Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking the residents of Surrey Centre for once again putting their trust in me. It is truly an honour to be their voice in Ottawa. This moment was possible due to the hard work of my volunteers, who knocked on doors rain or shine, made countless phone calls, put up signs and spread the message of positive politics, all to ensure that I would continue to represent them in this chamber.
I would also not be standing here today if it were not for the unwavering support of my family.
I will always be accessible to the residents of Surrey Centre, and I look forward to working with each one of them for our community. I am certain that by working together we can ensure that Surrey Centre will continue to move forward.
This past election proved that Canadians from coast to coast to coast want their representatives to work harder to tackle the issues that matter most. For Surrey Centre, I will continue to advocate for the middle class and those working hard to join it. I will continue to ensure that appropriate resources are available to those who keep our community safe and will support our climate target to continue leading this country in the right direction.
Gun and gang violence, though on the decline, has been prevalent in Surrey for far too long. In January 2019 Surrey was given $7.5 million for the Surrey anti-gang family empowerment project, SAFE, the single largest investment in any city in Canada. SAFE was developed from the findings of the mayor's task force on gang violence, which I had the opportunity to sit on as a member. Over 4,500 at-risk youth will benefit from the project, which will work to help prevent youth from joining gangs and participating in other harmful activities by providing them with alternatives.
An amazing initiative that came out of this program was the family and youth resource support team, FYRST. This early intervention and prevention initiative has resulted in 260 outreach visits and 58 client referrals in its first three months.
We have seen results and that is why we will continue to invest in cities to fight gang-related violence.
However, this throne speech tackles harder policies. The government will crack down on gun crime, banning military-style assault rifles and taking steps to introduce a buy-back program. These are guns designed for only one task: to kill the most people in the least amount of time. They are not for hunting and are not for sport shooting.
I would support and encourage the City of Surrey if it chose to proceed with banning handguns or at least creating a bylaw to have handguns stored at gun ranges only. It is time that we prioritize the safety of our youth and make sure our citizens feel safe.
Canadians are counting on us to be bold and ambitious, and to put the needs of the country before our own. With a willingness to collaborate we can do just that. We can deliver results and continue making life better for the people we serve.
In 2015 we promised Canadians real change, and the throne speech will continue to build on the real progress we have made. We created one million new jobs, lifted 900,000 people out of poverty, including 300,000 children, reducing poverty by almost 20%. This is one of Canada's biggest social income changes in a four-year period ever.
It is a privilege to be a part of the democratic process and I take my responsibility with great importance. Representing British Columbia may differ from representing other parts of Canada, but our priorities are the same: to move the country forward together.
The throne speech outlined a number of themes our government will focus on. We all want equal opportunities and have common goals, whether on keeping our communities safe, on affordability or on climate change. My responsibility to my constituents in Surrey Centre is to deliver real impactful results.
The throne speech has put emphasis on keeping Canadians safe, which is a high priority for the residents of Surrey Centre.
I have some of the most hard-working residents in the country. When I knocked on doors, I kept hearing concerns about affordability, whether on housing, schooling or being able to afford day-to-day activities. It was time a government put hard-working Canadians at its forefront.
In 2015, as soon as we were elected, we raised taxes on the wealthy and lowered taxes for the middle class. We created a tax-free Canada child benefit to help families with the cost of raising their children.
In Surrey Centre, the Canada child benefit has helped over 28,000 families since 2016, with the amount of payments to our riding totalling over $208 million. Since the introduction of this historic benefit, nine out of 10 families have been receiving more money every month for groceries, school supplies, sports and other extracurricular activities.
The Canada child benefit was then increased for a second time to keep up with the cost of living. Canada's poverty rate is at its lowest level in Canadian history, and thanks to the CCB, nearly 300,000 children have been lifted out of poverty. We know when Canadians have more money in their pockets, we build stronger communities, create more jobs and continue to grow a stronger economy.
I am glad that Canadians re-elected a government that would put their needs first. That is why we are repeating this in 2019.
Our government has taken steps to once again amend the Income Tax Act to lower taxes for the middle class and people working to join it. This could save a single person almost $300 a year and provide a couple or a family close to $600 a year in savings. Nearly 1.1 million more Canadians would no longer pay federal income tax at all. This would help nearly 20 million Canadians save hundreds of dollars a year in taxes once it is fully rolled out in 2023.
We are moving forward with more help for the middle class and people working hard to join it, because that is exactly what Canadians elected us to do. In the past four years, over one million new jobs were created and unemployment dropped to its lowest rate since records have been kept.
We know how important it is to ensure that we create a better nation for our youth, and that is why we are prioritizing climate change. The fight against climate change and further environmental protection starts now. The government will preserve Canada's natural legacy, protecting 25% of our land and 25% of our oceans by 2025. We are helping to make energy-efficient homes more affordable and are introducing measures to build clean, efficient and affordable communities. We want to make it easier for people to choose zero-emission vehicles, work to make clean and affordable power available in every Canadian community, work with businesses to make Canada the best place to start and grow a clean-technology company and provide help for people displaced by climate-related disasters. Simple tasks such as reducing plastic pollution and using nature-based solutions, including planting two billion trees, can help clean the air and make our communities greener.
We know that the environment and the economy can go hand in hand. While the government creates strong action to fight climate change, it will prioritize Canadian resources to new markets and offer unwavering support to the hard-working women and men in Canada's natural resource sector.
The throne speech touched on very important, time-sensitive issues: keeping our streets safe, making life more affordable for Canadians and preserving the future of our planet for the next generation. I am truly honoured to be standing here today with a progressive government that prioritizes these issues and many more that help Canadians from coast to coast to coast.