House of Commons Hansard #159 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was 2017.

Topics

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

NDP

Kennedy Stewart NDP Burnaby South, BC

Madam Speaker, the balance I am thinking about in this budget is the platform that was presented to Canadians in the last election and in this budget. They seem completely imbalanced. We have promises that Canadians voted upon in good faith, and now they are not being delivered on.

In my riding of Burnaby South there has not been a single unit of affordable housing built by the government, nor will there be a unit built by the next election. That is because the money is so back-end-loaded in this budget. That applies if we are dealing with issues such as affordable housing, but it also applies to things like climate change. Again we see that money that was promised has been extracted from this budget. Over and over again, we see broken promises.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Conservative

Dianne Lynn Watts Conservative South Surrey—White Rock, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his comments, especially for those around the green energy strategy.

The Conservative government started signing agreements in 2007, and then in 2010 there was another one with Sweden. We funded genome innovation clusters research, digital research, and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, and of course we set up the green infrastructure fund.

As the member said, in his community there are some clean energy facilities, as there are in mine, such as a biofuel facility and Endurance Wind. Many cities are doing a lot of work. The foundation was put in under the Conservative government for a lot of these things to be funded, and through PPP Canada as well.

I wonder if he could talk a little bit about bringing all of these pieces together under a national strategy for clean energy.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

NDP

Kennedy Stewart NDP Burnaby South, BC

Madam Speaker, what we are seeing on the other side is really a lack of vision. I have been here since 2011, and I have said this before: the last government under Stephen Harper was at least organized, while this Liberal government seems to be scrambling from issue to issue.

The Liberals seem to be unprepared to be government. We are seeing this in the lack of bills that get through this House. We see it in the lack of an overall vision. On the file for which I am responsible, science, we see piecemeal policies being put forward. We see budgets that are not comprehensive, and then we have broken promise after broken promise.

I agree with the member. What we really need is overall strategies for how we transition. Then perhaps we could talk about how this would look in future governments, but as far as I am concerned, this government is all talk and no action.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

NDP

Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet NDP Hochelaga, QC

Madam Speaker, I know that renewable energy is very important to my colleague. I wonder if, like me, he noticed in the budget that the government is not renewing the eco-energy program to help make homes more energy efficient. There is also no initiative for building green homes. This could not only provide homeowners with better energy efficiency, but also create jobs, while lowering heating bills.

Does the hon. member agree that this budget generally lacks a progressive vision with regard to environmental protection?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

NDP

Kennedy Stewart NDP Burnaby South, BC

Madam Speaker, we hear the promises and there was a great bluster when we signed the Paris accord and all those promises were made by the Liberal government, but then we see the practical implication of that, which is cutting bus pass tax credits.

Actions are not meeting words here. It is a great shame. There was a great opportunity, a great will to more forward to tackle climate change, but we are seeing failure from the government. We need a comprehensive strategy.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

Yves Robillard Liberal Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Avalon.

With spring in the air, I rise in the House with great optimism to speak to budget 2017. However, before saying anything more, I would first like to take this opportunity to thank my constituents. I have had the privilege of rising in the House for more than a year thanks to their confidence in me. Today, I want to thank them.

I am very proud of the people in my riding and they are the reason why I became involved in politics. I have said it before and I will say it again, my riding of Marc-Aurèle-Fortin is enriched by its people. I was proud of what budget 2016 gave my constituents and all Canadians, including the Canada child benefit, which has helped lift 300,000 of our children out of poverty.

Today, I am just as proud of budget 2017 for the following reasons. First, it shows compassion to our veterans and the most vulnerable Canadians. It manifests a visionary confidence in our youth and our businesses. The Canada child benefit is a fair and compassionate initiative that targets our children and remedies an unacceptable vulnerability.

Many of the measures announced in budget 2017 reflect the same values, beginning with measures for our veterans. We are announcing a new veterans' education and training benefit. We are also committed to enhancing the career transition services program so veterans can successfully transition to the civilian workforce. Veterans and their families have made many sacrifices. In return, we need to ensure that they do no become vulnerable.

I have been a member of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons With Disabilities for over a year now. This fall, the committee spent several of its meetings discussing affordable housing, so committee members were very pleased with budget 2017's significant support for affordable housing to ensure the security and independence of some of the most vulnerable members of society, such as seniors and people with disabilities who need accessible or adapted housing.

