Mr. Speaker, it is really appropriate to be splitting my time with the member for Surrey--Newton, because he is on one coast of Canada and I am on the other, and just like this budget, we cover the country from coast to coast.
It gives me great pleasure to speak to Bill C-97. This bill does what we set out to do in 2015, building on our series of budgets to grow the economy, so needed after the disastrous decade of the Harper years. The measures in Bill C-97, to be implemented by the budget implementation act, would do what Liberals do best: investing wisely and working with the private sector, the provinces and communities to strengthen the social and economic fabric of this country.
The prudent investments in this bill build on the fall economic statement, which I think could have been called a business budget. Part 1 of the budget implementation act relates to that fall economic statement.
The fall economic statement strengthened the very core of the business community's ability to compete by challenging head-on the U.S. tax reforms. It did many things, but I will name three: one, allowing businesses to immediately write off for tax purposes the full cost of machinery and equipment used in the manufacturing and processing of goods; two, implementing a new accelerated investment incentive, an accelerated capital cost allowance across all sectors of the economy; three, launching an export diversification strategy. That really assists our businesses in terms of being able to retain capital, attract investment, invest in new equipment, machinery and technology and be competitive in export markets. That just touches on three of the points in the fall economic statement.
From strengthening business opportunities in the fall economic statement, this bill seeks to give greater opportunity to Canadians and communities. In fact, I think this section of the bill could be called “the people's budget”. For my province, Prince Edward Island, over a four-year term in government, major federal transfers of equalization, the Canada health transfer and the Canada social transfer, have increased by $93.4 million to $647 million.
Of course, colleagues know from the smiles they see on people's faces in their communities and their ridings that the legacy program of the Canada child benefit has made a huge difference for families all across the country. Nine out of 10 families are better off. On Prince Edward Island, for families with children, the Canada child benefit has meant $100 million over the last year tax-free to those families. That is investing where the money needs to be invested. The money that goes into those families' pockets is spent in the local economy. It assists their children in child care and education, and it makes a much more progressive economy. Money is actually then spent in the community.
However, this Liberal government did not stop there. We know that early learning and child care are critical to give children the best start in life. Therefore, the Government of Canada and the Province of Prince Edward Island have signed an agreement that allows for the transfer of $10.6 million over three years for regulated early learning and child care, to give children their best start in life.
Let me turn to the other end of the age spectrum, to seniors, who have been so instrumental in building this country we are so fortunate to call home.
The budget provides additional funding, increasing the funding for the new horizons for seniors program by $20 million per year. It is an excellent program. It works in every riding. I encourage seniors groups and others to apply for that funding, because not only is it an expenditure spent in the local economy, but also it assists seniors with the programs they need. This program has a solid record of improving the quality of life of seniors and promoting their participation in communities and the workforce.
The budget implementation act goes further and proposes a series of measures to help Canadian seniors keep more money in their pockets by ensuring they receive the Canada pension plan benefits they are entitled to and stay active and be a valuable asset in their community. This builds on the concrete steps we have taken to improve the retirement security of Canadians.
I will turn to the budget. I know there are members on the other side who love to read this almost daily.
With respect to retirement security, page 62 lists measures that will really help seniors.
The government is enhancing the Canada Pension Plan, which will raise the maximum CPP retirement benefit by up to 50% over time. It is restoring the eligibility age for OAS and GIS benefits to 65. It is increasing guaranteed income supplement top-up payments by up to $947 per year for single seniors, and introducing legislative changes so that couples who receive GIS and allowance benefits and have to live apart for reasons beyond their control can receive higher benefits based on their individual incomes.
Investing in the lives of seniors has been the focus of this government's emphasis, with the Prime Minister appointing a minister of seniors to ensure that programs and services are designed to respond to the needs of seniors.
I will quote from page 70 of the budget document itself, for those who wish to refer to the page.
These further investments amount to $40 billion for the 10-year national housing strategy, which will help ensure that vulnerable Canadians, including low-income seniors, have access to housing that meets their needs and that they can afford; $6 billion over 10 years for home care, to allow provinces and territories to improve access to home, community and palliative care services; $77 million in additional funding for the enabling accessibility fund, to improve the safety and accessibility of community spaces; making it easier to apply for employment insurance caregiving benefits, and introducing a new employment insurance caregiving benefit of up to 15 weeks to support individuals who are providing care to adult family members. That is important to do.
For communities directly, this budget tops up the federal gas tax refund by $2.2 billion. It doubles the amount for most communities, large and small, and is money they can invest in infrastructure, business and to make their communities more economically sustainable. In P.E.I., that amounts to $16.5 million in added investments for communities.
Basically, Bill C-97 touches all segments of the economy, as well as people and tax measures that allow our businesses to be more competitive. It challenges, head on, the tax reform in the United States.
This is a budget implementation act that is building on the foundation we have already put in place as a government and putting our country in a place where it can be prosperous and successful in the years to come.