MP Report by Jay Hill, M.P.
“Canadians Ever Generous in Good Times and Bad”
There was more reason for optimism on the economic front this past week as our Conservative Government successfully negotiated an agreement with the United States Obama Administration that will ensure Canadian companies can participate in U.S. infrastructure projects financed under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
This is terrific news for Canadian businesses and workers who faced being blocked from supplying materials to state and local public works projects under the “Buy American” initiative.
Preserving and creating Canadian jobs is our Government’s top priority both now and in the future. That’s why this agreement also established a fast-track consultation process should similar provisions be applied to future U.S. funding programs. We also negotiated mutual access to state and provincial/territorial procurement opportunities, further recognizing the integrated nature of our two economies and creating additional opportunity to create Canadian jobs.
And speaking of new jobs, Statistics Canada reported last week that employment in Canada increased by 43,000 jobs in January – far better than market expectations of a 15,000 increase.
These numbers confirm that Canada’s Economic Action Plan is working and mark the fourth month of job gains in the past six months. Canada is weathering the current global economic challenges better than nearly every other industrialized country but our recovery remains fragile. The Prime Minister has repeatedly said that our Government won’t be satisfied until those Canadians who have lost jobs are working again.
In other employment news, our Conservative Government’s initiative to allow self-employed Canadians to apply for Employment Insurance (EI) special benefits, including maternity, parental, sickness and compassionate care benefits, on a voluntary basis, launched on February 1st. Self-employed individuals who opt-in to the EI program on or before April 1, 2010 could collect benefits as early as January 1, 2011.
The 2.6 million self-employed Canadians, including small business owners, farmers, construction workers, professionals and those who own a home business, previously had little or no income protection to cope with major life events. And their ability to address these challenges and continue to prosper in their businesses is important to our nation’s economic success.
The economy was also front-and-centre at the meeting of G-7 finance ministers and central bank governors in Iqaluit last week. Participants agreed that we need to continue delivering stimulus programs while looking ahead to long-term fiscal solutions. This includes a commitment to work together to ensure that, to the extent that a financial crisis is caused by financial institutions, those entities should bear the costs.
Also at the meeting, G-7 countries cancelled Haiti’s bilateral debts in the aftermath of last month’s tragic earthquake.
However, the most overwhelming sign of support for Haiti has come from individual Canadians. International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda announced this week that Canadians have donated $113-million so far under our Government’s program to match individual donations. The deadline where donations will be matched is February 13th and I anticipate that Canadians will continue to open their hearts and their wallets to the Haitian people.
Even while many families in Canada continue to face challenging financial circumstances through this global economic crisis, I am proud and inspired that the spirit of Canadian compassion and generosity never, ever fails!