Mr. Speaker, maybe a good place to start is to provide a comment. We have heard this from other Conservatives. They try to demean the importance of all jobs. I come from a working-class riding where all jobs are important. Not everyone wants to be a member of Parliament, or a car salesman, or a health care worker. There is a good selection of jobs from coast to coast to coast and some of them are part-time, some of them are full-time. Over the last number of months, we have been able to accomplish a great deal as government. We constantly hear from the other side that they are just part-time jobs. I can assure the member that many of those part-time jobs are of great value and Canadians truly do appreciate part-time jobs too. Part-time jobs do matter and they do count.
We have seen in the last 12 months, I believe the record was 139,600 new jobs. I believe the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development indicated that number has gone up in the last month to just over 145,000. I might be a little off in that number. The bottom line is that this is a government that does care about jobs. We are concerned about how the economy is improving and that is the reason we brought forward such a progressive budget. Quite frankly, I am disappointed in the Conservatives and especially in the New Democrats for not recognizing what most Canadians believe and that is that this government has it right. We have a budget that all Canadians can get behind because it literally assists every region, every community of our country.
I would suggest that if members want to reflect on what has been said over the last number of months, because we have been talking about this budget for months now, it is nice to see that we are going to have the final vote on Bill C-29 in the not-too-distant future. I would suggest that the budget is one that all members should get behind. I do not say that lightly. I say it because I genuinely believe it. There is so much in the budget that people can be very proud of. Even the Conservatives should be proud. After all, they talk about the importance of tax breaks. There is good news in this budget. There is a tax break worth hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars for Canada's middle class.
Who are the people we are talking about? The bulk of the benefits are going to individuals who are firefighters, sales people, health care workers, or factory shop workers, and many of those jobs are in the hard-working middle class. In excess of nine million Canadians will benefit from this middle-class tax cut. One would think that the Conservative Party would be behind that tax cut. I am sorry to say that the Conservative Party is not voting for that tax cut.
I say to my colleagues across the way that if they were to canvass some of the constituents I just referred to they would find that people would be disappointed in the criticism coming from across the way in regard to this middle-class tax cut.
I would like to think that there is always an opportunity to see one's way clear and understand that this is a good tax cut. I would suggest to my friends across the way that they might want to reconsider their position on this budget.
As much as I am disappointed in terms of how the Conservatives are voting on this, I am somewhat surprised by my New Democratic friends because there is even more within this budget. When we talk about equalization or tax fairness, one of the things I thought the government was right on was to do some readjusting where we actually have a tax on Canada's wealthiest, a significant number of dollars that are going to be coming in and that money is going to be reused.
Given some of the rhetoric coming from the New Democrats on the issue of tax fairness, they are voting against the budget, which ultimately would see an additional tax put on some of Canada's wealthiest people.
However, it is more than that, because when we talk about reaching into our communities and families and trying to enable those who are working hard to become part of the middle class, or are middle class, we have a couple of initiatives that we should all be proud of. I have had the opportunity to talk at great length in the House about them.
One of them is the Canada child benefit program. This is tax free, unlike the Conservatives, who felt even if someone was a multi-millionaire they should still get the tax benefit. We disagreed with that. Those who need it the most are the ones who are going to receive the most under the Liberal plan, and there is a dramatic overall increase to the Canada child benefit program. This is good news. We are going to see thousands of children being lifted out of poverty because of this direct increase to the Canada child benefit program.
We could go on about the guaranteed income supplement. Again, this is something I have talked about in the past. We often talk about the most vulnerable in our communities. How many of us have knocked on a door and run into a senior who is finding it difficult to meet their financial needs? Perhaps it is medication, or additional food supplements, whatever it might be. Often, the most vulnerable are those seniors who are limited to their old age supplement. We have seen a historic commitment to the GIS to the degree that some seniors will get an additional benefit of $900 plus on an annual basis. Many might say that is not much money, but I can assure them, if someone is only receiving $10,000 or $12,000 a year, that is a lot of money. What we are doing by increasing the guaranteed income supplement for our seniors is lifting them out of poverty. We are voting on a budget that is going to lift thousands of seniors out of poverty.
That is not all. We can talk about the infrastructure, but I will defer that for the moment. I want to talk about the importance of a national government working in co-operation with our provinces on two issues. I like to think that we are not only a government for today but we also think about future generations. Not only is our government demonstrating strong national leadership on the file, but we are working with the provinces. I am talking about the Canada pension plan. For years, I sat in opposition when Mr. Harper and the Conservative government did absolutely nothing in regard to the CPP. Even though we had provinces calling for strong national leadership, the Conservative government at the time did absolutely nothing in that regard. Within a year, under the leadership of our Prime Minister, and the Minister of Finance, we were able to get a historic agreement with the provinces and territories that is ultimately going to ensure that our future seniors, our workers of today who are moving our economy forward, are going to be able to contribute a little more toward a pension. At the end of the day, they are going to be receiving more money when it comes time to retire.
That is about having a vision and thinking about future generations. That was something we did not see with the Harper government. It was non-existent in dealing on the issue of pensions.
The other issue that I often hear members talk about is the price on carbon. They made it very clear. The Conservative Party here in Ottawa, albeit unique in the entire country, has declared that the price on carbon is a bad idea. It does not care what real Canadians have to say.
Mr. Speaker, one or two member are starting to applaud on it.
