Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Prince George—Peace River for that question. I look forward to working with him on committee.
Yesterday, the National Energy Board, in conjunction with the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, released a report estimating larger than expected reserves in the Montney basin, enough to supply Canada's needs for 145 years. This is fantastic news for our energy sector.
Our government understands the importance of accessing new markets for our energy products, especially natural gas. We will remain focused on jobs and economic growth for all Canadians.
Mr. Speaker, it is a real privilege for me to speak to economic action plan 2013. It will not surprise you, but I stand in support of this legislation, as it really is a continuation of what our government has done to bring prosperity, hope, and opportunity to Canadians of all ages, from coast to coast.
It is a privilege to stand and commend our Minister of Finance, who has brought forward another plan, a continuation of a plan, to continue to see jobs created across this country.
I might need to remind our opposition colleagues, who like to lead folks to different conclusions, that since the depths of the recession, we have seen over one million net new jobs created in this country. That is great news, especially for those people in the middle class, who work hard to pay the bills and make ends meet. We are seeing the lowest unemployment rates in some eight years, which is just great news, and that number continues to drop, month after month.
Having come from the province of Alberta, and representing the province of Alberta, the number one issue small businesses, industry, and employers have is trying to find folks to fill job vacancies. The number one issue that seems to be holding back growth and opportunity in the province of Alberta is finding a skilled workforce.
That is why I am so excited about what is included in the plan we are debating today. It has so many different initiatives within it to create jobs, opportunity, and prosperity. Specifically, I am very excited about the Canada job grant, which is one of the things Canada would do to reduce the major issue of not having enough folks to fill the job vacancies in our communities.
We have a number of industries that continue to struggle to find skilled workers in the areas of agriculture, forestry, pulp and paper, and natural gas and oil. What are most desperately needed are those folks who can fill the skilled jobs. This budget responds to that through the Canada job grant program, which would being initiated through this budget implementation bill. Not only are employers excited about this but so are young people who are trying to find the training necessary for the high-paying jobs of today.
I have been speaking with many educational institutions, specifically one in my constituency, Grande Prairie Regional College. It is very keen to begin the process of continuing to work with our government and with the provincial government to put highly trained people into the workforce to fill these job vacancies. GPRC is not only excited about what we are doing on the Canada job grant initiative but also about what we are doing in terms of some of the contributions for the development of new technologies and research.
GPRC last week was named the third most important research institution, at a college level, in the province and the 14th in the country. This is great news, considering the fact that three or four years ago it was at about the bottom of the heap. Since then, we have seen significant contributions from the federal government for initiatives within GPRC through CRI and a number of other initiatives it has undertaken to link up with federal funds to build things such as the National Bee Diagnostic Centre, which is now located in Beaverlodge.
Our government was proud to fund the construction of the original facility, and we were very keen in the last number of months to announce that we will have ongoing support for that initiative for the next five years. This really is exciting not only for the folks who live in the Peace River region but also throughout the country. When I recently toured this facility, which just celebrated its one-year anniversary, I learned that one of the major groups of folks using the research capacity of that facility are people who come from Ontario. We are seeing that this really is a trans-Canadian initiative and I am very proud that our government funded it and that it is located in my community.
The budget is very multi-faceted. One of the things that I am very keenly aware of is the necessity to engage our first nation people in training for the jobs of today. I have served in the past as chair of the aboriginal affairs and northern development committee and it has been a real privilege to serve in that capacity. One of the major issues that is recognized across partisan lines is the underemployment or unemployment within first nation communities, specifically the youth of these communities. I am very excited about the continued initiatives put forward in this budget to continue to support education opportunities for folks who live within first nation communities, and to link those folks who live within close proximity of some of the new industrial developments and resource developments with the training necessary to get those jobs.
In my community, folks who live on reserve in some cases are just miles away from the some of the highest-paid jobs in the country. The only thing that seems to be standing between the opportunities and the underemployed or unemployed young people on these reserves is training. With training they might be able to get those high-paying jobs in the industry and in the resource sector in very close proximity so they can continue to live within their communities and will not need to move to a large urban centre. They can get the training and work in a community that is close to home. This is great news. Our government is responding to needs and challenges that many first nation folks are facing by putting more money into training and working with local institutions to provide support to ensure that young people get the training that is necessary to support their families and create opportunities in the regions in which they live.
One of the other major challenges we have faced over the last number of years as a growing community and region that has continued to see development is the ability for municipal and provincial governments to keep up with the essential infrastructure necessary to keep local industries moving and prospering. I am very excited that the finance minister has continued to allocate money to essential infrastructure from coast to coast, and Alberta is going to be one of the big benefactors of this program, as every province will be.
Specifically, my province and the region in which I live are in desperate need of some of this essential infrastructure so that prosperity can continue to be developed. Things such as water systems, sewer systems, roads and bridges are all essential in order for there to be prosperity in local communities. It is something that we are very excited about and I commend the government for continuing to recognize the needs of regions across this country to continue to build the infrastructure necessary for long-term prosperity in all communities.
As I go through this action plan, I can say that from the beginning to the end there are nuggets and important initiatives within this piece of legislation that are good news for Canadians, good news for Albertans, and definitely good news for folks who live in Peace Country.
The electoral district of Peace River (Alberta) has a population of 138,009 with 96,378 registered voters and 272 polling divisions.
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