Mr. Speaker, Canada is great because Canadians made it great. The people who built this country worked hard to realize their vision. They set us on a bold course to greater hope and opportunity. We feel a debt of gratitude to our ancestors, who fought for our freedom and who built this country with their hands and their hearts.
Canada's new government has now taken steps in building the Canada that we would be proud to pass on to our own children.
On Monday, March 19, Canada's new government delivered a budget that would benefit working families. This budget, I am proud to say, applies to places like my own riding of Kildonan—St. Paul.
Budget 2007 will reduce the tax burden on working families.
The budget will protect our environment.
It will modernize our health care system.
I am sure that many people in the room today are asking themselves, why does fiscal balance matter? It matters because it is an issue that touches every single Canadian.
Fiscal balance is about better roads and renewed public transit. It is about better health care and better equipped universities. It is about cleaner oceans, rivers, lakes and air. It is also about training that helps Canadians get the skills they need. It is about building a better future for our country.
Through budget 2007 we are providing the provinces and territories with well over $39 billion in additional funding to restore fiscal balance in Canada. We are returning equalization to a principled, formula based program.
What does this mean in Manitoba? Restoring fiscal balance will provide Manitoba with more than $3.1 billion in 2007-08. This includes $1.8 billion under a new equalization system, $807 million under the Canada health transfer, $350 million for Canada's social transfer, including additional funding for post-secondary education and child care, and $83 million for infrastructure.
There is a real infrastructure advantage in this budget: an estimated $17.6 billion in base funding, which consists of the gas tax fund, and an increase from 57.1% to 100% in the rebate that municipalities receive for the goods and services tax they pay. That is very important. Base funding for Manitoba in 2007-08 is forecast to be $46 million.
The Government of Canada is providing $26.8 million in gas tax funding for municipalities in Manitoba in 2007-08. The provincial government allocates funding among municipalities consistent with the approach set out in an agreement between the province and the Government of Canada.
One very important initiative in Manitoba is the enhancement of the Red River Floodway. As a result of a recent federal commitment of $170.5 million, Manitoba will be able to complete the expansion of the Red River Floodway and thus significantly enhance the level of flood protection enjoyed by the residents of the city of Winnipeg. This is a critical initiative for Manitoba.
Preserving and protecting our environment is a priority for Canadians and the government. We have made tremendous strides in our budget. In order to protect our Lake Winnipeg, the Red River and other Manitoba rivers, we are establishing a new national water strategy that has been put in place through the budget. It will also improve municipal sewer and water facilities in my riding of East St. Paul and West St. Paul.
The new Canada ecotrust for clean air and climate change will provide support to those provinces and territories identifying major projects that will result in real reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants. Our government is getting things done. Canada's new government intends to provide Manitoba with almost $54 million through this initiative.
Water quality in Lake Winnipeg has deteriorated due to the accumulation of nutrients in the lake. Budget 2007 provides $7 million over the next two years to Environment Canada to develop an initiative. We want cleaner water.
We want cleaner air. Also on the environmental side, we are introducing a program that provides rebates to people who buy fuel efficient or alternative fuel vehicles. We will also sponsor initiatives that take older, polluting cars off the road. We are introducing a green levy on gas guzzlers.
Our government has spoken very clearly and very loudly about the initiatives we need to address in our province in terms of the environment.
The health of our economy is also important. Debt reduction is a key element for all Manitobans and all Canadians.
Our government is lowering our national mortgage by $9.2 billion on top of the $13.2 billion we have put against the debt since elected. This is the equivalent of $700 in debt relief for every Canadian. That means a lot to Canadian families.
What is even better is the fact that Canadians will receive a direct benefit. Through our tax back guarantee, lower debt will mean lower interest payments, which will mean lower taxes.
Let me be clear. Every dollar saved from our lower interest payments will be returned to Canadians through personal income tax reductions. That is a good start, but our government firmly believes that we still pay too much tax.
In my riding of Kildonan—St. Paul, parents struggle daily with the challenge of raising a family. With the higher costs of living, housing and energy, it is not easy. We need to make it more affordable for people to have children and to raise them.
As a result, we are creating a working family's tax plan. This plan has four components.
First, for families with children it includes a brand new $2,000 per child tax credit for children under 18 years of age, which will help families keep ahead. This will save Manitoba parents $54.1 million. That is money families can use to buy new shoes or clothes for their children or to save for a new computer.
Second, we are ending the marriage penalty through an increase of the spousal and dependant amounts to the same level as the basic personal amount, to provide up to $209 of tax relief to a supporting spouse or single taxpayer supporting a child or a relative, saving Manitoba residents an estimated $8.4 million.
Third, we are helping parents save for their children's education by strengthening the RESP program.
Fourth, we are helping seniors by raising the age limit for RPPs and RRSPs to 71 from 69 years of age, which will save Manitoba taxpayers $1 million.
Canadians are a caring people. We offer a helping hand to our friends and our neighbours who find themselves out of work.
Yet social assistance programs can produce unintended consequences. In Canada, too many people feel trapped on welfare. A single mother with one child who takes a low income job can lose almost 80¢ of every dollar she earns. That is because of higher taxes and reduced benefits for things like drug and dental coverage.
To help people over this welfare wall, we are investing more than $550 million a year to establish a working income tax benefit. This measure will help remove the barriers that discourage people from enjoying the dignity and independence that come with a job.
This new working income tax benefit of up to $500 for an individual and $1,000 for a family will reward work and strengthen incentives to work, with benefits for Manitoba workers of $18.9 million. This is very important.
We believe in a safer Canada. This budget has taken significant positive steps to make our communities safer for families and their children. As a result, we are launching a new national anti-drug strategy to combat the use of illegal drugs.
We are also providing funding to protect our most precious asset, our children. We are providing $6 million over two years to the RCMP to protect children from online sexual exploitation and trafficking.
Also, we are taking into consideration our heroes, such as our firefighters. Canada's firefighters must have the training they need to safely and effectively respond to emergencies to protect citizens.
Budget 2007 provides $1 million over two years to help the Canadian arm of the International Association of Fire Fighters, through Public Safety Canada, implement a hazardous materials training program that would be available to all first responders, including firefighters, police, paramedics and utility workers.
In addition, the government will invest funds to combat white collar crime. That includes attracting and retaining the best qualified police and other expert resources to the RCMP's integrated market enforcement teams.
Our government is getting the job done. Our government is addressing things directly to families.
In the field of education, we feel that Manitobans and all Canadians need to excel in education. We are taking action today that will help build a workforce for tomorrow. We are investing $1.3 billion in new money for science and technology and we are supporting our universities.