April 4, 2017

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Thomas Mulcair

NDP

Hon. Thomas Mulcair

Madam Speaker, the member gives me the opportunity to remind him that balancing looks at both sides of the balance sheet. The NDP was proud to say, and it was an obvious truth, that Canadian corporations were not paying their fair share. We are the only party in the House with the courage to raise corporate taxes, and we maintain that was the right thing to do.

I ask that the member for Hastings—Lennox and Addington point out to us where in the Liberal platform they informed Canadians that they would be removing the tax credit for public transit. Where did the Liberals ever tell the average working Canadian who is doing a good thing by taking public transit, lowering traffic, lowering greenhouse gas emissions, that the supposedly pro-middle class, pro-environment government was actually going to remove the one tax credit that was an incentive for people to use public transit instead of their private cars? Where was that in their platform?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink
CPC

Dianne Lynn Watts

Conservative

Ms. Dianne L. Watts (South Surrey—White Rock, CPC)

Madam Speaker, we talked about the proudest things that the Liberals were coming out with in the budget being the child care initiatives and the national housing strategy. Of course, we know that in some of the major urban centres affordable housing is very problematic. Being that the budget is pretty much totally back-ended, could he explain how this would impact those who are most vulnerable who really need those opportunities?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink
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Thomas Mulcair

NDP

Hon. Thomas Mulcair

Madam Speaker, the member's important question goes right to the heart of what this “we'll get to it” budget really is about. The promises that are there for housing are for years and years down the road. What will happen immediately is that people will lose their tax credit for public transit. The Liberals are getting to that right away.

With regard to child care, we know it is something that has been crying out for action for a long time, yet the Liberals are again shovelling this forward. There is not one penny for child care for next year. I remember during the election campaign the NDP made it a key part of our platform. It was costed; we had a rollout and good, solid, public administration. The Liberals said that would take far too long. What they are proposing is taking twice as long as anything we ever proposed, and they have not done a thing since they formed government.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink
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Kennedy Stewart

NDP

Mr. Kennedy Stewart (Burnaby South, NDP)

Madam Speaker, Canadians and scientists alike understand the urgency of taking action on climate change.

We often think of it as a race against time, but the truth is that it is really two races. First there is the race to reduce our carbon emissions and limit their impact on our climate. This is a race with the highest possible stakes: ecological and social upheaval, food security, mass migration, and natural catastrophe.

However, there is a second race, too, and that is the race to lead the transition to a new post-carbon economy. In the second race, the stakes are jobs and prosperity for our communities, success for our businesses, knowledge and technical advancement, and the benefits that come from leading the world.

On the one hand, it is a race to avert disaster, and on the other other, it is a race to seize opportunity. In both races, the stakes are enormous. In both races, the key is a shift to clean energy. In both races, unfortunately, Canada is running behind.

Today, Canada produces only 18% of our primary energy from renewable resources. Sweden and Norway manage to meet 45% of their energy needs with clean energy, outstripping Canada by two and a half times. In Iceland, the figure is a staggering 88%.

Now, it is not for a lack of talent. Our country has some of the most cutting-edge companies in clean energy. In my own riding, I am thinking of Ballard Power Systems, with its fuel cell technology; Nano One, which is changing how the world is making battery materials; and just a few blocks away, Bullfrog Power, with its innovative approach to funding renewable energy.

It is not a lack of resources holding us back, either. We have huge potential reserves for wind and solar, for tidal and geothermal energy, and to extract even more from our hydro.

If talent and innovation are working in our favour, and if our reserves of renewable energy potential are so tremendous, the question remains. Why does Canada still lag? What is lacking, frankly, is commitment and strategy at the highest political levels in Canada. I am sorry to say we saw that lack of commitment in the latest budget from the government.

For years Canada had a federal government that held renewable energy in nearly overt contempt. Anything that did not burn oil, gas, and coal was not worth the time of day as far as the Conservatives were concerned. Then came the Liberal government, and I will say this for it: it talked a very good line. If feel-good rhetoric and symbolic gestures were energy sources, Canada would be the next OPEC, but they are not and we are not.

Instead, the budget we are debating actually removes over $1 billion from funds the government had promised for the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change. Apparently sunny ways do not extend to solar power.

They do not extend to conservation of energy efficiency either. One of the most important energy insights in the past 50 years has been that a kilowatt conserved is even more valuable than a kilowatt generated, because it does not require the overhead of generation and transmission. However, this budget offered nothing to help Canadians reduce their emissions and lower their energy bills by retrofitting their homes. This kind of program has proven, time and time again, to cut emissions and save money while creating well-paying jobs. Not tapping that potential, while cutting back on investments in clean growth, is a failure of vision, a failure of leadership.

