Madam Speaker, before I begin my discussion on budget 2018, I want to share with the House a little more about my riding of Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook, which is in Nova Scotia and surrounds the major cities of Halifax and Dartmouth. We have about 95,000 people in my riding, some are fishermen and some are farmers. We also have many young families and seniors. As I will show throughout my speech today, this budget will support not only Canada and Nova Scotia, it will directly support my community of Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook. I will focus on families, veterans, women support, as well as youth.
It is important to look at the history of what our government has accomplished over the last two and a half years, which is extremely impressive thus far. We have created over 700,000 jobs in just over two years, most of which are full-time jobs. The party opposite would have liked to have been able to share with the House in its 10 years of governing, but that was not possible.
The second thing I would like to share with the House is that the unemployment rate has dropped to 5.7 per cent. That is the lowest unemployment rate in 40 years. This includes the 10 years the Conservative Party was in power.
Let us talk about the Canada child benefit. This program has been extremely important for Canadians and young families. Everyone in the House should be thanking our government for that investment in young families. Not one member in the House is not seeing major investment for kids in their riding. I will give the example of my riding of Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook. Over 10,000 families are receiving extra support, tax free, from the child care benefit. What does that mean to the citizens and families in my riding? It means an investment in Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook of $5.6 million per month tax free, or $60 million per year. Everyone in the House is seeing that investment in young families across the country, which is extremely important.
I will be sharing my time with the member for Avalon, Madam Speaker.
Let us look at some of the investments touching Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia, and my riding. The investment in the prevention of the spruce budworm is extremely important to our riding, as well as to the province and Atlantic Canada. Forestry is extremely important to Nova Scotia. Also, there is a major investment in the area of small craft and harbour. As I said, we not only have fishermen in my community, but right across the province of Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada as well.
There is also major investment in multiculturalism. The investment for black Canadians in black Canadian communities is extremely important for Canadians and for the people in Preston in my riding. People may not know this, but we have the largest black cultural centre in Canada. Only a couple of weeks ago, I was able to celebrate with the African Nova Scotian community. Earlier in the day, the minister had launched the new $10 bill, which has the first Canadian black women on it, Viola Desmond. She was a leader not only for her community, but a leader for civil rights for Nova Scotia and the rest of Canada. This celebration was really touching. As one gentleman described to me that evening, “Today we launch the $10 bill. Tonight we celebrated the $10 bill, and we celebrate Viola Desmond and our community.” That was very special and important.
I have a quote on that from the Federation of Black Canadians which said, “A historic first, 'Equality Growth: A Strong Middle Class' constitutes the first time a federal budget explicitly acknowledges the unique and specific challenges faced by Black Canadians and commits substantial amounts to addressing them.” That is something really impressive that we should be celebrating as well.
I also want to talk about the investment in families. There are three main areas I want to touch on.
The first one is the EI parental sharing benefit, where we have added five weeks. This will create much more flexibility for families, which is extremely important. Adoptive parents and same-sex couples who are parents will also be able to benefit from this investment.
The second area I want to talk about is pharmacare. This is something Canadians value. It is something we have been talking about for many years. We have already done quite a bit of work in this area. We have already worked with the provinces to encourage bulk buying. In that way, we have been able to lower prices and make drugs much more accessible for Canadians, which is extremely important as well.
We added the new Canada workers benefit, which will support low-income Canadians. Three hundred thousand more Canadians will benefit from this. This will move the number to over two million people who will benefit directly from this investment. This is extremely important.
Another area I want to talk about is veterans. Our government continues to work closely with veterans. We have already invested almost $10 billion to support veterans across Canada. I have spoken with many veterans over the last six months while doing several town halls. They have indicated there is a large number of benefits and more communication about those benefits is needed. We need to ensure they are made aware of them and support them in achieving that goal. One area mentioned was the backlog. They said it was taking too much time. Our government listened very carefully and came forward with an investment of over $40 million to help with the backlog and to get the information out. This is crucial.
Here is a quote:
The Royal Canadian Legion is encouraged by the commitments in this year's federal budget in areas of importance to Veterans and their families.
“The investments outlined are a step in the right direction,” says Dominion President, David Flannigan.
How much time do I have, Madam Speaker?