Another file that I have spent a lot of time on over the past few months in committee is technology, specifically, digital literacy as a springboard for our youth and our most vulnerable citizens. The government responded to that need in its new budget with a $22.3-million investment over five years to set up a new accessible technology development program. This program will make it easier for Canadians with disabilities to participate in the digital world and its economy.

There is support for seniors too. Our government announced a $29.5-million investment over five years for a new digital literacy exchange program to support non-profit organizations to implement initiatives that teach basic digital skills and so on to seniors. Imagine classes in Laval where seniors can learn how to use iPads. Imagine an individual who transcends his or her disability and develops a smartphone app to help others.

Budget 2017 sends a clear message that our government is looking to the future, but is not forgetting to ensure that the most vulnerable in our society benefit from technological progress.

I want to talk about the future, since we often hear that our youth best represent the future. Young people will also benefit from the government's vision. In fact, our government announced a $50-million investment over two years to support a program for youth, from kindergarten age up, teaching them how to write code and giving them the tools they need for the digital era.

This means that we are investing in our young people and giving them the means to become the next big innovators in digital technology, and not just one or two, but a dozen of them.

Robert Kennedy talked about a tiny ripple of hope, but that one measure alone represents a tidal wave of hope and potential for the future of our society. I have talked about the importance of such a measure many times in committee. Seeing it become a reality in budget 2017 makes me so proud. This measure comes with two other major investments in our young people. The PromoScience program will get a boost. This existing program is designed to give kids hands-on learning experiences in order to promote the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

As a former teacher, I am also pleased to see that we are working on expanding eligibility for student loans and grants. Our budget supports students, but it also supports our young, ambitious entrepreneurs. We are investing to renew funding for Futurpreneur Canada to support the next generation of entrepreneurs through mentorship and funding.

The budget supports both current and future entrepreneurs because we are investing in fostering international trade opportunities for Canadian companies.

Clearly, with the announcement of such measures for our entrepreneurs and our economy, we have cause to be optimistic in the riding of Marc-Aurèle-Fortin and from coast to coast.

I will close by coming back to what I said about the budget last year. I said that budget 2016 helped build our society brick by brick. Budget 2017 will allow us to continue to make our society a place where we strive to take better care of the most vulnerable. Budget 2017 allows us to do so with compassion, while facing the future boldly and confidently. That is how we will continue to strengthen the middle class.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

Conservative

Dianne Lynn Watts Conservative South Surrey—White Rock, BC

Madam Speaker, I was really pleased to hear my colleague's words about addressing the issues for the most vulnerable, so I would like him to give us the rationale behind the removal of the transit credit for the most vulnerable, the people who use transit, and the rationale behind the fact that there is no money for child care in the budget for next year. Also, on the national housing strategy, the dollars are not flowing until after the next election. While I am really thrilled to hear about helping the most vulnerable, can he tell me how he can square that?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

Liberal

Yves Robillard Liberal Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my opposition colleague for the question.

Our government is committed to the well-being of our seniors. Last year, we increased the guaranteed income supplement for seniors living alone. This year, as I said in my speech, we announced significant support for initiatives related to affordable housing, thereby promoting the security and independence of seniors who need improved accessibility in their home.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

NDP

Karine Trudel NDP Jonquière, QC

Madam Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague's speech. He spoke about the future and the most vulnerable Canadians, but he only touched on the issue of veterans. That is probably because there is not much for them in the most recent budget.

The government really missed an opportunity to implement the recommendations of our veterans, especially with regard to the need to provide them and their families with permanent financial security.

We can find nothing in the budget that gives them financial security. I would like to know how my colleague explains that.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Yves Robillard Liberal Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Madam Speaker, I will talk about something that I am very interested in and that goes to my colleague's question as well.

I invite her to read the results of the defence policy review when they are released. It just so happens that they address the issue of veterans. I am convinced that this document will give us the tools and information we need to move forward and better support our troops.

The well-being of our troops and veterans is always a top priority for this government.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, my question is related to infrastructure. As the member is fully aware, Canada's historic amount of investment in our infrastructure will in fact assist our middle class in growing, and will invest in Canada in every region of our great nation. I wonder if the member could provide his thoughts on the important commitment we have seen from this government toward Canada's infrastructure, because all communities benefit from it. Could he provide some of his thoughts on just how important Canada's infrastructure is?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Yves Robillard Liberal Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question.

