Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Winnipeg Centre.
It is a great pleasure to rise to speak in support of budget 2018. The measures proposed in budget 2018 will have a substantial and positive impact on my riding of Oakville. I look forward to seeing the benefits roll out in my community next year and for the years to come.
Since coming to office, one of our government's highest priorities has been growing our economy. Now, with the highest growth rate in the G7, we are taking steps to ensure that all Canadians feel the benefit of Canada's economic growth. Budget 2018 presents a message of equality and growth for Canada that translates into smart investments for Oakville and Halton residents. This budget proposes targeted progressive projects that will build a more equal, competitive, and sustainable Canada.
In the months leading up to the budget, I had the opportunity to speak with many people in my riding, constituency organizations, residents, chambers of commerce members, and stakeholders, in Oakvillle about their concerns and priorities for the upcoming budget. While the stakeholders came from all backgrounds and perspectives, many common themes emerged through those discussions. Oakville's stakeholders voiced their support for investments in job creation and advanced manufacturing, investments in research and development, and government action to further promote gender equality and enhanced environmental protection.
Among the many exciting investments proposed in 2018, there were a few I would like to highlight that in particular relate to my riding of Oakville.
For many Canadians, being a parent and raising a family is the most important part of their lives. New families in Oakville rely on maternity and parental benefits for support during the critical period in early childhood when they need to take time off work to care for their children. Budget 2018 makes it easier for parents to share child care responsibilities through a new EI parental sharing benefit. This encourages both parents to take time off through a “use it or lose it” incentive of five additional weeks. This encourages greater equality when it comes to the challenge of sharing child care responsibility, and helps to distribute family and home duties between parents. I look forward to seeing Oakville families benefiting from this program.
Our government has always been clear that we need to do more to protect our natural environment. Our quality of life rests on the commitments we make to protect Canada's parks and other natural wild spaces, both today and for the future. That is why we have proposed $1.3 billion over five years to implement a number of key measures, including the creation of a joint $1 billion nature fund. This will be done in partnership with corporate, not-for-profit, provincial, territorial, indigenous, and other partners. The fund will make it possible to secure private lands and support efforts to protect species. The fund also proposes to establish a connected network of protected areas with our partners.
Another important aspect of the fund is that it will establish better rules for the review of major projects that will protect our natural environment and waterways. Oakville residents cherish our green spaces like Sixteen Mile Creek and Bronte Creek Provincial Park and want to make sure we are putting in protections to preserve them for future generations. These new measures will ensure just that.
When I was speaking with my constituents, a key priority was increasing available funding for research and development. There is an incredible amount of innovation happening in Canada. It is vital to support our research and development in order to grow our economy and remain competitive on the world stage. Through budget 2018, the government will provide a historic level of new funding in support of Canadian researchers. This package of research support was informed by the recommendations in Canada's fundamental science review. It is about more than just funding. It is about moving toward a modern research system defined by greater collaboration between disciplines and researchers from across the globe.
Budget 2018 is making an investment of nearly $4 billion to support the next generation of Canadian researchers creating advancements in a wide range of fields. The Canadian Institutes for Health Research will be receiving $354.7 million over five years to support advancements like new technology to diagnose disease earlier, or new medicines to treat patients.
As the chair of the health research caucus, I have had the opportunity to hear first-hand from many Canadian researchers who have been worried about their job security and the future of their research projects. They will benefit immensely from this new funding. As someone who used to review grants on a CIHR review board, it was often challenging to deny projects that we knew would be of benefit to Canada because of limited funding. This funding is a much-needed shot in the arm for Canadian researchers and our research institutions.
We are also looking to increase support for collaborative innovation projects involving businesses, colleges, and polytechnics, such as Sheridan College in my riding, by proposing $140 million over five years through the college and community innovation program.
As the member of Parliament for Oakville, home to Ford Canada, and as chair of the Liberal auto caucus, I also want to highlight how budget 2018 will support the automotive industry in Canada.
Driven by the operations of five global automotive manufacturers and over 660 diverse automotive suppliers, the automotive industry is Canada's largest source of manufacturing exports and trade. As part of our pre-budget submission, the auto caucus called for continued investments in this sector. Canada's auto sector and advanced manufacturing will benefit from the $1.26-billion strategic innovation fund, which will offer both repayable and non-repayable contributions to firms of all sizes across all of Canada. Budget 2018 is giving this vital industry more opportunity to invest in Canada, driving economic growth and job creation in the advanced manufacturing sector in Ontario.
I cannot speak in support of budget 2018 without recognizing the effort and consideration that has been taken throughout its proposals to address gender inequality issues in Canada.
Budget 2018 offers more ways to ensure the equal and full participation of women in Canada's economy. We are changing parental leave benefits, as I previously outlined, to help mothers transition more easily back to the workforce. We are taking pay equity seriously by implementing historic proactive pay equity legislation so that Canadians receive equal pay for equal work. We are making unprecedented investments in women in business through establishing the women entrepreneurship strategy in a $1.65-billion investment over three years through the Business Development Bank and Export Development Canada.
We are expanding Canada's strategy to address gender-based violence, providing funding to projects, including preventing violence in teen dating and supporting rape crisis and sexual assault centres. Also proposed is $1.8 million in funding for programs that engage men and boys on the importance of gender equality and speaking against violence against women. Events like our local Halton Women's Place Hope in High Heels, which I was pleased to co-host and bring to Parliament Hill last November, raise awareness on this issue. These are initiatives I believe are necessary and will make a significant impact on our country's future. I have said many times, violence against women is a male problem, and the solution must include men and boys. I am so proud to stand here as part of a government that has not only taken gender issues seriously, but is providing meaningful and thoughtful ways to address those challenges.
I would now like to speak about a topic included in the budget that is near and dear to my heart. It is a priority in my riding of Oakville and across Canada. A highlight of the budget is the creation of the national advisory council on the implementation of national pharmacare. As many of my constituents and colleagues in the House know, this is one of the main reasons I decided to enter federal politics. We are the only country in the world with a national health care system that does not also have a national pharmacare program. When one in four Canadians cannot afford to fill or finish a prescription, something must be done. When a single mother of two has to choose between medication for a sick child or food on the table, something must be done. When a senior on a fixed income cannot refill a required medication, or when our nation's young adults cannot afford medications for chronic illnesses, like insulin for diabetes, something must be done.
This is an issue I have been advocating for since I was elected. One of the first things I did after the election was work to initiate a study into a national pharmacare program by the Standing Committee on Health. We have heard from 99 witnesses in order to prepare an in-depth report to Parliament on what a program could look like and how it could be implemented. I look forward to the report being tabled in the House in the near future. The national advisory council is the next step to achieving this goal. I am beyond proud that our government has commissioned the council to further investigate how this should be implemented, and I will continue to work both in Ottawa and at home in Oakville to further the health of Canadians.
As we can see, budget 2018 is supporting targeted, progressive projects that will build a more equal, competitive, and sustainable Canada. I am proud to support these initiatives, and I look forward to seeing the benefits roll out in Oakville and across our great country.