Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege today to contribute to the debate on Bill C-97, the budget implementation act. The act would implement important measures in our 2019 budget that the Minister of Finance tabled last month in the House.
Budget 2019 comes at a time when Canada's economy is strong. Thanks to the hard work of Canadians, more than 900,000 jobs have been created since 2015, most of them full time. Unemployment is at 40-year lows.
New jobs are being created across the country, but many of these new well-paying opportunities require a level of education or a skill set that people do not have the time or the money to get. Many Canadians feel as though they are missing out.
Young people who are striking out into the job market are hoping to get their first full-time job, one that pays well and gives them a good start to their working life.
That is why budget 2019 has a particular focus on the challenges faced by young Canadians. Young Canadians are more diverse, educated and socially connected than ever before. Like all Canadians, they want the chance to work in a good career, buy a home and build a better future for themselves, their families and their communities.
Whether at town halls or during online discussions, young Canadians have delivered the same message to the government: Invest in a plan that helps youth overcome the barriers to their success. Our government has listened. With budget 2019, our government is making strategic and responsible investments to address these challenges and provide young Canadians with access to opportunities that position them for well-paid jobs today and tomorrow, make it easier for them to have better access to home ownership and help them thrive.
Just as our government helps more children get the best start in life with measures like the Canada child benefit, which has helped lift nearly 300,000 children out of poverty since 2015, it remains equally focused on what comes next for young people, whether they seek to purchase a first home, enrol in university or college, or start their career.
Measures that address those issues are what I will be speaking about today, because budget 2019 is not just a plan to create jobs; it is targeted help where people need it the most.
We can see that approach when it comes to housing. Many Canadians might feel that because of high house prices in some of Canada's largest cities, buying a home is increasingly out of reach. We know that young people especially are being priced out of some house and condo markets. Average home prices today are about eight times larger than the average full-time income of Canadians aged 25 to 34. That is markedly different from a few decades ago, when they were about four times larger.
To address the difficulty that young families may be having in buying their first home, through Bill C-97, budget 2019 proposes a new first-time home buyer incentive. With this extra help in the shape of a shared equity mortgage through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Canadians can lower their monthly mortgage payments, making home ownership more affordable.
The incentive would provide funding of 5% or 10% of the home purchase price for existing or new homes respectively, with no ongoing monthly payments required. The program is expected to help approximately 100,000 Canadians buy homes that they can afford.
Through budget 2019 and Bill C-97, our government is also increasing the home buyers' plan withdrawal limit for the first time in a decade. This would provide first-time home buyers with greater access to their registered retirement savings plan savings to buy a home.
Specifically, the budget proposes to increase the HBP withdrawal limit to $35,000 from the previous $25,000 limit. Young Canadians are the main beneficiaries of the new first-time home buyer incentive and of the increase in the withdrawal limit on the home buyers' plan. They are the Canadians who are especially likely to be prospective first-time homebuyers and to live in urban centres where affordability gaps are pronounced.
These two measures to make home ownership more affordable for Canadians are the next step in our national housing strategy, which is included in the bill we are debating today.
For more affordable rental units in areas with low vacancy, budget 2019 would also expand the rental construction financing incentive, helping to build more affordable rental options for Canadians to live near where they work or study and tackling homelessness across the country through the reaching home strategy.
Our government also believes in doing its part to make sure young Canadians can access the post-secondary education they need to get the jobs they want. Our government is committed to making post-secondary education more affordable for students and to helping young Canadians pursue higher education without the undue financial burden that often comes with post-secondary learning.
While Canada is among the most educated countries in the world, too many Canadians still face barriers that prevent them from pursuing post-secondary studies or skilled trades programs. This is why, since 2015, our government has helped make university, college and apprenticeship programs more affordable and accessible. From boosting Canada student grants to lowering the interest rate on Canada student loans to improving access to loans for vulnerable students, our government is making sure more young people have the opportunity to go to university or college.
With budget 2019, the government is taking new steps to help Canadians access post-secondary education.
Budget 2019 proposes to lower the floating interest rate on Canada student loans to the prime rate, helping close to one million borrowers who are repaying their student loans and saving the average borrower approximately $2,000 over the time of the loan.
In addition, budget 2019 has proposed to waive interest payments during the six-month grace period after graduation, helping approximately 200,000 borrowers every year transition successfully from their studies to work.
To make these student loans more accessible, a modernized Canada student loans program will better respond to the needs of vulnerable student borrowers.
The investment in budget 2019 includes increased supports for students with permanent disabilities as well as the introduction of interest-free and payment-free medical and parental leave for student loan borrowers.
