Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to speak to Bill C-29, an act to amend certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2016.
I was elected to the House just over a year ago with all of my colleagues with the purpose of speaking up and advocating for the priorities of our local constituents. For me, they happen to be the wonderful people of Brampton East. My constituents are varied, ranging from young families trying to join or stay in the middle class to students and young Canadians entering the workforce, parents whose kids are growing up and leaving home, people planning for retirement, and seniors who too often worry about their finances.
In the last year we have taken monumental steps toward real change for all of these groups. We have cut taxes for close to nine million Canadians, introduced the Canada child benefit, increased student grants for low and middle-income families, and increased monthly payments for seniors. We are ensuring that Canadians today and tomorrow will be able to live comfortably and confidently. We need to build on this momentum.
As a member of the Standing Committee on Finance, I have had the opportunity to go through two pre-budget consultations. The first was in February, which gathered 92 witnesses in Ottawa, whom we heard from for over four days. These witnesses included individuals, NGOs, first nations advocates, and other valued groups. We also received 172 submissions online from individuals and groups. The responses we received varied in topic. The committee concluded its work with a report that offered 56 recommendations, many of which were included in the budget and this second implementation act.
We were elected one year ago on an ambitious new plan for a strong middle class and promised that we would do all that we could to help every Canadian succeed. Budget 2016 is an important part of fulfilling that promise. It offers immediate help to those who need it and it lays out the groundwork for sustained and inclusive economic growth that will benefit Canada's middle class and those working hard to join it.
Over the summer I knocked on doors every Tuesday throughout August with a team of volunteers. This allowed me to check in with the wonderful residents of Brampton East about their priorities for their families, their community, and future generations. This legislation would help those very same people we meet each day at the door, at our office, and at local events.
This second budget implementation act proposes items that would complete the implementation of outstanding measures from the Government of Canada's first budget, “Growing the Middle Class”. This legislation contains significant changes for seniors, improvements to protect Canadian consumers, tax fairness for Canadians, and last but not least, help for low and middle-income families with children.
The Canadian Association of Retired Persons estimates that roughly 600,000 seniors are living in poverty in Canada. This is far too many. Canadians would be shocked by that number. These seniors are our parents, our neighbours, our relatives, and our friends. For this reason, the government has made significant new investments to support seniors in their retirement years. Increased benefits will ensure that Canadian seniors have a dignified, comfortable, and secure retirement.
In Bill C-29 we are ensuring that Canadians would be protected financially by strengthening and modernizing the financial consumer protection framework in our country. Canadian families weathered the 2008 financial crisis fairly well because of our strong financial sector. We will build on this strength by ensuring that our financial structure is able to adapt to new trends, incorporate emerging financial innovations and technologies, and challenge existing business models, and more.
The bill would also modernize the financial consumer protection framework by clarifying and enhancing consumer protection. It would do so through amendments to the Bank Act to enhance consumer protection in the areas of access to banking services, business practices, disclosures, complaints handling, as well as corporate governance and accountability.
Of great importance to me is that this legislation is about fairness, one of Canada's fundamental values.
The bill ensures that the government has a plan to combat international tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance through new measures, while building on efforts that are currently being made both here in Canada and abroad. This work will help protect all Canadians and ensure that everyone pays their fair share. Canada has the lowest debt to GDP ratio of any G7 country and interest rates are at historic lows. Now is the ideal time for Canada to invest in its future.
Last but not least, the bill ensures that Canadian families will have a little more help with the high cost of raising children through the new Canada child benefit. Simpler, tax-free, and more generous than the existing federal child benefits it will replace, the Canada child benefit will give nine out of 10 Canadian families higher monthly payments and will lift hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty. This benefit will be indexed starting in 2020. We listened to the passionate advocates who said that the CCB must be indexed to inflation. As a result, supporting this budget implementation bill will help ensure that the Canada child benefit will be indexed to inflation so that families can count on the extra assistance, not just today but for years to come.
To conclude, the bill continues to deliver on this government's plan to ensure that Canadians are well served and that more Canadians will be able to join the middle class. With these investments and inspired by a sense of fairness, we are ensuring that Canada's best days lie ahead. I look forward to supporting the bill and I urge all my hon. colleagues to do the same.