Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour.
Budget 2016 proposes a new approach. In recent years, fewer and fewer Canadians have reaped the benefits of economic growth.
Although household spending continues to grow, most families have seen virtually no increase in their income over the past 30 years. As a result, it is increasingly difficult for families to make ends meet.
With Canadians’ decreasing ability to pay for their children’s education, care needed for their aging parents, and their own retirement, they are wondering whether there is still any reality to the promise of progress in Canada.
In electing a new government, millions of Canadians expressed their desire for change. We have offered Canadians an ambitious new plan to create long-term economic growth by increasing people’s disposable income and stimulating infrastructure projects.
Canada’s financial situation is quite solid. We have the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio of any G7 country, and that gives us the necessary flexibility to make strategic investments today that will grow tomorrow’s economy. Now is the ideal time to invest: interest rates have never been so low.
This budget targets the middle class and Canadian families. It also offers immediate assistance to those most in need of it: seniors, youth, the unemployed, veterans, and indigenous peoples.
Overall, this budget increases the disposable income of the entire population by reducing taxes on the middle class, and the Canada child benefit will lift almost 300,000 children out of poverty.
We will be raising the guaranteed income supplement for 900,000 low-income seniors. In addition, to grow the economy and create jobs, the government will be investing $11.9 billion in infrastructure.
We believe that a healthy environment and a strong economy go hand in hand. The budget proposes strategic investments in clean technologies and concrete measures to mitigate the causes and effects of climate change.
This budget has three major impacts for Quebec. First, the major transfers will total $21.4 billion in 2016-17, an increase of $1 billion over the previous fiscal year; there is $10 billion through equalization payments, an increase of $509 million over the previous fiscal year; there is $8.3 billion through the Canada health transfer, an increase of $456 million over the previous fiscal year; there is $3.1 billion through the Canada social transfer, an increase of $84 million over the previous fiscal year; and all that is for Quebec.
Second, it promotes French culture. The government will support major national institutions to protect the two official languages, and it will promote industries that showcase Canadian culture. As part of this effort to fulfill CBC/Radio-Canada’s mandate, there is an additional $675 million over five years.
Third, the budget restores the labour-sponsored venture capital corporation tax credit to 15% for stock purchases.
It also contains opportunities that may apply to the riding of Saint-Jean. For cities and municipalities, the budget continues to provide about $3 billion a year in funding for municipal infrastructure projects through the gas tax fund and the incremental GST rebate for municipalities.
For the Saint-Jean CEGEP and the Royal Military College Saint-Jean, it helps universities and colleges to train highly skilled workers, serve as engines of discovery, and support the growth of innovative businesses.
Budget 2016 provides up to $2 billion over three years for strategic projects to improve research and innovation infrastructure. For the Horticulture Research and Development Centre, it includes an investment of $70 million to expand agricultural research and upgrade agricultural research laboratories.
For highway 35 and federal infrastructure, the budget provides $3.4 billion over five years to support the construction, repair, and reconditioning of federal infrastructure assets across the country, including investments in transportation and border infrastructure. This last point is directly related to highway 35.
For the Centre d’aide aux entreprises Haute-Montérégie, the budget enhances the mentoring services, networking opportunities, and business development advice provided by business accelerators and incubators. Budget 2016 states that the government will work with stakeholders to develop a performance measurement framework for business accelerators and incubators in Canada.
With regard to the Internet, the budget includes $500 million to extend high-speed Internet access to hundreds of rural and remote communities. This is what the Minister of Finance came to Saint-Valentin, the village of love, in the riding of Saint-Jean, to announce.
To manage flooding, the budget proposes to provide up to $19.5 million over five years to the International Joint Commission, to enable Canada to match U.S. funding to study the flooding and the variable water levels and water quality that affect Lake Champlain and the Richelieu River.
With regard to the International de montgolfières de Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, the budget allocates $50 million over two years to Destination Canada to strengthen marketing initiatives in important international markets, such as the United States and China.
For management of the canal promenade in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and enhancement of Fort Lennox in Saint-Paul-de-l'Île-aux-Noix, the budget provides for new investment to support the expansion and enhancement of Canada’s protected areas, including national parks and national tourist waterways.
For the churches of Saint-Blaise-sur-Richelieu and L'Acadie, the budget enhances the national historic sites cost-sharing program by providing $20 million over two years to Parks Canada.
In conclusion, our plan is reasonable and affordable. Yes, we are going to close the fiscal year with a deficit. Part of that deficit, $16 billion, derives from the situation we inherited before making our decisions on this budget, and we have invested $13 billion in order to meet our election commitments.
By the end of our first mandate, Canada’s debt-to-GDP ratio will be lower than it is today. This budget gives priority to people and offers Canadians the support they need right now. However we are not talking about the present only, far from it. This is an essential stage that is part of a sustained, strategic effort to restore prosperity and optimism in Canada.
We are looking to the future with confidence, because we are putting in place today the policies that will enable the vast majority of Canadians to benefit from more opportunities in the future, better jobs, communities that are better connected and more environmentally friendly, and more money, which they will be free to use as they see fit.
The people of the riding of Saint-Jean have already begun to reap the benefits of our budget commitments. In the months ahead, we will continue to improve the daily lives of the people there.
We promised to do everything we can to help every Canadian succeed. Budget 2016 is a crucial part of fulfilling our commitments.