On March 22, 2017, Finance Minister Bill Morneau tabled the 2017 federal Budget. There are a number of initiatives that will benefit Manitoba as a whole. For instance, Budget 2017 gives Manitoba a major transfer of $3.7 billion in 2017-18, up $147.7 million from the previous year and the largest year-over-year increase since 2008-09. In addition, there are important investments in agriculture, clean technologies, Indigenous communities and the Lake Winnipeg Basin.
I wanted to highlight the initiatives that will most directly impact you, as a resident of Saint Boniface – Saint Vital.
Whether you are a young professional joining the workforce or a senior looking for independent living options, affordable housing was raised as a priority during my consultations in Saint Boniface – Saint Vital. In order to help ensure affordable housing that meets your needs, the federal government is investing more than $11.2 billion over 11 years for a National Housing Strategy, which includes $3.2 billion to province and territories to support key priorities for affordable housing.
Flexibility within the Employment insurance (EI) system was also a key issue in Saint Boniface – Saint Vital. EI touches a number of people, from new parents to laid-off employees. EI maternity benefits have been extended to 12 weeks from 8 weeks, and EI parental benefits can now be taken over 18 months instead of 12 months. Families will also benefit from an investment of $7 billion over ten years for more high-quality, affordable child care spaces.
Budget 2017 also announced measures to expand flexibilities within the EI program to enable more unemployed workers to pursue self-funded training, while remaining eligible for EI benefits. Part-time students and students with dependent children will now be eligible for EI benefits and a new pilot project has been launched to test new approaches to make it easier for adult learners to qualify for student financial assistance.
A number of constituents have contacted my office to indicate their struggles as primary caregivers for an ailing spouse, child or parent. I am pleased that Budget 2017 begins to address those needs with the creation of a new EI caregiving benefit that gives eligible caregivers up to 15 weeks of EI benefits while they are temporarily away from work. In addition, there is now a single, new Canada Caregiver Credit, which will provide better support to those who need it most and help families with caregiving responsibilities.
All these measures are the result of recommendations that arose from the many consultations held across Canada, including my own pre-budget consultation held at Winakwa Community Club last November.
I’ve highlighted only a few initiatives from Budget 2017. If you would like to know more about a specific area of interest to you, please contact my office.