Madam Speaker, over the last two years, Canada's economy has been fuelled by the hard work of a stronger middle class, combined with our government's historic investments in people and communities. Canada now has the fastest-growing economy in the G7 and has added more than 600,000 good, well-paying jobs since we were elected.
I am pleased to speak today to budget 2018, which supports our commitment to building an equal, competitive, sustainable, and fair Canada. Our strong economy, anchored by a low and consistently declining debt-to-GDP ratio, means that our government has the confidence to make the investments in our future that will strengthen and grow the middle class and lay a more solid foundation for future generations of Canadians.
As vice-chair of the status of women committee, I have had the privilege over the past two-plus years to work extensively on the issues of gender equality, gender-based violence, women's access to justice, and women's economic security. That is why I was so pleased to see so much of this work reflected in this year's budget, which puts gender at the heart of decision-making, helping to support women and girls, address harassment and gender-based violence, reduce the gender wage gap, and increase the participation of women in the workforce, which in turn helps boost economic growth for all Canadians. Recently, in my riding, I held a budget breakfast with business and stakeholders like Halton Women's Place, Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention Services, and the Halton Multicultural Council to highlight this focus.
There is no reason that women should earn less than their male colleagues for the same work. Budget 2018 would move forward with new, proactive pay equity legislation to ensure that employees in federally regulated workplaces receive equal pay for work of equal value. Our committee heard about the importance of both parents sharing parental leave to support gender equality in the home and in the workplace. Budget 2018 would provide $1.2 billion to introduce a new employment insurance parental sharing benefit, giving greater flexibility to parents by providing an additional five weeks of “use it or lose it” parental benefits when both parents agree to share parental leave.
During the course of our committee study on gender-based violence, we heard that there is a need for federal leadership to support a national approach to eliminating sexual violence on post-secondary campuses and removing the stigma for survivors seeking support, and the government is delivering. Budget 2018 would commit $5.5 million over five years to develop a national framework to ensure comprehensive and consistent approaches in addressing gender-based violence in post-secondary institutions across the country.
This government believes that advancing gender equality is a responsibility that should not fall exclusively to women and girls. In my community, we have seen the success of the engagement program at Halton Women's Place and the SAVIS male ally network in engaging men and boys to end gender-based violence. The government would provide $1.8 million to Status of Women Canada to develop an engagement strategy for men and boys that would promote equality and pilot innovative, targeted approaches to addressing inequality, making Canada a world leader in this area.
The government would provide an additional $86 million over five years, and $20 million per year thereafter, to expand Canada's strategy to address gender-based violence. New investments would focus on preventing teen dating violence, developing anti-cyber-bullying initiatives, expanding investments to front-line crisis centres, and equipping health care professionals to provide appropriate care to survivors.
We know that there are not enough women in skilled trades. To encourage women to pursue careers in the trades, the government has allocated $19.9 million over five years to pilot an apprenticeship incentive grant for women that would result in a combined $8,000 of support over the course of a woman's apprenticeship as she works to become a welder, a machinist, or a pipefitter, or work in other skilled trades.
A few months ago, I hosted the Minister of Small Business and Tourism at a round table in my riding with a group of female entrepreneurs. We heard about the need for resources to help them scale up their businesses. Therefore, I am thrilled that budget 2018 would help women entrepreneurs do just that, with the new women entrepreneurship strategy.
Budget 2018 would also commit $50.4 million over five years to address sexual harassment in the workplace, $25.4 million of which would be dedicated to boosting legal aid funding across the country. In addition, the government would invest a further $25 million to develop a countrywide outreach approach to better inform workers about their rights in cases of workplace harassment.
Our Oakville North—Burlington community is growing rapidly, and as it grows, the needs of the community grow and change with it. With budget 2018, the government takes a people-centred approach to investing in Canadians, from helping young people find work placements to empowering new Canadians to contribute to a growing economy that benefits us all.
I know that my constituents are excited about the creation of an advisory council on the implementation of national pharmacare, which was announced in the budget. The council would begin a national dialogue that would include working with experts from all relevant fields, as well as with national, provincial, territorial, and indigenous leaders.
In my region, over 13,500 children live in low-income housing, and over one in 10 children live in poverty. To encourage a stable supply of affordable rental housing across the country, the government is committed to providing $3.75 billion over the next three years to support housing projects that address the needs of modest- and middle-income households struggling in expensive housing markets.
Our government would also provided an additional $448.5 million over five years to the youth employment strategy.
Employment is the key to the successful integration of newcomers in Canada, but for many newcomer women, there are significant barriers, including both gender- and race-based discrimination, precarious employment, and lack of community and social supports. To help reduce these barriers, the government has allocated $31.8 million to support programming for newcomer women who are also members of visible minorities.
Moving on to public safety and access to justice, whether through the guarantee of a fair and equitable justice system or the knowledge that their private information is secure, Canadians deserve to feel safe and protected. The budget commits to a number of measures that would benefit the efficiency of Canada's safety and security institutions, without compromising our shared values as an open, inclusive, and welcoming society.
Addressing operational stress injuries and post-traumatic stress injuries in public safety officers is an issue I have been deeply committed to. Having studied the issue at the public safety committee and spoken to first responders and public safety officers both in my riding and across Canada, I know that our investment in mental health has been well received. There is $20 million over five years to support a new national research consortium to address the incidence of post-traumatic stress injuries among public safety officers, as well as an additional $10 million to develop an Internet-based cognitive behaviour therapy pilot to provide greater access to care and treatment across Canada. Recently, I was joined by first responders in my riding to share this news locally, and I know they appreciate the government's recognition of the issue and the funding we are providing toward their mental health.
Budget 2018 proposes investments of $506.6 million over five years, and $108.8 million per year thereafter, to fund a new national cybersecurity strategy that would ensure secure and resilient Canadian systems, provide a trusted federal source for cybersecurity information for Canadian citizens and business, and support effective collaboration between different levels of government and international partners.
Finally, I know that my constituents place a great value on preserving Canada's nature, parks, and wild spaces. In budget 2018, the government is making investments to preserve Canada's natural heritage, while helping to grow a healthy and sustainable clean economy. To support Canada's biodiversity and protect species at risk, the government would make historic investments totalling $1.3 billion over five years, one of the most significant investments in nature conservation in Canadian history.
These are just a few highlights of budget 2018, and time does not permit me to further outline the investments our government is making to grow our Canadian economy for all Canadians.