Madam Speaker, I am delighted to speak for Yukon and to the budget bill.
When the government came into power, we changed the northern strategy, the Arctic strategy, to put the emphasis on people. We believe that if there are strong, healthy people in the north, we will have strong sovereignty in the north, good resource development, and environmental protection. I was delighted that the budgets of 2016 and 2017 reflected this emphasis on the people.
I will just talk about some of the items in those budgets that made northerners very happy.
First, the large increase in the northern allowance in the 2016 budget helped to cover the high cost of living in the north. Sometimes a jug of milk in the high Arctic can cost three, four, or five times what it does down south, as an example. All sorts of things cost more, so this big increase in the northern allowance was very welcome to help keep talented people in the north and to help people who have lived there for generations afford a good lifestyle, raise their families, and provide good clothing and food for their children.
What helped with that immensely, of course, was the Canada child benefit. There was a big increase, especially for low-income families with children. We can imagine the incredible task of a single mother in the north, with these high costs, trying to raise her children. This non-taxable child benefit has gone a long way and has been a big help in the north.
It is the same for all categories of people. There is the OAS supplement, which helps the poorest of seniors. There is the increase in student grants for low-income students and the doubling of student jobs for the summer. These measures all help people, especially people who need it the most, in the north.
In my riding of Yukon, the two biggest private sectors are mining and tourism. Mining, of course, has been the biggest contributor to our gross domestic product since the great Klondike gold rush, the greatest gold rush in the world. It is very important.
In recent years, mineral exploration has been very important to our economy. We worked hard to encourage the Minister of Natural Resources, who was a very strong advocate, to extend the mineral exploration tax credit for another year. This is a 15% tax credit. A lot of the mining activity in the Yukon at the moment is exploration, and probably a vast majority of it would not occur without this tax credit. This is instrumental and a huge help to the people of the Yukon.
The second-biggest sector is tourism. Sometimes it is the biggest employer, for the number of people in the Yukon. It is a bigger part of our gross domestic product than it is in any other province or territory. When there were cuts in recent years, it hurt us more than anyone else.
We were delighted to hear the recent announcement of $2 million for marketing and television ads for Yukon tourism as well as $1 million for the Yukon First Nations Culture and Tourism Association, because a lot of people who come to the north really want the authentic experience of first nations tourism products and services. The Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, in budget 2017, would be given $8.6 million for indigenous tourism activities.
The prime marketing agency for Canada, Destination Canada, got an increase last year, a desperately needed increase after many years of cuts, of $37.5 million to help market Canada around the world. We are delighted that this increase would be made permanent in budget 2017.
We have a curious situation in the Yukon, where we have jobs available without people, and we have people without jobs. The reason is that people need training. There are jobs available, but people are not trained to take some of those jobs. We were very happy to see that budget 2017 included $14.7 million for the three territories for basic adult education. Whenever a person gets out of high school or college and needs more education to get into the trades or the professions, this money is instrumental. We are delighted that it has been carried on.
There would also be $90 million to help indigenous students in post-secondary education and $50 million more for the ASETS program, which is skills development for first nation people across Canada.
Another item that is instrumental in the north and in my riding is housing. I was an early member of the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition. For years, affordable housing has been one of our highest priorities, so we are very delighted that budget 2017 would have $11.2 billion for a national housing strategy. On top of that, Yukon specifically would get $24 million.
Also important to the workforce, particularly to get women into the workforce, are more child care spaces, and we are very happy with the $7 billion nationally to help create more child care spaces.
Like everywhere else, we have had a number of Canada 150 projects going on this year, which are very exciting. I have also announced a number of seniors projects, which were very well received.
There would be $25.6 million for the territorial health investment fund to help us with the unique challenges of health in the north, and $89.9 million for indigenous languages, which, again, are very important in my riding. There would also be extra money for mental health for indigenous people.
I just made an announcement about indigenous youth and sport and the aboriginal games.
The Yukon government also gets a transfer from the federal government, and this would be the biggest transfer in history, with a $24.9-million increase over last year. There would be an increase of $.8 million in the Canada health transfer and of $.3 million in the Canada social transfer over last year.
We are also delighted to get the new judge we asked for. We have only two federal Supreme Court judges. One is taken up with a major murder case. The other has the routine proceedings every week. A lot of civil cases were backlogged, so we are delighted that this is in the budget.
The increases for Parks Canada are also very important in my riding. Green technology support is very important across the country to help the transition to renewables.
I was in Washington a few weeks ago with the leader speaking at a conference of northern leaders from across North America, Alaska, the three Canadian territories, and Greenland. The two things needed for development were more infrastructure and more affordable energy.
The municipalities and territorial governments were delighted about the large transfers for infrastructure. Unfortunately, I do not have enough time left to go through it all in detail. There is the trade and transportation corridor, $10 billion for the building Canada fund, all sorts of projects for water, waste water, recreation, roads, bridges, and transit. We already have some buses from the transit fund.
There is social infrastructure, green infrastructure, and Internet infrastructure. Northern and rural infrastructure would get $2 billion. I cannot remember a time in history when any government has put that much emphasis on Canada's rural north and come up with a fund of $2 billion for infrastructure. The north is eligible for all these other infrastructure funds. It is on a plus basis, not on a per capita basis, where we get almost nothing. We are delighted that we get a base amount.
There is money for first nations to get infrastructure to protect them from climate change. It is very forward thinking.
The other area I mentioned from the conference is affordable energy for the north. We are delighted that there would be $21.4 million to get northern indigenous communities off diesel, as many of them are on diesel, and $400 million for an Arctic energy fund.
All these items are great for the economy of the north, the environment of the north, and most importantly, the people of the north, because when there are strong, healthy, engaged people who have their culture supported, we are going to have a strong northern part of Canada, which is important for all of us.