts of Canada. I apologize to other MPs here, but, as everyone in the House knows, that infrastructure is needed in the north for a small population that is spread out over more than third of Canada.
There is another huge win in the budget for the north. As I said, the biggest sector for Yukon's GDP is mining, and the mineral exploration tax credit was increased for the first time ever for five years, which everyone in rural Canada will appreciate. It has always been yearly, which made it hard for exploration companies to plan. This is so instrumental in their programs because the vast majority of them need this tax credit to do their work, as there is no good reason to invest otherwise.
Another huge item that affects us more in the north than others, but also affects a number of areas in Canada, is loan repayments for the negotiations of first nations self-government and land claim agreements for modern treaties. The way it used to work in the Yukon was they took 30 years to negotiate. The first nations that were negotiating did not have the money to hire lawyers and negotiators so we loaned them the money. By the time they got their land claims, they already owed a good percentage back because we had loaned them the money for the negotiators. Therefore, this budget has made a historic move of committing to reimburse the first nations that have already paid the money or pay that money for the first nations that have not yet done so. Hopefully, that will encourage more first nations in Canada to become the success stories of the modern treaties. There are a number of them across Canada, but the biggest number is in the Yukon, in my riding.
There is one other thing with respect to the north, which I do not think anyone in this House would know. In fact, very few people in my riding would know this, only scientists, but it shows the finance minister's attention to value. There is no political gain in this. Very few people know about it, but it is very important. It is called the polar continental shelf program. When people research in the north, like other university researchers, they can get the money to do the research. However, to get to the north, it costs a huge amount of money. I remember going a small distance, approximately the distance most members would travel to get here to Ottawa, which would perhaps take a couple of hours, and it cost $5,000. Therefore, these researchers need the money to get to their location and cover what other scientists do. That is what the polar continental shelf program does. I give big kudos to the minister for that because very few people know about it.
The general items that would help Yukoners the way they help everyone else are as follows.
The first is more money for homes and businesses to be more energy efficient. A lot of people have suggested that. It would be done through the FCM program.
Another is the increase for seniors. We have seniors projects right across Yukon and in the rural communities in Whitehorse, and we have press conferences that are so moving. The seniors benefit so much and have so much fun. It keeps them healthy and reduces the costs to government.
I said I was going to get back to tourism. For years, there has not been nearly enough money for tourism in Canada in the lost sectors. There is an increase of $60 million this year in this budget for tourism marketing, added to the increases in previous years. That is great for me because, other than P.E.I., which is a little ahead of us, the biggest private sector proportion of our economy in the north is tourism. Therefore, that helps us more than everywhere else, but of course everywhere else in the country would benefit.
Another item a lot of people might not know about is that we can make Canada bigger. Most people think we are set at where we are at. However, we can expand the area of the continental shelf we are responsible for, but we have to do a lot of geological explorations and discovery, as well as scientific work, to determine that, which costs money. Canada, Denmark and Russia are all doing this in the same area, so we will have competition. If we did not have the science, we would not be able to compete or increase the area we have responsibility over.
In closing, because I am running out of time, there is a big increase in indigenous languages. In 2017, I think it was somewhere around $5 million and it has been increasing every year. By 2023 or 2024, it will be up to $116 million. Therefore, the increase from $5 million to $116 million really shows our commitment to how important that is to the life, strength and foundation of the culture of first nations people.
I am sorry I could not get to the environment and the 50 programs we have there, but I will leave that for the next speech.
View Paul Lefebvre Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Paul Lefebvre Profile
2016-06-07 13:40 [p.4138]
Mr. Speaker, I have many reasons to be proud of budget 2016.
First, I am proud of the process that led to this budget. Budget 2016 is the result of an extensive, inclusive consultation during which we heard from a wide range of Canadians in big and small communities across the country, and Sudbury was no exception.
In fact, Sudbury was one of the very first ridings to hold a pre-budget consultation. During our pre-budget town hall, we heard from individual business leaders; representatives of sectors as varied as mining, health care, and arts and culture; and concerned individual citizens. Each of them provided thoughtful, progressive, and insightful advice.
I would like to thank them all for their important contributions to the budget. These stakeholders, and thousands more like them across Canada, are at the heart of the budget. Budget 2016 puts people first.
I am originally from northern Ontario, and I can say unequivocally that budget 2016 is good for the people of the north. I grew up in a small community where the pulp and paper mill is still the biggest employer and a pillar of the local economy.
Today, I am proud to represent a northern city known the world over for its exceptional mining sector. Anyone who has worked in a mill or a mine knows the meaning and the value of a hard day's work.
They also know, and so does the government, that when local industries suffer, workers, their families, and entire communities suffer as well.
Over the past few years, too many hard-working Canadians have faced tough times. Northerners know that when times are hard, families and communities must stand together and help each other to overcome adversity.
When a business that has fed a family for generations disappears, when the mill, the mine, or the factory closes its doors, when people lose their jobs and have to swallow their pride and ask for help, the last thing they need is to get tangled in a web of bureaucracy that prevents them from getting the help that is essential for their families.
