Mr. Speaker, I want to start by congratulating our Minister of Finance for delivering on our promises to help the middle class and those trying to join it.
Our first budget appears to have had the desired effect. The new Canada child benefit has helped hundreds of thousands of families improve their standard of living. I recently had coffee with someone who works in poverty reduction in the city of Toronto. She confirmed to me how the CCB has affected so many of the people she serves.
I do not have to go far to find families and children helped by the CCB. I routinely run into people who say that it has changed their way of life. Our office has assisted constituents who needed to file their income tax to qualify for the CCB. They have told us the impact it will have on their lives. The CCB is really a game changer.
I want to share some of the statistics from my riding of Scarborough—Rouge Park. In October 2016, the Canada child benefit helped 17,250 children, in 9,930 families, with an average benefit of $670, totalling close to $6.7 million. Let me remind my colleagues that this is approximately $670 per month tax free. These payments were not made to millionaires but to those who need it, based on their income.
This is the type of program that will help grow our middle class. It will allow young people to engage in things like soccer, hockey, gym, and music. It will provide better housing. It will provide better Internet access. It can help families in any way they need to improve their standard of life.
Building on this and other initiatives from the 2016 budget, our Minister of Finance and his team have crafted a budget for 2017 to support Canadians. I am therefore very proud to speak in support of this budget.
I will focus on three aspects of the budget: first, support for caregivers; second, innovation; and third, support for housing.
Last month, at the Malvern Family Resource Centre, our Prime Minister, along with the Minister of Health and my friend, the member for Scarborough Centre, met with many of my constituents who are the primary caregivers for their loved ones. The Malvern Family Resource Centre is a state-of-the-art facility that supports people of all generations with early years programs through to seniors programs. It has incredible leadership, with Girmalla Persaud, its executive director, at the helm. In 2016 it had 559 volunteers, who worked just under 20,000 hours to help this community.
At this gathering, the Prime Minister was able to speak to caregivers about how the proposed changes would improve, expand, and simplify the current caregiver tax credit system by replacing the existing credit programs with the new Canada caregiver credit. Budget 2017 would replace the current caregiver credit, the infirm dependent credit, and the family caregiver tax credit with one single new credit.
The new Canada caregiver credit would provide support for those who need it the most and would help more families who give care to their loved ones. The new credit would provide $6,883 for the care of dependent relatives with disabilities and $2,150 for the care of a spouse, common-law partner, or minor child. It would provide an additional $310 million in tax relief for Canadians over the next five years. It would be indexed to inflation, and it would be subject to no reduction until the dependent family member was making more than $16,163.
In addition to the Canada caregiver credit in budget 2017, our government announced that we will extend EI benefits for people caring for family members and parents caring for a critically ill child.
Budget 2017 would provide an additional $691.3 million, for five years, to create a new EI caregiver benefit of up 15 weeks. Parents of critically ill children would continue to be able to access up to 35 weeks of coverage, with more flexibility to share the benefit among multiple family members.
These changes will help thousands of families across the country to support one another, and will simplify the everyday lives of many people in my riding.
I want to take a moment to thank all the caregivers in my community, and those around the country, who look after their loved ones. As we know, governments cannot take care of people as well as those close to them. However, governments can and must support those caregivers. This budget is a great start.
Innovation is very important to our government. We have many innovators. In my riding of Scarborough—Rouge Park, we have great examples of businesses that focus on innovation. At the University of Toronto Scarborough campus, we have a program called the hub, which acts as an incubator of new ideas and businesses. When I met with a Parks Canada official last week, she confirmed that the hub is working toward developing an app to navigate the Rouge National Urban Park, which is also in my riding.
We have many more innovators who continue to build an innovation-based economy. For example, last year's Google Demo Day's award winner, Knowledgehook, is from Scarborough—Rouge Park. This company of the future, started by Travis Ratnam and his team, continues to grow and will contribute to the economy of the future.
It is in this context that I am very excited that budget 2017 would serve as a foundation for our future growth. It focuses on one thing, and that is to help people succeed. This budget is a visionary step toward building the economy of the future.
Here are some elements. It proposes to invest an additional $1.8 billion over six years in labour market development agreements with the provinces. For the average Canadian, this would mean more opportunities to upgrade their skills, receive career counselling, start their own business, and gain experience. However, our commitment would go well beyond by expanding eligibility for Canada student grants and loans each year to an additional 10,000 part-time students, and it would expand eligibility even more to students who support their families.
We would launch a pilot project to test new approaches for adult learners who return to school, at a cost of $287.2 million over the next three years.
We would make changes to EI to help those going back to school, investing in skills development, creating more jobs for youth, and increasing the availability of co-op placements for students.
In this budget we propose a new strategic innovation fund to make high-quality investments in businesses that will bring jobs to Canada.
We would create a new $400-million venture capital fund, through the Business Development Bank of Canada, to help Canadian businesses get a leg up and add value to our economy. We would invest in the next generation of entrepreneurs by partnering with great organizations, like Futurpreneur Canada.
Let me turn to social housing. Good housing is a fundamental need for the development of an individual. It is the centre of one's life. The member for Scarborough—Agincourt and I met with the CEO of Toronto Community Housing on March 28. We went on a tour of six Toronto Community Housing complexes in Scarborough. We were able to see first-hand the need to invest in housing. These complexes, located in my riding and in Scarborough—Agincourt, help thousands of families make ends meet. They provide affordable living and support those who are most vulnerable in our society.
Budget 2017 would make a historic investment of $11.2 billion over 11 years to build, renew, and repair Canada's affordable housing and to ensure that all Canadians have their housing needs met. This would include $5 billion dollars that would go toward our new national housing fund to address housing issues in our cities, including for co-op housing. As members know, there are 12 co-op housing complexes in my riding.
An additional $2.1 billion dollars over the next 11 years would go toward a homelessness prevention strategy, working with communities across the country to combat homelessness and to provide support to mitigate underlying issues that lead to homelessness.
I am very proud of this budget. Budget 2017 provides answers to many of the difficult questions facing our society today. It would invest to support Canadians in adapting to a modern economy. It would look forward by investing in education, training, and businesses. It would support caregivers. This is a forward-looking budget that I think we can all get behind, and I am proud to support it.