By Sean Fraser
Central Nova MP
The House of Commons resumed sitting last week for the final time before Canadians go to the polls later this year.
As we approach the next federal election, I would like to highlight some of the federal government’s accomplishments during our first three years in office.
To start, our economy is doing historically well, having added over 800,000 jobs since we came into office. Unemployment is at the lowest rate we have seen since the federal government began keeping track of that statistic over 40 years ago.
The Canada Child Benefit has put more money in the pockets of 9 out of 10 families. In the area I represent alone, this program is helping almost 11,000 kids by providing an average of $6,800 every year to families who receive it. This benefit injects $48 million into our local communities for things like new outfits on the first day of school, healthy food at the dinner table, or swimming lessons for families who could never afford them.
Our investments in infrastructure are putting people to work and strengthening our communities. Locally, we are contributing $90 million to twin the deadly Highway 104 between Sutherlands River and Antigonish. This project will create hundreds of local jobs and provide businesses and the travelling public with safer and more efficient travel.
Our investments in post-secondary education institutions are also creating hundreds of local jobs in Pictou County and Antigonish. The new Trades Innovation Centre at the NSCC Pictou Campus is a $15.2 million project we have invested in and the new Centre for Innovation in Health and Institute of Government at StFX University benefitted from a federal contribution of approximately $30 million. These marquee projects will educate a skilled workforce in our region for generations to come.
The lobster fishery is a vital industry for our communities and has been well served by federal policies and investments to date. We have legislated protection for the inshore owner-operator model that ensures the benefits of the fishery stay in our communities. We have entered into a trade deal with Europe that has removed tariffs from seafood products that raises the price fishermen get for their catch. We have invested $18 million in the new air cargo facility at the Halifax Airport to help those products get to international markets, and we have invested approximately $16 million to build or repair Small Craft Harbours in my riding along both the Northumberland Strait and the Eastern Shore that create construction jobs and provide fishermen with a safe place to unload their catch. We have also established a new Atlantic Fisheries Fund worth $325 million to help grow the fishery in our region.
Nova Scotia has more seniors than almost every other province. To support our seniors, we have reversed the Harper government’s changes to Old Age Security and returned the age of eligibility back down from 67 to 65. We have also boosted the Guaranteed Income Supplement for low-income single seniors by 10 per cent, which means up to nearly $1,000 more annually for some of our most vulnerable community members. We have also added a new minister for seniors to advocate for policies that serve their needs. In addition, for those who are still in the working stage of their life and career, we have boosted the Canada Pension Plan so our next generation of seniors can count on a more secure and dignified retirement.
When it comes to our demographic challenges, it is obvious we need to be bringing more young people to our province to ensure future success. Over the past two years, Nova Scotia has actually seen more young people moving to Nova Scotia than are leaving, which has reversed a troubling trend that we have seen over the 18 years prior.
Although health care is primarily a provincial responsibility, we have achieved a new 10-year deal with the province to transfer more money for health care than the province has ever received. In addition, we have made new investments in the areas of mental health and in-home care for seniors that will see $287 million come to Nova Scotia specifically for these causes. We are also currently working on the implementation of a national pharmacare program in order to bring down the cost of prescription drugs.
These are just some of the literally hundreds of examples of policies or investments that we are implementing that are serving Nova Scotians well. As we gear up for the next federal election, I am confident knowing that I, along with my colleagues from across Nova Scotia, have been successful in fighting for our region to improve the quality of life for the people we represent at home.
Sean Fraser is the MP for Central Nova.