Among the other measures in budget 2017, there is a $1.26 billion investment for the creation of the strategic innovation fund, which will help our businesses continue to make Canada a leader in innovation, clean technologies, and many other vibrant and emerging sectors.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Ken McDonald Liberal Avalon, NL

Madam Speaker, I welcome the opportunity today to speak in support of budget 2017 and all the work our government is doing that continues to build a strong middle class of Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

I am pleased with the continued investments by our government in my home province of Newfoundland and Labrador and, more specific, in my riding of Avalon. We continue to make significant investments in infrastructure and in our communities, but we are also making good investments in our youth, working Canadians, and seniors.

Following in the footsteps of budget 2016, this budget offers immediate help to those who need it most and helps ensure everyone has a real and fair chance of success.

A strengthened middle class means that hard-working Canadians can look forward to a good standard of living and better prospects for our children. By investing in the projects Canada needs and the people who can build them, we can strengthen and grow the middle class and make our communities an even better place to call home.

Over the past year, our government has put in place a plan to grow the economy in a way that works for the middle class and those working hard to join it. Taxes were raised on the wealthiest 1% so we could cut taxes for the middle class. We introduced a new Canada child benefit that would give more money to nine out of 10 children and lifts thousands out of poverty.

My home province of Newfoundland and Labrador continues to struggle with the financial mess that was caused by years of previous provincial overspending and financial mismanagement. Unfortunately, Newfoundland and Labrador suffered from years of an uncooperative approach and no collaboration with the previous federal government. A total lack of trust and personal vendettas with the previous administration set our province years behind.

As an example, after the last federal election we found the allocated federal infrastructure funding was never applied for or provided to Newfoundland and Labrador. A total lack of trust and disrespect saw some $350 million of infrastructure funding not being invested in our communities.

Things have changed, and I am proud of the co-operation between all levels of government.

Just this past Friday, I was delighted to stand with one of my provincial colleagues and the mayor of Placentia to announce a strategic investment whereby all three levels of government contributed to ensure much needed improvements to the Placentia Culture and Heritage Centre would be completed, and I did the same thing just two weeks ago in the town of Holyrood.

It is great. We are co-operating and we are getting things done.

However, it is not all about big infrastructure projects about which our constituents are talking. In my riding, people come up to me every day and express their gratitude for the things their federal government is doing for them, but is everything great? No it is not.

Our fishery and those involved in the industry are going through a difficult transition. We are transitioning from a lucrative shellfish-based industry to the realization of a future industry based on groundfish and aquaculture. We are very fortunate to have a Minister of Fisheries in Ottawa who has a keen interest and understands the complexities of the Newfoundland and Labrador fishing industry. I am very confident that his decisions around the quota reductions in the shellfish resource and his cautious approach to ensure the return of healthy groundfish stock is done with the best intention of the resource and the people who work in the industry.

Our government has stepped up to the plate to help Atlantic Canadians in the fishing industry with the Atlantic fisheries fund. This $325 million investment will transform and drive innovation in the fish and seafood sector in Canada, with a focus on developing the sector to better meet growing market demands for sustainably sourced, high quality fish and seafood products. The fund will position the sector for even greater future success by supporting national market access, creating jobs for the middle class, and supporting coastal communities that rely on the sector.

The Atlantic fisheries fund will encourage innovative ways to harvest, process, and deliver the highest quality and sustainably sourced fish and seafood products from Canada's wild capture and aquaculture fisheries.

Our most recent budget contains important new initiatives that will help middle-class Canadians be more productive in the workforce and more adaptable to ever-changing family dynamics.

I want to speak for a few minutes on some of these initiatives, including changes to the employment insurance program that promotes new training opportunities and assists with the aspects of lifelong learning and making employment insurance more flexible for families around caregiving and parental benefits.

I also want to speak about our new investments in child care and housing. These initiatives are important to Canadians but more specific, they are important to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

Budget 2017 is the next step in our government's ambitious plan to make smart investments that will create jobs, grow our economy, and provide more opportunities for middle-class Canadians. Our budget put Canada's greatest strength, its skilled, talented, and creative people, at the heart of a more innovative future economy, one that will create middle-class jobs today and tomorrow. We will equip Canada's workers with the tools they need to succeed in the economy of the future.

We are committed to better support adult workers returning to school, who face the high cost of post-secondary education, along with the financial pressures associated with daily life and raising their families. Our budget outlines how we will significantly boost federal support to provinces and territories by $2.7 billion over six years to help more unemployed and underemployed Canadians access the training and employment support they need to find and keep good jobs.

Furthermore, we will ensure Canadians receiving EI are able to get the training they need without fear of losing the critical benefits they may depend on to support themselves and families.

