The 2019 federal budget is good news for Northwestern Ontario, according to Thunder Bay-Rainy River MP Don Rusnak.
He highlighted a $6-billion investment into a national plan to increase high-speed internet access to 100 percent of Canadians by 2030 as proof of this government’s commitment to the needs of rural and northern communities.
This investment into internet expansion includes the creation of a Universal Broadband Fund that will develop practical ways to get rural Canadians access to fast internet.
Regional municipalities and First Nations also will benefit from Budget 2019’s $2.2 billion top-up to the federal gas tax fund.
Rusnak said this investment will support the short-term infrastructure needs of local communities while freeing up revenue for them to deal with other important matters.
He also highlighted Budget 2019’s commitment to supporting Northwestern Ontario farmers and forestry workers. In light of the recent ratifications of CETA and CTPP, the budget proposes up to $3.9 billion in support for supply-managed farmers.
Of this, $2.4 billion will be offered to sustain the incomes of eligible dairy, poultry, and egg framers.
For forestry workers, they will be helped by the investment of $251.3 million over three years to support existing forestry innovation and diversification programs, including the Forest Innovation Fund and the Indigenous Forestry Initiative.
Rusnak believes both these investments are critical for the growth of two of Northwestern Ontario’s most important economic sectors.
Budget 2019 also provides strong supports for current and future home owners.
These include a commitment of $1.25 billion over three years to the First-Time Home Buyers Incentive fund, which will assist Canadians with the purchase of their new homes, as well as an investment of $300 million into a Housing Supply Challenge Fund, which will grow the supply of housing and unlock new affordable housing opportunities for Northwestern Ontarians.
Seniors and workers also are top of mind for this government, noted Rusnak.
He said this budget helps Canadian seniors by increasing access to benefits and protecting pensions, including a $1.76 billion investment over four years to expand the Guaranteed Income Supplement earnings exemption.
Rusnak also is proud of the important steps made towards reconciliation in Budget 2019. This comprises, in part, a commitment of $4.5 billion over five years to close the gap in the access to services between indigenous and non-indigenous Canadians.
This will include $1.2 billion investment over three years to support the continued implementation of Jordan’s Principle for Indigenous children, $739 million over five years for future drinking water infrastructure repairs and capacity building, and $211 million over five years to support on-reserve emergency management.
This is in addition to an investment of $35 million for the year 2019-20 to support on-reserve long-term care, and $8.5 million to support the development of First Nation holistic long-term care strategies.