Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today on behalf of my constituents of Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge to speak to a bill that takes us one step closer to a more fair, progressive, and inclusive society.
I want to take a moment to speak to the importance of Bill C-29, not only for its direct, positive impact on thousands of families in my community, but for how it reflects our nation's desire to see our collective interests as part of a brighter future for us all.
I would like to begin by briefly telling a story about a constituent in my riding. On the first day the Canada child benefit cheques were sent out, this constituent called my office to thank our government for this new fairer way of helping families get ahead and lifting hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty.
However, it is important to note that this constituent did not qualify for the CCB because his income was too high. This constituent explained that he had lived his childhood in poverty and, while he no longer needed the help, was so incredibly proud that this government was ensuring that hundreds of thousands of children would not have to live as he did.
This constituent is not alone. These constituents represent a belief that when we lend a hand to our neighbour, we are all lifted together. They represent a way of thinking that our collective good is in the best interests of all Canadians, now and for generations to come. The economics are clear. When our families are given a boost, it is not just a handout. These are transfers that are not only going to improve the life and standard of living for nine out of 10 families across Canada, but these are real dollars that are being re-introduced to the economy to help stimulate growth.
A successful, progressive fiscal agenda is one that, through addressing short-term challenges, produces long-term results. For families in Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, this budget means that Stephen's parents can afford to register him for this season of Knights football, or Allison can go to camp at Timberline Ranch, and that makes the economy a little better.
When middle-class families have money in their pockets, they have more money to spend on their families and more money with which to stimulate the economy. Families benefit; the economy benefits.
Under the previous Conservative government, what was lacking—amongst many things—was an understanding that cheques to the wealthiest of Canadians do not produce economic growth, nor do they produce a more prosperous and fair nation. We know the realities.
The CCB is tax free, targeted, and simplified. Over the last few months, I have spoken to families in my riding, and I have heard how this new measure has helped put healthier food on their tables, buy their kids school supplies, or replace worn-out running shoes. These are real families in my riding. This is what they are experiencing.
Let us just call it what it is: real change for those families in my riding. It is also important to note that this vision for investing in our future is one that our government is proudly carrying out across ministries, and one that I know will benefit the constituents in my riding of Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge in many different ways.
Investments do not just happen overnight. The word “investment” means there is time involved. It takes time. We invest in our children. We invest in our families. We invest in our home. That is a long-term strategy. Bill C-29 follows suit with a vision for Canada that is being driven by Canadians themselves.
When I speak with folks in my community and I hear their hopes and concerns, their perspectives are not falling on empty ears. Canadians have and continue to be at the heart of our policy decisions.
It is not just about the direct needs of families, either. It is about what our communities value. For folks in coastal and watershed communities like my own, our government has listened and responded with a $1.5 billion investment in funding for an oceans protection plan. This was sorely needed. This has never been done in the past. The previous government did not invest that kind of money. We need this. For young people in my community who are struggling to finance their post-secondary education, we have heard them, and we have answered with an increase in Canada student grants.
It is about the future. Let us talk about that. I have met many young people in my community, and they are incredibly driven and optimistic. I recently started my constituency youth council. We have had a couple of meetings, and from age 14 to 24, these young leaders of today are bringing the tough issues to the table. They want to tackle issues such as transportation, youth mental health, climate change, education, and immigration. It just shows that these young people in our communities have brilliant, critical minds that we need to invest in. Studies say that this generation of young people are our most intellectually advanced, and yet, when we talk to Canadian youth, they and their families are still facing barriers to tap into their potential.
We are investing in our youth. We are doubling Canada student loans. We are supporting low-income students and helping them to pay off their student debts by waiting for them to actually have a salary of $25,000 a year or more. Until then, they will not have to pay that back. They will not have to worry about interest payments. That is what is going to help them.
We are also increasing funding for Canada summer jobs. This summer, I went on a mission and spoke with 80 of 100 students who got Canada summer jobs. I went to every single business, church, and organization and met those young people of today. I was proud to see the potential they bring to our country. It just tells me that we need to invest more into the future of our country, into our youth.
We are responding to real problems now with eyes on the future. These are not just policies that are checking off a wish list or un-targeted boutique tax credits that help families, regardless of whether they need it or not. Our policies are rooted in the needs and the values of Canadians and are a response to hundreds of thousands of ongoing conversations with members of my community and our communities. I have done town halls. We have done multiple round tables. The people I am meeting are open and frank with me.
Part of our responsibility as a government is matching the needs and desires of Canadians with programs and services. We are doing just that. In our government, Canadians, not personal agendas, are at the heart of everything we do.
Bill C-29 is important. To be frank, fulfilling our commitment to a fairer economic system is one I am incredibly passionate about. While members opposite may scoff at the many times our government talks about fairness and investing in our economy, I think it is incredibly important to continue to talk about them. Therefore, today, I will continue to share the importance of fairness, investment, and a brighter future for all Canadians. I will continue to share my enthusiasm for the policies outlined in Bill C-29 and the effect they would have in my riding of Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge.
Families in my riding have been struggling to get ahead far too long, and the measures in Bill C-29, and the measures that continue to be introduced by our government, are working toward a society Canadians can believe in.