With this budget, we are doubling down on our plan to invest in the middle class and in people working hard to join it. We will do that by strengthening the programs that make the biggest difference in people's lives and by making those benefits easier to get.
That includes the new Canada workers benefit, a strengthened, more accessible, and more generous replacement for the working income tax benefit.
The Canada workers benefit will allow low-income workers to take home more money while they work, encouraging more people to join and stay in the workforce and offering real help to more than two million Canadians.
At the same time, we will make it easier for people to access the benefit that they deserve. By making this benefit more generous and by automatically giving the benefit to all those that qualify, we will help lift about 70,000 more Canadians out of poverty.
As I mentioned earlier, we have taken steps to strengthen the Canada child benefit, so that the benefits it delivers keep pace with the cost of living. We are also continuing to make investments that will help people in times of change, whether they are entering the workforce for the first time, retraining for a new job, or planning for retirement.
We are making additional investments in our ambitious innovation and skills plan, including targeted help for women in the trades like Joan, and for newcomer women looking to find meaningful work.
We are also taking steps to ensure that our tax system is fair for all Canadians.
We cannot have an economy that works for everyone if everyone does not pay their fair share. That is why we gave the Canada Revenue Agency $1 billion in our first budgets to crack down on tax cheats and offshore tax havens. With every dollar we invest, we expect $5 in recovered revenue.
It is about fairness.
We are also making sure that the small business tax rate—on track to fall to 9%, the lowest among G7 countries—is available only to small businesses that want to invest, grow, and create more jobs. We are changing the rules for the top 2% or 3% of private corporations, because the wealthiest Canadians should not be able to use private corporations to pay less tax than the middle class.
By making smart investments today, the kind that give more people a real and fair chance at success, we can build a forward-looking economy for Canada, one that responds to the needs of a changing world, and one that will give the young students at Rose Avenue Public School a real chance to grow and to shine in jobs they are qualified for and excited to have.
As the Perimeter Institute’s Neil Turok says, it’s our “curiosity, courage, creativity and a collaborative spirit” that lead us to innovate. That pushes us to create the new technologies that improve our daily lives, make us healthier, drive our economy, and move our country forward.
To foster that spirit of innovation and help build the new industries and jobs that our economy will rely on in future years, we will make significant new investments in Canada’s scientists and researchers to make sure that they have the funding and support required to do their work.
The fundamental science review, led by Dr. David Naylor and engineered by our minister of science, told us that to advance Canadian businesses and Canada’s long-term competitiveness, we need to invest in the people behind the big new ideas. That is exactly what we are doing in this budget. Budget 2018 represents the single largest investment in fundamental and discovery research in Canadian history.
More than that, we will make sure that the new money for research supports the next generation of researchers so that we can build a science community that looks more like Canada—more diverse, with a greater number of women.
Our government also believes the most important way in which our future needs to be better than our past has to do with the relationship between Canada and indigenous peoples. Together, we are working to improve the quality of life for first nations, Inuit, and Métis nations people in Canada. This budget invests in new tools to help nations rebuild and to accelerate self-determination and self-government based on recognition of indigenous rights so our shared future is one where indigenous peoples are in control of their own destiny, making their own decisions about their future.
To that end, we are making new investments that will accelerate work to deliver clean, safe drinking water to more indigenous communities, ahead of schedule. We have already lifted 52 long-term boil water advisories and we are on track to have all others eliminated by March 2021.
We are making investments that will help create better opportunities for indigenous peoples to find and keep good, well-paying jobs; that will build more safe and affordable housing in first nations, Inuit, and Métis nations communities; and that will give better child and family service support, with a special focus on prevention, so that indigenous children are not taken from their families and their communities.
To further the important work of reconciliation, we are also investing in the Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund to promote cross-cultural dialogue and create places and spaces dedicated to reconciliation so that more Canadians can be a part of building a new and better relationship with indigenous peoples.
As the Prime Minister has said many times, when it comes to renewing the relationship between Canada and indigenous peoples, we have a responsibility to do better and to do more. This budget will help us live up to that responsibility, for the benefit of indigenous women, men, and children, and all Canadians.
Today's budget is for all Canadians across our country. To bring people and communities together, we will increase funding for multiculturalism, provide new funding to ensure the success of black Canadians, and consult on a new national anti-racism approach to combat discrimination in our country.
To help more people find an affordable place to call home, we are working on innovative solutions, such as the rental construction financing initiative that will build an additional 14,000 new rental units across the country.
