'When everyone thrives our whole economy does': Federal minister sells budget

Employment Minister Patty Hajdu is championing the Trudeau government's innovation and skills training agenda as she stops in Saint John on Thursday to promote the federal government's second budget.

The federal employment minister will be using a speech in front of the Chamber of Commerce on Thursday to underscore key parts of the budget, which Finance Minister Bill Morneau tabled on Wednesday.

Hajdu said jobs, innovation and skills training were key parts in this year's federal budget. 

"This business community is the driver of our economy … and an important partner in all the work that we're doing," she said in an interview with Information Morning Saint John.

In terms of innovation, the federal government will provide $950 million over five years to support business-led "superclusters" and $400 million over three years for a new venture capital catalyst initiative for startups. 

She said the federal government will also support people attending post-secondary education for the first time by increasing grants so students have less debt when they graduate and access to the support they need no matter what age, or stage of learning. 

"Skills need to evolve," she said.

"This is an evolving economy and industries are changing as Saint John is well aware." ​

A fair shot at success

But one of the major points Hajdu touched on following Wednesday's budget, was the government's focus on housing and the childcare system for the middle class and those trying to reach it.

"We want a country where everyone has a fair shot at success," she said.

"Our eyes are on the middle class and we're going to make sure people who are in the middle class feel certainty, they can stay there and those who are working to join it have all the tools they need to do so."

The federal government has made a $11 billion investment over 11 years to housing with another $5 billion looking at the issue of prolonged homelessness, which she said will be able to make a difference in communities like Saint John.

"This budget … invests heavily on things like affordable housing," she said.  

"When everyone thrives our whole economy does."

Hajdu said the federal government has been working with partners like the Canadian Alliance to End Homeless, Federation of Canadian Municipalities to get that money into communities across the country.

"The housing strategy is well on its way and we anticipate the provinces will be working very closely with us," she said.

"We have received great feedback from the provinces."