The budget eases that burden by improving employment insurance and extending benefits in a dozen regions that have been particularly hard hit, including my riding of Sudbury. It is an important measure that will help Canadians when they need it most.
I am delighted that the budget commits $150 million in new funding through regional economic development agencies, such as FedNor for northern Ontario, to renovate, expand, and improve existing community and cultural infrastructure.
Sudbury is home to 15 housing co-ops, and access to affordable housing is an ever-growing challenge in our community, as it is throughout the country. Budget 2016 includes $1.5 billion to improve access to safe, adequate, and affordable housing, including shelters for victims of violence. It also includes support for the construction of up to 4,000 new affordable housing rental units.
Throughout the country, close to 700,000 seniors' households face a housing availability challenge, and affordable options for seniors are extremely limited. That is why I am proud that budget 2016 commits more than $200 million to boost funds for the construction, repair, and adaptation of affordable housing for seniors. Our government will give Canadian seniors greater access to safe and affordable housing and a better quality of life.
I am also proud to see that budget 2016 makes significant investments to improve the quality of life of indigenous communities, including $1.2 billion for housing, early learning and child care, health, and cultural and recreational infrastructure on reserve. These are significant, meaningful investments and mark an important step toward improving the lives of those who have, all too often, been overlooked by previous governments.
We need to make sure that the economy works for everyone and to make sure that our tax system is fair for all Canadians. That is why, as one of its first actions, our government introduced a middle-class tax cut and raised taxes on the wealthiest 1% of Canadians. These changes give middle-class Canadians more money on their paycheques and increase the fairness of our tax system.
I am proud that budget 2016 will take action to prevent tax evasion at home and abroad. In particular, though they have been largely ignored over the past 10 years, this budget commits to tackling tax havens head on. As part of a coordinated multilateral effort, our government is acting to address international tax planning arrangements undertaken by multinational enterprises to inappropriately minimize their taxes. These efforts will also increase transparency through the automatic exchange of financial account information between various international tax authorities.
In order to crack down on tax evasion and tax avoidance, budget 2016 increases the Canada Revenue Agency's funding by $444 million and provides $351.6 million for the CRA to improve its ability to collect outstanding tax debts.
As a tax lawyer, I am well positioned to attest to the fact that these measures improve the fairness and integrity of our tax system and contribute to fiscal sustainability over the long term.
A few weeks ago, I joined the right hon. Prime Minister and my hon. colleague, the member for Nickel Belt, to announce a $27-million investment for the Maley Drive extension, a new road in Sudbury.
This kind of infrastructure investment, which responds to a priority identified by the municipality and involves support from all three levels of government, will create good jobs, make it easier for people and goods to get around, and contribute to economic growth for years.
I am very proud that our government is prioritizing investments like this one. I am also proud that one of the first of these infrastructure investments is for Sudbury.
It is a well-known fact that mining has been at the heart of Sudbury's economy for almost 130 years. Sudbury continues to be one of the largest integrated mining complexes in the world. However, Sudbury's economy is not just about pulling resources from the ground. It is one of the world's leading clusters of mining research and innovation.
Local businesses continue to find new ways to increase their global competitive edge while becoming safer, more cost-effective, and more environmentally sound. That is why I am particularly pleased that budget 2016 sets out a new vision for Canada to stand as a global leader in innovation. Expanding Canada's network of innovative, globally connected firms will drive clean economic growth and will help grow our middle class for years to come.
Sudburians know that investing in research and development is also imperative for sustaining long-term innovation, renewal, and growth. Budget 2016 will strengthen Canada's research excellence by investing in infrastructure and post-secondary institutions and by funding innovative research.
Sudbury is also an important cultural hub, and given the tremendous range of artists and arts and cultural organizations that contribute to the local economy and raise the quality of life in Sudbury and across Canada, I am truly proud to say that the budget is great for arts and culture.
Over the next five years, our government will invest over $1.9 billion to support this country's great cultural institutions, including the Canada Council for the Arts, Telefilm Canada, and the National Film Board of Canada.
These investments will have a positive impact on hundreds of communities across the country and will enable Canadian artists to continue making their mark as leading lights on the international scene.
I am also delighted that our government is investing an additional $675 million in CBC/Radio-Canada. This investment will ensure that both of our official languages are heard on public airwaves from coast to coast. The arts and culture community has been waiting for these investments for a decade. These investments will create jobs, strengthen the economy, and enable Canadian culture to shine here at home and around the world.
We have every reason to be proud of our Canadian creators, and these investments make it clear that we support the good work they are doing.
Budget 2016 is good for families, good for hard-working Canadians, good for businesses, good for innovators, and good for our cultural sector.
The budget is good for Sudbury and good for the north, and it will be good for Canada.
We are investing today to ensure a better, more prosperous future for our children.
This will be our legacy. It marks the way to a brighter and more hopeful future for all Canadians.
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