Ottawa, ON – The 2017 federal budget was tabled in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday afternoon. It lays out the priorities and next steps in the Government’s long-term plan to create jobs and strengthen the middle class.
We know affordable, safe childcare is critical to our community. Childcare continues to be a major cost for families, and this budget works to reduce costs by investing $7 billion to support up to 40,000 new affordable child care spaces over the next three years, making it easier for parents to return to work and support our economy.
Healthcare in Canada is funded jointly by the provincial and federal governments, and this budget proposes to increase the federal contribution by $1.1 billion. To support mental health services, this budget proposes an investment of $5 billion, as well as $6 billion to improve home care.
Housing prices continue to rise, and affordable housing can be difficult to access in our region. The budget proposes to invest $11 billion to build and repair affordable housing as part of a new National Housing Strategy, including $5 billion to help house seniors, indigenous peoples, those fleeing domestic violence, people with disabilities, those dealing with mental health and addictions, and veterans. The Government will also make surplus federal lands available to affordable housing providers at low or no development costs.
To make it possible for municipalities to build the new public transit networks that Canadians need, this budget proposes investing $20 billion in public transit projects, along with other support from the Canada Infrastructure Bank.
This budget continues to build on the progress of last year’s budget by investing more in infrastructure, including almost $22 billion for green infrastructure, and almost another $22 billion for social infrastructure.
Employment Insurance is there when Canadians lose their jobs, and supports them when they are on maternity leave, or when they are caring for a seriously ill family member. There are a number of improvements to EI in the budget which will make the program easier to access, more compassionate, and better for all Canadians.
- 12 weeks of maternity benefits can now be shifted earlier, up from the current 8 weeks, so that pregnant women can choose to take more weeks prior to due date, providing flexibility and more safety in that critical time.
- EI parental benefits will also become more flexible, allowing up to 18 months at a lower benefit rate of 33% of average weekly earnings. These benefits will continue to be available for the first 12 months at the current 55% rate.
- A new caregiver benefit will allow individuals who are caring for a seriously ill family member to take up to 15 weeks away from work. Parents of critically ill children continue to have 35 weeks of benefits access, but with new flexibility to share weeks between family members.
- New rules around the Canada Labour Code will provide stronger enforcement and compliance provisions to help people more easily recover wages owed to them by their employer, and to crack down on employers who repeatedly offend.
- EI will also see new rules which allow unemployed Canadians to pursue self-funded training while still receiving EI benefits, helping people to retrain for new jobs while still having the security of EI.
Supporting Young Canadians
This budget provides nearly an additional $400 million for youth employment, which will help nearly 50,000 youth develop new skills, obtain work in green jobs, and attain new jobs in the heritage sector. The budget also expands the tuition tax credit, making more courses eligible, including occupational skills courses.
Supporting Veterans and First Responders
Supporting our veterans is a crucial responsibility, and we’re building on the progress made in last year’s budget by introducing a new Education and Training Benefit to provide more money for veterans to go to college, university, or technical school after their service.
Fire fighters, police officers, and other first responders are community heroes. The budget invests $80 million to create the Community Heroes benefit to support the families of first responders who have fallen in the line of duty.
Supporting New Canadians
New Canadians typically have skills learned in their countries of origin, and many are professionals who have difficulty seeing their credentials recognized in Canada. Budget 2017 provides a loan program that will help newcomers in getting their credentials recognized, meaning they will be able to integrate and support our growing economy faster.
Innovation is critical to ensuring Canada competes effectively on the global stage. This budget provides $950 million to support organizations, like Communitech in our region, who are innovation leaders.
Supporting Tax Fairness
Budget 2017 takes steps to ensure our tax code is fair for all Canadians by closing corporate tax loopholes and ending abuses in the tax code while investing over $500 million in the CRA to prevent and investigate tax evasion.
The budget also works to simplify the tax code. For example, three existing tax credits will be merged into a new and more beneficial Canada Caregiver Credit to help those who need it most.
For more details, the entire budget can be found online at budget.gc.ca.
“The investments in this budget will have a huge impact in Cambridge. These major investments in affordable housing and childcare will be life changing. Frankly, I’m excited to watch these programs help so many families over the coming years.”
Bryan May, Member of Parliament for Cambridge
“Budget 2017 continues our plan to strengthen the middle class—the heart of Canada’s economy. It makes smart and responsible investments that will provide Canadians with good, well-paying jobs and opportunities in the new, innovative economy.”
Marwan Tabbara, Member of Parliament for Kitchener South – Hespeler