Mr. Speaker, today I will be sharing my time with the member for Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook.
As the member of Parliament for Markham—Thornhill, I am honoured to stand in this House today to speak in support of the budget bill, Bill C-44, which, if passed, would see important measures for helping the government meet the commitments it has made to Canadians.
First I would like to talk about some of those commitments we have already delivered on, commitments that are making a real difference in the lives of families across the country, like lowering taxes on middle-class Canadians by increasing taxes on the wealthiest 1%.
We also introduced the Canada child benefit, which is essential for helping families with the high cost of raising children.
I am enormously proud that our government is represented by a gender-balanced cabinet.
Budget 2017 is the next step in our long-term plan. Over the last couple of months, I have talked to and met with thousands of families in Markham—Thornhill, and I have heard their concerns and aspirations for our community. They talked to me about how hard it is to commute for hours a day and how they want to see a transit plan that meets the needs of families. They told me about the balance and the expense of caring for their young children while at the same time caring for their elderly parents, and making sure that our seniors have what they need to lead a good quality of life.
I also heard about my constituents' ambitions, the ones that have propelled Markham ahead to making it one of the most diverse, dynamic, and fastest-growing communities in Canada. The riding of Markham—Thornhill is a leader in innovation, with GM's new autonomous and connected car centre, or IBM's Innovation Space – Markham Convergence Centre that is helping businesses take their new technologies to global markets. There are also Canadian companies, like ICON Digital Production's state-of-the-art visual production facility, and Pond Technologies' commercialization of its research to fight climate change. These multinational Canadian headquarters and SMEs stand to serve as an example of the potential and ambition in Markham—Thornhill.
Now, at a time when changes in the economy, both here at home and around the world, present incredible opportunities for the middle class and those working hard to join it, with its strong focus on innovation, skills, and partnerships, budget 2017 takes the next steps to supporting Canadians as they acquire the knowledge and skills to build a more prosperous future for Canada. One of those steps is making big bets on sectors of the economy in which Canada can be a world leader. This includes areas where Canada already has world-leading expertise, like artificial intelligence.
Artificial intelligence is an emerging and promising sector with huge potential to transform technologies.
The Government of Canada's advisory council on economic growth identified artificial intelligence as a platform technology that will impact almost all sectors of the economy. Thanks to the investments by the federal government and to the pioneering work done by outstanding Canadian researchers, Canada is a global leader in AI research and development. However, we are not alone. Other countries also recognize the strategic importance of AI technology and are investing in research and innovation in this area. As a result, Canadian talent and ideas are in demand around the world. In order to fully harness the benefits of AI, we need to ensure that activity remains here in Canada. That is why, through budget 2017, we have dedicated $125 million to launch a pan-Canadian artificial intelligence strategy.
In addition to AI, our government is showing strong support for business-led innovation, with an investment of $950 million over five years in superclusters. In key sectors such as digital and clean tech, superclusters have enormous potential to accelerate economic growth. Our new strategic innovation fund would attract, support, and grow Canadian businesses in dynamic and emerging sectors through an investment of $1.26 billion over five years. In the face of national opportunity and growing global competition, this is a strategic, focused, and bold investment in the future of our economy.
Our government is also working hard to make significant unprecedented investments in infrastructure. We have more than doubled our infrastructure commitments to meet Canada's most urgent needs.
Our infrastructure plan provides for investments in projects that will transform communities for the 21st century. We are aware of the risks and costs associated with underfunding of infrastructure. Those risks and costs are significant. That is why our budget is the next step in our plan to make wise investments that will promote the growth of our economy and strengthen the middle class.
We believe that decisions made at the local level are very important and we want to support municipalities so they can meet their infrastructure priorities.
Beyond investments in infrastructure, one of the issues raised most frequently by residents in my riding is public transit. We know that public transit is the lifeblood of a thriving city. Whether it is widening the GO train from Milliken to Union Station, or taking the Viva, or connecting to the TTC from Markham transit, fast, efficient, and reliable public transit is essential. That is why budget 2017 would provide an investment of $20.1 billion for public transit projects over the next 11 years. This is real change that would make a difference in the lives of the people in Markham—Thornhill and across our country.
I am also very proud to be a part of a government that believes in the necessity of effective and high-quality care for Canadian seniors. We recognize the need to address the issues of seniors, and have taken action to improve the quality of life for our seniors. Budget 2017 includes important investments in supports for an aging population to help our seniors and to give them the respect they deserve. I know how important this is for my riding and for the people in Markham—Thornhill. That is why we are improving access to home care by investing $6 billion over 10 years so that Canadians can stay in their homes well into their retirement.
We are also investing $2.3 billion over two years to provide more affordable housing options. This investment will improve housing conditions for seniors, especially senior women living alone. This builds on the work already done by our government to increase the guaranteed income supplement top-up benefit to boost support for our most vulnerable seniors.
In addition, this budget would also help improve the lives of new Canadians. Many of our new immigrants are highly skilled and highly educated. They want to put their talents to use and to contribute to building our great country. However, many times highly skilled and educated immigrants face barriers that limit their employment opportunities once they arrive in Canada. Our government recognizes these barriers as a problem. With this budget, we are doing something about it.
This budget proposes to allocate $27.5 million over five years starting this year, and $5.5 million per year thereafter, to support our targeted employment strategy for newcomers. Our plan would improve pre-arrival supports for newcomers so that the process to recognize their foreign credentials can begin before they arrive in Canada. This ambitious program would break down the barriers that bright new immigrants face in fully contributing to our economy.
Finally, our government has shown that it recognizes the importance of young Canadians. With this in mind, I look forward to forming a youth council to bring together the diverse and talented youth in Markham—Thornhill. Our government understands that the path to a brighter future begins by giving all Canadians the tools they need to learn, retrain, discover, and embrace the future.
Budget 2017 supports the facets of our country that make us unique and strong. The investments in innovation, infrastructure, transit, and seniors provide the tools for our country to be successful in the future. This is a forward-looking budget, one that I think we could all get behind. I am proud to support it.