Report from Parliament Hill
Budget 2019 invests in key priorities to continue growing the North
Bob Nault, MP, Kenora Riding
On Tuesday of last week, the federal government released Budget 2019 Investing in the Middle Class. Since 2015, we have made strategic investments to help make our economy one of the fastest growing in the G7. With over 900,000 jobs created, unemployment rates are at their lowest levels in 40 years to the benefit of Northerners and all Canadians. Over the coming weeks, this weekly column will highlight what Budget 2019 means not only for Northerners, but also seniors, Indigenous peoples, as well as what some of the new fiscal programs will mean to Canada .
I want to begin with the new Canada Training Benefit program which was designed to give workers at all stages of their working lives the opportunity to learn new skills to prepare for the jobs of the future. This new benefit will provide financial support to help pay for the cost of retraining for young and unemployed people who are looking for work, as well as more experienced workers who want to upgrade their existing skills. It will also provide income support so that they can take the time to update or learn new skills in today’s rapidly changing world.
Budget 2019 will also make it easier for working seniors to keep more of their money by enhancing the Guaranteed Income Supplement earnings exemption. This will allow low-income seniors the ability to earn more income before they would see any reduction in their benefits. In addition, the New Horizons for Seniors Program will see a further investment of $100 million over five years. This program is already improving the quality of life for seniors living here in the North by encouraging their active participation in our communities.
To help prepare youth for the good jobs of the future, we need to continue making education more affordable. This new budget feature will lower interest rates on Canada Student Loans so that students will only need to pay the prime rate during the six-month grace period after leaving school. This means that students would not accumulate any interest during that time, which saves them roughly $2,000 over the life of their loan.
Investing in infrastructure for the North has always been a top priority of mine, and I am pleased that this budget provides a one-time top-up of $2.2 billion through the federal Gas Tax Fund, which doubles the Government’s commitment to municipalities in 2018-19. We want to make sure municipalities in the Kenora riding have the funds they need for important local projects to improve the lives of residents living here in the North.
We will also continue building our relationship based on trust, respect, and a true spirit of cooperation with Indigenous peoples. Since 2015, we have made significant progress with 80 long-term drinking water advisories being lifted. The good news is that we are on track to eliminate all the advisories by March 2021. Over the next five years, we will invest a further $8.1 billion for services to improve children's health care, improve education outcomes, end boil water advisories on reserves, and settle land claims, among other measures.
While we have made great progress thanks to the benefits of a growing economy, we still have much more to do. This budget is a continuation of investing in the right things that build a more vibrant economy. It will help more Northerners find an affordable home, prepare for good, fulltime jobs, retire with confidence, and make their prescription drugs more affordable. I am extremely confident that these new measures will make the North even stronger.