Mr. Chair, I want to talk about strengthening Canada's place in the world, but before I get there, I want to raise one question with the minister. Spinning off the last series of questions, I would like to ask the minister to think about this for the next 15 minutes. Could he tell us how much the previous government added to the national debt of the country as a result of the eight or nine deficits they had while they were in government? I would like that answer a little later.
I am pleased to have this opportunity to address the committee of the whole and to highlight one of the central initiatives in the 2016 budget, “Strengthening Canada's Place in the World”.
The time has come to rebuild our international influence and make a serious impact in global affairs. We intend, as a government, to adopt a proactive approach and a positive tone that reflects the core values of Canadians, namely that ours is a country that is generous in spirit, compassionate toward others and proud of the place we can call home.
In our 2016 budget, we accomplished this objective by identifying three principles areas for action: international assistance, immigration, and defence.
Let me begin with international assistance.
Canada has a long history of providing international assistance to the poorest and most vulnerable. From our proud tradition of peacekeeping to our financial support through the International Assistance Envelope, or IAE, our actions reflect the fact that Canadians feel connected to the broader world and that they believe in peace and stability for all people.
To ensure we continue to provide assistance where it is most needed, we intend to conduct a review of our international assistance policy framework. Over the coming months, we will work with stakeholders to evaluate what we do now and how we can improve.
We are also increasing Canada's international assistance envelope to over $5 billion on a cash basis by 2018-19. This includes new funding to the IAE to address emerging international priorities, funding provided for Canada's approach in Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, and climate finance.
For those people affected by conflicts and living in fragile states, budget 2016 also provides $586.5 million over three years to renew key peace and security programs. This includes up to $450 million for the global peace and security fund; $106.5 million for the international police peacekeeping and peace operations programs; and $30 million for the counterterrorism capacity building program Sahel envelope.
By investing in measures that will improve the lives of global citizens and contribute to international peace and security, Canada will once again become a true leader in the world, one that makes a real and valuable contribution to world peace and prosperity.
It is interesting that when one does travel, and I happened to be in Germany in December and Taiwan in January, it is really nice to hear people say that it is nice to have Canada back, and Canada is back with this government. That is good to see.
Our second area of focus is immigration. We are proud that we achieved this objective at the end of February of this year. For these refugees, our work has now shifted to helping them integrate successfully into Canadian society.
On a personal note, in my home community of Prince Edward Island, many of these newcomers are at least getting a glimpse of spring and the terrific beauty on our particular island as the crops go in the ground. Although we are not big in numbers on Prince Edward Island, on a per capita basis, we have done as well or better than every other province in bringing refugees into the province. There is something very symbolic about that.
Bringing in the refugees has been a real testament to the resolve and inclination of the many Canadian organizations and communities that are part of this undertaking, people who opened their hearts and homes to both government and privately sponsored refugees. They have continued to welcome these newcomers as they start a new chapter alongside us in Canada. However, it is not simply circumstance or a sense of obligation that compels us to act. Immigration actually contributes substantially to Canada's long-term growth and prosperity, and it has to be a part of our economy moving forward if we are going to get that growth we need in our economy. By welcoming people to Canada to create better lives for themselves and their families, all Canadians benefit.
We recently announced our intention to admit 300,000 new permanent residents this year. This is the most in over a hundred years, when people were fleeing the hardships and conflicts that led to the First World War.
We are also taking steps to ensure more families can be together to build a new life for themselves in Canada and contribute to our country's prosperity. To that end, budget 2016 provides $25 million this year to reduce application processing times and make family reunification a priority of Canada's immigration system.
Our final area of focus is defence. While Canada is being strengthened by people from around the world seeking a new life here, outside threats do remain a reality. We have a responsibility to promote security and stability both at home and abroad. The international security environment is more complex and challenging, exposing our personnel abroad to increased threat and risk. We will support those who defend Canada and contribute to international peace and security by renewing the major equipment of the Canadian Armed Forces and improving facilities where they live, work, and train. That includes new investments of about $200 million over the next two years to undertake infrastructure projects at Canadian Forces bases and other defence properties across Canada.
This funding would support projects that promote operational readiness and improve the quality of life for Canadian soldiers. The funding includes $77 million for projects to support readiness for Canadian Armed Forces military operations, including investments to repair and construct live-fire ranges, air fields, hangars, and naval jetties across Canada. There is $67 million for projects to support the reserve forces; $50 million for projects to support military personnel and their families; and $6 million for projects to support northern operations.
The government is committed to building a modern, more agile, better equipped military to conduct missions at home and abroad. The Minister of National Defence has in fact launched public consultations as part of an open and transparent dialogue with Canadians and key stakeholders to inform the development of a new defence policy for Canada. During 2016, the government will seek the input of Canadians, experts, allies, partners, and Parliament on the strategic environment for the Canadian Armed Forces, its role, as well as its size, structure, and capabilities.
Let me conclude. The blueprint laid down in budget 2016 is transformative, and I know that Canadians are ready for it. Our first six months in office have clearly demonstrated our ability to take the action Canadians expect of us to restore Canada as a leader in the world.
I have three questions for the minister. Of course, I asked him one earlier. I wanted to know how much that other crew left our country in added debt as a result.
My question in terms of the international aspect is this.
All of Canada knows that there has been about 25,000 refugees who have arrived in this country. What additional work is the government doing to help the Syrian refugees who have arrived, and how does this support our plan for long-term growth and prosperity in this country? In other words, how is that influx, that great effort to bring 25,000 refugees into this country, going to help maintain our growth and prosperity and in fact add to it over the longer term?