Last week, our Government announced the next steps in our plan to strengthen the middle class, grow our economy, and ensure that every Canadian has a fair and equal chance to succeed.
We’ve seen how investing in people, in innovation, and in communities can pay off. Over the past two years, more than 500,000 new jobs have been created across the country, including hundreds of good jobs here in Peterborough—Kawartha. The unemployment rate is near a 40-year low, and Canada’s economy is the fastest growing in the G7. Since our government took office, over $114 million in federal investments have already made an impact on organizations, businesses, and families here in Peterborough—Kawartha.
Budget 2018 builds on these investments and takes the next steps towards building a more competitive, sustainable, and more equal Canada. This historic budget recognizes that fairness is a powerful force for economic prosperity. It includes investments in gender gaps in the workforce, building critical infrastructure in rural and First Nations communities, and investing in innovator and entrepreneurs. I’m especially proud that every decision made in Budget 2018 was analyzed and informed through an intersectional gender lens – taking into account how policy decisions can affect different people differently and setting the standard for every Budget to come.
As your Member of Parliament for Peterborough—Kawartha, I’m proud that so many important initiatives in Budget 2018 will benefit our community – initiatives we have advocated for. These include:
1. A $920 million renewal of base funding for FedDev Ontario, plus an additional $149 million to the agency for Innovation and Skills Plan programming. This means organizations like Community Futures Peterborough can continue to support businesses in our community to grow and create jobs. We have already seen the impact of FedDev Ontario in the past two years, with over $2.2 million in funding to support the creation of over 220 jobs in Peterborough—Kawartha;
2. The dedication of $8 million for an in-depth study and assessment of VIA Rail’s proposed High-Frequency Rail initiative, a proposal which calls for the return of passenger rail to Peterborough and neighbouring communities;
3. An additional $172.6 million to improve access to clean and safe drinking water in Indigenous communities. This funding will accelerate the current pace of planned construction, meaning more communities, like Curve Lake First Nation, will be able to eliminate boil water advisories, sooner;
4. Over $3.2 billion in support for Canadian scientists and researchers. This includes an historic $1.7 billion investment in Canada’s granting councils and research institutes – the single largest investment in fundamental research in Canada, ever – plus $140 million to foster collaborative projects involving businesses and colleges through the College and Community Innovation Program. Thousands of talented students and researchers from across the country will benefit from these investments, including students here at Fleming College and Trent University;
5. The establishment of the Apprentice Incentive Grant for Women, a pilot project offering yearly $3,000 grants to women pursuing training in male-dominated Red Seal trades. That’s great news for women considering studying at Fleming College’s top-notch Kawartha Trades and Technology Centre;
6. The creation of an Advisory Council on Implementation of National Pharmacare. One in ten Canadians cannot afford the prescription drugs they need, and the unaffordability of medications leads to poorer health outcomes and higher healthcare costs. The Advisory Council will begin a national dialogue on how to best move forward on this important subject, so seniors, students, and low-income earners in Peterborough—Kawartha will no longer have to make difficult choices when it comes to taking care of their health;
7. An additional $231.4 million in resources to address the opioid crisis, including funding to improve access to evidence-based treatment services. Far too many lives are being lost to opioid overdoes. Sadly, our community is not immune, with an estimated 20 deaths from opioid overdoses last year. This new funding will help increase access to treatment and support for those who are struggling and those who help them heal;
8. A new Canada Workers Benefit to provide important financial support to working low-income Canadians, which will help lift some 70,000 individuals out of poverty across the country. Eligibility will be assessed automatically – no need to claim the benefit directly on your tax return;
9. Starting in June 2019, an EI Parental Sharing Benefit, providing for an additional five weeks of paid benefits for eligible two-parent families who choose to share their EI parental leave benefit, giving more flexibility to families to share childcare responsibilities and spend time with their newborn in those important early weeks;
10. Doubling the number of job placements funded under the Canada Summer Jobs Program and investments in the Youth Employment Strategy. This means more opportunities for skills development and earning income for young Canadians. Already through this program, non-profits and small businesses in our community have provided jobs to some 650 secondary and post-secondary students over the past two years;
11. A big topic of conversation at our recent Rural Women’s summit: $100 million to help develop the next generation of rural broadband through the Strategic Innovation Fund. Reliable access to the internet is an essential tool to drive economic growth and greater safety in our rural communities; and
12. To ensure the preservation of our wild spaces and natural landscapes, $500 million towards the establishment of a $1 billion Nature Fund. Working with community organizations, like the Kawartha Land Trust locally, the provinces and territories, and other partners, the Fund will secure private land for protection, support species protection efforts, and help build Indigenous capacity in conservation.
The 2018 Federal Budget marks a historic moment for Canadian women and girls. At the core of this Budget is an understanding that when we invest in women, we grow the economy for everyone. Here are three examples of such investments:
1. The creation of a new Women Entrepreneurship Strategy. Peterborough—Kawartha is home to many successful, women-led businesses who create good jobs locally. We benefit from a thriving community of women supporting women, with organizations like the Women’s Business Network of Peterborough taking a leading role. The new Women Entrepreneurship Strategy is backed by over $1.65 billion in new financing for women-led businesses through the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada, and $105 million in tailored support and mentorship for female entrepreneurs;
2. A $200 million investment in women’s organizations across Canada to support more projects that advance gender equality, address gender-based violence, engage youth and men and boys in solutions, address online child exploitation and teen dating violence, and assessing the remaining “unfounded” cases of sexual assault; and
3. Addressing the gender wage gap through legislation requiring equal pay for work of equal value in federally-regulated sectors. This will apply to approximately 1.2 million Canadians, including workers here in Peterborough—Kawartha. Additional measures for pay transparency will also be introduced, giving Canadians information on pay practices of employers within these sectors. Measures like these will have a positive impact on the most vulnerable workers, including racialized women, those living with a disability, single moms, and Indigenous women.
These are just some of the investments our government is making in our 30th month on the job. You can read more about #YourBudget2018 at budget.gc.ca and as always, contact me with any questions or feedback about Budget 2018. Conversations with engaged citizens like you allow me to be an effective voice for the people of Peterborough—Kawartha in Ottawa.
Maryam Monsef, P.C., M.P.