That is why I introduced my private member's motion, M-123, calling for a national clean energy strategy. This is a call for Canada to act urgently to rally our full array of resources to make the most of the opportunities clean energy offers and to meet the challenge of climate change head on. To succeed, a clean energy strategy has to be collaborative to the core. Imposing top-down solutions has a bad reputation in Canada, and rightly so.

Instead, Ottawa should be working with provinces, territories, municipalities, aboriginal communities, and with both public and private sector energy providers. For one thing, we know there is far too much wisdom and expertise among Canadians to let it all go to waste by ignoring it. For another, we need all hands on deck to make our transition to post-carbon energy successful. That means buy-in from all quarters, and we will not get that unless everyone has a hand in shaping solutions.

Even more fundamental than that is the question of fundamental justice and self-determination, and it applies in particular to aboriginal communities. Too often, when energy questions arise, first nations in Canada are bypassed, ignored, patronized, or offered lip service. However, energy policy and resource use are inextricably tied to our land base, and land is fundamental to aboriginal title. There should be no question that aboriginal communities must be full partners in crafting our clean energy strategy—anything else is unthinkable.

In the same way, when we talk about clean energy, it should not just be clean in terms of carbon and the environmental footprint, but clean ethically, as well. A project like B.C.'s site C hydro dam fails this test because without the consent of affected first nations it has no social licence to proceed.

The goal of our strategy, then, should be to steadily increase our capacity to produce ethically and environmentally clean energy.

The first step is to assess how feasible it is to increase that capacity to 100% of our energy needs; that is, through both increasing raw generation and reducing demand through conservation.

Obviously, this will vary from region to region. However, people will probably be shocked to learn just how close we are in British Columbia. BC Hydro estimates that we are currently meeting 93% of our needs with clean, renewable energy.

Once we have that sense of feasibility and timelines, let us set a realistic but ambitious target and, together, develop a plan to get there. At every step in that discussion, let us ask ourselves these questions. How does this help Canadian workers, communities, and businesses? How can we give them every chance to succeed and prosper? How can we ensure that we are helping workers and communities affected by the transition away from carbon-based fuels? What is needed to secure for them the kind of opportunities that come with being one of the world's leading renewable energy exporters?

I mentioned regional differences. Different regions will, of course, have different specific needs, strengths, challenges, and priorities, and each region understands better than anyone else how these needs and priorities play out. Therefore the strategy should allow for a made-in-B.C. plan, a made-in-Alberta plan, a made-in-Quebec plan, and so on.

Now, nobody who seriously thinks about these issues believes for one moment this will be easy; but anyone who thinks seriously about these issues knows it is essential.

If we fail to act, if we continue down the path we have been headed, we do not get to avoid this transition. All we are doing is ensuring this transition, when it comes, will be an upheaval—unplanned, chaotic, and disruptive. Communities and, potentially, whole regions will fall through the cracks of a rapidly shifting economy. We are ensuring that other countries get to seize the opportunities instead of us. They get the jobs. Their businesses lock up the markets, build the research and technology capacity, and set the standards, not ours.

Meanwhile, we continue to pay the ecological price of relying on fossil fuels: the spills that can devastate the ecosystem in communities; the environmental degradation; the poor air quality; and the damage to people's health and well-being.

Of course, we reap the results of failure to act more quickly and more effectively to reduce the carbon load in our atmosphere. The disruptions and damage wreaked by climate change may well dwarf any of the other impacts I have mentioned.

Compare this bleak picture to what we could instead gain, such as energy security: a sustainable, secure supply of safe, affordable energy throughout the country. Families need to know that they can heat their homes; schools and hospitals need to know they can light their corridors and power their equipment; and businesses need to know their offices and factories can operate reliably and affordably.

We can bring an end to price shocks and the economic roller coaster of a commodity-based economy. This strategy can give us leverage to diversify economies and build a thriving and growing clean energy sector in communities throughout the country. The countries that make the transition now get early-mover advantage. This means they develop expertise and industrial infrastructure that create a virtuous circle, attracting investment and research that, in turn, strengthen our economic leadership.

We can deliver cleaner air and water; we can end the ruinous devastation of our land that is too often the calling card of the carbon economy; and we can reclaim the mantle of global leadership that Canada has held before, technologically and economically and in the fight to end the destabilization of our planet's climate.

