Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Laurentides—Labelle.
I am very pleased today to speak in support of budget 2016. This is a budget that invests in Canadians; it invests in people.
The greatest assets in any democratic country are the combined knowledge, experiences, ideas, and creativity of the people. When we invest in those ideas, when we give every Canadian a real and fair chance to succeed, when we make sure that everyone has the opportunities they need to contribute to growing our economy, then we all do better. This is a budget that would create growth that is inclusive for all.
Recent graduates in my riding of Ottawa West—Nepean are looking for good jobs where they can use their skills. New immigrants are eager to start businesses and find jobs so that they can give something back to the country that welcomed them.
In my riding, there are many highly educated and skilled workers who lost their jobs when Nortel collapsed and who are looking for venture capital, so they can take their good ideas to market. By focusing our budget on growing the economy rather than on cuts or austerity, we would ensure that they all have their chance to build their dreams. Every dollar we invest in Canadians would come back to us over and over again in the future.
Budget 2016 would invest in research, innovation, and commercialization of new ideas. This includes an additional $95 million a year to the granting councils: SSHRC, NSERC, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
Budget 2016 would also provide $800 million for innovation networks and clusters, as well as measures to scale up businesses, help small and medium enterprises to grow, and provide support for accelerators and incubators.
Many residents of Ottawa West—Nepean are public servants. After many years of job cuts and lack of respect for federal scientists, researchers, diplomats, experts, and professionals, our government wants to hear about public servants' experiences and good ideas.
Budget 2016 promises to enhance the public service, which is one of the best in the world, and provide the space and opportunity for public servants to give advice based on solid evidence. We are committed to negotiating in good faith and never making unilateral changes to collective agreements.
My parents immigrated to Canada in the 1960s, and if I may say, today is the 50th anniversary of the day my mother first landed in Canada as a 19-year-old young woman immigrating to Canada by herself. This is a shout-out to my mother, Maria.
Being the daughters of immigrants, my sister and I had the opportunity to go to university. We had the opportunity to get good jobs and succeed in life. This is my wish for every single child in Canada.
The new Canada child benefit would give nine out of 10 families more money in their pockets to help with the cost of raising children. It would raise hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty. It is income tested, so that those making less money would receive more. The average family would see $2,300 more every year because of this benefit, and we would not tax it back. Therefore, all of the money would stay in their pockets. This is in addition to the middle-class tax cut that we have already put into place, which would benefit nine million Canadians.
Many of the most vulnerable in my riding of Ottawa West—Nepean are seniors. In Canada today, there are more people over the age of 65 than there are children under 15. I have a constituency with more seniors than most others in the country. Many of them are single seniors and single women living in poverty.
Budget 2016 commits to increasing the guaranteed income supplement for single seniors by 10%. This would benefit 900,000 seniors. We would also work with the provinces to enhance the Canada pension plan and reset the age of retirement for OAS from age 67 back to age 65.
In addition, we would provide more than $200 million over the next two years for affordable housing specifically for seniors, which would benefit 5,000 low-income seniors. This is part of an infrastructure program that would invest $3.4 billion in social infrastructure over the next two years, including $2.3 billion for affordable housing, which would upgrade or build 100,000 affordable housing units for the most vulnerable.
One of the most important parts of ensuring that every Canadian has a real and fair chance to succeed is access to education.
In budget 2016, we would provide students with up to $1,000 more per year in the Canada student grants, which would help 247,000 low-income students. Budget 2016 would put an additional $165 million into the youth employment strategy, which includes doubling the Canada summer jobs program. That program would do much to help students find meaningful employment, but it would also benefit many non-profit organizations and small businesses by giving them more staff support over the summer.
In addition, we would provide support for co-op programs for students, particularly those in the STEM professions. Even with these job programs, some students still have trouble finding well-paying full-time jobs after graduation. That is why budget 2016 makes a commitment to students that they would not have to repay their student loans until they are making at least $25,000 a year.
In investing in Canadians, we must recognize that not all Canadians have the same advantages. Women in Canada still earn 73¢ for every dollar earned by a man. Women have greater caregiving responsibilities, and are under-represented in the upper echelons of business and politics. They are also more likely to face violence.
That is why this budget would invest almost $90 million to build 3,000 new shelter spaces for victims of violence. The budget also includes $23 million for the Status of Women, which would allow it to expand its programs.
I wish to make a special note that the budget includes funding to restore the court challenges program. This vital program allowed Canadians, who would otherwise not have been able to afford legal fees, to bring cases forward based on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This program, until it was cancelled by the previous government, was vital to many of the advances that have been made for women and other groups based on the charter.
I was personally very proud to receive messages from my former UN colleagues about the strength of Canada's delegation to the Commission on the Status of Women last month.
The Prime Minister has shown a true commitment to gender equality in Canada and around the world. As a result, Canada earned a place on the Commission. I could not be more pleased.
I am also pleased that the budget would commit an additional $256 million over two years to increasing international assistance. I have seen first-hand the need to invest in development of democratic institutions, pluralism, civil society, and peacekeeping around the world, especially in failed and fragile states.
I also look forward to Canada once again leading the world when it comes to peacekeeping and implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325, which says that women must be involved in all levels of peace negotiation and peacekeeping operations. Canada is uniquely positioned in the world to make a real difference, to lead responsibly, and to bring true conviction to our foreign policy.
One in three residents in my constituency were not born in Canada. The proudest moments I have had since becoming a member of Parliament have been when I have seen the generosity of spirit of the many Canadians who have come forward to help the Syrian refugees.
This is why I am very supportive of measures in the budget that would allow 10,000 more privately sponsored refugees from Syria and increase the number of permanent residents by 7%, allowing for 300,000 new permanent residents. I also fully support measures to facilitate family reunification, including 20,000 parents and grandparents. To ensure that families do not have to be separated for long periods of time, we would spend $25 million more to reduce processing times and handle the backlog of people waiting for their cases to be resolved.
I look forward to many happy reunions in the near future. There are many more measures in budget 2016 that would benefit Canadians. This is a budget that is truly inclusive of all Canadians.