To safeguard Canadians’ privacy and protect both our digital economy and our country, we are making an investment of over $750 million in cybersecurity.
To help families and communities being devastated by the opioid crisis, we will make investments of $230 million, including additional emergency funding for provinces and territories so that people can access evidence-based treatment services and get the help they need.
To help workers in seasonal industries like fishing and tourism, we will work to address the “black hole” in employment insurance benefits, helping families make ends meet until the new work season begins.
Together with our provincial partners, we will protect forestry jobs by stopping the invasive spread of spruce budworm in Atlantic Canada.
Across the country, we will make new investments to support safe and accessible small craft harbours, which are essential to Canada’s fisheries industry and coastal communities.
The Government of Canada will do more to support our official language minority communities and ensure the dynamism and vitality of the Canadian Francophonie.
We will create jobs in regions and rural communities across Canada and provide tailored support for women entrepreneurs through investments in our regional development agencies, such as ACOA, the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, CanNor, FedDev, FedNor, and Western Economic Diversification.
We will also do more to help vulnerable people around the world by making the largest new investments in international assistance in more than a decade, including greater support for the world’s women and girls, through Canada's feminist international assistance policy.
There are challenges in our country. Today, at least one in 10 Canadians cannot afford the prescription drugs that they need, and every year over one million Canadians are forced to give up food and heat in order to afford their medicines. To address this, we have created an advisory council on the implementation of national pharmacare to be headed by Dr. Eric Hoskins. His team will have a mandate to study, evaluate, and ultimately recommend options on a path forward on pharmacare that puts Canadians first.
Finally, this budget recognizes something that every Canadian understands, which is that our quality of life and our present and future prosperity are deeply connected to the environment in which we live. The extraordinary beauty of Canada's parks, nature, and wild spaces are essential to our identity as Canadians.
For my family, it was the chance to witness first-hand the majestic beauty of Canada's north. We have all had experiences like these, whether it is camping with our families or going for a quiet hike alone in the woods. How many of us have gone ice fishing with our friends, learned to swim at the end of a dock in a freezing cold lake, watched our kids skip rocks on the shore, or play in the leaves on a breezy fall day? These are the experiences that help to define us as Canadians.
When we encouraged Canadians to visit our national parks last year, they responded by the millions. Some parks were so busy they had to turn people away. We saw how popular our free admissions program was, and that is why we decided to make Canada's national parks permanently free.
Unlike past governments, we know that Canadians deserve more than just good enough when it comes to protecting the land that we love, so we are helping to deliver one of the largest commitments to conservation in Canada's history with an investment of $1.3 billion to conserve more land and waters, preserve biodiversity, and protect wildlife in our country. This will include a $500 million investment from the federal government to create a new $1 billion nature fund in partnership with corporate, not-for-profit, provincial, territorial, and other partners.
Canada is one of the most beautiful places on earth and it is up to all of us to help keep it that way.
Over the last several months, as I travelled the country in preparation for this budget, I had the opportunity to meet with Canadians and hear their stories, stories of hardships and frustration, but also stories of generosity and hope. I am inspired by those stories, and I am inspired to do even more to help the next generation break free from the barriers that have held us back for too long.
In my life, I am proud to have two young women and two young men who call me dad. I was home alone a few weekends ago and I noticed a new poster hanging over one of my daughter's beds. In bold handwritten lettering there was a quote from Malala that said, “We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.”
For me, it was a blinding flash of the obvious. She gets it. The next generation gets it. The children at Rose Avenue Junior Public School get it too. It is time for the rest of us to catch up.
Before I got into politics, I worked in the private sector. I have opportunities now, as Minister of Finance, to meet regularly with Canada’s top business leaders and CEOs. There is not one leader out there who would stand for anything that arbitrarily would hold back half the people in their organization. It just does not make sense, yet as a society, we allow it to happen, not arbitrarily but systemically.
That changes today with this budget built for all Canadians. With this budget, we are tackling the challenge of equality head-on, asking tough questions, and beginning to provide important solutions. We are taking steps to track our progress, so our government and all future governments may be held accountable for that progress, progress that I look forward to making in collaboration with all members of the House, including the members of the finance committee, and with our colleagues in the Senate.
There really is no turning back. The head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, said, “Equal pay and better economic opportunities for women” were “an economic no-brainer.” Our government agrees.
We will continue to work hard to show Canada and the world how good we can be, how fair we can be, and how smart we can be. We will all be better off because of it.