By Jim Flaherty, Finance Minister of Canada
Last year was a challenging year for Canada and the world economy. At the start of 2009, the worst global recession in decades meant many Canadians were worried about the future of their jobs or their businesses. That’s why our Conservative Government responded quickly to protect and stabilize the economy with Canada’s Economic Action Plan.
That Plan, the largest stimulus plan in Canadian history, has produced positive results. It’s helping workers with improvements to EI benefits and the work-sharing program. It’s reducing taxes on families and businesses. It has provided help to homeowners and supported job creation through the popular Home Renovation Tax Credit. It is creating jobs by improving bridges, roads and other key infrastructure, as well as making key long-term investments to improve our colleges and universities, and much more.
Indeed, we’re now seeing some signs of a global economy that is recovering, but not yet recovered. In Canada, consumer confidence is rebounding, employment is stabilizing, and businesses are starting to grow again. Canada has remained in the best economic and fiscal position among most industrialized countries. But despite early positive signs, the global recovery isn’t secure yet. That’s why implementing Phase Two of Canada’s Economic Action Plan will remain the government’s priority in the next federal budget.
To develop the Economic Action Plan last year we embarked on the most extensive pre-budget consultations in Canadian history. As we continue to implement the second phase of our Economic Action Plan, I want to again know what all Canadians think, not just special interest groups in Ottawa. That’s why, since December and all through January, I’m traveling to communities across the country to meet and talk directly to Canadians about the economy. Similarly, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and my cabinet colleagues are also traveling across the country hearing what Canadians have to say about our economy.
Specifically, we want to hear from you on the best ways to implement effectively the remaining stimulus in Canada’s Economic Action Plan and to look at ways to return to balanced budgets once recovery firmly takes hold. We also want to look at ways we can protect jobs and our prosperity into the future, so that Canada emerges from the global recession stronger than ever.
To hear from even more Canadians, I encourage all Canadians to participate in the online pre-budget consultation at http://www.fin.gc.ca/prebudget-prebudgetaire/1-eng.asp. I was the first Finance Minister to offer online pre-budget consultations and have found it an invaluable tool to find out what Canadians are thinking about the key issues. Your input will help us build the plan we need to restore our budget to balance once the economy has fully recovered, and continue to build our economy for the future.
I believe Canadians want their federal government working and focused on the issue that matters most to them – the economy. That’s what your government is doing. With the ideas and feedback of all Canadians, we’ll work together to build a stronger and more prosperous country.