Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to stand up today, most importantly as the member of Parliament for Fredericton, to speak to the important nature of Bill C-24 that is before us today.
Folks in the region of the country I have the pleasure of representing have been quite amenable to the direction of this government as it relates to the importance of the diversity of views that are expressed at the cabinet table and throughout caucus, and, most importantly, that are brought from the communities of all members of Parliament to this place that help enrich the debate that we seek to have on a daily basis.
As the member for Fredericton, I would like to take this opportunity to tell my constituents about the merits of the bill before us today.
I will start with just a brief summary of the bill for people paying attention on this Thursday afternoon, or in some parts of the country still Thursday morning.
This enactment would amend the Salaries Act to include eight new ministerial positions, including the Minister of International Development and La Francophonie. Before I go any further, I want to talk to my experience working within La Francophonie.
In my previous career, I had the opportunity to work with leaders of francophone countries on important issues related to child and youth development. I know how important it is for the Government of Canada to have a full minister dedicated to important issues related to the Francophonie. That part of the world receives a significant portion of our development aid. I know that our current minister is focusing on Canada's leadership role in that forum.
The bill would also make the Minister of Science a full minister. Canadians were fed up after 10 years of the lack of evidence-based decision-making on the part of the Harper government. We made a commitment well before the election campaign that, were we to be fortunate enough to form government, we would base all of our actions on scientific evidence.
My interactions with the Minister of Science have only enriched my confidence that this is a government that in all aspects of decision-making ensures that we have the science right. Constituents throughout the Fredericton region, Oromocto, the Grand Lake region, and into New Maryland have confidence in our current Minister of Science.
My constituency is home to two world-class post-secondary institutions as well as a thriving community college. We rely on scientific evidence and support for fundamental science to help foster the type of economic development that is so important to our region, to our country, and quite frankly, to the entire world.
It is well worthy that this legislation deals with a Minister of Science at a full ministerial level.
Third, the bill would establish the Minister of Small Business and Tourism as a full minister with a full ministry. In Atlantic Canada there is no greater player than small business. Small businesses make up upward of 99.5% of the businesses in our community and we rely on them for economic growth, to employ people in our communities, and to employ students who graduate from our world-class universities and post-secondary institutions.
I think it is crucial for us to have a full-time minister focused on small and medium-sized businesses and on developing a regional tourism strategy. That is another important aspect of our economic growth.
I am sure that my colleague from Charlottetown would agree that tourism New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island is largely in the summer. However, if we can expand the tourist reach into the spring, fall, and winter, that will be incredibly important to the economy of our region. I am sure that the constituents watching today will agree that having a full-time minister of small business and tourism is important, and that our government is moving in the right direction in that respect.
I have some tremendous constituents doing fantastic work in advocacy as it relates to the importance of respecting the rights and listening to the voices of individuals who are living with an intellectual, physical, or cognitive disability, as well as the importance of family members and community as support systems around them. Therefore, to have a full minister of sport and persons with disabilities at the cabinet table, speaking about understanding the unique ability that each of us as Canadians have is certainly something that I believe in fully and I am happy to advocate on behalf of.
I also believe that my constituents think it is incredibly important to have a voice around the cabinet table making important decisions about the way that we invest in community infrastructure. For example, we need to be taking into account the unique rights, needs, and abilities of persons who live with a disability in the way that we build communities that will allow for socio-economic benefits for years to come, that are socially inclusive, and that lead to economic growth so that people with disabilities can be employed and access the services they need. That is an important voice to have at the cabinet table as a full ministry.
With the time that remains I will touch on two things. The first is the importance of having a full minister of status of women, which in this day and age is absolutely necessary to reflect the views of 51% of the population in our country. We know when women are given an equal opportunity to succeed in the economy that economic growth is better. If we look at the last two years since we formed government, across this country unemployment is at the lowest it has been in over a decade. Almost 600,000 jobs have been created in those two years, most of which are full-time jobs. Economic growth is at levels not seen in about 17 years, since the previous Liberal government. Focusing on women in economic roles, and the social inclusion of women and girls in all aspects, is a tremendously important part of the actions our government takes.
Just briefly, as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, I can tell this House and the Canadians watching at home that our allies in countries that are developing in regions far away from us are taking notice of our leadership on gender equality and gender issues around the world. We need to stay on this track. Canada can make an important contribution to the world, not just in the near term but in the long term, helping create greater social inclusion for more people and greater economic growth, not just for ourselves but for regions abroad.
Finally, the importance of regional economic development for our government is absolutely fundamental. I can tell members that is no more evident than in this government's support for an Atlantic growth strategy, which sees the highest levels of government here in Ottawa supporting work being done in Atlantic Canada. It is an absolutely wonderful collaboration between the Government of Canada, with the leads of the ministers at the federal level in those four Atlantic regions, working with the premiers and their counterparts to invest in economic development through people. What better way to grow the economy than through immigration, bringing newcomers and their families into our region; investing in strategic infrastructure that respects our traditional ways of work and investing in new and exciting opportunities like IT, cybersecurity; and really enhancing opportunities through the ocean economy in our region? Trade, investment, and clean growth are another couple of elements that make up our government's view of the importance of regional economic development in our country.
I see I am running out of time. I wish I had more to go on with, but I will be happy to answer questions from my colleagues in this House.