Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today in support of Bill C-74, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 27, 2018, and other measures.
First, I would like to talk about why this bill is so important to Canada as a whole. Then I will highlight some of the specific measures that will help my beautiful riding of West Nova and, most important, its people.
This budget continues to build on the strong foundation for growth that our government began putting into place when it took office just over two years ago. In that time, Canada's economic growth has been fuelled by the middle class, and there has been more support for those working hard to join it. Because of the hard work of Canadians, together with historic investments in people and communities, more than 600,000 good new jobs have been created right across Canada. Most of these are solid, full-time jobs. Consequently, under this government, the Canadian unemployment rate is at its lowest in my lifetime.
Also, Canada now has the best balance sheet of any G7 country, with the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio, and the downward trend of that ratio will continue into the future. Our debt as a portion of our economy is shrinking steadily and will soon reach its lowest point ever in my lifetime.
However, while the Canadian economy is doing very well, the most important indicator for any government is not some economic formula, but rather how people are doing. Do people have the tools to lift themselves up, to make their communities stronger and more vibrant, to be secure in the knowledge that they will have a dignified retirement, to help children living in poverty, to ensure veterans are looked after, and to ensure we position Canada to allow our industries to flourish?
While we know the economy is doing well and that thing are on the right track, we also know there is much more work to do so all Canadians have the opportunity to reach their full potential and, indeed, so people end up doing well. Our government wants a real and fair shot at success for all our people.
Let us start with the Canada workers benefit. Budget 2018 introduces the new Canada workers benefit, a more generous and accessible benefit that will put more money in the pockets of low-income workers than the income tax benefit it replaces. For example, a worker making $15,000 a year will get about $500 more in 2019. By allowing these low-income workers to keep more of their paycheque, it encourages more people to enter the workforce and it will deliver real help to two million Canadians, including 45,000 Nova Scotians who are working hard to join the middle class. This new measure will lift about 70,000 working individuals out of poverty and will promote economic independence for so many who would otherwise be left behind.
Let us turn to the Canada child benefit. Speaking of lifting people out of poverty and giving them opportunity, the CCB was introduced in 2016 and provides more support for nine out of 10 Canadian families. With the measures in budget 2018, the six million children currently benefiting from the CCB will continue to benefit for the long term, because it will be indexed, starting this July, to keep up with the cost of living.
In West Nova, the effects of the CCB are real. Thirteen thousand children are benefiting and over $4.5 million each month are being invested in the well-being of the kids in my riding. As a result, hundreds and hundreds of children in western Nova Scotia are no longer living in poverty and many are now able to receive adequate school supplies, join minor hockey, take dance or music lessons, have warm clothes for the winter, or go to summer camp. This is real and this is making a substantial difference in the lives of children in West Nova while also helping our local economy.
Let us talk about security retirement for our seniors. Like many members of rural ridings, I represent many seniors and I am so pleased that our government supports them. While there is more work to do, we restored the eligibility age of old age security and GIS from 67 to 65, and increased the GIS by 10% for single seniors. Also, working co-operatively with the provinces, the Canada pension plan has been strengthened for the long term. In fact, it will result in an increase of the maximum CPP retirement pension by about 50%, phased in over time, and it will mean even greater support to persons with disabilities who need support from their government.
As the member of Parliament for West Nova, an area with Canada's most lucrative fishery in lobster, scallops, and other seafood, it is critical to me that the fishing industry, which is the backbone of the economy in southwestern Nova Scotia, is supported. That is why I, along with other colleagues, have been advocating for increased investments in our small craft harbours to allow for the continued growth of fisheries operations.
I am very pleased the government has responded in budget 2018 with an investment of an extra $250 million over two years into our critical harbour infrastructure. This will help expand capacity and support the flourishing seafood industry being able to get its product off the boats and to world markets.
We know that with the coming into force of the European trade deal, CETA, and now the CPTPP, the demand for our seafood exports will continue to grow. This will diversify our customer base and sustain the high prices our fishermen have been getting for their lobster and other high-quality seafood. This makes a huge difference to our local economy in southwestern Nova Scotia.
I am also fortunate not only to represent an area with one of Canada's most important fisheries, but also to represent 14 Wing Greenwood, the largest air force base on the east coast. As a result, I represent many veterans all across my riding. It is vitally important that we support them for all they have done in their service to Canada. We know there is lots more to do, and we know that some may not yet know about the investments being made, but we are on the right track, and we are making things better for our veterans.
The government has made substantial investments to benefits and services for veterans and their families, so far totalling $10 billion. This includes new education and training benefits and expanded services to families of medically released veterans. We have reopened offices, increased the earnings loss benefit, and the disability award. There will be an option for a pension for life rather than the lump sum amount. There will be more front-line staff, more for mental health, and a new caregiver benefit for those taking care of ill and injured veterans.
Budget 2018 will expand the medical expense tax credit to include the cost of psychiatric service dogs that are so important in the support they provide to many of our veterans.
We know there is more to do, and I am committed to working with our government and continuing to advocate for the veterans I represent, but the fact is clear that we have made substantial investments and we are really beginning to fix the damaged system left to us by the Conservative government.
I am proud of the Acadian communities in West Nova, and I fully support them in protecting and promoting their cultural heritage, as well as our official languages.
Our government recognizes the importance of supporting official languages across Canada and is serious about its duty to actively promote the development of official language minority communities. We recently announced an action plan for official languages, which represents the largest investment in official languages in over 15 years. We have listened to the needs of these communities, and budget 2018 meets their expectations.
Our budget will invest in our community and cultural organizations, such as the Société acadienne de Clare, the Conseil acadien de Par-en-Bas, and the Université Sainte-Anne in my riding of West Nova, so they can continue their important work preserving and promoting Acadian culture and the French language in my riding.
Budget 2018 will support radio stations and newspapers like CIFA and Le Courrier de la Nouvelle-Écosse. Despite the challenges faced by francophone media outlets in minority communities, they continue to offer content that reflects the French-speaking Acadian community they serve.
When we look at this bill to implement budget 2018, we see a vision for the future of Canada, one that builds on the foundation already laid by this government and one that continues to invest in our communities and their people so that all Canadians have a real and fair shot at success no matter what circumstances they were born into, so they can have a dignified retirement. It is a budget that continues to sustain our strong economic performance well into the future and keeps Canada on top as the very best country in the world.
That is why I am proudly supporting Bill C-74.