Recognizing that Canada prosperity will increasingly depend on young people getting the skills and training needed to access the good, well-paying jobs of the future, we are further increasing our investments in our youth employment strategy.

Family caregivers are so important in every one of our communities. As such, we will better support caregivers by creating a new EI caregiving benefit of up to 15 weeks. This new benefit will cover a broader range of situations where individuals are providing care to an adult family member who requires significant support in order to recover from a critical illness or injury.

Parents of critically ill children will continue to have access to up to 35 weeks' benefits, with additional flexibility to share these benefits with more family members.

Parental benefits are such an important advantage for young families functioning in our workforce. Proposed changes will allow parents to choose to receive EI parental benefits over an extended period of up 18 months, but will also continue to be available for the existing 12 month benefit. Our government believes in offering flexibility to make the lives of young Canadians that much easier.

Child care is another huge pillar of budget 2017. I am very proud of our additional $7 billion investment over 10 years to support and create more high-quality, affordable child care spaces across the country. Over the next three years, our investments could increase the number of affordable child care spaces for low and modest income families by supporting up to 40,000 new subsidized child care spaces. This will make it more affordable for parents to return to work, with thousands of parents more likely to enter the workforce once child care is made more affordable.

As housing needs vary greatly by community, our government is committed to working with the provinces and territories to ensure the unique needs of communities all across Canada can be met. Over the next 11 years, $3.2 billion will be provided to support key priorities for affordable housing. These priorities could include the construction of new affordable housing units, the renovation and repair of existing housing, rent subsidies and other measures to make housing more affordable, safer, and accessible for seniors, persons with disabilities, and other individuals requiring accessibility modifications.

I was very pleased to stand last year to support budget 2016, which had a huge and real impact on our youth, working Canadians, and our seniors. I am equally pleased to stand now, on behalf of my constituents in the riding of Avalon, to support brand new and very strategic initiatives in budget 2017.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.

Conservative

Jim Eglinski Conservative Yellowhead, AB

Madam Speaker, the Liberal government has cut $8.5 billion from the National Defence budget this year. That is now $12 billion if we take into consideration what was cut last year.

Last summer our caucus held coast-to-coast round table discussions with many communities. From these discussions, people told us very clearly that they wanted to see the military spending increased, and our military itself increased and modernized.

Could the member please tell me how we can do this when the government has cut military funding in the last two years by $12 billion?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Ken McDonald Liberal Avalon, NL

Madam Speaker, it is hard to figure out the opposition. One day members are telling us we are spending too fast and too much. The next minute they condemn us for not spending enough, so I do not know which way they want it. They cannot have both sides of the cake at one time.

We are making strategic investments in the Canadian Armed Forces. We are making strategic investments in our veterans, and we will continue to do that for the men and women who wear the uniform.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.

NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Madam Speaker, I must thank my friend from Avalon, who I went with to the east coast with the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. We visited his community and we met with cod fishermen and fishermen in Miramichi to talk about the decline of the Atlantic cod and the Atlantic salmon. We found out that we had a lot in common on the west coast and the east coast. There was a lack of investment in restoration, in enhancement, and in salmon habitat protection.

We know that it is a clear map to the return of our stocks in our fishery if we make critical investments. When I say critical, I am talking about the urgency of the situation. We had record low returns in the Somass River of sockeye recently, and we have seen a record decline in our fish on the west coast. We need our fish for the cultural and economic health of our communities.

We know, as coastal people, the importance of our fish. Why has the government not invested any new money in enhancement or restoration, given the critical situation we are facing and the decline of our fish?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Ken McDonald Liberal Avalon, NL

Madam Speaker, I would tell the hon. member that we all enjoyed that visit to my home community when we met with the fishermen. As I said in my speech, we are investing in the fisheries. For my home province and the Atlantic provinces, we just announced a $325-million fund. This fund will be available for processors, for fisheries, and for education. It will encompass it all, and the money will flow to all the provinces. We want to see the fishery of tomorrow be the real fishery of the future, and that is what the money will be used for. It will concentrate not only on what is taken out of the water but on what is in the water and stays there to make sure our stocks are healthy for the future.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Conservative

Dianne Lynn Watts Conservative South Surrey—White Rock, BC

Madam Speaker, I was happy hear that the budget offers immediate help, but if we look at child care and at the housing strategy, there is no money this year. For homelessness, there is zero this year and zero next year. For cultural and recreational infrastructure, there is zero this year and zero next year. For disability accessibility, there is zero this year and zero next year. For creating Canada's clean growth economy, there is zero this year and zero next year. For skills training, there is nothing this year, and in some sectors, nothing next year. For skills innovation and middle-class jobs, there is nothing this year.

