MP Report by Jay Hill, M.P.
Canada: A Nation United To Boost the Economy
It might be the spirit of the holiday season. It might be that a crisis, in the economy or otherwise, tends to pull people together. Or, it might be that the recent turmoil in Parliament has inspired better communication among politicians and more engagement from Canadians.
I believe it is a combination of ‘all of the above’. Whatever the reason, there currently exists a healthy level of cooperation among elected officials of all political stripes at all levels of government, along with business, industry, academics and average Canadians. And what has bound all of these groups together is their common goal of strengthening Canada’s economy through the global economic storm.
As the Government of Canada prepares to table Budget 2009 in late January, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, along with other cabinet ministers in key economic portfolios, is actively seeking input on additional measures to stimulate economic activity.
Emergency initiatives are being undertaken by governments of nations throughout the world. Fortunately, pre-emptive, prudent choices that our Government has already made – paying down debt, reducing taxes, investing in infrastructure, and working to enhance credit availability – has placed Canada in a much better position than other G7 countries to get through this global economic crisis. Furthermore, the measures our government has implemented are mainly permanent and more substantial than those actions taken by other major industrialized countries.
For example, the tax reductions implemented by the Conservative Government since 2006 mean that individual Canadians and businesses will pay $31-billion less in taxes in 2009-10 … the equivalent of nearly 2% of our gross domestic product (GDP). Plus, our $33-billion Building Canada Fund is the single largest infrastructure investment since the Second World War.
Here in Prince George-Peace River, constituents have already seen those funds materializing into new bridges, improved highways, and sewer and water systems among other vital infrastructure projects.
Yet we must continue to work to boost the economy, building upon these initiatives.
In addition to cross country pre-budget meetings and roundtable consultations by Minister Flaherty, Transport Minister John Baird has been travelling across Canada to meet with leaders of the provinces, territories and municipalities to find solutions to fast-track funding for key infrastructure projects that will help stimulate the economy. These meetings are taking place in advance of the upcoming First Ministers meeting on January 16, 2009.
The focus of discussions for potential stimulus measures in Budget 2009 includes: investing in housing; expediting infrastructure spending; building strong and sustainable labour markets and training incentives; supporting traditional and emerging industrial sectors; and, improving access to credit.
Once again, our Government is also asking individual Canadians for their views on these priorities, as well as any other idea you may wish to submit through the online pre-budget consultations website found at www.fin.gc.ca. You will also find on that site important background information on current economic indicators in Canada.
Many groups, associations, businesspeople and individuals have already publicly put forward their fiscal ideas. With some exceptions, these proposals have been mainly reasonable and realistic.
Above all, there is a predominant tone of sincerity in these pre-budget discussions, reflecting the reality that “we’re all in this together”.