After more than 14 months of uncertainty and hardship, Canadians continue to battle COVID. But we know that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

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Mr. Chair and members of the committee, thank you for inviting me to speak on Bill C-30, the Budget Implementation Act.

After more than 14 months of uncertainty and hardship, Canadians continue to battle COVID. But we know that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

As we fight the third wave, more and more Canadians are getting vaccinated.

Bill C-30 is an essential piece of legislation that, once enacted, will allow us to implement our plan to finish the fight against COVID, create jobs and a swift recovery from the COVID recession, and lay a foundation for robust, inclusive, green, long-term economic growth.

This budget is about helping middle class Canadians, about helping workers, and about helping more Canadians to join the middle class. And it is about embracing this moment of global transformation to a greener, cleaner economy.

It’s a plan, Mr. Chair and members of the committee, that will help Canadians and Canadian businesses heal the wounds of COVID, and come roaring back.

First, we need to finish the fight against this virus. This bill includes a one-time payment of $4 billion to provinces and territories to support their health systems. Support that is so essential as we fight the third wave. This is in addition to the $1 billion to support provinces and territories as they ramp up their vaccine campaigns.

We are making progress in our vaccination efforts. And I know that Team Canada can vaccinate even more Canadians, even more quickly. And we will.

I was vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine at a Toronto pharmacy 15 days ago, and I encourage all Canadians to get vaccinated as soon as it is their turn.

First, we need to implement a comprehensive jobs and growth plan in order to address the unequal impact of the pandemic recession on women, young people, racialized Canadians, low-wage workers, and small businesses.

A cornerstone of our plan is an historic investment of $30 billion over five years, reaching $9.2 billion annually in permanent investments, to provide high-quality, affordable and accessible early learning and child care across Canada.

Our goal is that, within five years, families everywhere in Canada have access to high-quality child care, for an average of $10 a day.

Dear colleagues from all political parties: Let’s make a commitment together, today, to all Canadians. Let’s get this done.

And, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the leadership of Quebec, especially Quebec’s feminists, who have shown the rest of Canada the way forward.

We know that better days are ahead of us. But many families are still struggling. About a million Canadians are still unemployed or are working far fewer hours than before the pandemic. We must support the hardest hit Canadians and businesses to ensure that lost jobs are restored as quickly as possible.

Bill C-30 provides emergency support for Canadian workers, businesses and families.

The legislation extends the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy, and Lockdown Support through to September 25, 2021, which will help protect millions of jobs.

With this legislation, we are providing a bridge for people who are unable to work because of COVID, by extending income supports, maintaining flexible access to EI benefits, and extending the EI sickness benefit from 15 to 26 weeks.

Bill C-30 also introduces a $15 an hour federal minimum wage. And it expands the Canada Workers Benefit – extending income top-ups to about a million more low-wage workers and lifting nearly 100,000 Canadians out of poverty. These are measurable, concrete steps to help Canadians who need help, now.

We must also help small businesses, which are the heart of our economy and the cornerstone of every main street in our country. We can do this by facilitating access to capital and helping businesses hire, including through the new Canada Recovery Hiring Program. 

Young Canadians made enormous sacrifices last year to keep their elders safe. They need our collective support. Bill C-30 will make college and university more accessible and affordable by, among other measures, extending the waiver of interest on federal student loans through March 2023. This will enable more than 1.5 million Canadians repaying student loans to save money. We will not allow this generation of young Canadians to become a lost generation.

Mr. Chair, I have spoken today about just a few of the measures included in Bill C-30, measures which will make a tangible, positive difference in the lives of millions of Canadians.

This is a plan for jobs, growth, and the middle class. It’s a plan built around helping Canadians recover, succeed, and thrive.

I recognize the critical role parliamentary committees play in scrutinizing government legislation and I am grateful to all of you for your hard work.

Bill C-30 is an historic first step towards recovery, renewal, and growth for future generations of Canadians.

I would be happy to take all your questions as you consider this critically important bill.

Thank you very much.