Madam Speaker, before I proceed I want to put it on the record that what the hon. member is referring to is a $300 tax break but he forgets that we also have a national child tax benefit that is provided to all families. The party seems to somehow forget that. In any case, I will get to that in my speech.
I also want to ask the hon. member, perhaps when he asks me a question, why the hon. member for Edmonton--Spruce Grove said that her party will honour all the agreements that we have signed with the five provinces.
I will begin my speech first by emphasizing this government's commitment to early learning and child care. We are not only talking about child care. We are talking about a national system of early learning, our commitment to seniors and our commitment to unpaid caregivers. Each has been identified as key priorities in the budget 2005.
We know that a healthy social and economic environment leads to healthy communities and ultimately to an improved quality of life. On this note, allow me to also outline our advances in the area of the social economy, which is my specific area of responsibility.
The social economy is made up of all entrepreneurs and non-profit corporations. These enterprises produce goods and services for the market economy, but they manage their operations with a view to redirecting their profits in pursuit of social and community goals; basically, they are reinvesting their surpluses in the community.
These businesses use their skills and services for social goals, whether it is protecting the environment, revitalizing neighbourhoods or helping disadvantaged groups reach their full potential.
The Government of Canada is determined to foster the social economy in all its diverse forms so that it becomes a key component of Canada's social policy tool kit. May I say that in Quebec, the province in which I was elected and in which I have spent most of my life, some of the day cares are run under the auspices of something called the social economy.
This government has made a commitment to inject $132 million over five years in the social economy, to support financial initiatives to increase lending to social economy enterprises, reinforce the capacity of community organizations involved in economic development, support community based research on the social economy, and improve the access of social enterprises to programs and services for small and medium-sized enterprises.
Just last month I announced, together with my colleague, the hon. Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, the key measures that will be implemented in Quebec to promote the social economy and contribute to the success of the enterprises operating in Quebec. These measures will include $5.1 million over two years for capacity building, and $30 million over five years for the Social Economy Patient Capital Fund.
These measures will enable the social economy to reach its potential and they will benefit all Canadians. We must invest dollars now if we wish to secure a healthy social economy for Canada's future.
This government has always focused on the priorities that are important to all Canadians: our children, our youth, our cities and communities, and the health and well-being of all Canadians. Our record of balanced budgets proves this. The budget and its accompanying bill once again prove this. The Liberal government has always and will always put Canadians first, and it also puts a united Canada first.
I would just like to make it clear to certain members of this House in connection with this budget and the accompanying bill that it is good for Quebec, good for Canada, and good for all Canadians.
Our vision of Canada on this side of the House has always encompassed all the provinces, all the territories, all Canadians, and Quebec. We have always believed, and continue to believe, in a united Canada.
The Liberal government's record has always demonstrated our commitment to all Canadians. This budget and the accompanying bill reinforce that commitment. I see that in my own riding of Ahuntsic.
Human Resources and Skills Development has announced $215,000 for older worker pilot projects, which includes the textile and garment workers. There has been $275,000 from the Department of Labour for the supported communities partnership initiative, and another nearly $100,000 for three agencies in my riding of Ahuntsic from the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.
The Liberal government has made a commitment to our children, our young people, our cities and communities, and we keep our commitments. This budget and the accompanying bill respect and reinforce our commitments. They deliver the goods to all Canadians.
I am sure we will all agree that our children are this country's most precious resource and that they deserve early learning experiences that will point them toward a positive and successful future.
I assure the House once again that this government's heart is in the right place when it comes to family. We actually give real choices to families. That is why the Government of Canada made children a priority in the budget. We cannot and must not let them down.
Budget 2005 will provide $5 billion over five years for an early learning and child care national program. The impact of this $5 billion will vary across the country depending on the priorities identified by each province and territory.
I am very proud to say that in the province of Quebec, as always on other important issues in the country, we already have a system in place. I want to tell the hon. member who preceded me that in fact I was also a working mother. When I was elected, my children were a year and a half and three and a half years old. They had nine months with their mother, two years with their grandmother and the rest of the time in day care until they entered kindergarten and school. I have known the benefits of all three systems. I still believe that for those working mothers there is a great need in this country to have an accessible universal day care and early learning system.
We already have agreements in principle with five provinces, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nova Scotia. Others are slated for signature with the other provinces and territories in coming weeks.
We must not confuse child tax deductions with child care, as did the hon. member who preceded me, along with other members of his party.
This government made a commitment to build a national early learning and child care system, one that will not in any way infringe on parental rights or choices. Rather, the goal of this initiative is to ensure consistency and quality in the delivery of early learning and child care.
Aboriginal children, too, will benefit from a national early learning and child care initiative. The Government of Canada already has committed $45 million over four years in the 2003-04 budget to enhance the established federal aboriginal head start on reserve program and first nations and Inuit child care programs.
Budget 2005 will provide an additional $100 million over four years to further enhance these programs, with an emphasis on quality early learning and child care for first nations children living on reserve.
Our government has not forgotten its commitment to seniors either. We want to give them an income supplement and care when these are needed. This is one of the ways the government plans to strengthen the social foundations of this country.
Budget 2005 contains a number of initiatives designed to address the needs of today's seniors and the aging population that will follow in their footsteps. To help address the immediate needs of low income seniors, the government will increase the guaranteed income supplement, the allowance and survivor's allowance by 7%.
Starting January 1, 2006, the guaranteed income supplement will increase by $18 a month for single recipients and by $29 a month for couples. Those rates will increase by the same amount again on January 1, 2007, putting an extra $432 a year in the pockets of single seniors and an extra $700 a year for couples. Over 1.6 million seniors who currently receive the GIS will benefit from this increase and up to 50,000 more seniors will qualify for partial GIS benefits.
The government also wants to help those seniors who are financially able to plan better for their future. Budget 2005 will raise the annual contribution limit for registered retirement savings plans to $22,000 by 2010 and will increase corresponding employer sponsored registered pension plans.
Although I have more to say, my time is up, but let me note that funding for the new horizons program for seniors, which I had the pleasure of announcing in my riding with the minister responsible, will grow to $10 million in 2006-07 and $15 million in 2007-08 and subsequent years, bringing the annual budget to $25 million.
I will conclude by saying there is nothing more important than the adoption of this budget. If the opposition members in fact care about children, seniors and our environment, then I encourage them to support Bill C-43.