Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour for me to rise today to speak to Bill C-63.
This bill is excellent news for my constituents in the riding of Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas and for our ambitious city of Hamilton. Our city properly earned the title of “ambitious city”. It is a city that is on the move, with one of the hottest real estate markets in Canada and one of our city's lowest unemployment rates since 2015. At the heart of Hamilton's success is a new wave of investments from our Liberal government, from the private sector, and, of course, the new wave of entrepreneurship that is happening.
Since the beginning of this government's mandate in 2015, more than 89,000 children in the city of Hamilton have received tax-free payments, equalling a total of $30 million, through the Canada child benefit. That is absolutely fantastic news for middle-class Hamiltonians and it is amazing news for our children. I am proud that our government has worked so tirelessly to help raise these children out of poverty. It gives me immense pride to see that through Bill C-63, we will be strengthening the CCB.
We are reaffirming our belief that by investing in the middle class, we are strengthening and growing Canada's economy, which, by the way, is the fastest growing economy in the G7.
I would like to highlight the provisions in Bill C-63 that put in place measures to give greater flexibility to Canadians working in federally regulated industries to balance work and family responsibilities, such as greater flexibility for annual vacation days and holidays, more bereavement days in the event of losing a loved one, and more unpaid leave for family responsibilities.
Our government recognizes the importance of having strong labour rights for Canadians. One just has to look at our current NAFTA negotiations to see that our government is fighting the good fight for workers' rights. Through Bill C-63, constituents in my riding like Cathy, who works for the CRA, will have improved rights. By providing employees with the right to request flexible work arrangements from their employers, by providing employees with family leave, by providing a leave for victims of family violence, by providing a leave for traditional indigenous practices, and by modifying certain provisions related to work schedules, overtime, annual vacation, general holidays and bereavement leave in order to provide greater flexibility in work arrangements, this government is demonstrating its commitment to our dedicated civil servants. Workers' rights are extremely important to me and my constituents in Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas.
I was recently contacted by a grade 5 student in my riding. Her name is Natalya. She asked me what our government was doing that made me proud. I was delighted that a grade 5 student was reaching out to me, engaged, wanting to know what I felt most proud about with respect to what our government was providing. I was very happy to share with Natalya the many things that our government had done that made me extremely proud. We have a strong record and the strength of the economy is evidence of that.
Today, the provision for workers' rights in Bill C-63 also makes me exceptionally proud. For decades, Canadians and Hamiltonians alike have fought for fair workers' rights and this provision is helping to enhance workers' rights and needs. The provision provides for people in a time of need when they feel most vulnerable and fragile, the loss or sickness of a family member, or the experience of domestic violence. It also acknowledges the importance of indigenous spiritual practice. The bill would help the marginalized as well as recognize indigenous spiritual practices.
Bill C-63 would also make important investments in clean technology. This legislation is going to take the next steps for innovators and creators. Our government's innovation and skills plan focuses on individuals, and addresses the changing nature of the economy to ensure it works for all Canadians.
Bill C-63 would enact key sections of our plan, such as $600 million in new financing for clean technology firms. Our government is also showing that being responsible stewards of the environment that our children will inherit and creating prosperity are not mutually exclusive. Rather, we are proving that being green and growing our economy go hand in hand to create health, wealth, and a prosperity for all Canadians.
Bill C-63 also designates $400 million for the venture capital catalyst initiative. As I mentioned earlier, my beloved city of Hamilton is becoming a Canadian hotbed of innovation and creativity. Indeed, Hamilton is an attractive place to live and start a business. It offers many attractive circumstances to investors and people who wish to move: more affordable housing than its sister cities a short drive east down the QEW; an easily accessible nature trail system that takes one to the most beautiful spots that are largely unspoiled in the Niagara Escarpment, in which Hamilton is nestled; the nearby world-famous Niagara wine region; its three major post-secondary institutions, McMaster, Mohawk, and Redeemer; and the fact that it is a major transit hub. All of these facts mean that Hamilton is home to a rapidly growing number of innovators and creators.
One only has to look at the growing number of start-up incubators and young professional networks that are mushrooming to see that this is true, whether it is Hamilton's innovation factory working with small business people to help them grow, Hamilton HIVE, which is a growing network of young professionals who are succeeding in the business world and teaching young people how to succeed as well; The Forge at McMaster University, which supports new tech companies and students interested in entrepreneurship by providing co-working space at McMaster Innovation Park in downtown Hamilton; other innovation co-working locations like CoMotion 302 or The Seedworks Urban Offices, which are providing space and allowing community start-ups to thrive; or the CoBALT Connects, which is both a network of spaces and people for artists to work and create in.
All of these things show that Hamilton is open for business for start-ups, innovators, and young professionals. The $400-million venture capital provision is outstanding news for them. Our 21st-century economy needs these fire starters and innovators. We need their ideas, their hard work, and their passion.
Let me talk about one of Hamilton's young fire starters. I recently met with Geordie, a McMaster graduate who started his own tech firm. He took a huge risk starting his own small business, but he had a brilliant idea, and with hard work and determination, his idea has taken off. Now he employs many middle-class individuals, and collectively their ingenuity and visionary outlook on life are having a positive impact on our society. I am proud that we are lowering the small business tax rate to 9% by 2019, and also extremely pleased that we are investing in small tech firms like Geordie's.
Our government recognizes the fantastic work that our tech sector adds to our industry. It is fantastic that our government is making such a significant investment in venture capital to help create the conditions for success for these brilliant and creative minds. They are creating the businesses that will ensure the future of meaningful, well-paid, middle-class jobs and prosperity for Hamilton and Canada.
This bill introduces many measures that make me confident that our government is a careful steward of workers' rights, entrepreneurship, and our economy. Bill C-63 is good for Hamiltonians and Canadians.