Clean energy is ultimately about securing our future and doing it in a way that is quintessentially Canadian. It is about working together to ensure prosperity that can be shared by everyone throughout this country. That should be the goal of any budget.

The most important measure of that budget's success is an economy that lifts everyone up.

By that measure, this budget represents a tragically missed opportunity. Let us not let these opportunities pass us by.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink
LIB

Mike Bossio

Liberal

Mr. Mike Bossio (Hastings—Lennox and Addington, Lib.)

Madam Speaker, I agree with the member on the importance of climate change. I think the approach our government has taken has been very balanced. The investments we have made into climate resiliency infrastructure are important. Investing in innovation in green technology is important, and so is putting a price on pollution. Our government's approach has tried to reach a balance so that it does not have a massive effect on our economy, while at the same time it tries to deal with the climate change issues.

Would the member not agree that through a balanced approach, trying to achieve our Paris targets and at the same time trying to grow our economy can happen hand in hand?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink
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Kennedy Stewart

NDP

Mr. Kennedy Stewart

Madam Speaker, the balance I am thinking about in this budget is the platform that was presented to Canadians in the last election and in this budget. They seem completely imbalanced. We have promises that Canadians voted upon in good faith, and now they are not being delivered on.

In my riding of Burnaby South there has not been a single unit of affordable housing built by the government, nor will there be a unit built by the next election. That is because the money is so back-end-loaded in this budget. That applies if we are dealing with issues such as affordable housing, but it also applies to things like climate change. Again we see that money that was promised has been extracted from this budget. Over and over again, we see broken promises.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink
CPC

Dianne Lynn Watts

Conservative

Ms. Dianne L. Watts (South Surrey—White Rock, CPC)

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his comments, especially for those around the green energy strategy.

The Conservative government started signing agreements in 2007, and then in 2010 there was another one with Sweden. We funded genome innovation clusters research, digital research, and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, and of course we set up the green infrastructure fund.

As the member said, in his community there are some clean energy facilities, as there are in mine, such as a biofuel facility and Endurance Wind. Many cities are doing a lot of work. The foundation was put in under the Conservative government for a lot of these things to be funded, and through PPP Canada as well.

I wonder if he could talk a little bit about bringing all of these pieces together under a national strategy for clean energy.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink
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Kennedy Stewart

NDP

Mr. Kennedy Stewart

Madam Speaker, what we are seeing on the other side is really a lack of vision. I have been here since 2011, and I have said this before: the last government under Stephen Harper was at least organized, while this Liberal government seems to be scrambling from issue to issue.

The Liberals seem to be unprepared to be government. We are seeing this in the lack of bills that get through this House. We see it in the lack of an overall vision. On the file for which I am responsible, science, we see piecemeal policies being put forward. We see budgets that are not comprehensive, and then we have broken promise after broken promise.

I agree with the member. What we really need is overall strategies for how we transition. Then perhaps we could talk about how this would look in future governments, but as far as I am concerned, this government is all talk and no action.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink
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Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet

NDP

Ms. Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet (Hochelaga, NDP)

Madam Speaker, I know that renewable energy is very important to my colleague. I wonder if, like me, he noticed in the budget that the government is not renewing the eco-energy program to help make homes more energy efficient. There is also no initiative for building green homes. This could not only provide homeowners with better energy efficiency, but also create jobs, while lowering heating bills.

Does the hon. member agree that this budget generally lacks a progressive vision with regard to environmental protection?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink
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Kennedy Stewart

NDP

Mr. Kennedy Stewart

Madam Speaker, we hear the promises and there was a great bluster when we signed the Paris accord and all those promises were made by the Liberal government, but then we see the practical implication of that, which is cutting bus pass tax credits.

Actions are not meeting words here. It is a great shame. There was a great opportunity, a great will to more forward to tackle climate change, but we are seeing failure from the government. We need a comprehensive strategy.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink
LIB

Yves Robillard

Liberal

Mr. Yves Robillard (Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, Lib.)

Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Avalon.

With spring in the air, I rise in the House with great optimism to speak to budget 2017. However, before saying anything more, I would first like to take this opportunity to thank my constituents. I have had the privilege of rising in the House for more than a year thanks to their confidence in me. Today, I want to thank them.

I am very proud of the people in my riding and they are the reason why I became involved in politics. I have said it before and I will say it again, my riding of Marc-Aurèle-Fortin is enriched by its people. I was proud of what budget 2016 gave my constituents and all Canadians, including the Canada child benefit, which has helped lift 300,000 of our children out of poverty.

