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.