Mr. Speaker, for many reasons, I am pleased to rise today to speak to the budget implementation bill. The first is that I really believe this budget is responding to Canadians across the country. We came in as a government with a commitment to consult with Canadians. That is what we have been doing and what we will continue to do. Throughout the consultations, all of us travelled through many communities, towns, provinces, and territories right across the country. We sat at tables in many community centres and listened to what people had to say, because we want to get this right. We want to make sure we are doing the right thing for Canadians.
When we came into office, we made a commitment to the middle class that we would do what is right and bring a better balance to middle-class Canadians, those who work hard and try to support their families, but who always feel they are at an unfair disadvantage. We have been very focused on that in every single decision and measure we have taken as a government.
We also made a commitment to indigenous people that we would right the wrongs of history by entering into a new relationship with them, a relationship based on reconciliation, respect, and that responds to needs and solutions, as we prepare them together. I know a lot of people have been impatient in and outside the chamber as the Government of Canada has taken on the unique and necessary mandate of moving forward in this country, but it is a commitment that we are acting on, and it is making a difference.
We also made a commitment to children in this country that we would do what we have to in order to raise them up out of poverty. That is why we implemented programs like the new child tax benefit, which will help thousands of children in this country get out of poverty.
We also made a commitment to workers in this country that we would continue to grow the economy. When we came into office, Alberta's economy was stagnant and declining. No pipelines were being built and no deals were even being made. We were not seeing economic growth in regions of Canada. In fact, if we go back just a few years, many of my colleagues will remember that we were in a very tough situation in this country in terms of employment, but the Government of Canada did not falter. It stepped up and worked with industry to create jobs and a sustainable future for Canadians.
We diversified not only our populations but our industries. We welcomed many new companies to Canada to establish their bases of operation, companies like Amazon, who today employs hundreds of people across Canada, with the intention of employing hundreds more. We have signed trade deals and we are in the process of renegotiating the NAFTA deal, but in all of the deals, there were benefits for Canadians, for farmers, fishers, those in the auto sector, those creating jobs and trying to get goods to market.
I would never stand here and say that everything is perfect and that all of the problems have been fixed, as very well know that is not true, but I would say this. It is easy to be critical and hard to be positive, but once people make a good case on issues, it is much more effective than dwelling on all of the things they feel are not right. I will provide an example.
I represent a riding in eastern Canada, the riding of Labrador. It is nearly 300,000 square kilometres and much of it is isolated. I fly in and out of a lot of communities in my riding to visit my constituents. When I ran for election some years ago on the southern coast of Labrador, there was no highway connection. Every community was isolated. Today, it not only has highways, but they are being paved. In the last two years, we have invested more than $60 million just to bring those highways to standard, to allow people access to that rural region of Canada, something that nobody ever did before. No governments before were interested in investing in that type of infrastructure.
Today in this country, we have the largest infrastructure program we have ever seen, and what is that program doing? It is helping all Canadians. It is not just investing in larger towns and cities, but all over the country, in indigenous, rural, northern, and urban communities. That is the way it should be, not the minority always being left behind, which is how I have felt for a very long time in the region I serve today.
Today, I look at the budget we are implementing in this country, and I look at how far my riding has progressed in just a few short years. It is absolutely astonishing. In my riding, we are doing more in the fishery today, in terms of job creation and new technology and advancement, than we have ever done before.
I hear people talk about the sharing of quotas and being upset because indigenous people are now being included in fishery allocations. I will be the first one to stand in the House of Commons and say that there need to be more indigenous Canadians involved in fishery allocations, because in many cases those fisheries are on the doorsteps of indigenous people. However, in many cases, a lot of these quotas went to other companies for 30 or 40 years, putting revenues in the pockets of single-based owners and not necessarily seeing benefits come to regions, communities, or populations of people. Is it a bad thing that people want to redistribute wealth in this country? I do not think so, as long as it is fair, balanced, and done in a reasonable way.
I want to speak a bit today about people in the employment sectors. I represent the region that is the largest exporter of iron ore in Canada: Labrador City and Wabush. We went through some really tough times in these communities. We saw a mine close down and hundreds of people who had given their life's work to this company lose up to 25% of their pension benefits, and there was no mechanism under law in this country to protect those benefits for workers.
The Minister of Finance stood in the House and said that, with this budget, we are going to make amendments to the Pension Act and ensure that there is protection of benefits for workers. That is what needs to be done. That is the right thing to do. Who would want to vote against that? After what we have seen happen in this country with Sears workers, steel workers, and other workers, why would one not want to step up and look at ways to protect the pension benefits of workers? That is what is in this budget implementation plan.
In addition to addressing the issues for children, indigenous people, and working people, the budget also makes significant investments in health care, housing, and social programs. We cannot overlook that fact. In Newfoundland and Labrador, we increased the transfers for health care this year. We added $112 million in extra investments for mental health services. I was really proud to be with the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, the area mental health and addiction services are run out of, and hear that we are going to see mental health beds opening in the hospital and new psychiatrists added in Labrador.
These are things that are valuable to citizens in our country. These are things people in my riding and across Canada have asked for, and we are delivering on them. As long as I am a member here, I will keep listening to what my constituents are saying and keep pushing in the right direction to ensure that, as citizens of this country, they get what is fair and balanced, and are not left behind because they happen to be removed from Ottawa or an urban centre. Just because someone is northern, rural, or indigenous, that does not mean he or she should not get the same benefits in this country.