There you have it. Our federal government tabled its first budget. In the intervening weeks you may have wondered what it means to Halifax, and to you. To answer those questions, I’d like to touch on just three key investments in Budget 2016 and provide some insight into their impact in our riding.
But let me start by saying I am proud of this budget. It captures exactly what inspired me to run for office–exactly the kind of investments I believe our country and our community needs to grow the economy, to care for most vulnerable Canadians and to return to compassionate governance.
It’s a budget that makes better possible, and a budget that will make a difference for Halifax. Here are some ways how:
Canadians, including Haligonians, deserve safe and affordable housing.
Without stable housing at a price they can afford, every other goal our citizens seek to achieve becomes secondary. Without adequate shelter, families struggle to raise their children, to get educated, to find employment, or even to stay healthy.
And so, Budget 2016 invests $2.3 billion over the next two years in affordable housing investments because adequate housing lays the groundwork for a healthier economy.
This includes doubling the investment in the Affordable Housing Initiative, in which Halifax, and Nova Scotia, have a direct role in how and where investments are made, so we can maximize the impact of the funding here at home.
It includes $200 million for the construction and repair of affordable housing for over 5000 low-income senior households.
It includes $90 million for over 3000 new shelter and transition house spaces for victims of violence.
And it includes $112 million, over two years, for the Homelessness Partnership Strategy to help Canadian communities to reduce homelessness, and address its underlying issues like mental health and addiction.
It’s no secret that public transit in Halifax is facing challenges, and the municipality is working to renew our bus system in hopes of increasing efficiency and ridership.
But the federal government has a role to play in this effort as well. When transit is ineffective, when Canadians sit in traffic jams, or when taking the bus is inconvenient or even impossible depending on where you live or where you’re going, our economy suffers.
Gridlock costs Canada billions of dollars in lost productivity each year. Not to mention its harmful environmental impact.
So, Budget 2016 will invest $3.4 billion over three years in the first phase of our historic public transit investment. That will go towards, for example, fleet replacement, and other efforts to shorten commute times, reduce pollution and, by extension, strengthen our communities.
How much of that money will come to Halifax? Well, with allocations based on ridership, Nova Scotia will receive $32.2 million dollars over the next three years. With nearly 50% of provincial population, it is safe to assume that a decent chunk of that funding will come to Halifax.
Help for Canadian families
Our government is working hard to ensure kids have a strong start and a bright future by investing in communities and increasing support for families today.
Budget 2016 invests in social infrastructure projects such as child care centers that will help to improve access to high-quality child care and support the well-being of children and their families in Halifax.
We’ve also introduced the Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCB) to give parents more money, each and every month, to help meet their children’s needs – and the flexibility to decide how best to spend it. The benefit is tax-free and income-based, which means it gives more support to those who need help most: single-parents and low-income families. And that’s important, because we believe every child deserves a real and fair chance to succeed.
Families benefiting from the CCB will see an average of almost $2,300 more per year – tax free, raising hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty and giving more to 9 out of 10 families when compared to benefits from the previous government.
These are just three of Budget 2016’s areas of focus — there are many more, and I’d love to meet with you to discuss any that might be on your mind. My office is at 1888 Brunswick Street, Halifax. You can call me at 902 426 8691 or send me an email at email@example.com