Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on the subject of Bill C-63, the budget implementation act, 2017, No. 2, today. Specifically, I am pleased to talk about the government's plan to invest in people and communities to build a stronger, healthier, better Canada.
If we were to ask Canadians, the vast majority of them would say they are very proud of our public health system. The 2017 federal budget recognizes that and includes over $37 billion in transfers to the provinces and territories under the Canada health transfer.
A prosperous country such as ours also needs a comprehensive strategy on drugs and other substances. When it comes to cannabis control, the current system is obviously not working. It does not do a good enough job of protecting Canadians' health and safety, especially not our youth. It is often easier for our children to acquire cannabis than cigarettes.
As everyone knows, our government plans to legalize and strictly regulate cannabis. This policy is necessary and has two main objectives: on the one hand, to keep marijuana out of the hands of youth, and on the other, to deprive criminals of any profits from illegal cannabis sales.
In advance of the government's plan to legalize cannabis, budget 2017 allocated several million dollars to public education programming and monitoring activities.
Taxation is one of the key factors that will play an important role in ensuring that our objectives are met. As the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance have clearly stated, taxes must be low from the beginning, and the federal, provincial, and territorial governments must continue to work together to guarantee a coordinated approach. Co-operation is critical, and the federal government wants to engage our provincial and territorial partners in order to develop a coordinated approach to cannabis taxation.
This second budget implementation act lays the groundwork for such a partnership. It amends the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act to allow the Minister of Finance, on behalf of the federal government and with the consent of the Governor in Council, to enter into coordinated tax agreements with the provincial and territorial governments on cannabis taxation.
All governments must endeavour to maintain an effective level of taxation over time, one that helps balance our social and health objectives, the risks associated with the illicit market, as well as our tax priorities. All levels of government will have a significant role to play. It is important to remember that the framework for the production, sale, and distribution of cannabis for non-medical purposes will be based on the sharing of responsibilities. The federal government will be responsible for granting licences for production, cultivation, and manufacture, while the provinces and territories will be responsible for granting distribution and retail licences.
It would also be much better to have a coordinated approach on the taxation side of things. Legalizing cannabis will help the government increase tax revenues, but it is important to keep in mind that that is not the primary objective here. The primary objective of legalizing marijuana is to try to keep marijuana out of the hands of children and keep the profits out of the hands of criminals.
The best way to do that is to have a coordinated approach to taxation across the country. As the Minister of Finance said, we have to get this right and we have to work with the provinces and territories. Budget implementation act, 2017, No. 2 will implement the framework for this coordinated approach when cannabis for non-medical use becomes legal in Canada, the intention being that this occur at the latest in the first half of 2018.
As I said, taxation is one of the key factors that support the objectives of cannabis legalization, but it is not the only one. The government plans to take a number of measures to regulate non-medical cannabis. There will also need to be investment in awareness and education programs to inform Canadians, especially young Canadians, of the risks to both health and safety associated with cannabis use.
Although access to cannabis for non-medical purposes will be restricted and strictly regulated, various federal agencies will also be required to do more. Public awareness campaigns will help inform Canadians about the dangers of driving under the influence of cannabis and other drugs.
Police forces will also need new tools to better detect drug-impaired drivers. Physical inspections at companies that produce cannabis will be necessary. We heard this during the Standing Committee on Finance's cross-Canada pre-budget tour. I am very pleased to see that the fall economic statement tabled last week allocates significant funding to the development of a new framework to regulate and restrict access to cannabis.
As I just mentioned, I was pleased to see that the fall economic statement allocates significant funding to the development of new legal frameworks. Health Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Canada Border Services Agency, and Public Safety Canada will all receive funding to ensure that they have the resources they need to issue licenses, conduct inspections, enforce all the aspects of the cannabis bill, and conduct meaningful public awareness and outreach.
In conclusion, the government's intention is to legalize cannabis for non-medical purposes in Canada. Legalization will keep cannabis out of the hands of youth and keep profits out of the hands of criminals. To support this dual objective, coordination between governments is essential. We are committed to working with the provinces and territories. The budget implementation act, 2017, No. 2 is part of the federal government's ongoing efforts in that regard.
I urge all hon. members to support this important legislation. It will help us give our children and grandchildren a stronger, better, and healthier Canada.