By Salma Zahid
With the 2019 Federal Budget, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Canada’s Liberal government is investing in the future of Canada’s middle class and those working hard to reach it, with support for home buyers, for youth, and new money to fight racism and keep community and faith facilities safe from violence.
In 2015, Canadians made a clear choice between Conservative austerity and cuts and the Liberal plan to invest in Canadians. And nearly four years later, it’s clear our plan is working. Our economy is one of the fastest growing in the G7, unemployment is near all-time lows, and Canadians have created more than 900,000 jobs. And with the middle-class tax cuts and tax-free Canada Child Benefit, middle class families have more money in their pockets.
With Budget 2019 we’re building on that progress by making sure all Canadians benefit from a growing economy. That means being able to find an affordable place to live, getting the skills to find a well-paying job, being able to retire with confidence, and making prescription drugs more affordable.
The top issue I hear from my constituents is housing. Everyone deserves a safe and affordable place to live, but in the Greater Toronto Area too many are being priced out of the market. The Harper government did nothing to address housing affordability for 10 years, but we are building on our 10-year, $40 billion National Housing Strategy with new investments in Budget 2019.
The new First-Time Home Buyer Incentive will make home ownership more affordable for first-time home buyers and allow them to lower their monthly mortgage, and the more flexible Home Buyers Plan will let Canadians borrow an additional $10,000 from their RRSPs. And increased funding for Rental Construction Finance Initiatives means 42,500 new rental units across Canada.
To ensure Canadians have the skills they need to get the well-paying jobs of the new economy, we’re introducing the Canada Training Benefit. Canadians can accumulate up to $5,000 tax-free to help with the cost of enrolling in a training program. And with the EI Training Support Benefit, they’ll get help with living expenses while on training leave, and new leave provisions will make sure their jobs are safe.
We’re helping our youth get ahead by lowering interest rates for student loans, saving the average borrower $2,000. We’re also making the six-month grace period after graduation interest-free, and if you temporarily leave your studies to have a child or deal with health issues, that period is now interest-free too. And we’re helping students gain real-world experience by creating up to 40,000 annual new work placements, and another 44,000 work-integrated work opportunities for Canada’s students.
And while the Conservatives were only focused on pushing back the age of retirement, we’re committed to supporting seniors. With Budget 2019, we’re making life more affordable for Canadian seniors, and empowering those who want to stay active and involved in their communities. We’re making sure that working seniors can keep more of their hard-earned income. And – to make sure that no senior slips through the cracks — Budget 2019 will ensure everyone gets the CPP benefits they are entitled to.
Combatting hate and keeping Canadians safe
Canadians of all backgrounds and identities should always feel safe to gather together. Unfortunately, as recent tragic events have demonstrated, certain groups of people, because of their race, religion, or sexual orientation, are at risk of being targeted by hate-motivated crimes, threatening their safety and security and the gathering places they enjoy.
To help community gathering spaces such as schools, community centres and places of worship make needed security improvements, we’re doubling the annual funding for the Security Infrastructure Program from $2 million per year to $4 million per year. I encourage eligible institutions to take advantage of this program.
Finally, we all know that diversity is one of Canada’s strengths. But sadly, we know that Canada is not immune to the effects of hateful rhetoric. That’s why Budget 2019 invests $45 million to support a new Anti-Racism Strategy. It will work to find ways to counter racism in its various forms, with a strong focus on community-based projects. And a new Anti-Racism Secretariat will work across government to identify opportunities, oordinate activities and engage with our diverse communities.
There is much more that Budget 2019 is doing to help Canadian families. You can learn more at www.budget.gc.ca.
Salma Zahid is the Member of Parliament for Scarborough Centre. Her web site is szahid.liberal.ca