As a government, we are working on behalf of Canadian families. Families care most about the things that affect their daily lives: jobs, wages, mortgages, taxes, their children's education, medical care, safe streets, and a secure retirement.
Our economic security depends on a strong economy that creates jobs. And while the unemployment rate remains unacceptably high, it has dropped two percentage points and 624,000 new jobs have been created since we took office in 1993.
Locally, since April, the local economy has generated 17,000 new net jobs and housing starts for the first seven months are up 37 per cent from the previous year. In the last couple of months job creation in the tourism and high-tech industries has more than replaced the total public sector jobs cuts.
We are using the tax system to put money into the hands of families raising children. We will double the Working Income Supplement for low income working families by $1000 by July 1998.
One of our most pressing concerns is jobs for our young people. Over the next three years we will be investing $1.2 billion in youth employment programs. Over 24,000 young people participated this year in our Youth Internship program which blends work experience with classroom instruction. Through Youth Service Canada (YSC), young people aged 18 to 24, develop their skills through community service. A new program, Student Connections, brings together students and new technology.
At our Ottawa West community consultation meetings, it was made clear that our social programs are valued and relied on, and these include our public pensions. A single tax-free Seniors Benefit will replace current benefits for seniors beginning in 2001. Most future seniors, including nine out of ten single senior women, will be better off under the new system. To ensure that our health care system and other social programs remain effective and affordable, we have introduced a five-year funding arrangement for the Canada Health and Social Transfer, which will ensure the maintenance of national principles.
Security from crime and violence continues to be of deep concern. We are working to keep our homes and streets safe by the national screening of sexual abusers, amendments to the Young Offenders Act, tighter gun control and sentencing reform. The National Crime Prevention Council is looking at what leads children into a life of crime and how to stop the pattern.
If you would like more detailed information on any of these measures, please let me know. Our policies have reflected the concerns of our families - getting government spending under control, keeping taxes down, investing in training and education and planning for sustainable social programs. These measures will ensure a secure future for our families.