Speech on Budget 2017

May 10, 2017

 

Madam Speaker, the world is changing. Climate change poses serious environmental challenges. A growing number of Canadians, particularly our youth, fear they will never be able to enter the housing market and growing concerns over the job market have Canadians anxious. These uncertainties mean new challenges for Canadians, but they also represent a source of opportunity to showcase Canadian creativity and innovation; economically, socially, and environmentally.

This is why I rise today in support of the government's proposed budget 2017, because it will prepare Canadians for the future addressing economic, environmental, and social development for our country.

The budget looks to secure and improve upon the gains made in budget 2016, growing the middle class. Canada has an economy that is strong, flexible and full of potential. Canadians reflect this as entrepreneurs and as innovators who can adapt to changing markets as people concerned for our natural heritage and through our concern for each other.

The budget puts Canada on track to build a strong, innovative, and green economy and improve our social support networks focusing on mental health and housing.

Budget 2017 provides Canadians and Canadian businesses with the tools necessary to continue the economic growth we are experiencing under our government.

After many years of flat economic results, last year our economy grew by 1.4% and this year the OECD is predicting growth of 2.4%. Accurate labour market data is essential in order to continue our growth trajectory.

Budget 2017 commits $225 million over four years and $75 million after, to support improved labour market information, skills development programs, and measurement of results in Canada. Knowing where our business is experiencing shortages and filling those gaps is essential as our economy grows and as people are now retiring from the workforce in greater numbers.

Knowing exactly what skills are in demand allows us to target the gaps in our economy. This also means addressing the needs of those struggling to join the middle class.

As it stands, Canadians on EI cannot access training programs. Preventing unemployed Canadians access to training programs is simply unacceptable. This is why the government is not only reversing this backward policy, but it is investing an additional $900 million in training over six years. We need to prevent Canadians from needing EI in the first place, which is why we must address the serious problem of youth unemployment.

Budget 2017 builds on budget 2016 to allow part-time students to apply for Canada student loan grants and this has increased grants by 50%. To further expand employment opportunities for young Canadians, budget 2017 also proposes an additional $395 million over three years for the youth employment strategy.

Investing in Canadians is a crucial step to building the economy of the 21st century, but governments must also strategically invest in industries where we can be a global leader.

Clusters are dense areas of business activity that contain large and small companies, post-secondary institutions and specialized talent and infrastructure. Budget 2017 commits to strategic investments in agricultural innovation, advanced manufacturing, clean energy, bio-sciences, and digital technology. These actions will grow the economy and promote the livelihood of middle-class Canadians. Guelph can and will play a major role in these areas. This budget is almost written for Guelphites.

The environment is also a cornerstone of this budget. As this government has repeated many times, the economy and the environment go hand in hand. This is why budget 2017 proposes establishing centres for climate services. These centres will improve access to climate science and regional climate resilience centres. The centres will work with local, provincial, territorial, and indigenous partners. This will make it easier for governments, communities, and decision-makers, businesses and organizations to access data and information on climate science.

Investing in green public transit is also crucial. Budget 2017 commits $17 million to develop and implement heavy-duty vehicle retrofits. This plan also includes a carbon pricing program to incentivize innovation and efficiency. This move will reward creative and innovative businesses and raise much-needed revenue for the provinces to spend. These investments will help Canada reach its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets and ensure a safer, cleaner world for all Canadians.

This budget addresses systemic social problems which have often been ignored. Since forming government, we have lifted 18 long-term drinking water advisories in first nations in our first year. We are committed to eliminating all boil-water advisories, working on solutions with our indigenous communities, researchers, training providers, and businesses. The benefit of our approach is that it is based on long-term planning initiated by first nations leaders, which is why budget 2017 follows through on the promises made in budget 2016 to commit $1.8 billion over five years. Of this, $275 million in targeted funding has already been allocated and 201 projects have already begun.

First nation communities are leading the development of these initiatives, informing the government and partners of what their communities need and want. We will get this done, and we will get it done right. The will is there, the capacity is growing, and people are truly committed to finding long-term solutions based on a new trust.

Addressing the mental health crisis among indigenous groups is also a priority for this government. The effects of depression and suicide, as well as other systemic health issues in indigenous communities, are widespread and unacceptable. Budget 2017 proposes to invest $828 million over the next five years to address the immediate health priorities of first nations and Inuit peoples.

Two areas of social concern addressed in this budget are health care and affordable housing. We are also investing $7 billion over 10 years to create 40,000 child care spaces. Mental health is an increasing concern for all Canadians and budget 2017 proposes to invest $11 billion over 10 years to support better home care and mental health initiatives. Budget 2017 also proposes to create a centre of excellence on PTSD and related mental health conditions. The government has committed $17.5 million over four years and $9.2 million every year after. As the health minister has said, there is no health without mental health. Addressing the unique nature of mental health issues is long overdue.

Adequate and affordable housing is a general concern for all Canadians, and that is why we are investing $11 billion in the national housing strategy, to develop a stock of affordable rental housing and other housing to improve the quality of life for Canadian residents. The CMHC will make up-front contributions to providers of affordable housing.

Budget 2017 offers genuine and innovative solutions to the challenges that face Canadians. Through strategic investments in the economy, the environment, and social programs, this budget follows through on the ambitious mandate Canadians gave the government in 2015.