Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. I will leave it to you to introduce the officials later on, but let me say thank you very much to the officials for being with us.
Mr. Chair and members of the committee, thank you for inviting me to speak to you today about Bill C-30, Budget Implementation Act, 2021, No. 1.
After more than 14 months of uncertainty and challenges, Canadians are continuing to fight COVID-19, but we know there is light at the end of the tunnel. As we fight the third wave, more and more Canadians are getting vaccinated.
Bill C-30 is an essential piece of legislation that, once enacted, will allow us to implement our plan to finish the fight against COVID, create jobs and a swift recovery from the COVID recession and lay a foundation for robust, inclusive, green, long-term economic growth.
This budget is about helping middle-class Canadians, helping workers and helping more Canadians to join the middle class. It is about embracing this moment of global transformation to a greener, cleaner economy. It is a plan that will help Canadians and Canadian businesses heal the wounds of COVID and come roaring back.
First, we need to finish the fight against this virus. This bill includes a one-time payment of $4 billion to the provinces and territories to support their health care systems, support that is so essential as we fight the third wave. This is in addition to the $1 billion to support the provinces and territories as they ramp up their vaccine campaigns.
We are making progress in our vaccination efforts, and I know that team Canada can vaccinate even more Canadians even more quickly, and we will. I was vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine at a Toronto pharmacy 15 days ago, and I encourage all Canadians to get vaccinated as soon as it is their turn.
The pandemic has caused a recession, so we need to start by rolling out a comprehensive plan for jobs and growth, to address the disproportionate impact the recession has had on women, young people, racialized Canadians, low-wage workers and small business.
A cornerstone of our plan is a historic investment of $30 billion over five years, reaching $9.2 billion annually, in permanent investments to provide high-quality, affordable and accessible early learning and child care across Canada. Our goal is that within five years, families everywhere in Canada should have access to high-quality child care for an average of $10 a day. Dear colleagues from all political parties, let's make a commitment together today to all Canadians. Let's get this done.
I want to take a moment to recognize Quebec's leadership, especially that of feminist Quebeckers, who have led the way for the rest of Canada.
While we know better days are ahead, many families are still struggling. Around a million Canadians either remain out of work or are working significantly fewer hours than they were pre-pandemic. We must support hard-hit Canadians and businesses across the country so they can recover as soon as possible.
Bill C-30 includes emergency supports for Canadian workers, businesses and families.
The legislation extends the Canada emergency wage subsidy, the Canada emergency rent subsidy, and lockdown support through to September 25, 2021 which will help protect millions of jobs.
With this legislation, we are providing a bridge for people who are unable to work because of COVID by extending income supports, maintaining flexible access to EI benefits, and extending the EI sickness benefit from 15 to 26 weeks.
Bill C-30 also introduces a $15 an hour federal minimum wage. It expands the Canada workers benefit, extending income top-ups to about a million more low wage workers, and lifting nearly 100,000 Canadians out of poverty. These are measurable concrete steps to help Canadians who need help.
We must also help small business, the backbone of our economy and every main street in the country. To do that, we need to improve access to capital and help businesses hire more workers, in particular, through the new Canada recovery hiring program.
Young Canadians have made tremendous sacrifices this past year to protect their elders, and now, they need our collective support.
Through Bill C-30, we will make college and university more accessible and affordable by extending the waiver of interest accrual on federal student loans until March 2023. This will mean savings for more than 1.5 million Canadians repaying student loans. We will not let young Canadians become a lost generation.
Mr. Chair, I have spoken today about just a few of the measures included in Bill C-30, measures which will make a tangible positive difference in the lives of millions of Canadians.
This is a plan for jobs, growth and the middle class. It is a plan built around helping Canadians recover, succeed and thrive.
I recognize the critical role parliamentary committees play in scrutinizing government legislation, and I'm grateful to all of you for your hard work.
Bill C-30 is a historic first step towards recovery and new economic growth for future generations of Canadians.
I would be pleased to answer any questions you have as you study this critically important piece of legislation.
Thank you very much.