Today, I am just as proud of budget 2017 for the following reasons. First, it shows compassion to our veterans and the most vulnerable Canadians. It manifests a visionary confidence in our youth and our businesses. The Canada child benefit is a fair and compassionate initiative that targets our children and remedies an unacceptable vulnerability.

Many of the measures announced in budget 2017 reflect the same values, beginning with measures for our veterans. We are announcing a new veterans' education and training benefit. We are also committed to enhancing the career transition services program so veterans can successfully transition to the civilian workforce. Veterans and their families have made many sacrifices. In return, we need to ensure that they do no become vulnerable.

I have been a member of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons With Disabilities for over a year now. This fall, the committee spent several of its meetings discussing affordable housing, so committee members were very pleased with budget 2017's significant support for affordable housing to ensure the security and independence of some of the most vulnerable members of society, such as seniors and people with disabilities who need accessible or adapted housing.

Another file that I have spent a lot of time on over the past few months in committee is technology, specifically, digital literacy as a springboard for our youth and our most vulnerable citizens. The government responded to that need in its new budget with a $22.3-million investment over five years to set up a new accessible technology development program. This program will make it easier for Canadians with disabilities to participate in the digital world and its economy.

There is support for seniors too. Our government announced a $29.5-million investment over five years for a new digital literacy exchange program to support non-profit organizations to implement initiatives that teach basic digital skills and so on to seniors. Imagine classes in Laval where seniors can learn how to use iPads. Imagine an individual who transcends his or her disability and develops a smartphone app to help others.

Budget 2017 sends a clear message that our government is looking to the future, but is not forgetting to ensure that the most vulnerable in our society benefit from technological progress.

I want to talk about the future, since we often hear that our youth best represent the future. Young people will also benefit from the government's vision. In fact, our government announced a $50-million investment over two years to support a program for youth, from kindergarten age up, teaching them how to write code and giving them the tools they need for the digital era.

This means that we are investing in our young people and giving them the means to become the next big innovators in digital technology, and not just one or two, but a dozen of them.

Robert Kennedy talked about a tiny ripple of hope, but that one measure alone represents a tidal wave of hope and potential for the future of our society. I have talked about the importance of such a measure many times in committee. Seeing it become a reality in budget 2017 makes me so proud. This measure comes with two other major investments in our young people. The PromoScience program will get a boost. This existing program is designed to give kids hands-on learning experiences in order to promote the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

As a former teacher, I am also pleased to see that we are working on expanding eligibility for student loans and grants. Our budget supports students, but it also supports our young, ambitious entrepreneurs. We are investing to renew funding for Futurpreneur Canada to support the next generation of entrepreneurs through mentorship and funding.

The budget supports both current and future entrepreneurs because we are investing in fostering international trade opportunities for Canadian companies.

Clearly, with the announcement of such measures for our entrepreneurs and our economy, we have cause to be optimistic in the riding of Marc-Aurèle-Fortin and from coast to coast.

I will close by coming back to what I said about the budget last year. I said that budget 2016 helped build our society brick by brick. Budget 2017 will allow us to continue to make our society a place where we strive to take better care of the most vulnerable. Budget 2017 allows us to do so with compassion, while facing the future boldly and confidently. That is how we will continue to strengthen the middle class.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink
CPC

Dianne Lynn Watts

Conservative

Ms. Dianne L. Watts (South Surrey—White Rock, CPC)

Madam Speaker, I was really pleased to hear my colleague's words about addressing the issues for the most vulnerable, so I would like him to give us the rationale behind the removal of the transit credit for the most vulnerable, the people who use transit, and the rationale behind the fact that there is no money for child care in the budget for next year. Also, on the national housing strategy, the dollars are not flowing until after the next election. While I am really thrilled to hear about helping the most vulnerable, can he tell me how he can square that?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink
LIB

Yves Robillard

Liberal

Mr. Yves Robillard

Madam Speaker, I thank my opposition colleague for the question.

Our government is committed to the well-being of our seniors. Last year, we increased the guaranteed income supplement for seniors living alone. This year, as I said in my speech, we announced significant support for initiatives related to affordable housing, thereby promoting the security and independence of seniors who need improved accessibility in their home.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink
?

Karine Trudel

NDP

Ms. Karine Trudel (Jonquière, NDP)

Madam Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague's speech. He spoke about the future and the most vulnerable Canadians, but he only touched on the issue of veterans. That is probably because there is not much for them in the most recent budget.