Could the member please explain what he means by offering immediate help?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Ken McDonald Liberal Avalon, NL

Madam Speaker, again, I will go back to how I responded earlier to one of the questions. The same party condemns us for spending, and then when we bring in a budget, they ask why we are not spending it all this year. We were elected on a four-year platform, and we will continue to work on that and prepare for the future, whether it be for the middle class, education, or innovation.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

April 4th, 2017 / 11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Bobby Morrissey Liberal Egmont, PE

Madam Speaker, I will be sharing my time this morning with the hon. member for Parkdale—High Park.

I welcome the opportunity this morning to speak in support of budget 2017 and all the work our government is doing to continue to build a strong economy in the country from coast to coast to coast.

Before I get into my comments on the budget, I want to first congratulate all the volunteers and organizers who helped ensure that O'Leary, Prince Edward Island, was named Kraft Hockeyville 2017.

O'Leary is a small community in my riding. I want to acknowledge the tremendous work of its volunteer committee, made up of members Della Sweet, Jo-Anne Wallace, Tammy Rix, Bill MacKendrick, and Dean Getson, for their tireless effort to ensure that this community would win Hockeyville 2017. It has already received $100,000 for facility upgrades to its arena. It will be hosting an NHL pre-season game between the Ottawa Senators and the New Jersey Devils. This is a significant accomplishment for a small community with a population of less than 1,000. Therefore, I want to acknowledge this tremendous effort. It was an island-wide effort. Indeed, the effort was from coast to coast, as people were supporting it. I am pleased that I also took part in it.

I briefly want to acknowledge budget 2017 and the positive impact on my home province of Prince Edward Island. The budget would increase transfer equalization payments by $10.1 million from the previous year. There would be $152 million through the Canada health transfer, which is an increase of $4.6 million, and $56 million through the Canada social transfer, which is an increase of $1.7 million.

I am pleased that the government would provide Prince Edward Island with an estimated $45.1 million in the next decade, of which $24.6 million would be dedicated to better home care, including for addressing critical home care infrastructure requirements, and $20.5 million would be allocated to support mental health initiatives in the province. These are issues I heard a lot about during the campaign in the summer and fall of 2015: the issue of home care and support for our aging population, seniors; and the growing issue of mental illness and the need to provide more services. I was pleased that our government recognized that my home province was meeting additional challenges in these areas and required additional funding to make sure that the citizens of Prince Edward Island have access to health care that is equal to that enjoyed across the country.

I want to touch briefly on a specific issue my colleague from Newfoundland spoke to a little earlier, and that is the significant new announcement by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans of $325 million to support innovative technological investments in the fish sector on the east coast, in fish processing facilities, and in training upgrades to bring this industry into this century. It is recognition that we must invest in technology to ensure that our first-class seafood is processed in the most innovative manner to allow us to stay competitive in the international market.

As well, this budget would continue on from budget 2016 by allocating an additional $5 million to small craft harbours, which are essential to a successful fishery. This would follow on an investment last year of $149 million. These are strategic investments in strategic infrastructure on the east coast to support the very important fishery on Prince Edward Island.

While addressing the budget today, I want to focus on three areas that I feel are important in our society. Those three areas speak to the heart of what a government is expected to do in the area of strong social policy and social supports.

Governments, after all, always have to meet the challenge of managing the affairs of a country with methods close to the private sector. At the same time, they have a social responsibility to ensure that people do not slip through the cracks and that they have access to programs and funding to ensure that they have equally productive lives in this country.

I did a little research. The 2016 budget was an historic one, with the transfer of a significant amount of money to children in this country. I do not have to go into detail. There have been various debates in the House on this issue. Why I am referring to this is that when I look back at three very significant social programs in the country, they were all initiated by Liberal governments.

The first family allowance in Canada was issued on February 20, 1945. Mackenzie King was prime minister of the country. The first family allowance cheques to Canadian mothers was $5 a month for each child under the age of five, $6 for children aged six to nine, $7 for those aged 10 to 12, and $8 for teenagers 13 to 15 years of age.

