Our government has done a lot this year. Between our work for the middle class, making key investments in our country’s future, we made sure Calgary and Alberta are in better stead to go forward together.
Here’s my top ten for 2016:
#10 – Protecting Canada’s Oceans
In November Prime Minister Justin Trudeau committed an investment of $1.5 billion to protect our coasts with the Oceans Protections Plan. We are creating a world-leading marine safety system by investing in marine science, and better information sharing with coastal communities. This plan will help keep Canadians waters and coasts safe and clean, for today’s use and for future generations.
#9 – More money in middle class pockets
Last fall we were elected on the promise to do more to help Canada’s middle class and those working hard to join it. And we have kept that promise. Canadians with taxable annual income between $44,700 and $89,401 will see their income tax rate fall. This cut will put up to $670 back into individual’s pockets per year – or $1,340 for a two-income household.
#8 – Lifting Canadian kids out of poverty
The new tax-free, targeted Canada Child Benefit means that 9 out of 10 Canadian families will receive higher payments and 300,000 children will be lifted out of poverty.
#7 – Financial help for more Seniors
We boosted the Guaranteed Income Supplement top-up benefit for single seniors of up to $947 annually. This will improve the financial security of about 900,000 low income single seniors across Canada. We also restored the eligibility age for Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement benefits to 65, which will put thousands of dollars back in the pockets of Canadians in their later years.
#6 – Standing with Fort McMurray
I was honoured to chair of the Northern Wildfires cabinet committee and oversee the federal government’s response to this devastating disaster. I was awestruck by the generosity of Canadians. Some $165M was donated to the Red Cross by Canadians, funds that were matched by the federal and provincial governments. We also paid out $300 million to the Alberta Government through the Disaster Financial Assistance fund which resulted in a combined provincial and federal payout of $1,850 per adult and $800 per child to assist with the immediate costs of the evacuation.
The fire destroyed some 2,400 homes and caused $4 billion in damages. It was the largest wildfire evacuation in Albertan history, and ground oil sands operations to a standstill. I am proud of the skill and ability of Canada’s first responders and emergency preparedness professionals, along with the leadership and tenacity of the people of Fort McMurray.
#5 – EI reform that benefits more Albertans
In 2016’s budget we brought in a $2.7 billion reform package of Canada’s Employment Insurance program. These reforms were specifically tailored for Alberta, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and our government doing the following to help those most hurt from the commodities downturn:
Extended benefits up to 50 weeks for hurting Albertans. Long-tenured workers will be able to receive an additional 20 weeks up to a maximum of 70 weeks
Reducing wait times for EI applicants from two weeks down to just one (starting January 1st, 2017).
Extended EI Work-Sharing agreements from a maximum of 38 weeks to 76 weeks, helping companies to cope until commodity prices rebound.
You can read more about these changes on my website here: http://kenthehrmp.ca/changes-to-ei
#4 – Funding Alberta infrastructure projects
In the past year alone Minister Sohi and our government have invested $3 billion into Albertan infrastructure projects. That’s more than the last five years combined under the previous government. This means funds for flood mitigation along Calgary’s rivers, public infrastructure like the Green Line LRT through downtown Calgary. Calgarians will see better jobs, quicker commutes and a long term boost to the local economy.
#3 – Investing in local Culture and Innovation
Since the 2015 election our government has invested more than $330 million into Calgary Heritage projects – like cSPACE, Beakerhead, and the Calgary Folk Festival.
We have also invested $150 million into the University of Calgary to make the dream of Alberta being a centre of excellence for energy innovation a reality. These investments in Calgary have been called “game changing” and “transformative”.
These investments will ensure long term economic prosperity for Albertans and Canadians and a better future for all.
#2 – Putting a price on Carbon Pollution
The Canadian Government is implementing an economy-wide price on carbon pollution. Canadians know that a sustainable, clean growth economy is necessary for our collective health, prosperity, and security. Canada is committed to creating a cleaner, more innovative economy that reduces emissions and protects our environment, while creating well-paying jobs for the middle class and those working hard to join it.
#2 – Building Pipelines
Earlier this month, cabinet approved Enbridge’s Line 3 and Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain expansion project. After a decade of inaction, we are finally seeing progress on the energy file thanks to the leadership of our Prime Minister and my colleagues.
Calgarians and Albertans alike have been waiting for this announcement for a long time. We are moving forward on Canada’s energy future and we will continue to engage with local communities and indigenous groups so that we ensure that economic benefits are enjoyed by all Canadians, and environmental protections strong and enforced.
#1 – Giving more to Veterans and their families
It is an honour and a pleasure to share my life with the many veterans of this country. Since my appointment to cabinet in 2015 I have been able to join veterans from coast to coast for two Remembrance Days, and every conversation and moment that I share with a veteran leaves me more inspired and richer from the experience.
In Budget 2016 the Government of Canada invested $5.6 billion additional dollars in Veterans Affairs, showcasing a clear commitment to bettering the lives of our nation’s heroes. This means re-opening of the nine Veterans Affairs offices closed by the previous government, and an extra office in Surrey, BC. It’s also an increase of Earning Loss Benefit to 90% from 75% of a Veterans pre-release salary, and increasing the Disability Award.
And we’re on track to hire up to 400 more frontline staff to help veterans in their communities and lower the Veteran to Case Manager ratio to ensure Veterans with complex cases are getting the attention they require.
It’s been a busy year – but I look forward to what 2017 brings. I go to work each day with renewed purpose and am regularly inspired by the citizens from my hometown. Thank you for allowing me the privilege to represent you in the nation’s Parliament and for letting me share my life with you.
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