Also, budget 2019 proposes to expand parental leave coverage for post-secondary students and post-doctoral fellows who receive federal granting council funding from six months to 12 months. This will help parents to better balance work obligations with family responsibilities, such as child care.
When combined with the government's previous investments in student financial assistance, budget 2019's proposals respond to the reality of rising tuition costs, rising living costs and the changing nature of work faced by today's students and youth, and they go far to help achieve the goal of making higher education more affordable.
Barriers to pursuing post-secondary education and finding good, well-paying work are also certainly a challenge that Canada's indigenous peoples continue to face.
Engaging more indigenous people in the workforce will boost economic outcomes for the nearly 1.5 million indigenous Canadians, as well as spur economic opportunities and raise living standards for all Canadians. That is why budget 2019 proposes to provide distinction-based funding for post-secondary education to help first nations, Inuit and Métis Nation students better access post-secondary education and obtain the skills and experience they need to succeed.
With regard to work placement, experience and apprenticeship, beyond the cost of post-secondary education is another reality that many young Canadians face. After graduation, just having a degree or a diploma is often not enough to secure a good, well-paying job. They want more opportunities to learn while they work and to work while they learn.
This is why our government is committed to helping young Canadians find relevant on-the-job experience and employer-relevant skills that will help to ensure a smooth transition into the workforce.
Budget 2019 supports this commitment by proposing to provide more on-the-job learning opportunities for young Canadians who want relevant, real-world work experience. The government would do this by extending the student work placement program as part of a plan to create up to 84,000 new student work placements per year by 2023-24. This will be a significant step toward ensuring that 10 years from now, every young Canadian who wants a work placement will be able to get one.
At the same time, by providing partnerships with businesses to support work placements through the modernized youth employment strategy, the government will help more young people develop new skills and obtain professional experience earlier. The proposed modernized youth employment strategy will have the aim of ensuring that all young people have access to the supports they need, including enhanced supports for young people facing more serious barriers to joining and staying in the workforce.
Furthermore, in an increasingly global economy and labour market, Canadian youth need to develop a range of skills, many of which are best fostered through international experiences such as travelling, studying and working overseas. Building on the commitment in the 2018 fall economic statement to develop a new international education strategy, budget 2019 proposes to support Canadian post-secondary students and young people pursuing opportunities to travel, study and work abroad.
The government is also acting to attract more top-tier foreign students to Canada by promoting Canadian educational institutions as high-calibre places to study.
In addition, budget 2019 includes measures to encourage more Canadians to pursue volunteer opportunities. Service opportunities give young Canadians the chance to gain valuable work and life experience, build on what they have learned through their formal education and give back to their community in meaningful ways.
To encourage and support more service opportunities, in January 2018 our government launched the design phase of the Canada service corps, a youth service initiative. The expanded Canada service corps proposed in 2019 will help young Canadians serve their communities while gaining valuable skills and leadership experience. This includes supporting the creation of up to 15,000 annual volunteer service placements for young Canadians by 2023-24 and of 1,000 annual individual grants for self-directed service projects.
The investment in the Canada service corps will also address barriers to participation in service that have been identified by under-represented youth by providing new incentives and program supports co-created with young people.
Budget 2019 also proposes to improve access to mentorship, learning resources and start-up financing to help young Canadian entrepreneurs bring their business ideas to life and to market through Futurpreneur Canada.
These initiatives are just some of the many actions our government is taking to help more young Canadians get quality education and valuable experience as they build a future for themselves.
Finally, I would like to speak about the subject that is too often overlooked, and that is the mental health of young Canadians.
People aged 15 to 24 are more likely than those in other age groups to have a mood or anxiety disorder. Suicide is the second most common cause of death among people aged 15 to 24, while it ranks ninth among the general population.
Less than half of young people with depression or suicidal thoughts have sought professional help. That is why budget 2019 is proposing to invest in a new pan-Canadian suicide prevention service. This service would provide people across Canada with access to bilingual 24-7 crisis support from trained responders, using the technology of their choice. This builds on the government's previous investments in mental health supports, such as the $5 billion over 10 years to provincial and territorial governments to ensure long-term support for mental health in communities around the country.
To conclude, young Canadians are the future drivers of Canada's economic growth and are ready to be the champions of a fair, more diverse, more inclusive nation. They deserve opportunities to succeed in and benefit from Canada's growing economy. Our government's investments to make education more affordable, give young people more opportunities to find and keep good, well-paying jobs, and make home ownership more attainable will help young Canadians today and help keep our economy strong and growing for the long term.
With budget 2019, our government is investing in ways to prepare young Canadians for their future, helping them succeed for many years to come.