October 19th marked one full year that I have had the honour and privilege of representing the people of Thunder Bay – Rainy River in Canada`s Parliament. I am proud of the Real Change that this government has made in its first year.
With the introduction of a better-targeted child benefit, about 300,000 fewer children will be living in poverty in Canada in 2017 compared with 2014. By now, families who were already benefiting from this program will see an average increase in the benefit of almost $2300.
Cutting taxes for this income bracket reflects our governments focus on the middle class and has resulted in nearly nine million Canadians having more money in their pockets. This summer I was pleased to host Finance Minister Bill Morneau in Thunder Bay where he connected with families who will benefit from this change.
Our government recognizes the need to support our students – the future of our country. The Canada Student Grant has been increased by 50% in order to help young Canadians pay for their education. Teachers will also benefit with the implementation of the Teacher and Early Childhood Educator School Supply Tax Benefit.
Our government has also focused on the well-being of seniors by reinstating the age of eligibility for old age security to 65. The historic Canada Pension Plan (CPP) will allow Canadians to retire with more money. In addition, our government raised the Guaranteed Income Supplement top-up benefit for single seniors. This will give 900 000 seniors financial help and 13 000 people will be lifted out of poverty.
Thunder Bay will soon be one of several cities to have access to services for veterans restored. The Minister of Veteran Affairs, Kent Hehr, came to Thunder Bay this summer to personally announce the re-opening and staffing of our Veteran Affairs Office. I am proud to say that we are hiring 400 new front-line staff Canada-wide to provide veterans and their families with the support they need, when they need it.
Our riding has benefitted greatly from our government`s focus on investing in technology through the Innovation Agenda. Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Technology and Science, has visited our region several times this term to deliver important funding announcements and tour our innovative facilities. We will continue to collaborate with innovation leaders to build a strong Canada that can adapt and prosper in a rapidly changing global economy.
Perhaps one of our greatest challenges this year has been to renew the government`s relationship with Indigenous peoples.
We have launched a National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. We have also made significant investments that will ensure that Indigenous peoples have quality housing, safe drinking water, better schools, improved access to early learning and child care, safe shelters and cultural and recreational spaces.
Carolyn Bennett, The Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, has been to our region multiple times to discuss these projects with Indigenous leaders, community members, and youth.
Our government promised Real Change. I hope you can agree that the work we are doing has proven that we can make this a reality. I truly believe in the changes we have made, and the direction this government is heading. With all of your cooperation, determination and openness, we can affect the change that Canadians want.
I am extremely proud to represent our beautiful riding in Parliament, and I look forward to the work that lies ahead as we continue to work for you, Canadians, to create an inclusive and stronger Canada.
Thank you, Merci, Meegwetch.