It is a good way to demonstrate just how out of touch with Canadians the Conservative Party today still remains. Political parties of all stripes—and we can talk about the Progressive Conservatives in Manitoba, the NDP in Alberta, or the Liberals in other jurisdictions—have acknowledged the importance of dealing with Canada's environment. We saw that from the Prime Minister, shortly after becoming the Prime Minister, becoming a part of the Paris agreement. Then literally months later, here we are, meeting with our provincial counterparts and we now have an agreement, which includes provincial governments of all political stripes saying that the issue of a price on carbon is a good thing.
We have the Conservative Party saying that, no, it is a bad thing and that the federal government is just trying to raise more money. I should remind the Conservatives—because sometimes I think they like to play with reality and maybe stretch the truth to turn it into a bit of a falsehood—that under that price on carbon, yes, we saw strong national leadership and, through that strong national leadership, we have an agreement that applies in every region of our country. However, Ottawa is not going to get a dime from it. All the money is going back to the provincial and territorial jurisdictions. That is a good thing.
At the end of the day, if we have premiers who want to take that revenue generated and reduce their income tax or another form of tax, they can do that. It is going back to the individual provinces. In fact, many of the provinces already have it in place.
Only the Conservatives are trying to make us walk backwards on the issue. It does not make sense; unless, of course, we believe that the Conservative Party, as I have argued, has lost complete touch with reality and what Canadians feel and know are important.
I would suggest that it is indeed the latter.
The nice thing about when we have debates of this nature is that we are able to express ourselves and, hopefully, members of the Conservative Party will start to question some of their leadership. There are a number of leadership candidates who are running to become their new leader. They might want to try to think outside of the box and see which ones are starting to come up with ideas that Canadians can buy into. I can tell members that there are initiatives that are being taken by this government that will have a very positive impact on Canada's economy and our environment because, as the minister responsible for natural resources has so well articulated, we can do both.
That was clearly demonstrated by this government when we saw the approval of two pipelines and, ultimately, the rejection of one pipeline. We do not believe that there has to be a tradeoff, unlike the NDP that would like to keep all the oil in the ground or the Conservatives who would build a pipeline anywhere, even though they never built an inch of it to tidewaters. If we listen to rhetoric from the two, we hear they are at complete odds.
I would suggest that this government got it right. We set up a process that is fair, a process that allows for consultation, and we are starting to see the benefits of that already. In just over one year, we have been able to accomplish more on the pipeline file than the previous government did in 10 years. We are very proud of that. At the end of the day, look at the benefits of getting the job done: tens of thousands of direct jobs, not to mention the indirect jobs, that are being created by a government that not only cares, but has the ability to get the job done—something the Conservative Party failed at doing.
A lot of things are happening on this side of the House that will impact the everyday lives of Canadians, and those things are coming through a budget that is good for all Canadians in every region of this country.
A great way to emphasize that is by talking about Canada's infrastructure program. I said earlier that I would add some thoughts on the infrastructure program because it is one of the programs whereby we made a tangible commitment to Canadians. Once again, our government is delivering on the commitments that we made to Canadians. We are investing historic amounts of money in infrastructure. Unlike the Conservative Party, we are actually spending the money today in a big way to ensure that the infrastructure moves forward.
Member ask where. Many members are critical of us with respect to Alberta. Not only are we moving forward in Alberta, but for the first time in a long time we have a government that actually walks the talk, as opposed to just talking. Those members just need to look at the number of infrastructure dollars that have been committed to the province of Alberta. The only reason I single out Alberta is because of some of the comments coming from members across the way in regard to that province. The principle I am talking about with regard to Alberta could be applied to every region of our country, where we have seen our national government work with local governments, whether they be municipal or provincial, to deliver priority projects. Millions of dollars have already been committed.
Let us not underestimate the important work of city councillors, MLAs, and community advocates. They came to the table and put in an effort that made it possible for this government to do what Canadians wanted us to do, and that was to invest in Canada's infrastructure. They wanted us to not just talk about. That is something we saw when Mr. Harper sat in the prime minister's chair. This is a government that not only talks about it but gets the job done, because we understand the importance of it.
I could be a bit out on this, but about 70 projects have received approval to date in the province of Alberta. Many of those projects are actually under way; the sod has been turned. This could not have been done without that high sense of co-operation.
So much is happening within our country. There are so many things to talk about. I focused on the budget, and I also focused attention on some national initiatives.
Earlier today a number of members raised the issue of the murdered and missing indigenous women and girls. This is an issue that is very close to my heart. For many years while I sat on the opposition benches I called on the prime minister of the day and the Conservative government to hold a public inquiry. A couple of months into government the Liberals initiated that public inquiry.
Our Minister of Health is truly committed to our strong national health care system. We all benefit from it. Members should ask their constituents what makes them feel good about being Canadian. From my perspective, one of the things would be our health care system. For the first time in many years, we have a Minister of Health who truly believes in Canada's health care system. She has been working diligently at trying to achieve something that the Conservative Party could not achieve and that is to get a health care accord. I would argue that it was because the Conservatives did not want one. We finally have a Minister of Health who is committed to working hard to achieve a health care accord, something that is long overdue.
A personal favourite of mine with respect to policy is immigration, and I referenced that in an S.O. 31. Immigration is so important and valuable for Canada. The population of my home province of Manitoba would have decreased if it were not for immigration over the last 10 years. Our Liberal government continues to fix the many problems with immigration today, whether it is processing times or especially family reunification. I underline family reunification. Marriage is a serious issue and it has to be dealt with.
I see I am out of time, but I still want to talk about housing and so much more. I will wait for a question or two.