Madam Speaker, I am speaking from the traditional territory of the Kwanlin Dun First Nation and the Ta'an Kwach'an Council.
I want to talk about the background to the estimates and the budget, and the fall economic statement that provides the background that the budget is supporting, that the estimates will be supporting. I will talk about transportation and a number of other items.
The biggest emphasis in the budget is to finish the fight against COVID, and there is a large contribution to the provinces and territories for that. It is still not over and that is very essential. There is support for individuals and businesses to get through this economic fallout. We are on the road of recovery, but as a number of interventions have shown, in the tourism industry, for instance, there is still a lot of time before everyone is fully recovered, so we need to keep those supports going.
The third big objective is for the economy to come roaring back in a way that includes everyone, with special supports, for instance, for women and for indigenous businesses. We want the economy to come back with a green economy, which has so much potential for jobs. We want an economy that will come back in a competitive way, where we can compete internationally, that creates a lot of new jobs, particularly for youth.
People who have experienced not having a job at some point in their lives, and they have to support a family, feel a big pit in their stomachs. There are very few things that can be so scary, upsetting and devastating. Although it was a very large investment, as many people have said, a huge investment, it was very essential to keep people working through these difficult times. That was obviously a big objective and the parties co-operated in a very good way to achieve it.
Based on the questions of some members, they may not have been aware that there were 861,000 CEBA loans for over $46 billion. There were 5.3 million jobs saved with the wage subsidy of $73 billion. Our first rent assistance program saw 140,000 applications approved and 1.25 million employees were assisted with $2 billion. The second rent assistance was worth $2.5 billion and helped over 150,000 applicants.
Even with all these programs, there may have been people who fell through the cracks. As everyone knows, these programs had to be created very quickly if we were going to help people from going under. There may have been cracks that were not filled, so the regional relief and recovery fund was put into the regional development agencies across Canada, with the tremendous leadership of the Minister of Economic Development. A few fell through the cracks, but that fund helped over 23,000 applicants across the country, with $1.4 billion.
Tourism is important to me, and out of those amounts of money, tourism alone had over 4,400 approvals for $392 million.
A lot of these supports were so critical to keep jobs during these unprecedented times not seen since the war. The fall economic statement added to that. For tourism, there is the HASCAP program. The RRRF I just mentioned was so needed and efficient that we had to increase money for it. Then there was the regional air transport fund, which is so important in rural Canada.
One of the most exciting things was the announcement of the new regional economic development agency for British Columbia. British Columbia is a unique area and there will be all kinds of special supports, recognizing that uniqueness, with this new agency.
Of course, that leaves the prairie regional development agency on its own with all those previous funds, which it can now enhance even more its work, over and above all the projects that went there through the RRRF already. This will be great for the Prairies, and they can lead the way for us in resource projects. Their human resources are very bright, great research done is done in the prairie areas, and all kinds of businesses can lead with exports and help the recovery in Canada.
I want to talk about some of the things that are really essential for the north. First, I am most excited about the increase in the northern residents deduction for the Territories and the northern parts of the provinces. A lot of people were not eligible for this deduction. People could only claim it if their employer put it on their T4 slip, gave them a travel allowance and then they could collect this northern residents travel reduction. However, this budget has allowed for everyone to have access that deduction. They do not need their employer to include it on their T4 slips. That will be so exciting for the economies of the north, and for the people of the north as a personal support.
Our biggest employer and hardest hit one is tourism. There is a record amount of additional funds specific to tourism in the budget, $1 billion, of which $200 million is for local festivals, cultural events, heritage celebrations, local museums and amateur sports events. In my riding, we have all those things in great numbers and, of course, they greatly contribute to employment and to our economy.
There are another $200 million for the major events in those areas, such as festivals, cultural events, heritage, local museums and amateur sports events. That does not affect my riding so much, but in the big cities of the country, that will be critical for those activities to carry on, to provide employment and to keep jobs. For decades, I think parliamentarians have underestimated the cultural sector and its importance to the creation of jobs and to moving forward our cultural ideas and thought processes.
There are also $100 million for Destination Canada. Canada has not put as much into marketing our great nation as some other countries of the world. It is something I have always advocated for, and I am so excited to see that funding for Destination Canada, again to help our tourism industry.
Then we have the $500 million tourism relief fund, once again, recognizing the tourism industry and how hard it has been hit. Our borders are open to all the other businesses. Trucks can come across. The one thing the border is not open to during the pandemic is tourism. On top of all that for tourism, is a $700 million for small business financing fund. It will not all go to tourism businesses, but again, it provides more support for small businesses to particularly help them in the green area, to be inclusive, to be competitive and to create more jobs.
In the north, our two biggest sectors are mining and tourism. In my riding, the mining sector's first request was support for hydroelectric power. We are running out of power in the north. Therefore, the budget includes $40.4 million to study and prepare potential hydroelectric projects across the north.
The Yukon government is one of the most progressive in the country with its climate change plan and reducing greenhouse gas plan, and it wanted some assistance, so the budget has included $25 million for it.
As a Conservative member mentioned earlier this evening, and I believe it was the member for Niagara Falls, tourism will not be back right away. It will take some time, yet our rent subsidy and our wage subsidy are running out this month. Therefore, unless we get the budget implementation act passed, there is going to be a lot of difficulty in the tourism sector, both for businesses and for NGOs that need the wage subsidy and the rent subsidy, which this budget implementation act, Bill C-30, would extend into the fall.
