Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to stand and support this fiscal plan that would strengthen the middle class, help the most vulnerable seniors, and build stronger communities to meet their future demands and opportunities.
I want to speak for a moment about my riding and my home province of Newfoundland and Labrador. I want to thank my family, friends, and supporters who gave me this wonderful opportunity to represent them in this prestigious House and in the great riding of Avalon. I am thankful and remain humble to represent the residents in the riding of Avalon. I am so lucky to represent very diverse communities in my riding, which have diverse and unique backgrounds and economies. I am proud to represent my home town of Conception Bay South, the largest town in the province, and the town of Paradise, the fastest growing community in Atlantic Canada.
I also have the pleasure to represent smaller rural communities that have populations of less than 100, like Patrick's Cove, St. Shotts, and Aquaforte, and larger rural communities like Bay Roberts, Harbour Grace, and Carbonear. Many of these communities depend on the fishing industry, tourism, and small and medium-sized businesses.
I also have the relatively new Vale Long Harbour processing plant, which began operations in 2014 and employs about 475 people at peak production. The plant and the Voisey's Bay mine and concentrator are an integrated operation. Nickel concentrate from Voisey's Bay will be shipped to Long Harbour to be processed into finished nickel and associated copper and cobalt products.
Just recently, I distributed a Newfoundland and Labrador tourism guide to all members of the House, and the amount of feedback from my colleagues has been remarkable; some looking for an extra copy for friends, and others expressing an interest to visit soon. We are proud of our heritage, proud of our people, and proud of our tourism showcase.
As a result of the well-known decrease in the oil and gas markets, Newfoundland and Labrador is in the middle of significant financial challenges, and no doubt residents will be negatively impacted. We can argue that it is from years of mismanagement and overspending, or that the current fiscal restraints go too far for low-income families. No matter what, the situation is unprecedented and all my federal colleagues from the province are attentive to the immediate needs. I want to especially thank the regional minister for her help and ongoing co-operation on this very important matter.
As a former municipal mayor, I understand the importance of and need for community infrastructure, improved and new infrastructure that is affordable to communities. That is why I am delighted that this government's infrastructure plan proposes to provide $11.9 billion over five years starting right away. Budget 2016 would put this plan into action with an immediate down payment for the plan, including $3.4 billion over three years to upgrade and improve public transit systems across Canada; $5 billion over five years for investments in water, waste water, and green infrastructure projects across Canada; and $3.4 billion over five years for social infrastructure including affordable housing, early learning and child care, cultural and recreational infrastructure, and community health care facilities.
This government is also taking action to ensure that Canadians benefit from the better services that modern, efficient, and sustainable federal infrastructure can provide. Budget 2016 proposes to provide $3.4 billion over the next five years on a cash basis to maintain and upgrade federal infrastructure assets in ridings like mine, including such things as national parks and small-craft harbours.
In addition to the new funding announced in budget 2016, the government would support the infrastructure priorities of communities across Canada. The government would continue to make available approximately $3 billion each year in dedicated funding for municipal infrastructure projects through the gas tax fund and the incremental goods and services tax rebate for municipalities.
As a former mayor, I know how important it is for our government to work with provincial, territorial, and municipal partners. We are committed to get projects under way by accelerating spending from the $9 billion available under the new building Canada fund's provincial-territorial infrastructure component.
I am very happy to say that we are working co-operatively with Newfoundland and Labrador to ensure it is able to maximize its infrastructure investments. The Minister of Infrastructure and Communities has listened and has taken action. We are pleased with the improvements to the 2014 new building Canada fund, which provide provinces and territories greater flexibility to commit all remain funding within the next two years.
The minister heard from municipal leaders about concerns with how the previous government designed the new building Canada fund. He listened and is now committed to ensuring the programs work for Canadians and has made important changes.
Under the provincial-territorial infrastructure component, we have modified the highways and roads category to eliminate the small communities fund minimum traffic volume thresholds in order to reflect varying needs in provinces and communities across Canada.
In addition, we have added five new categories: tourism, culture, recreation, passenger ferry services infrastructure, and civic assets and municipal buildings. Budget 2016 also announced funding for local governments to support stronger stewardship through asset management planning activities and climate change resilience investments.
The following two programs would be managed by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to provide funding for capacity-building directly to municipalities: $50 million to increase municipal capacity for asset management, including funding to develop and implement infrastructure asset management planning practices and support more reliable and comprehensive data collection on infrastructure assets; and $75 million to support enhanced municipal planning for climate change resilience, including funding to support municipal projects to identify and implement greenhouse gas reduction opportunities, assess local climate risks, and integrate climate change impacts into asset management planning practices.
I am very proud of our investment in community infrastructure, but I am equally proud of our investment in improving the well-being of the middle class. As we have always known, a strong economy starts with a strong middle class. Our constituents understand this, and I am so pleased this government does as well. That is why building an economy that works for middle-class Canadians and their families continues to be the government's top priority.
I am delighted with our investment in the Canada child benefit. This is a new benefit that would be paid monthly to eligible families. This initiative would see nine out of 10 families receiving more under the Canada child benefit than under the current system of child benefits.
Overall, about 3.5 million families would be receiving the Canada child benefit. These families would have more money to help with the high cost of raising their children, by replacing the current complicated system. The Canada child benefit would be simpler, tax-free, better targeted to those who need it most, and much more generous. This tremendous initiative would see 300,000 fewer children living in poverty compared with 2014-15 numbers. Most importantly, the Canada child benefit would continue to support poverty reduction in future years.
Six months ago, our government was elected by Canadians to bring change for our youth, the middle class, and vulnerable seniors. Canadians want a change in openness and accountability, and they want a government that will listen and care. I am pleased that Bill C-15 contains key initiatives and benefits that further our commitment to Canadians, commitments that would further grow the middle class and help strengthen our economy.
It has been my pleasure to speak on Bill C-15 and stand in support of all the positive initiatives that it contains today.