The government really missed an opportunity to implement the recommendations of our veterans, especially with regard to the need to provide them and their families with permanent financial security.

We can find nothing in the budget that gives them financial security. I would like to know how my colleague explains that.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink
LIB

Yves Robillard

Liberal

Mr. Yves Robillard

Madam Speaker, I will talk about something that I am very interested in and that goes to my colleague's question as well.

I invite her to read the results of the defence policy review when they are released. It just so happens that they address the issue of veterans. I am convinced that this document will give us the tools and information we need to move forward and better support our troops.

The well-being of our troops and veterans is always a top priority for this government.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink
LIB

Kevin Lamoureux

Liberal

Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)

Madam Speaker, my question is related to infrastructure. As the member is fully aware, Canada's historic amount of investment in our infrastructure will in fact assist our middle class in growing, and will invest in Canada in every region of our great nation. I wonder if the member could provide his thoughts on the important commitment we have seen from this government toward Canada's infrastructure, because all communities benefit from it. Could he provide some of his thoughts on just how important Canada's infrastructure is?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink
LIB

Yves Robillard

Liberal

Mr. Yves Robillard

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

Among the other measures in budget 2017, there is a $1.26 billion investment for the creation of the strategic innovation fund, which will help our businesses continue to make Canada a leader in innovation, clean technologies, and many other vibrant and emerging sectors.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink
LIB

Ken McDonald

Liberal

Mr. Ken McDonald (Avalon, Lib.)

Madam Speaker, I welcome the opportunity today to speak in support of budget 2017 and all the work our government is doing that continues to build a strong middle class of Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

I am pleased with the continued investments by our government in my home province of Newfoundland and Labrador and, more specific, in my riding of Avalon. We continue to make significant investments in infrastructure and in our communities, but we are also making good investments in our youth, working Canadians, and seniors.

Following in the footsteps of budget 2016, this budget offers immediate help to those who need it most and helps ensure everyone has a real and fair chance of success.

A strengthened middle class means that hard-working Canadians can look forward to a good standard of living and better prospects for our children. By investing in the projects Canada needs and the people who can build them, we can strengthen and grow the middle class and make our communities an even better place to call home.

Over the past year, our government has put in place a plan to grow the economy in a way that works for the middle class and those working hard to join it. Taxes were raised on the wealthiest 1% so we could cut taxes for the middle class. We introduced a new Canada child benefit that would give more money to nine out of 10 children and lifts thousands out of poverty.

My home province of Newfoundland and Labrador continues to struggle with the financial mess that was caused by years of previous provincial overspending and financial mismanagement. Unfortunately, Newfoundland and Labrador suffered from years of an uncooperative approach and no collaboration with the previous federal government. A total lack of trust and personal vendettas with the previous administration set our province years behind.

As an example, after the last federal election we found the allocated federal infrastructure funding was never applied for or provided to Newfoundland and Labrador. A total lack of trust and disrespect saw some $350 million of infrastructure funding not being invested in our communities.

Things have changed, and I am proud of the co-operation between all levels of government.

Just this past Friday, I was delighted to stand with one of my provincial colleagues and the mayor of Placentia to announce a strategic investment whereby all three levels of government contributed to ensure much needed improvements to the Placentia Culture and Heritage Centre would be completed, and I did the same thing just two weeks ago in the town of Holyrood.

It is great. We are co-operating and we are getting things done.

However, it is not all about big infrastructure projects about which our constituents are talking. In my riding, people come up to me every day and express their gratitude for the things their federal government is doing for them, but is everything great? No it is not.

Our fishery and those involved in the industry are going through a difficult transition. We are transitioning from a lucrative shellfish-based industry to the realization of a future industry based on groundfish and aquaculture. We are very fortunate to have a Minister of Fisheries in Ottawa who has a keen interest and understands the complexities of the Newfoundland and Labrador fishing industry. I am very confident that his decisions around the quota reductions in the shellfish resource and his cautious approach to ensure the return of healthy groundfish stock is done with the best intention of the resource and the people who work in the industry.

Our government has stepped up to the plate to help Atlantic Canadians in the fishing industry with the Atlantic fisheries fund. This $325 million investment will transform and drive innovation in the fish and seafood sector in Canada, with a focus on developing the sector to better meet growing market demands for sustainably sourced, high quality fish and seafood products. The fund will position the sector for even greater future success by supporting national market access, creating jobs for the middle class, and supporting coastal communities that rely on the sector.

