Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Niagara Falls.
Today I would like to address the House about a very important investment that the 1999 federal budget is making. That investment is in our children. We all know that today's children are tomorrow's leaders. This government has taken that saying to heart and we are putting our money where our heart is, in Canada's children, in Canada's future. This budget is an important step in giving our children the support they need to become active and healthy Canadians.
Today I would like to speak about Canadian children. The 1999 federal budget invests in the future of our children. By protecting their future, we are protecting the future of Canada.
The spirit of the 1999 federal budget is health. In addition to the $11.5 billion that we are investing in the health of all Canadians, we are investing $287 million over the next three years in preventative and other health initiatives. This money will go to improve prenatal nutrition, food safety, and toxic substance control, to foster innovations in rural and community health, and to combat disease. More important, this money will help to ensure a healthy future for our children.
The Canada prenatal nutrition program will receive an additional $75 million over the next three years to help high risk pregnant moms have healthier babies. This is an investment we are making in our future. From this investment we will reap both financial and emotional benefits for generations to come. The additional $75 million is on top of the current $13 million we are investing per year. This program is especially dear to my heart because it will address a growing Canadian crisis, fetal alcohol syndrome.
For the past 30 years I have been working in Moncton with children with fetal alcohol syndrome, their parents and pregnant women. They need us. Fifty-five per cent of people in our Canadian prisons are fetal alcohol syndrome victims. It is an economic issue and this is the first time we have had a government that has looked at the preventative measures. We need to help these children become taxpayers and not offenders.
Our children are especially vulnerable to toxic substances in the environment, in food and drinking water. It can affect fetal, infant and childhood development. We all know these are the most crucial years of development for all Canadians. We must work to prevent these effects.
This budget has two direct investments to ensure that we protect Canadians and our children from these harmful effects. It has allocated $65 million over the next three years to modernize and strengthen the federal food and safety program.
In addition it provides Environment Canada with $42 million over the next three years to implement the recently introduced amendments to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. This act aims to protect all Canadians, including our children, from the damaging effects of toxic substances by identifying them quicker and controlling them faster.
In my province of New Brunswick, there is a mix of urban and rural populations. It can be a real challenge to get proper medical treatment in the rural areas, with time being a vital factor in treating children.
We know that care provided at home or in community centres may be a favourable alternative in certain circumstances.
This budget will invest $50 million in the next three years to come up, in consultation with the provinces, with innovative approaches to health care in rural and community settings.
Diabetes is a disease that affects Canadians, and the rate of this disease is particularly high among aboriginal people, striking three times that of the general population. The 1999 federal budget will invest $55 million to combat diabetes. This money will go to finding better ways to prevent this disease and enhance treatment and care.
The 1999 federal budget is not just an investment in health for our children. It also provides direct financial support to families through the Canada child tax benefit and the national child benefit. The federal government is committed through this program to assist low and middle income families with the expenses of raising children. This is an investment in the future of Canada.
In 1996 the Prime Minister and premiers made tackling child poverty a shared priority. This government does not take that priority lightly.
In our two previous budgets we provided $1.7 billion for the children of low income families. This budget announced a further $300 million to enhance the Canada child tax benefit for modest and middle income families. These investments promote fairness and equity among individuals with different incomes and family circumstances because no matter the family, we need to ensure that all Canadian children are able to benefit from all that this great country has to offer.
The national child benefit supplement is a federal, provincial and territorial initiative designed to tackle child poverty. The supplement is available to those who need it the most, low income families. The maximum level of the national child benefit supplement would increase by a total of $350 per child. The net family income level for eligibility will rise from about $27,000 to $30,000 by July 2000.
Enrichments to the national child benefit supplement will result in increased benefits for 1.4 million low income families. A low income family with two children will receive up to 48% more in the year 2000 than they did in 1996.
This year's budget also adds $300 million to the benefits provided to modest and middle income families under the Canada child tax benefit. Taken together with the $850 million announced in the 1997 budget, these measures will increase the child tax benefit by $2 billion this year. Two million modest and middle income families will receive these benefits. In addition, it will be extended to about 100,000 families that currently do not receive it.
Over three quarters of the child tax benefit will go to single parent and single income families. This tax benefit will affect some 3.2 million families, or over 80% of all Canadian children.
More importantly, this money will help our children to successfully prepare their future. This way we are helping them become the pillars of our society.
In closing, I am proud of this budget, a budget that realizes the importance of our children, a budget that invests in those children. I entered politics and came to Ottawa to give a voice to those who did not have one, those Canadians who are children, children who are the future of Canada. These children of the new millennium have the support and commitment of this government.