Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise in this House to speak to Bill C-63, the budget implementation bill, a second act to implement certain provisions of the budget, that was tabled earlier this year, in March.
As always, my comments are made on behalf of the residents of Davenport, who I am blessed to serve and who always inspire me with their passion for life, their love for their families, their love of community, and their desire to do their part to make our community, our country, and our world a better place.
In talking about the budget implementation bill, I would like to focus on what our budget this year does for women, for seniors, and, if I have time, for workers.
On women, our budget this year produced the first-ever budget gender statement, an assessment of how gender was considered in budget 2017 measures. For me this is vital to do, because I believe it is important to be transparent on how budgetary measures and spending are impacting women. This budget gender statement will not be a panacea for gender equity, but it will help the Canadian government assess and target how we can best allocate our resources so that both our men and women are supported equally. It is a long time coming, as there are many other countries that have already done this, but I am so glad we are doing it now and that we have committed to doing this on an ongoing basis.
One of the biggest stresses for Davenport parents continues to be the high cost of day care. Therefore, I was pleased to see that over $7 billion over a 10-year period was committed in budget 2017 to support and create more high-quality, affordable child care spaces across Canada. I know that our Minister of Families, Children and Social Development has worked hard with all the provinces to create a framework to foster fully inclusive early education and child care services across the country while respecting the needs and circumstances of each jurisdiction. Under the agreement, the federal government will send billions of dollars to the provinces and territories to focus on creating new child care spaces for families. Our plan is anticipated to create up to 40,000 new, affordable, accessible spaces across Canada over the next few years.
This is a good beginning. Indeed, this is a great beginning, and I think we need to go further and do more. Until we close the gap in women's participation in the workforce, until we ensure that every single family in Canada has access to affordable child care in this country, we have not finished our job.
There is currently a 10 percentage point gap between the labour force participation rates of men and women in Canada. According to the International Monetary Fund and a large body of research from a number of places around the world, the more women who enter the workforce, the more productive its economy will be. The best way to boost women's participation rates is to ensure not only affordable day care but also maximum flexibility for women in the workforce.
At this point, too many families in my riding still have to make a choice between either having one spouse at home to take care of the kids or having both parents work to earn enough to cover the high cost of day care in downtown Toronto, where the monthly costs are around $1,200 per month. Therefore, while we have made enormous, laudable progress, our work is not yet done.
One of the key areas I am very proud of that does support families and is helping with some of the costs of day care is our Canada child benefit. This is a huge benefit for working middle-class families in Davenport. I asked for the numbers to date with respect to the amount of money going to Davenport families, and what I received was this: from July 2016 to June 2017, there were a total of 9,210 payments, with an average payment of $5,880 for the year. The total amount that went to Davenport families over that one-year period was $54,164,000. That is an enormous amount. I know that Davenport families are very happy to have received this. I know that it goes a long way to support them, to support their lives, and to support their families.
I also should note that in the recent fall economic statement, which was released on October 24, the government announced that it would strengthen the Canada child benefit by indexing it to an annual increase in the cost of living, effective July 2018, which is two years earlier than planned. This will put more money in the pockets of Canadians immediately to help with the ever-increasing cost of living.
There is great progress and support for both women and families in our budget this year.
Now I want to move on to seniors. In the cold air of November that is a harbinger of the winter to come, the past summer now seems so long ago, but I did a lot of canvassing during the summer, and I had an interaction with a Davenport senior that is seared in my mind. The woman saw me canvassing, and she came up to me to tell me to make sure to tell the Prime Minister not to forget seniors. I relayed to her all the things we had done to support seniors. I told her we were going to continue to work hard to make sure that seniors continue to feel supported.
According to Statistics Canada, Canada's elderly poverty rate has fallen by a remarkable 25%, from 37% in 1976 to 12% in 2010. However, since the mid- to late 1990s, poverty rates have actually been growing among seniors, and 60% of low-income seniors are women. Therefore, I was very proud that as of July 2016, our government increased the guaranteed income supplement to $947 a month for the most vulnerable single seniors. We also restored the age of eligibility for OAS and GIS to 65 from 67. That will also go a long way to support our seniors, sooner rather than later, and make sure that they do not fall anywhere near the poverty level. I am pleased to say that this year's budget would take even more steps to support our seniors.
We have invested $6 billion over 10 years for home care. That will go a long way for those who want to be taken care of at home and not in hospitals. We have committed $2.3 billion over two years to expand affordable housing, which is expected to improve the housing conditions for all seniors, especially senior women. We provided an additional $4 million over two years to the enabling accessibility fund to improve the accessibility of public spaces. I know that is something that was very important for my mum, so I am glad that is something we have introduced right across the country. I am very proud of our Minister of Finance, who reached a historic agreement to enhance the Canada pension plan to ensure that there will be more money for Canadians when they retire.
A lot of work has been done to support our seniors. I want to give a shout-out to a couple of my colleagues who are doing such a tremendous job in terms of trying to make sure we create a national seniors strategy. They are my colleague from King—Vaughan and my colleague from Nickel Belt.
Finally are workers. The world of work is rapidly changing. What I hear are a lot of concerns about more contract work. We hear that there is more precarious work. There is more artificial intelligence and a continued loss of manufacturing jobs. In general, with the advances in communications technology, there is an anticipated way of working in the future that is causing quite a bit of consternation among many Davenport residents and among Canadians in general. Therefore, I am proud that our government has taken action to support workers who are looking to train in different jobs. There is also support for workers who are trying to improve or upgrade their skills, and there is more support in general for workers in an ever-changing workforce. Some of those changes include $2.7 billion over six years to boost skills training and employment supports for unemployed and underemployed Canadians. Under the labour market transfer agreements, we have put in $132 million over four years to expand flexibility within the employment insurance program to enable more unemployed workers to pursue self-funded training while remaining eligible for EI benefits.
I do not have time to go through the rest of the amazing things we are doing to support workers. There is more that needs to be done. One of the key areas I am hoping our government will start looking at is a basic income as a way to support workers in the future.
I will end on a wonderful note. Our economy is doing well. Over the last two years, we have created over 450,000 new full-time jobs. We have a historic low unemployment rate of 6.2%, the lowest since 2008. We have a youth unemployment rate at a historic low of 10.3%. Canada is the fastest growing economy in the G7, with an average rate of 3.7% over the last year. I know that more good news is to come.
I appreciate the wonderful opportunity to present on behalf of the residents of Davenport today, and I urge all my colleagues to support Bill C-63.