Mr. Speaker, at the outset, I would like to note that I will be splitting my time with the member for Brampton East.
We have a youth council in my riding of Beaches—East York, chaired by two intelligent young women, Faiza and Noor. We meet once a month to talk about policy issues, about issues I should raise in Ottawa. They are helping our office host a drug policy town hall on April 19. When we last met, these young Canadians highlighted two particular issues.
The first issue was the boil water advisories on first nation reserves. There is a consensus that 150 years after Confederation, in a modern country such as ours, it is unacceptable for so many indigenous Canadians to be without access to a safe water supply.
In last year's budget, we committed $8.4 billion, over five years, to indigenous communities across Canada. This year's budget proposes an additional $3.4 billion, over five years, beginning next year. These investments are focused on better on-reserve housing; education, including new schools; health and, yes, clean water.
Yesterday, ourfinance minister noted that 18 long-term drinking water advisories had been lifted in first nation communities, with 71 still to go. Budget 2017 notes that we are on track to eliminate more than 60% of the remaining advisories within three years, and all by March 2021.
The second issue raised was youth employment. The theme is a common one. Young Canadians cannot get work experience without a job and cannot get a job without work experience. The question is principally one of skills and experience, not direct job creation but creating the conditions for job creation.
In budget 2017, we are focused on building those skills for young Canadians, with an additional $400 million over three years for the youth employment strategy, an ambitious goal, providing 10,000 co-op placements, an emphasis on digital skills and coding education for young Canadians, and more opportunities for STEM learning activities for Canadian youth. In the words of our finance minister, “We will help students get the skills and work experience they need to kick-start their careers.”
As an aside, it is important to note that we are investing in skills training beyond youth as well.
Speaking to the budget more broadly, our finance minister described it as both ambitious and responsible. It builds on the ambitious agenda set forth in our election platform, in the throne speech, in budget 2016, and it does so in a responsible way.
Building on our infrastructure plans in budget 2016 and the fall economic statement, this year's budget reiterates our commitment to investing in public transit and lays out a foundation for a national housing strategy and a national child care and early learning framework.
On child care and early learning, this budget provides $7 billion over 10 years, starting in 2018-19. It will help create more quality, affordable child care spaces across the country. That is over $500 million each year, 2018-19 and 2019-20. As a young parent, and hello to my wife and my seven-month-old Mackinlay back home, we have also made changes to help parents by making EI parental benefits more flexible. I have no idea how anyone manages to raise children in the city of Toronto without the help of parents or family. I am lucky to have parents to help with Mackinlay.
Our proposed changes will allow parents to choose to receive EI parental benefits over an extended period of up to 18 months and meet the platform commitment to do just that. EI parental benefits will continue to be available at the existing rate of 55% over a period of up to 12 months. However, if parents wish, they can take it up to 18 months at a lower benefit rate of 33% of average weekly earnings.
On housing, budget 2016 provided $2.2 billion over two years to give more Canadians access to more affordable housing. To build on these efforts, budget 2017 proposes to invest more than $11 billion over 11 years in a variety of initiatives to build, renew, and repair Canada's stock of affordable housing, to ensure Canadians have the affordable housing to meet their needs.
Mayor Tory has said that the 2017 budget improvements to the city's transit and housing infrastructure will ensure a stronger Toronto and that many of the funding commitments will help city council to build up a stronger and fairer Toronto. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities has said that this budget's allocation-based transit plan puts cities in the driver's seat like never before and it creates a real opportunity to address the housing crises.
I have spoken before in the House of different kinds of deficits. For example, there are paper deficits and there are infrastructure deficits. When one considers how spending is allocated in budget 2017, it is important to remember that in many cases, including infrastructure spending, inaction costs more than action over the long term. Investments now are not only a matter of social progress; they are also a matter of fiscal prudence. The significant costs of inaction underlines much of budget 2017, from housing to tackling climate change to the new bilateral health agreements, and focus on home care.
On climate change, budget 2017 proposes to increase financing support for Canada's clean technology sector by making available more equity financing, working capital, and project financing to promising clean technology firms. Nearly $1.4 billion in new financing on a cash basis will be made available to Canada's clean technology sector.
As I represent a waterfront riding, I note that budget 2017 clearly states that supporting clean freshwater is an utmost priority and commits $70 million to protect our freshwater resources, to focus efforts on reducing toxic chemicals to improve water quality, biodiversity conservation, and sustainable use.
Environmental Defence has cheered measures on climate, including new energy efficiency standards for buildings. Budget 2017 would also modify the tax treatment for successful oil and gas test drilling to better reflect the reality of today's exploration technology and the principle that polluters should pay their fair share.
The government has also come to a number of bilateral health agreements with the provinces. In doing so, we seek to address the mental health funding gap; $6 billion over 10 years for home care and $5 billion over 10 years to support mental health initiatives. I would note, without going into detail, significant efforts to consolidate caregiving benefits will make a real difference to those looking after their elderly parents and family members.
This year's budget, building as it does on budget 2016, ambitiously seeks to build our country's critical infrastructure and our ability to meet the added challenges of climate change, an aging population, and an economy that continues to become more knowledge based. It does so in a responsible way.
The finance minister has referenced the fiscal anchor and our responsibility to ensure a continued decline in net debt to GDP. Our fiscal health will continue to improve, alongside the critical investments I have mentioned.
We remain committed to tax fairness. In addition to the budget allocation in 2016 to the CRA, we are investing an additional $520 million over five years to tackle tax evasion and improve tax compliance.
We have also made significant efforts to simplify the tax code.
I have had a number of constituents already raise concerns about the public transit tax credit. I would note, though, that with these tax credits, including the public transit tax credit, there is no evidence that it encourages additional participation. There is a low participation rate. I have used this tax credit. One has to save one's metro passes and file the requisite paperwork. For $200 or $250, it is a significant amount of effort for relatively low payoff. We are better off providing those targeted investments at the outset to make transit more affordable for everyone. It will increase participation if we did so.
We do not talk about data collection enough. In this budget, we talk about data collection with respect to housing and health. Specifically, with the health care system, there is an investment of $53 million over five years to the Canadian Institute for Health Information. In the city of Toronto, for housing in particular, affordable housing is quickly growing out of reach for those my age and younger. Statistics are very important for us to identify the problem and tackle it properly. The budget promises to give Statistics Canada almost $40 million over five years to develop and implement a housing statistics framework.
On data collection more broadly, it is largely about measuring success. Of course, we measure success against specific goals. This includes economic growth generally, but also the creation of economic opportunities on a more equitable basis, including by gender. To that end, a full chapter in budget 2017 applies a gender-based analysis to federal spending. This is an important step. It will help inform future budgets and spending. My youth council has highlighted gender equality, and this is one step to greater equality. Equal Voice lauded budget 2017 for its gender lens, noting it changed the way a government makes spending decisions.
There are other lenses to apply. I know my youth council is also interested in seeing a generational analysis applied to federal spending. We have done a lot for young Canadians in the budget, and we will continue to do a lot for them. A generational analysis will help us to measure how we are doing in relation to other age groups. It has been advocated by an organization called Generation Squeeze. I look forward to working with the parliamentary budget office to make it a reality.