I got involved in politics because I believed the previous federal government had lost its way. It became harder for people to get ahead unless they came from money, our environmental protections had been severely degraded, and Atlantic Canada was treated as an afterthought. I had the growing sense that federal politics had become more about winning elections and less about helping people.
When our new Liberal Government tabled Budget 2018 in the House of Commons this week, I had a renewed sense of optimism that our national priorities reflect the values that I always felt made us Canadian. I had a renewed sense of faith that the changes I’ve been working on for my constituents for over 2 years were materializing in a way that would make a meaningful difference to the people and region I am so fortunate to represent.
We are implementing a new Canada Workers Benefit that will help 45,000 low-income workers in Nova Scotia. To put this in perspective, this means a single parent earning $15,000 will receive an annual benefit of approximately $2,300. This measure builds on our Government’s Canada Child Benefit, which stopped sending child care cheques to millionaires and put more money in the pockets of 9 out of 10 Canadian families.
I often hear about the high costs of prescription medications, and in some cases, people living in our community have to choose whether to eat, pay their rent, or buy the drugs they need. In Canada, your access to medicine should not depend on the size of your bank account. I am incredibly proud that our government is moving forward to implement a National Pharmacare program to ensure all Canadians have access to the drugs their doctors prescribe, regardless of how much money they earn.
We are making unprecedented commitments towards gender equality. We will implement pay equity legislation that will ensure women receive equal pay for equal work. We have adopted a National Strategy to end gender-based violence and will be investing $100 Million to support community-based women’s organizations. We are making commitments to support women entrepreneurs and to engage women in well-paid industries that have traditionally been dominated by men. In addition, we are investing in child care facilities and making additional parental benefits available to encourage men to take time away from work to support their spouse after childbirth, and help women more easily re-enter the workforce after having children.
Budget 2018 includes one of the single largest investments in protecting our natural environment in Canadian history. In addition to our $1.5 Billion Oceans’ Protection Plan, we are investing an additional $1.3 Billion towards conservation of protected spaces and making sure that young people can access our National Parks for free, forever.
Growing the rural economy in Nova Scotia is a major priority for me, along with my colleagues from our Province. I regularly visit the wharves around the riding that our fishers depend on to earn a living and support local communities. In addition to passing legislation that will ensure the benefits of our fishery will support rural communities, we are investing $250 Million over the next two years that will create jobs in the short term, and protect the long term interests of our fishery by providing safe and well maintained harbours in our region. We are also investing $75 Million to protect our forests from the threat presented by the Spruce Budworm.
The measures included in Budget 2018 help ensure that everyone has a fair chance at success in Canada, and not just the wealthy few. It is a budget that respects women, protects the environment, and supports Atlantic Canada. I am proud to see our Government’s priorities reflect the needs of our region, and I will continue to bring the voices of those back home to Ottawa as long as I am fortunate to hold this position.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve.