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Federal update: Investing in the middle class to grow Canada’s economy

Submitted by Catherine McKenna, MP Ottawa Centre  –

Canada’s economy is strong and growing, more Canadians are working, and families have more money to save or spend each month. Investing in the middle class means investing in people—with more help for those who need it, and less for those who don’t. 

It means building a better Canada—a stronger, more connected country—and it means better opportunities for people today, and the promise of a better future, even in a world of constant change.

In Budget 2019, the Government of Canada proposes to:

Make homeownership more affordable for first-time buyers by implementing a First-Time Home Buyer Incentive, a shared equity mortgage program that would reduce the mortgage payments required to own a home; and by providing greater access to their Registered Retirement Savings Plan savings to buy a home.

Help workers gain new skills with the creation of the new Canada Training Benefit, a benefit that will give workers money to help pay for training, provide income support during training, and, with the cooperation of the provinces and territories, offer job protection so that workers can take the time they need to keep their skills relevant and in-demand.

Prepare young Canadians for good jobs by helping make education more affordable through lowered interest rates on Canada Student Loans, making the six-month grace period interest-free after a student loan borrower leaves school, and creating up to 84,000 new student work placements per year by 2023-24.

Help Canadians with the cost of prescription drugs by taking steps towards a national pharmacare plan, starting with creating a new Canadian Drug Agency that could lower Canadians’ drug costs by as much as $3 billion per year, developing a national formulary for prescription drugs, and a national strategy for high-cost drugs for rare diseases.

Support low-income Canadian seniors who choose to stay in the workforce by enhancing the Guaranteed Income Supplement earnings exemption so that they can effectively keep more of their hard-earned income.

Support municipalities’ local infrastructure priorities by proposing a one-time top-up of $2.2 billion through the federal Gas Tax Fund that will double the Government’s commitment to municipalities in 2018-19, and make sure communities have the funds they need to pay for crucial repairs and other important local projects.

Give all Canadians access to high-speed internet so all Canadian homes and businesses have access to 50 Mbps high-speed internet no matter where they live—including people and businesses in rural, remote and northern communities.

Lower Canadians’ energy costs by partnering with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to increase energy efficiency in residential, commercial and multi-use buildings, and by introducing a new incentive for buying electric battery or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price under $45,000.

Advance reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples through new measures to help improve the quality of life for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples in Canada and advance self-determination with investments to improve water quality; preserve, revitalize, and promote Indigenous languages; improve the quality of education and health care for Indigenous children in a culturally relevant way; and promote Indigenous entrepreneurship and business.

Since 2015, hard-working Canadians have proven what has long been understood: a strong economy starts with a strong middle class. And that’s what we can accomplish together, when we invest in the middle-class.

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