Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I want to let you know that I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Edmonton—Sherwood Park.
It is with great pride that I stand in the House today to speak in support of budget 2009. The people of Nunavut have shown faith in me by electing me to the House and I would like to take this time today to outline how our government has shown faith in them with budget 2009.
I am humbled every day that I am given the opportunity to serve as their member of Parliament and to be their voice in Ottawa. In my home territory of Nunavut, across Canada's north and, indeed, across the country, we are in the midst of a period of great change. We must not be spectators to this change but instead shape the future by doing the right thing for people who elect us to this place.
A synchronized global recess is hitting every economy in the world. Canada, as a great trading nation, is feeling the effects. In the last election campaign, the voters of Nunavut elected a Conservative MP to serve in a Conservative government. This government was elected to lead the country through a global recession, and we are keeping that promise.
Two days ago, my colleague, the hon. Minister of Finance, delivered Canada's economic action plan. It is our plan to stimulate our economy to protect Canadians through the global recession and to invest in our long-term growth. These are the priorities of Canadians and they are the priorities of this government. This plan was built upon one of the broadest and deepest consultation processes in Canadian history. We listened carefully to the concerns of Canadians about their jobs and their savings, about their families, businesses and their communities. We heard their concerns and we took their advice. Now we are taking immediate action.
I would like to turn to infrastructure for a minute as this is one of the cornerstones of our economic action plan.
As Canadian families are taking steps to build infrastructure in their own homes, we are taking actions to build infrastructure across the country. We know that getting shovels in the ground today will create jobs for Canadians now, while providing the framework for Canada to grow upon in the years to come. We are building and renewing our municipal territorial infrastructure, our post-secondary research and health infrastructure and our key federal assets. The money will flow quickly and we will get the shovels in the ground quickly.
For communities like those in Nunavut, it will mean real benefits: more people working, more people selling their products and a better quality of life. We are talking about the infrastructure that people generally identify with such as roads, bridges, water and sewer systems. However, we are also talking about the recreational side of infrastructure.
The budget introduced recreational infrastructure Canada that would provide $500 million to support construction of new community recreational facilities and upgrades to existing facilities across Canada.
In addition, I am proud to say that Nunavut won big in budget 2009 through the following projects.
First, the budget commits up to $17 million to accelerate the construction of the Pangnirtung small craft harbour.
Second, an additional $100 million over two years to support renovation in the construction of new social housing units in Nunavut has been committed in the budget.
Third, the Piqqusilirivvik cultural facility in Clyde River will receive funding from the building Canada fund on a priority basis.
Finally, Nunavut will receive its fair share of the $87 million, over two years, to invest in maintaining or upgrading key existing Arctic research facilities.
For those Canadian families that will face job losses, we will take immediate action. Supporting Canadians in the short-term when they face a job loss is important, but it is equally important to help them find new long-term job prospects.
We are strengthening employment insurance with new benefits and increased availability of training for those who lose their jobs. For example, we will extend work-sharing agreements by 14 weeks, to a maximum of 52 weeks, so more Canadians can continue working. For two years, all regular EI benefits entitlements will be extended for five extra weeks. We will also increase the maximum benefits duration from 45 weeks to 50 weeks.
To prepare those who have lost their jobs for better jobs to come, our economic action plan increases funding for training delivered through the EI program by $1 billion over two years.
Our measures will also extend to those who do not qualify for EI. They will help young Canadians find summer jobs, support older workers and their families through the targeted initiatives for older workers, respond to skilled labour shortage by giving financial help to apprentices to complete their training and to continue our support for a national foreign credential recognition framework.
During a global recession, some communities face unique challenges, especially if they rely on a single industry to drive their economies. Canada's economic action plan takes this into account. It creates a two year community adjustment fund worth $1 billion to help those communities diversify their local economies.
With regard to specific sectors of the economy, we are offering targeted support for a wide range: industry, forestry, manufacturing, tourism, agriculture, mining, shipbuilding, fisheries and the automotive industry. All of this targeted help will help our economy in Canada and in Canada's north.
Canada's economic action plan gives a shot in the arm to the home construction and home renovation industries, both key drivers of our economy. It allows first-time home buyers more flexibility to withdraw from RRSPs to make their purchase and gives them a break through a tax credit on their tools and costs.
Our plan also includes a new measure to let Canadians invest in the value of their homes, while putting trades people to work and giving a boost to those businesses that make and sell building products. For the next two years, a new home renovation tax credit will apply to the cost of labour and supplies and can save Canadians up to $1,350 when they improve their homes.
We are taking action to help families and stimulate consumer spending. Nunavut families deserve more money in their own hands to meet their own needs. Our Conservative government has made that principle a cornerstone since we took office.
Our record of tax relief is substantial and it is providing stimulus to Canada's economy as I speak. Canada's economic action plan builds on this. We are giving more tax relief, letting Canadians earn more money before paying higher taxes. We are building on the benefits that exist for low income Canadians. This is of particular importance to many citizens in my communities. The working income tax benefit is being increased as an added incentive for Canadians to join and remain in the workforce.
Seniors will see new support. We are increasing the age credit amount by an additional $1,000. We are also reducing the amount Canadian seniors are required to withdraw from their registered retirement income fund by 25% for 2008.
The bottom line is this: this year and over the next five years, our personal income tax measures will put about $20 billion back in the hands of Canadians and back in the Canadian economy to keep it moving forward.
Let me be very clear. This budget is the best one I have seen for Nunavut and Canada's north. It commits more money for housing, jobs and new infrastructure. All of this will help to improve the quality of life of northerners.
The budget comes after extensive consultation from the Prime Minister, the Minister of Finance and other federal ministers, all of whom travelled from coast to coast to Arctic coast to hear from thousands of Canadians. I personally met with the territorial premiers and health ministers and with many of my constituents. I am pleased that the economic stimulus package reflects what I have heard from my constituents.
Nunavut will continue to receive historically high and growing federal transfers in 2009-10 that will total $1.1 billion. This is an increase of $125 million from last year. This long-term, growing support helps ensure that Nunavut has the resources it needs to provide essential public service and to build our territory into the great jewel of Canada, which I believe Canada's north is destined to be.
I have already mentioned that the budget strengthens support for economic activities in the north with $50 million over five years to establish a new regional economic development agency specifically for the north. Nunavut will receive its fair share of the $140 million set aside over five years for strategic investment in the northern economic development program.
The budget also commits much needed funding for social housing in Nunavut. In addition, Canada's government will improve Arctic research facilities and will accelerate the construction of the Pangnirtung harbour.
In conclusion, Canada's economic action plan meets the challenges of our time. It is a balance between stimulating our economy for the short term and building our capacity for the long term. This is especially vital in Nunavut and Canada's north. It is a balance between putting money back in the hands of Canadians and creating new investments. It is a balance between the unfortunate reality of a short-term deficit and the principle that we will not burden our children and grandchildren for today's--