Madam Speaker, as a government that is concerned with the welfare of all Canadians, we have used fiscal firepower to the benefit of all Canadians, unlike the 2008 financial crisis when the previous government gave boutique tax cuts to the rich and left out middle-income and low-income Canadians through austerity.
How have we been able to invest in people? According to senior economists at CIBC Capital Markets, Canada entered the COVID-19 pandemic with a healthy fiscal situation out of all G7 economies. In my previous life, where I did business turnarounds, I know that when we invest in people, we get a 100% return on investment. The best way to keep the economy strong is to keep Canadians healthy.
COVID-19 has exposed that women, especially the front-line workers, have taken the brunt of the stress and job losses. According to the OECD, 56% of women work in the five C’s, caring, cashiering, catering, cleaning and clerical, and 71% have lost their jobs. These are not just statistics, but the reality of many, including in my riding. Women, along with racialized Canadians, youth and persons with disabilities, are facing slower returns to work and dim employment prospects. This is unacceptable.
To get women back to work, we need an affordable child care system. I would like to remind the House that in 2006 the Paul Martin government had secured a national day care strategy, signed by all provinces and territories. This progressive plan would have seen the implementation of affordable child care for all Canadians two decades ago and we would be in a better position today. Unfortunately the Harper government tore up the hard-won agreement, and parents and children alike are feeling the damage of that heartless decision.
Going forward, we need to have a bold agenda. That is why our government and the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion introduced three new programs: the Canada recovery benefit, the Canada caregiver benefit and the Canada recovery sickness benefit. These programs will capture people in the gig economy, the self-employed and the contract worker as well as those who do not qualify for EI.
COVID-19 exposed food insecurity. Our government stepped up to the plate and provided $100 million to various food banks. A few weeks ago, at a virtual meeting with organizations across Don Valley East, I was pleased to announce that they had received $2 million in emergency funding. This money is to be used to facilitate better food distribution.
To help alleviate isolation among seniors, we provided $9 million in funding for the United Way. To help students through this pandemic, we created the Canada emergency student benefit, which has helped over 650,000 students. Through the Canada summer jobs, we are able to help both businesses and students lessen their economic burden due to this pandemic.
During the crisis, we saw the horrible images of long-term care facilities and the highest death rate. This is a provincial responsibility. COVID-19 exposed how the provinces that did not invest in long-term care facilities and allowed private organizations had the highest death rates.
The Prime Minister showed leadership and worked with the provinces to provide funding of $2 billion to alleviate stress and allow the front-line workers a safe environment. I would like to thank all the front-line workers for their selfless service in keeping Canadians safe.
In addition, through the safe restart agreement, our government has provided over $19 billion to provinces and territories to safely start their economies. These funds are to be used to support the most vulnerable, invest in child care, increase testing and contact tracing, the procuring of PPE, etc.
Farmers should not be forgotten as they have stepped up to the plate to ensure Canadians have access to food. The Conservatives made false statements that no Liberal had ever visited a farm. This is nonsense.
On September 9, I visited the Sculthorpe family farm in Port Hope, Ontario. I was joined by members of the Ontario Cattlemen’s Association. The farm raises grass-fed cattle. Farmers like the Sculthorpes are doing important work in sustainable beef production for both Canadian and international markets.
Contrary to what the opposition claims, our government has invested millions of dollars for beef produces and in Alberta alone, $8.3 million for six projects that will help support Canada’s world-class beef industry.
Investment in agriculture, one of the largest contributors to the economy, is an important investment. These monies will help producers become more competitive and provide them with the tools they need to remain sustainable and innovative.
Contrary to the statement by the leader of the official opposition, the pandemic has brought all Canadians together. My constituents from all political stripes participate, provide their input and want the government to continue doing the good work it is doing.
I urge all members to show leadership and not play politics. People are united, not divided, and it is critical that we remember this.
With COVID-19 in resurgence, I urge all Canadians and residents of Don Valley East to download the COVID-19 alert app on their phones. This app provides guidance to the government in helping to slow the spread.