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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 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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