Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today in this House to speak to the 2018 budget.
Three years ago, I was privileged to be elected by the people of Scarborough North as Canadians from coast to coast to coast put their faith in our government. They sent us to Ottawa so we could fulfill our promise of delivering real change.
I know that every member in this House is here because he or she believes in improving the lives of all Canadians. With unemployment now at its lowest level in 40 years, and strong economic growth across this country, our government's plan is working, and our efforts are bearing fruit. As we expressed during the campaign and in the years since taking office, we believe in building a strong middle class and creating economic prosperity for all Canadians. Budget 2018, entitled “Equality and Growth: A Strong Middle Class”, would do exactly that.
In my multicultural riding of Scarborough North, hard-working individuals and families are benefiting from the programs and initiatives our government has introduced. Let me share the story of the Zhang family.
A proud mom and dad who recently immigrated to Canada to build a better life and a brighter future for their children came to visit me in my constituency office, along with their newborn baby girl. The Zhang family can rest assured that their daughter will be supported by the Canada child benefit, money that can be used to help pay for such baby essentials as diapers and clothing. Indeed, since our government introduced the Canada child benefit, over 300,000 children across this great country have been lifted out of poverty.
The 2018 budget would ensure that families such as the Zhangs would continue to receive adequate assistance through the Canada child benefit in the long term by indexing it so that it would keep pace with the cost of raising a child.
That is not all. Under the previous government, we saw the continued disappearance of the middle class. Hard-working Canadians saw their wages stall, their hopes and dreams shattered as they struggled to pay rent and put food on the table. That is why our government has introduced, in this budget, the new Canada workers benefit, which would put more money back into the pockets of low-wage earners. This new benefit would encourage Canadians to join the workforce. It would provide real help to over two million lower-income workers and raise over 70,000 people out of poverty. By next year, the Canada child benefit and the new Canada workers benefit, along with our government's national housing strategy and enhanced benefits for seniors, would lift 650,000 Canadians out of poverty. That is real change that will make a difference in the lives of people, not only in Scarborough North but all across this great nation.
What is even more transformative, however, is our government's commitment to gender equality and pay equity. We all know that equal pay for work of equal value is not just the smart thing to do but is the right thing to do. After consulting with key stakeholders, such as employers, organized labour, researchers and other experts, our government is putting forth legislation to establish federal proactive pay equity. When women and girls are given a fair chance to succeed, we all reap the benefits. In fact, gender equality in the workplace could add $150 billion to the Canadian economy over the next 10 years. Our government is doing the smart thing and the right thing when it comes to equal pay for equal work.
Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Oakville North—Burlington.
Achieving gender equality also requires us to work together for environmental sustainability. All around the world, women and children are disproportionately impacted by the effects of environmental degradation. Here in Canada, Canadians continue to pay for the costs associated with increasing storms, floods, droughts, wildfires and extreme heat. It is clear that there is already a significant cost to pollution. That is precisely why our government is working to protect the environment, while growing the economy at the same time. By phasing out coal, protecting our oceans, and investing in renewables and public transit, our government is investing in Canadians and their future.
Not only have we created 500,000 new full-time jobs over the past three years, our carbon emissions are down, showing that economic prosperity and environmental sustainability go hand in hand. By listening to scientists and engaging with experts, our government would now be putting a price on pollution and growing a cleaner, greener economy at the same time.
Lower carbon emissions, air that is cleaner, emerging business opportunities and more money back in the pockets of Canadians: that is our plan to build a more sustainable and prosperous future for our children and our grandchildren. Speaking of that, investing in future generations remains a key goal of this budget.
I have worked with youth and in public education for most of my professional life, and I can attest to the importance of providing young people with opportunities to succeed, because when youth succeed, our nation succeeds.
Each year, over $330 million is invested in Canada's youth employment strategy, which enables young Canadians to gain important knowledge and hands-on job experience. Through the 2018 budget, our government would invest an additional $448.5 million over five years to enhance the youth employment strategy. This investment would fuel the success of our youth, allowing them to gain the skills and work experience needed to secure good, permanent employment through such initiatives as the Canada summer jobs program.
Last August, I met with some of the 260 youth employed at 51 organizations that are doing good work across my riding of Scarborough North. These summer jobs were possible thanks to $848,000 of federal funding through the Canada summer jobs program
Budget 2018 would go even further, proposing $46 million over five years, with an additional $10 million per year thereafter, for a new program to develop and enhance pre-apprentice training. This program would work in partnership with the provinces and territories, post-secondary institutions, training providers, unions and employers to help Canadians get trained, particularly under-represented groups such as women, indigenous peoples, those with disabilities and new immigrants. They will be able to explore different trades, gain invaluable work experience and develop the skills needed to succeed.
This budget is one all Canadians can be proud of. It would ensure that Canada's economy keeps growing while simultaneously providing more opportunities for the middle class and those working hard to join it.
It strives to improve our youths' present and their future and would take important strides in protecting our environment while simultaneously growing our economy. It would make smart investments and promote equality so that all Canadians can prosper.
All Canadians can feel confident in this budget and the real change our government is delivering, as I am.