House of Commons – April 12th, 2016

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague, the member for Scarborough Centre.

It is an honour to rise in the House today and speak in favour of budget 2016. During the last election and through extensive pre-budget consultations, I heard personally from many people in Oakville. Oakvillians shared their concerns about jobs and job security. Many felt trapped in poor-quality jobs or had family members who were struggling in a sluggish economy.

Young families expressed concerns about the cost of day care and their struggles to make ends meet. Many seniors and young Canadians said they also were having difficulty making ends meet. The root causes were different, and different solutions will be required, but if we do not act to help, the outcome is the same: people trapped in poverty or people trapped in underemployment.

The Town of Oakville, Halton Region, and many business owners talked about failing infrastructure and problems with road congestion. Owners of small and medium-sized businesses spoke about their concerns with access to trained workforces and support for the innovation and entrepreneurship that has been a staple of the Canadian economy. They are also worried about the slow economy and the need for revitalization and stimulus.

Social agencies expressed concerns about housing, poverty, inadequate shelters from violence, and care for the elderly. Green advocates like the Halton Environmental Network and Oakvillegreen raised concerns about reliance on greenhouse gases and the need to move our economy from a carbon dependency.

Many residents of Oakville were concerned about the loss of federal investments in arts and culture, and particularly the reduction in funding to the CBC.

The reason I am so honoured to rise and speak today is my confidence that this budget will begin to address these myriad concerns and many others that I have not specifically addressed. Let me speak to some of the specific budget provisions.

For young families, budget 2016 would introduce the Canada child benefit. This would provide families with a maximum benefit of up to $6,400 per child under the age of six, and up to $5,400 per child aged six through 17. With the Canada child benefit, more than three million families would receive more benefits than beforeā€”on average, $2,300 more per year, tax free. This would lift almost 300,000 children out of poverty.

For young Canadians, budget 2016 would ensure that students graduating from college or university would not have to start paying back their student loans until they make at least $25,000 in annual income. Budget 2016 would boost grants to low- and middle-income college and university students by as much as $1,000 per year. This measure would put more money in the pockets of 360,000 students a year.

The introduction of a flat-rate student contribution to determine eligibility for Canada student grants and loans would encourage students to work and gain valuable labour market experience while studying. This measure would provide assistance of $268 million over four years. Employment opportunities for youth are also planned through an investment of an additional $165 million in 2016-17 for the youth employment strategy, and $300 million over three years for the Canada summer jobs program to create 35,000 additional youth jobs each year.

When I met with young Canadians who were progressing after post-secondary education with jobs and low debt, many had benefited from co-op placements. Co-op placements provide essential networks and in-year funding to help with educational costs. Support for new co-op placements and work-integrated learning opportunities for young Canadians is planned in the budget through an investment of $73 million over four years for the post-secondary partnership and co-op placement initiative.

To help universities and colleges develop highly skilled workers, to act as engines of discovery and support the growth of innovative firms, budget 2016 would provide up to $2 billion over three years for strategic projects to improve research and innovation infrastructure.

For seniors, the budget would increase the guaranteed income supplement benefit for single seniors up to $947 annually to help lift low-income single seniors out of poverty. This measure represents an investment of $670 million per year and would improve the financial security of about 900,000 single seniors across Canada.

The government would restore the eligibility age for old age security and guaranteed income supplement benefits to 65, which would put thousands of dollars back in the pockets of Canadians as they become seniors…

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