The Atlantic fisheries fund will encourage innovative ways to harvest, process, and deliver the highest quality and sustainably sourced fish and seafood products from Canada's wild capture and aquaculture fisheries.

Our most recent budget contains important new initiatives that will help middle-class Canadians be more productive in the workforce and more adaptable to ever-changing family dynamics.

I want to speak for a few minutes on some of these initiatives, including changes to the employment insurance program that promotes new training opportunities and assists with the aspects of lifelong learning and making employment insurance more flexible for families around caregiving and parental benefits.

I also want to speak about our new investments in child care and housing. These initiatives are important to Canadians but more specific, they are important to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

Budget 2017 is the next step in our government's ambitious plan to make smart investments that will create jobs, grow our economy, and provide more opportunities for middle-class Canadians. Our budget put Canada's greatest strength, its skilled, talented, and creative people, at the heart of a more innovative future economy, one that will create middle-class jobs today and tomorrow. We will equip Canada's workers with the tools they need to succeed in the economy of the future.

We are committed to better support adult workers returning to school, who face the high cost of post-secondary education, along with the financial pressures associated with daily life and raising their families. Our budget outlines how we will significantly boost federal support to provinces and territories by $2.7 billion over six years to help more unemployed and underemployed Canadians access the training and employment support they need to find and keep good jobs.

Furthermore, we will ensure Canadians receiving EI are able to get the training they need without fear of losing the critical benefits they may depend on to support themselves and families.

Recognizing that Canada prosperity will increasingly depend on young people getting the skills and training needed to access the good, well-paying jobs of the future, we are further increasing our investments in our youth employment strategy.

Family caregivers are so important in every one of our communities. As such, we will better support caregivers by creating a new EI caregiving benefit of up to 15 weeks. This new benefit will cover a broader range of situations where individuals are providing care to an adult family member who requires significant support in order to recover from a critical illness or injury.

Parents of critically ill children will continue to have access to up to 35 weeks' benefits, with additional flexibility to share these benefits with more family members.

Parental benefits are such an important advantage for young families functioning in our workforce. Proposed changes will allow parents to choose to receive EI parental benefits over an extended period of up 18 months, but will also continue to be available for the existing 12 month benefit. Our government believes in offering flexibility to make the lives of young Canadians that much easier.

Child care is another huge pillar of budget 2017. I am very proud of our additional $7 billion investment over 10 years to support and create more high-quality, affordable child care spaces across the country. Over the next three years, our investments could increase the number of affordable child care spaces for low and modest income families by supporting up to 40,000 new subsidized child care spaces. This will make it more affordable for parents to return to work, with thousands of parents more likely to enter the workforce once child care is made more affordable.

As housing needs vary greatly by community, our government is committed to working with the provinces and territories to ensure the unique needs of communities all across Canada can be met. Over the next 11 years, $3.2 billion will be provided to support key priorities for affordable housing. These priorities could include the construction of new affordable housing units, the renovation and repair of existing housing, rent subsidies and other measures to make housing more affordable, safer, and accessible for seniors, persons with disabilities, and other individuals requiring accessibility modifications.

I was very pleased to stand last year to support budget 2016, which had a huge and real impact on our youth, working Canadians, and our seniors. I am equally pleased to stand now, on behalf of my constituents in the riding of Avalon, to support brand new and very strategic initiatives in budget 2017.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink
CPC

Jim Eglinski

Conservative

Mr. Jim Eglinski (Yellowhead, CPC)

Madam Speaker, the Liberal government has cut $8.5 billion from the National Defence budget this year. That is now $12 billion if we take into consideration what was cut last year.

Last summer our caucus held coast-to-coast round table discussions with many communities. From these discussions, people told us very clearly that they wanted to see the military spending increased, and our military itself increased and modernized.

Could the member please tell me how we can do this when the government has cut military funding in the last two years by $12 billion?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink
LIB

Ken McDonald

Liberal

Mr. Ken McDonald

Madam Speaker, it is hard to figure out the opposition. One day members are telling us we are spending too fast and too much. The next minute they condemn us for not spending enough, so I do not know which way they want it. They cannot have both sides of the cake at one time.

We are making strategic investments in the Canadian Armed Forces. We are making strategic investments in our veterans, and we will continue to do that for the men and women who wear the uniform.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Budget
Sub-subtopic:   Financial Statement of Minister of Finance
Permalink

April 4, 2017