Another item that is very important for us and that probably has not been mentioned much is the centre of excellence for critical minerals. Critical minerals are needed a lot for batteries, for one thing, so they are absolutely essential, first for the mining industry and to have a clean environment to deal with the climate change crisis. As members know, one country in particular is trying to corner the market on critical metals, and we have an agreement with the United States. It is very important for us, for various reasons, so I am very excited to see that in the budget.
In past budgets, there has not been so much for communities, but communities were hit hard by this. Their various types of support were also reduced during the pandemic. I was delighted to see a Canada community revitalization fund, something brand new. There is $500 million there so the small communities across the country can have projects that are very important to them.
There are a number of supports for seniors. During our term, we increased the GIS for the lowest-income seniors, and there are several other supports for seniors during COVID. There is a huge increase to the new horizons for seniors program, and there is an addition in the budget of 10% for seniors over 75 to add to all that, for the most needy seniors.
Then there is a very large Canada digital adoption program. As members know, we are in the 21st century, the digital economy. It is a lot of learning for me, but if we are going to keep up with the rest of the world, our businesses have to keep up, so it is great to have that fund to help businesses transform over. There are a lot of jobs for young people in there as mentors to help the businesses transfer into the digital economy.
There is also the Canada recovery hiring program. As I mentioned, one of the big objectives is to hire more people, to get people back to work. If businesses had to lay people off, reduce their hours or reduce their wages, all those things can be supplemented from June 6 to November 20 through the Canada recovery hiring program. The very flexible idea is that for each month or each eligibility period for this program and for the wage subsidy, they can pick whichever one is best for their company.
I do not have time to talk about it now, but there are a number of improvements to small-business financing. Certainly there are significant investments in first nations. People will remember back to the biggest investment in history of $5 billion, proposed by Paul Martin for the Kelowna Accord. Well, this budget has $18 billion for first nations and $4.3 billion for infrastructure, for instance.
In my career, very seldom have I seen money for social financing, for NGOs and charities, but in this budget there is $200 million for a social financing fund. To get companies ready, there is an investment of $50 million in the investment readiness fund, because the first one was so successful it was all used up. There is a very unique concept being floated of social financing bonds for those who want to invest to help the country in a socially responsible way.
As I mentioned, communities need support, and there is a community services recovery fund to help various community services and NGOs adapt and modernize, after they have been hit so hard by COVID and so many of their resources have been decimated by COVID.
There is money for domestic vaccine production, which I think everyone appreciates. There is a huge increase, another increase, in the broadband fund, and that is very important for my riding, as well as cellphone coverage. There are 100,000 people being lifted out of poverty with the increase in the Canada workers benefit. There are huge funds for training, as I said, to get people employed again, 500,000 people, of which 215,000 are youth.
I will mention something that probably no one else will mention, the polar continental shelf funding of $24 million. That is to help Arctic research.
There is also $140 million for food security.
The Liard First Nation has a great housing manufacturing project that I am supporting. On self-governing first nations housing, they have great ideas. I would also like to see support for getting off-grid, remote mines off diesel, and increases for the equipment and O&M for indigenous broadcasters, who do such wonderful work in my riding.
I really appreciate the large investments in salmon, to enhance salmon on the west coast. They come right up into my riding. Salmon are very important for indigenous culture and ceremonies, for one thing, as well as for food.
There is also the doubling of the student grant for two more years and extending the waiver of interest to 2023.
I want to talk about aviation in the north for a bit. We really appreciate the northern air support that started almost from the beginning of the pandemic. It is important to know that we need interlining with the mainline carriers. We cannot let the mainline carriers put our small, local carriers out of business. We really need the mainline carriers to interline, to have co-operative arrangements where everyone wins. Neither airline has to go half-empty. The big carriers could get new customers for their overseas routes, while the local carriers that service the north could get the flights down to Edmonton, Vancouver, the big cities that are so needed for their competitiveness.
I could talk about a lot of other things, but I do not have time now. The Conservatives brought up that what is really important for them is a plan. We have huge plans. The fall economic statement was a 168-page plan. It had all sorts of things to return the economy. Then the budget is a 740-page plan.
I will just mention some of the items in that plan to get companies back to work, over and above all the ones I have already mentioned. There is money for food security, indigenous and women entrepreneurs, an A1 strategy, artificial intelligence strategy, the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research—again, we are in the 21st century—a quantum strategy, the Canadian Photonics Fabrication Centre, business-led R and D through the colleges, Mitacs for 85,000 placements, CanCode, the net-zero accelerator to help the resource industry, the clean-growth hub, support for Measurement Canada, strategic innovation funds, IRAP expansion, which has been so important for innovation in Canada for decades, Elevated IP, the strategic intellectual property program review, the innovation superclusters, the data in the digital world, and support for the Standards Council of Canada and the Competition Bureau.
I encourage everyone to support all these items that I have mentioned, and the ones in the estimates, so that we could get Canadians back to work and businesses could keep our economy going. We would not need to continue government supports for either individuals or businesses once we get everyone back. We need to continue support for Canada and around the world. When COVID exists anywhere in the world, it is still a threat to us.
I will leave it at that. I hope we get support from all parties, which have been very co-operative and helpful during the pandemic.