Mr. Speaker, Canada presently has the lowest unemployment in 40 years. What is also amazing is that Yukon has recently had the lowest level of unemployment in the country. The north normally has higher levels of unemployment. Therefore, this is fantastic for my riding. It is amazing and exciting for Yukoners that we are virtually at full economic employment.
What has caused this great level of work in Canada and particularly in Yukon? There are two items that have made a major contribution to this.
The first is the record level of infrastructure spending, double what has ever been spent before by any government in any part of Canada. In my riding, as an example, over 60 projects have already been announced for over $400 million for virtually every community in Yukon. There is probably nothing more gut-wrenching for people than to not be able to feed their family, to not have a job, to not be able to pay the bills. It must be hard for people to have to tell their family they have to move because they cannot afford to live where they are, or they cannot send their kids on school trips or buy them clothes similar to the other kids' or to not have good food.
The fact that there are so many infrastructure projects putting so many people to work is so edifying. However, that is not the end of it. Last May we signed an infrastructure agreement for $445 million more over the next 10 years for our riding.
The second area that I think is a big contribution to the low unemployment rates is the contributions we have made to all different categories of needy people in my riding an all of Canada. By increasing the GIS, thousands of seniors have been lifted out of poverty. We have increased support for students in general and have more support for low-income students. We have also doubled the number of summer jobs for students, and there are still more waiting. There were more applications to fill even when the number of jobs were doubled.
We have supported low-income people with huge amounts of funds through the child tax credit. It is income-tested. Single mothers could get over $6,000 a child under this plan. Some people talk about the cancelled sports credit and other credits like that where people might have received $50 or $100. However, I think people would rather have the $6,000 to really help them raise their children. The other thing we did was we made it non-taxable. Parts of it in the past were taxable. A single mother, who I think was a reporter, came to me in shock when it came to the tax time of the year and found that she had to pay a huge amount of income tax on the child tax credit, which she was not prepared for at all.
The credit has been increased recently, and faster than we thought we would be able to, by indexing the child tax credit. It is going to continue to rise. In my riding alone, it will increase to $5.6 million from 2018 to 2023 for children in very low-income families.
Another area that helps low-income families is day care. As members know, we had a national day care program under the Hon. Ken Dryden. However, the opposition parties got together and replaced Prime Minister Martin with Prime Minister Harper, who cancelled the national child care program. We have initiated a new program. For my riding, the agreement has been signed with the federal government and the minister in Yukon for $7 million over three years.
Another group that has been helped is veterans. The one item I would especially note is that employees now make trips to Yukon three or four times a year to help veterans and veterans of the RCMP in Yukon.
Another group that is disadvantaged is those suffering from mental health and addictions. That has been a high priority for our government. There has been a big need for funding in Canada. My riding alone will get roughly $1 million this year.
This deals with contributions to a vast majority of low-income people. However, there is one large group that I did not mention, and that is the low-income workers. In this budget we have added a low-income worker benefit so people can keep more of their hard-earned money to help them pay the bills as things are getting more expensive for everyone.
In my riding alone, the Canada workers benefit is going to help 1,600 workers. People can imagine across Canada how big this program is. It helps two million workers across Canada, and lifts 70,000 of them out of poverty.
People may ask why I brought up all these contributions to the needy in the context of the great boost to the economy and the full employment. The reason is, it is the right thing to do. That is the most important reason to do it. The second reason is that people really need these funds. Of course when they spend them, they go to small businesses, whose taxes will be reduced, and other expenditures in the economy.
All this employment actually leads to another problem, one which in a way is nice to have, and that is a lack of employees. Everyone has heard in the House of Commons and other debates the number of improvements to the immigration system to deal with this, and the increased training funds. In fact, the 2016 budget was a training budget. A significant portion of those funds goes to training aboriginal people, which is important in my riding.
There is something else exciting for me in the bill. Mining is so important in my riding. In fact mining has been the biggest contributor to the GDP virtually every year since the century before last century, since 1897. Every year since 2003, for anyone who was not here at that time, I have been lobbying very hard to get the mineral exploration tax credit extended. In my riding, the vast majority of exploration projects depend on this credit. I have been fighting year after year, no matter who is in government, to get that extended. Indeed, it was extended each year. I was excited to see that again this year it was extended. I thank PDAC, perhaps the biggest mining association in the world, and MAC, and the Yukon Chamber of Mines who at the Yukon Geoscience Forum a couple of weeks ago applauded my efforts in lobbying for this every year.
Something even more exciting is what the minister announced in the fall economic statement. PDAC was asking for this too. I think it was asking not only for a one-year but a three-year extension as the first priority of a number of things it was looking for. The minister announced not a one-year extension, not a three-year extension, but a five-year extension. It is so critical to such a big industry in Canada. I am so excited about this. Finance ministers, no matter what party, are the ones who say no to all the things that come forward, so for the minister to say yes to making this expenditure is exciting for me, for my riding and for the mining industry. I thank the Minister of Finance for this great success story. The mining industry is the biggest employer of indigenous people, with 16,500 jobs in Canada.
Another problem that all this employment creates is the need for housing. As one of the first members of the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition, we have been lobbying for affordable housing for years as well. The new national housing plan, again, is the biggest in Canadian history, of some $40 billion. I have already announced projects in a vast majority of the communities with a population in my riding and the communities of Whitehorse, Carcross, Haines Junction, Burwash, Old Crow, Pelly Crossing, Dawson, Watson Lake and Carmacks.
Also very exciting is the $1 million for the women's entrepreneurship program. I congratulate the women's business network and Tammy Beese. There is another $32 million for the Yukon government, which will spend it and help the economy.
Finally, CanNor, our economic development agency, was about to expire when this budget came in. Again, I thank the Minister of Finance. He made it permanent and provided $20 million a year and another $2 million for innovations and skills, and funded the huge innovation centre so that Yukon is in with a digital economy like everyone else.
For all these reasons, members can see why we are very excited in my riding about the economic interventions by the Minister of Finance.