Madam Speaker, on February 27, we tabled budget 2018. I am proud to rise today to speak in the House about what the budget will deliver for my constituents in Parkdale—High Park and to Canadians right across this country.
This budget is about access. It is about dismantling the barriers to success that many Canadians still face. In budget 2018, we are investing in order to advance gender equality, indigenous reconciliation, the growth of small businesses, and the strengthening of our nation's cultural diversity. These progressive investments will facilitate and promote positive economic growth across all demographics, not just for the wealthiest but for all Canadians.
These investments will help ensure that a social and economic structure is in place to propel all Canadians to success.
Let us start with women and girls. There is no doubt that women in Canada continue to face significant barriers. They carry the majority of the burden of child care. They face gender discrimination and pay inequity in the workplace. They lack equitable access to a variety of male-dominated sectors. As a government, we are determined to facilitate real opportunities for women to overcome their barriers to success.
This means implementing concrete, tangible policies and investing in the promotion of gender equality.
We are addressing the double burden placed on women of both raising children and working full time. Budget 2018 will invest $1.2 billion into the new EI parental sharing benefit, which means that there will be an additional five weeks of paid leave available for a second parent. This means that the primary parent can have the support of their partner while they transition back into the workforce. Another five weeks means that paid parental leave goes from 35 to 40 weeks of shareable time, split in any way that works for individual families. It is an arrangement that empowers families and that will also benefit children, who will have the opportunity for more direct contact with both parents during that formative first year of development.
Let us talk about pay equity and under-representation.
Our government is also committed to ensuring that women receive equal pay for equal work. In 2018, women still receive, on average, 69 cents on every dollar earned by their male counterparts on an annual basis. That is an injustice plain and simple. It is an injustice that calls for intervention at the national level. That is why in budget 2018 we are targeting federally regulated industries by introducing proactive pay equity legislation that will apply to about 1.2 million Canadians. We will also be providing an additional $1.65 billion in new financing for women entrepreneurs through the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada.
Our government will also publicly recognize the corporations that commit to promoting women directors in order to improve gender representation in corporate Canada, building on the measures included in Bill C-25. These steps are imperative not only because they are morally imperative but because they make good economic sense.
By minimizing barriers to women’s success in traditionally male-dominated fields and by facilitating their participation in the labour force, we will add $150 billion to Canada’s economy by 2026.
When we support women’s entry into the labour force and foster their success, our society and our economy reap the benefits.
I will now turn to reconciliation with indigenous persons.
I hosted a town hall in my riding of Parkdale—High Park to discuss the importance and the work of indigenous reconciliation. What I heard from my constituents loudly and clearly is that it is unacceptable in 2018 that there are still areas in Canada, including many indigenous reserves, where people do not have access to clean drinking water.
There is no reason why anyone in a developed country like ours should not have access to safe drinking water. We are a rich nation, but for too long that wealth has not been shared equally with indigenous persons, who have suffered under colonial policies and the institutional racism of the residential school system. That is why in this budget we have invested an additional $172 million on top of the $1.8 billion committed in budget 2016 to get clean water on reserves across the country.
Thus far we have lifted 54 long-term drinking water advisories in Canada, and with these additional funds committed in this budget, we will be able to fast-track the eradication of the 81 long-term advisories that are still in place. By increasing this funding, we are committing to completing 25 water infrastructure projects by 2020 rather than 2021 as was originally planned.
This is an important, indeed, I would say, a vital step in the right direction. Without providing access to clean water, the broader goal of truly advancing indigenous reconciliation could never be realized.
Now I want to talk about small businesses.
After hearing the concerns of constituents and small business owners from my riding of Parkdale—High Park and indeed right around the country, our government has revised our approach to small businesses. First, we have lowered the small business tax rate to 10%, and we will further reduce it to 9% by 2019. Second, we have eliminated the proposal to tax capital gains on the transfer of a small business to a family member. Third, we have revised the proposal as it affects passive income. We heard loudly and clearly from business owners that invest in their businesses, create prosperity in our economy, and employ Canadians and boost productivity. We heard from Canadians that they use passive investment income to save for a rainy day, a bad year, sick leave, or parental leave.
These are the types of businesses we will help prosper. To ensure the tax reforms are targeted at only the wealthiest 3%, we are limiting our tax reform proposals to only those corporations that have more than $1 million in passive investments. This amounts to about 40,000 of the 1.8 million businesses in this country. It targets 3% of all Canadian corporations, so that 97% of all Canadian businesses will not be affected by these tax reforms. That is critical because we know that 97% of businesses are working to help the Canadian economy grow, are reinvesting, and are creating jobs.
I want to talk about new Canadians and how they are layered into this new budget. In this country we are strong, not in spite of our differences but because of our differences. New Canadians contribute immensely to the vibrancy of our culture and undeniably to our economic success. This economic contribution is not always attainable, because of the many institutional and systemic barriers that newcomers continue to face.
To overcome some of those barriers to employment that visible minority newcomer women face, budget 2018 will invest $31.9 million as part of a three-year pilot project to provide additional settlement support. That is a critical measure to setting newcomer women up for success, success for themselves, success for their families, and success for their new home, Canada. In addition, to ensure that newcomers have access to better supports in dealing with their immigration cases, $12.8 million will go to the Department of Justice to deal with the pressure currently on immigration and refugee legal aid.
I want to speak about multiculturalism and combatting racial discrimination. Over the past few years, we have seen an escalation of division and intolerance in this country. Despite the fact that the majority of Canadians value our diversity and pluralism, we have witnessed a rise in hate crimes, particularly those that target the Muslim community and continued anti-Semitism. As a government, we know that it is not sufficient to simply talk about championing our diversity. We need to be vigilant in defending it so that we can move beyond tolerating difference and move towards celebrating difference.
To this end, budget 2018 commits nearly $50 million to programming that will advance Canadian diversity; $23 million is dedicated to multiculturalism programming that will enable our government to empower communities and build capacity; $19 million is dedicated to the black community alone, to address mental health issues, youth, and combatting racism; and $6.5 million is allocated to a new centre for diversity statistics.
For the first time ever, Canada will be collecting and disseminating disaggregated data to allow us to accurately pinpoint and thereafter address the obstacles faced by racialized persons in this country. As the parliamentary secretary for multiculturalism, I am proud of this financial commitment of our government in budget 2018. It will allow us to conduct nationwide consultations on the development of a new national anti-racism plan. Although the previous government abolished this plan and reduced funds to the multiculturalism program, our critical investment in budget 2018 underscores our commitment to unifying our nation, rather than dividing it.
As I mentioned at the outset, the growth that we have been witnessing in the Canadian economy has not been shared by all. Budget 2018 is about overcoming barriers. It benefits no one when some Canadians are prevented from succeeding based on their gender, race, culture, or socio-economic standing.
The progressive policies and investments contained in budget 2018 are here to support all of us, to push us forward as a nation, and to ensure that all of us share in the growth being created. I know that my constituents in Parkdale—High Park want to see strong, socially conscious investment from our government, because these types of investments benefit all of us.