Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my hon. colleague from Alfred-Pellan.
It is such a pleasure to rise in the House to speak on behalf of the residents of my riding of Davenport on budget 2017, which was released on March 22. It is a good budget and a lot of positive benefit is in it for the people in my riding.
It is not a big spend budget like 2016, but it is a responsible budget and a targeted budget. It is the next step in the government's ambitious plan to make smart investments that will create jobs, grow our economy, and provide more support for the middle class and those working hard to join it.
I will be targeting my comments very specifically to a few key areas, which are jobs and economy, transit, affordable housing and health care. These are the key areas that are of great interest to the people of Davenport.
I have been blessed over the last couple of months to hold a number of community pop-up offices around the riding. I have heard very loud and clear from the residents of Davenport that their top issue is jobs and economy.
People are worried about being able to afford a decent living, both today and moving forward. Some have part-time work and want full-time work, some have full-time work but some changes are happening within their industry and they might be losing their jobs, and some are on contract. However, all of them are worried about their jobs. They want better paying jobs and they want more predictable pay.
I was very pleased to see a a focus on innovation and skills in budget 2017. The reason I am so excited is that this will help better prepare Canadians for the workforce of today and tomorrow.
A number of initiatives will help people to upgrade their skills: more co-op and work-integrated learning; more support for adult workers who are trying to go back to school or to upgrade their skills while supporting their families; and more support for families that are caregivers, that are trying to take care of their children. Then there is also a huge section around trying to help new immigrants, new Canadians, newcomers who have wonderful foreign credentials, to get them into the workforce a lot quicker.
I will go through a list of key initiatives that I think are important, which I have pointed out to the residents of Davenport, and will be beneficial not only to those in Davenport but also to all Canadians. I will go through all the numbers. Whenever we talk about numbers, $2.7 billion here and $132 million there, people's eyes get a little bit glassy, so I will just go through certain key initiatives.
We are providing quite a bit of money for skills training and employment supports for unemployed and underemployed Canadians under the Labour Market Transfer Agreement. We are giving about $3 billion for that, and this is super important. I just had a conversation with someone a couple of days ago. He told me he had three jobs and he would really like to have one. I told him I had good news, that we had put some money into budget 2017 that would help him improve his skills so he could hopefully have one job that would support his life.
We are putting a substantial amount of money into making the EI program more flexible to enable the unemployed to pursue self-funded training, while remaining eligible for EI benefits. This has always been a puzzle to me, the fact that those who were on EI looking for jobs and wanted to self-improve would have lost their benefits if they did their own training. I am glad we have fixed that.
We have also put a substantial amount of money, almost half a billion dollars, to extend eligibility for student financial assistance for both part-time students and students with dependent children. We want to make it easier for adult learners to qualify for student financial assistance.
So many people tell me they have to support their families and wonder how they can improve their skills while they do that. This will help to support them to do that. It helps them to access financial support to go back to schools on a part-time basis, upgrade their skills and move into a profession that either pays more or a profession that gives them more happiness.
There are also a number of supports we provide that will help families to take care of their families. We have a new EI caregiving benefit that will provide a substantial amount of money for adult and child care.
We have also made adjustments to provide EI parental benefits for up to 18 months. We have also put some money to allow expectant mothers to claim EI for up to 12 weeks prior to their due date. The last thing is that we have also put a substantial amount of money, $7 billion, to create a number of spaces for high-quality affordable child care.
I will mention one last thing.
A wonderful woman talked to me last Saturday at my last pop-up. She is a young doctor from Mexico City and has just come here. She told me she would love to be a doctor in Canada. She had married a Canadian and was now a permanent resident. She wanted to know how she could use her skills to serve the Canadian population. Our government has put $30 million over five years in the budget to help those with foreign credentials, like doctors, get recognized, to help them get Canadian experience, and to help them to start working and contributing to the Canadian economy as soon as possible.
We have put a tremendous amount of money into transit. I represent a downtown west riding, an urban riding in Toronto. One of the biggest irritants for the residents of my riding is transit. They want to have reliable transit. They want it to be accessible and affordable. They are also very big supporters of active transportation such as bicycling. They can cut across traffic, go through bike paths and lanes, and Ontario Hydro routes, so they can cross the city in a more expedited way. As an environmentalist, I love the idea of more dollars being put into transit, because there would be less pollution, less CO2 emissions, and there would be a huge economic benefit. It moves both people and goods around seamlessly.
Budget 2017 has announced $20.1 billion over 11 years to team up with the provinces and territories to build new urban transit networks and service extensions. I hope that will translate into a downtown relief line in Toronto. We desperately need additional ways to move people across the downtown core. This money will also help to finish up the work around the Eglinton LRT. In addition to this $20 billion investment, our government is also putting an additional $5 billion into transit from Canada's infrastructure bank.
That is an additional $25 billion in addition to the $3.4 billion announced last year in the 2016 budget to improve and expand our public transit networks to get people around, to ensure they are accessible, reliable, and affordable, which is a key issue for the residents of Davenport. These investments will transform the way Canadians move, work, and live.
Another key area I am really proud of in our investments in budget 2017 is affordable housing. People in Davenport say they not only need affordable housing but they also need to be able to afford to live in Toronto, because it has become so expensive. I am delighted the federal government is stepping up to the plate. I want to give huge kudos to our Minister of Families, Children and Social Development for his leadership on this. We started last year with $2.2 billion over two years to give Canadians more access to affordable housing, to give more loans and financing tools so we could develop more affordable rental units. That also allowed for the renewing of co-op agreements of which I have two or three in my riding. They were very happy to see that money coming from the federal government.
Budget 2017 announces a historic $11 billion over 10 years. That is historic because it is 10-year funding. This is wonderful news because it will allow cities to plan ahead. It will also provide a lot of stability. The agreements are being negotiated now with municipalities across the country. ln Toronto, this will translate into a number of new affordable housing units. It will renovate existing units, provide more rent subsidies, and provide more affordable housing spaces.
Also, there are $11 billion in additional money for mental health and home care over 10 years. In Ontario, this will translate to $4.2 billion over the next decade, $2.3 billion for home care and $1.9 billion for mental health supports. It is extraordinarily important. These additional dollars have been a long time coming in terms of an additional focus on mental health. I am looking for more dollars to support ethnic communities to help them get the support and the resources they need for home care. More people want to be taken care of at home. I am delighted with this investment at the national level.
Budget 2017 is a good budget for Canadians. It is a good budget for residents of Davenport.