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.