Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my esteemed colleague, the hon. member for Malpeque.
I am proud to rise today to speak in support of Bill C-97. This budget goes the next step in accomplishing the goals the Liberal government set out four years ago. It lifts Canadians up with an economy that supports them and a government that makes investments to make their lives easier. This is a change from the previous Harper Conservative government that cut important investments in infrastructure, health care and social programs.
In four years, our government has created over one million jobs, the unemployment rate is at the lowest point in years and Canada has the fastest-growing economy of all G7 nations. We have lifted 300,000 children out of poverty. Billions of dollars have been invested in affordable housing and infrastructure investments throughout Canada.
I want to thank the residents of Surrey—Newton for giving me the responsibility of delivering this real change in our community.
As members of Parliament, our purpose is to make a positive difference in the lives of our constituents. In all my terms as an MP, that is what I have sought to do. Whether it is making my personal cell number available to my constituents or going to as many community events as possible, I do this so my constituents can get the timely help they need and are able to share any issues or concerns they may have.
I am proud to share with everyone that since our first budget, our Liberal government has made important investments that have strengthened Surrey—Newton.
Since 2015, we have invested over $7 million to build more classroom space at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, as well as $125 million to build a new sustainable energy and environmental engineering building at SFU Surrey campus.
To help people get to where they need to be more efficiently, we are investing over $1 billion to expand the SkyTrain in Surrey. This comes after delivering 106 new buses and replacing the aging SkyTrain cars so they are more reliable for commuters.
Through a $600,000 investment in the Newton Recreation Centre and the Surrey Art Gallery, we have ensured that families have strong community centres for them to gather at.
Above all, the Canada child benefit is helping nearly 14,000 families, with an average monthly benefit of $630 a month. That is $8.7 million every month that is helping parents and children lead strong, healthy lives.
The Canada child benefit helps families with everything from groceries to child care to sports and recreation activities for our youth.
Because of this benefit, 300,000 children in Canada have been lifted out of poverty. That is something of which each and every member of the House should be proud. It is the single largest decline in poverty in the country's history. It happened because of the vision and leadership of the Prime Minister, the hon. member for Papineau. He promised real change and he has delivered.
When the finance minister delivered budget 2019, he spoke about the choices we have made in this budget to make life easier for Canadians.
To help young families buying their first home, we have created a new first-time homebuyer incentive, which will lower monthly mortgage payments by providing funding of 5% or 10% of the home purchase price for existing or new homes, respectively. This program is expected to help approximately 100,000 Canadians buy a home they can afford.
We have also increased the homebuyers' plan withdrawal limit for the first time in a decade. This would provide first-time homebuyers with more access to their RRSPs to buy a home.
Budget 2019 also lowers the interest rate for Canadian student loans to the prime rate, helping close to one million students who are repaying their student loans and saving the average student approximately $2,000 over the time of the loan. The interest payments during the first six-month grace period after graduation will also be waived, which will help approximately 200,000 students every year transition successfully from their studies to the workplace.
Canadians can now purchase the prescription drugs they need without having to worry about the costs. We are putting a plan in place to implement a national pharmacare plan that will help lower prescription costs. Through this plan, Canadians will save $3 billion each year.
To help more seniors retire with dignity, we are enhancing the GIS earning exemption from $3,500 to $5,000 while also automatically registering seniors aged 70 or older for their retirement benefits.
Finally, to ensure that our communities are stronger, we are investing an additional $2.2 billion to support local infrastructure priorities.
These are just some of the many highlights from budget 2019 that are going to directly help Canadians.
After 10 years of neglect by the Harper Conservatives, our government's investments are strengthening Canada. Opposition members have said that if they were back in government, they would not make these choices. What they would do is take us back and cut investments that are so vital to Canadians.
These investments, whether for seniors, child care, reducing income tax for small businesses or helping with infrastructure projects, are the real investments that change the lives of Canadians, particularly when it comes to Surrey—Newton. This is a very diverse community, socially and economically, and these policies for the middle class have helped over the last four years. I am certain that the 2019 budget will help even more so they will be able to do even better.
I am thankful for this opportunity to share my words.