My riding is small compared to some of the larger ridings in the country. In one month, in my small riding, our government's child tax benefit, and this is an estimated figure, is $2.31 million. It is money that goes to children in my riding of Egmont. That is a significant benefit to children, families, and single-parent families in my riding. That is one of the signature initiatives of our government. It started last year and we are continuing to build on it this year. It is $2.31 million for a program that was started in 1945 by a Liberal prime minister. It shows that our government recognizes that we have a responsibility to make sure that children have every opportunity in life. The Canada child benefit is the tool that does that. It is one of the initiatives I have been most proud of since I became a member of Parliament.

As well, the first mandatory old age security system, in 1927, was under Mackenzie King. A non-contributory program, the system was later updated by Prime Minister St. Laurent in 1957 and by Prime Minister Pearson in 1965. It is interesting to note that universality was repealed for a while by the Mulroney government in 1989. Again, the old age security system, one of the hallmarks of Canadian society, was an initiative introduced by a Liberal government.

I was pleased that our government was able to recognize that seniors most in need, single seniors, were depending on OAS and GIS, and we raised that by $90 a month in the last budget.

The final issue I want to talk about briefly is the employment insurance system. I was pleased that in this budget, our government recognizes that a deterrent to skills training and higher education is that people on employment insurance cannot take training on their own initiative for fear of losing the benefits they depend on. We recognize this. It is an issue I long championed as a provincial politician. Why not allow people who are out of work to access training, upgrade their skills, and receive employment insurance at the same time?

That is why I am proud to support this budget. These three social programs are pillars of what defines Canada as a nation, and I am delighted to support budget 2017.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet NDP Hochelaga, QC

Madam Speaker, this morning, in the all-party anti-poverty caucus, a doctor told us about one of his patients whose mental and physical health had been affected by the presence of mould in her apartment and who was unable to find affordable social housing because the waiting lists are too long.

In Hochelaga, as in Montreal, there are over 20,000 people on the waiting lists, and the situation in Toronto is even worse. Many people cannot afford decent housing and that is affecting them. However, what the Liberals are telling them in this budget is that, even though they are in crisis and there is mould in their home, they will have to wait because 90% of the money will not be allocated until after the next election and 50% of the money will not be allocated until two elections from now.

How can the Liberals look those most in need in the eye and tell them that they will have to wait a little longer?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Bobby Morrissey Liberal Egmont, PE

Madam Speaker, that is a good question. At least our government has recognized that there is a crisis in housing in large urban centres, as in other communities across the country. Our government recognized that crisis by announcing the largest single investment in housing in some time in this country.

The very issues that my hon. colleague referred to are issues that our government is sensitive to and aware of. We are the first government in some time to put a commitment in the budget to begin to recognize this situation across the country and to make investments in housing in major centres across the country.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Madam Speaker, I want to thank the member for talking about youth mental health. For over a decade on the west coast, primarily in the Nuu-chah-nulth communities, we have had a high number of youth suicides. We have had many suicide attempts, and recently there was a significant spike in the Nuu-chah-nulth communities.

We recently asked the government for funding for one full-time child and youth counsellor and one full-time adult counsellor. We asked for funding to build capacity for cultural healers, to include an opportunity for an intensive traditional healing space, and also for funding to build an apartment for external support services.

The support staff are working overtime. We have some staff who have worked 21 days straight, and still there is no help. Not only have we not seen any money for first nations youth in this budget, but we have not even heard back from the minister on our request.

Children are dying in our communities. This is not okay. In spite of its clear promise and multiple rulings from the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, the government refuses to end discrimination in funding for first nations child welfare. The member stood in the House and voted for our motion calling for an immediate investment of $155 million to close this gap, but the budget does not contain a nickel of it. Does the member believe that the government should comply with the Human Rights Tribunal and end this discrimination so that we can save these children's lives and provide the adequate resources that are needed right now, urgently?

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Bobby Morrissey Liberal Egmont, PE

Madam Speaker, the first priority of the government is to recognize that there is an issue and a serious challenge in parts of this country. Beginning during the election campaign and since this session of Parliament began, our government has made a number of commitments to begin addressing the wrongs that the former government put toward our first nations communities. A lot of work still has to be done, but in the last two budgets our government has recognized that this is a priority and that we have to put money into these areas. That is why I was pleased to see in the budget that we will begin looking at areas such as mental health issues across the country.

Financial Statement of Minister of FinanceThe BudgetGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I wonder if my colleague could provide some of his thoughts with regard to the Canada summer students program. We talk about trying to provide opportunities for young people, and with this government we have seen significant increases within that program that will have an effect in all of the different regions of Canada. Could the member provide some of his thoughts and reflections on the importance of that increase?