Economic Action Plan 2012 – Jobs, Growth and Long Term Prosperity
In the past two years, our Government has already cut Canada’s temporary planned deficit from the recession in half – a deficit which all Members of Parliament agreed was necessary to stimulate the economy through infrastructure investment. Since then, our economy has created over 610,000 net new jobs, placing Canada in one of the strongest fiscal positions in the G-7.
Thanks to the Government’s strong fiscal management, Canada’s budgetary balance will be reached not through the harsh fiscal and economic shocks now being implemented in parts of Europe , but through building on Canada’s successes through the implementation of moderate restraint in government spending. The majority of savings in such spending will come from eliminating waste in internal government operations. We will make government leaner and more efficient. By doing this, we will be able to stay on track to balance Canada’s budget.
Unlike Thomas Mulcair’s NDP, We Will Not Raise Taxes
However, unlike the Thomas Mulcair’s NDP, we will not raise taxes in a bid to bring the budget into balance. Raising taxes is reckless idea which hinders economic growth and prosperity. We all know this as fact, as we all witnessed how NDP high tax policies drove investment and job creation out of Saskatchewan and into Alberta. Saskatchewan turned away from failed NDP high tax policies. I believe that the Conservative Government must continue do the same.
We Will Not Cut Transfers to Seniors or to Other Levels of Government
Economic Action Plan 2012 will not cut transfers to seniors or other levels of government for health, education or social services, as the previous Liberal Government did in the 1990s. The previous Chrétien/Martin Government cut $25 billion in federal transfers to the provinces – cuts which devastated the provision of health care services to our citizens. Anyone having to wait up to eight hours in an emergency room knows the effects of those Liberal cuts. The Liberals balanced the budget on the backs of the sick and the elderly – something we as a government will not do.
Hence, major federal transfers to Saskatchewan will total close to $1.3 billion in fiscal year 2012-2013. This long-term, growing support helps ensure that Saskatchewan has the resources required to provide essential public services, and contributes to shared national objectives, including health care, post-secondary education and other key components of Canada’s social programs.
Saskatchewan will also benefit from continued direct targeted support in 2012-13, including $14 million for labour market training as part of a commitment of $500 million a year in new funding to provinces and territories, beginning in 2008-09; and $8 million for the Wait Times Reduction Funds part of the 10-year Plan to Strengthen Health Care.
We Will Protect the Retirement of Current and Future Pensioners
As most are aware, the average life expectancy of Canadians is on the rise. The largest age cohort in history, the baby boom generation, is already at or close to retirement. Meanwhile, Canada’s birth rate has been dropping. The facts on this are clear. The number of Canadians over the age of 65 will increase from 4.7 million to 9.3 million over the next 20 years. Also by 2030, the number of taxpayers for every senior will be 2 – down from 4 in 2010.
The Old Age Security (OAS) program was built when Canadians were not living the longer, healthier lives they are today. Consequently, the cost of the OAS program will increase from $36B per year in 2010 to $108B per year in 2030.
The Economic Action Plan 2012 therefore works to protect the retirements of current pensioners and the pensioners of the future by increasing the eligibility age for OAS from 65 to 67 over time. On this issue, we’re being proactive. The change will not come into effect until 2023. We’ll gradually phase it in so that those who are 55 years of age or older will not be affected.
Strengthening the Financial Security of Workers, Businesses and Families
Economic Action Plan 2012 also works to strengthen the financial security of workers, businesses and families to help create good jobs and long-term prosperity. To help do this, the Plan extends the Hiring Credit for Small Business for one year – a measure we already know works to encourage employers to hire more workers. Furthermore, the Plan increases funding for skills training for students, older workers, and Canadians with disabilities.
Our Government also realizes that modernizing Employment Insurance goes hand-in-hand with the changing workforce demographic we’re facing. The Plan therefore creates more stable, predictable EI premium rates, and makes it easier for out-of-work Canadians to find new high-quality jobs – jobs which are in high demand in Saskatchewan in order to keep our economy growing.
Moving forward, our Plan also builds on the action our Government has already taken for families and communities, which includes helping a typical Canadian family save nearly $3,100 on average per year. We’ll expand the health-related tax relief under the GST and income tax systems to better meet the health care needs of Canadians. And, we’ll expand Government support for families, students, seniors and pensioners, and persons with disabilities with additional funding for ventures such as the Wage Earner Protection Program and an improvement to the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP).
Making Canada the Best Place to Invest
In Saskatchewan, natural resources – from potash, to uranium, to oil, to gold, to coal to diamonds ? offer huge potential to create even more jobs and growth. We therefore need to ensure that Canada is the primary place in which businesses want to invest over the long term. In the next 10 years, more than 500 economic projects representing $500 billion in new investments are planned across our country. To reach our country’s full economic potential, Economic Action Plan 2012 implements responsible resource development and smart regulation for major economic projects, respecting provincial jurisdiction and maintaining the highest standards of environmental protection. It also streamlines the review process for such projects, according to the following principle: one project, one review, completed in a clearly defined time period. The Plan also ensures that Canada has the infrastructure we need to move our exports to new markets.
Seeking New Trade Agreements with India, Europe and the Asia Pacific Region
Recently it has become clear that Canada must develop new export markets for Canada’s energy, natural resources and agricultural producers to reduce our dependence on traditional markets. We are therefore undertaking the most ambitious trade expansion plan in Canada’s history, seeking new free trade agreements with India and the European Union, and building upon our relationship with the Asia-Pacific region. The booming economies of the Asia-Pacific region are a huge and increasing source of demand, but Canada is not the only country to which they can turn. If we fail to act now, this historic window of opportunity will close.
My colleague, the Hon. Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture & Agri-Food has worked tirelessly, travelling from country to country, opening foreign markets bilaterally to Canadian agricultural products. Our trade expansion plan, I believe, builds upon recent free trade deals negotiated with Latin American countries, and upon Minister Ritz’ successful work of expanding our focus on international trade liberalization towards emerging markets.
Keeping Canada on the Right Path
What I’ve highlighted so far just skims the surface of all the ways our Government is supporting families, communities, workers, businesses and pensioners through our plan for jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. I believe our Government has kept Canada on the right path.
This is now Canada’s time. And we’ve turned the corner toward a prosperous future.