Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I wish to inform the House that I will be splitting my time today with the member for Gatineau. I would also like to extend condolences to Humboldt, to the team, the families, the billets, and to the entire community, on behalf of the people of Fundy Royal. Our hearts are with them.
Today I rise to speak on Bill C-74, the budget implementation act. This is a budget that builds on the investments made by the previous budgets. It takes it to the next level to ensure that all Canadians have an opportunity to benefit from the growth we are seeing in the economy.
Today I would like to focus on a few items that are having, and will have, a profound impact in my riding of Fundy Royal. The riding of Fundy Royal is predominantly rural, nestled between three southern cities in New Brunswick, and bordered to the north by the beautiful Bay of Fundy. Although the area is peppered with communities that are unique, each in their own way, there is a common thread that runs through them: a tenacity to grow, prosper, and to build a better life for our next generation.
I came to Ottawa with a mission to address the concerns of my constituents, concerns I hear daily, about the sustainability and growth of our communities and the local economy. This became a bigger challenge shortly after I was elected when the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan announced it was indefinitely suspending operations at the Picadilly mine. I am proud of how local leaders responded, how we quickly found a path forward, and how the federal government was there as a partner. At that time, our government did not waver in its commitment to Fundy Royal, and this budget is a continuation of the commitment to everyday Canadians who are facing challenges and are committed to progress.
I have always subscribed to the theory that a high tide raises all boats. Many of the commitments in budget 2018 will make sure that the most vulnerable in our communities are provided with the resources they require to find stability in their lives and participate more fully in society. These are measures that build on our monumental investments in the Canada child benefit, which supports over 16,000 children each month in Fundy Royal; skills training investments; flexibility in El, which allows Canadians to return to school to upgrade their education; and a new national housing strategy, which will provide updated and additional rental units in our communities.
We are also building on investments for seniors, who are an important part of our families and communities. In addition to the special provisions for seniors in the housing strategy and the increase to the guaranteed income supplement for single seniors introduced previously, budget 2018 goes further for seniors in New Brunswick. A commitment to a healthy seniors pilot project will see $75 million to combat challenges produced by an aging demographic and determine best practices to keep seniors healthy and in their homes.
Budget 2018 also recognizes the struggles of those who are working hard to join the middle class. The Canada workers benefit was introduced to encourage more people to join the workforce. This will offer real help to over two million Canadians while raising 70,000 out of poverty.
Budget 2018 also recognizes the reality of seasonal work and the integral part it plays in rural economies like Fundy Royal. To support seasonal workers who have exhausted their El benefits, my colleague from Acadie—Bathurst announced an agreement with the Province of New Brunswick just last week. This will provide the province with $2.5 million immediately to directly help workers who have been impacted. The seasonal worker program offers income support as well as training and work experience for seasonal workers in the Restigouche-Albert region of New Brunswick, for those in the fisheries, agriculture, forestry, and tourism industries.
Our government continues to focus on growth in Atlantic Canada, and investing in the great people, communities, and ideas in the Atlantic region. That is what this budget does. It empowers women, parents, employees, small businesses, industry, and our regional economies.
For instance, spruce budworm is a native insect that periodically kills large numbers of balsam fir and spruce trees across eastern Canada. We saw this happen about 30 years ago. We know it is cyclical, and the threat is present again today. The economic impact of these disturbances has the potential to wipe out up to three million hectares of crown land in New Brunswick alone, and negatively impact up to 1,900 jobs every year if left unchecked.
I would like to thank my colleague from South Shore—St. Margarets for reflecting on this already during the debate on budgetary policy. I can very well attest to the threat that the outbreak poses in Fundy Royal. Forestry workers in Fundy Royal have a sense of relief knowing that our government is committing nearly $75 million over five years to combatting spruce budworm. This will support the work of the healthy forests network to continue with its early intervention strategy, which has been showing very promising results over the past several years.
We have thriving fisheries in Fundy Royal, and the continued growth of these fisheries requires ongoing investments in small craft harbours. This budget commits $250 million on a cash basis over two years, starting in 2018-19, for projects like extending the breakwater in Alma.
Fundy Royal is one of the most beautiful places in Canada. Not only is it home to the Fundy Biosphere, but also to the Hammond River, the Kennebecasis Valley, and the Fundy Trail. I am proud of the work that our local environmental organizations are doing, and I am glad that this budget will provide the resources needed to preserve and safeguard our environment. This budget makes one of the largest investments in nature conservation in Canadian history, $1.3 billion, to protect more land, waters, species at risk, and preserve biodiversity. It is up to all of us to protect the environment so that future generations of Canadians can continue to hike the Fundy Footpath, mountain bike on the bluff, or kayak in St. Martins.
The Conservation Council of New Brunswick says that this groundbreaking investment by our government shows it is listening and acting to an unprecedented degree on Canadians' deep connection to nature and our desire to see the forests, parks, lands, and waters we love, and the wildlife that calls these places home, protected. Lois Corbett, the executive director of the council, said “This is a huge breakthrough and a day to celebrate for New Brunswickers and folks clear across the country who love nature, wildlife, and the outdoors."
Canada's new tourism vision places high importance on our rich natural surroundings, especially Parks Canada sites. More than 22 million people each year visit the national parks, historic sites, and marine conservation areas administered by Parks Canada. I am delighted to note that admission to Parks Canada sites, including Fundy National Park, will now be permanently free for those aged 17 and under.
One of the most exciting parts of my job as the member of Parliament for Fundy Royal is talking to future generations of political leaders. In December, I received a letter from a student at Three Oaks Senior High School in Summerside, P.E.I., in the riding of my friend, the member for Egmont. Kate was asked to write a member of Parliament about an issue of concern to her. She spoke about mental health with conviction, saying there are growing number of cases of anxiety, depression, and even suicide, and that it is becoming normal in our daily lives which should not be occurring in our society. She said that we need to stop the issue before it becomes worse. We agree with Kate. In our efforts to support veterans, we have further extended support by ensuring that the medical expense tax credit will now recognize the costs of psychiatric service dogs, provide assistance to the amazing organizations that support veterans, and invest in research for first responders who suffer from these invisible disabilities.
Our government is also supporting research for autism, as well as diseases such as Alzheimer's and dementia.
This budget is revolutionary, in that it focuses on Canada's future. It puts people first, and focuses on what matters most to the people of Fundy Royal. It invests in the protection of our environment, and promotes equality and prosperity for those from Hillsborough to Nauwigewauk and around the world. I am proud to stand and speak to this budget, one that recognizes the potential growth of our country and focuses on equality.
As part of this year's budget, the finance minister announced our government's women entrepreneurship strategy that will help women grow their businesses by accessing financing, talent, networks, and expertise. The women entrepreneurship strategy is part of a broader effort to address gender-related barriers that have impaired the progress of women in business. As a former small business owner, this is near and dear to my heart. I know the potential is there if we provide a path forward for more women to succeed and grow as entrepreneurs.
Like many others in Fundy Royal and in the House, I am driven when I think about our youth and the future they should have in Canada. It is why I became involved in politics, to ensure I am part of a movement to make sure they will have a prosperous future in our home province of New Brunswick. By becoming the first woman elected in Fundy Royal, I, like all of the men elected before me, am confident that I can make a difference, not only in the lives of these youth, but also in the lives of all Canadians.
Each progressive budget that has been presented by our government is a step in the right direction, and this budget is no different. I am confident that it will provide lasting challenges for generations to come.