November 1, 2016
Speech: A Plan for Middle Class Progress - Fall Economic Statement
By the Honourable Bill Morneau, P.C., M.P.
Check against delivery
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government’s Fall Economic Statement.
It gives me great pleasure to update this House on the progress we’ve made on behalf of the Canadian middle class and those working hard to join it.
We know that Canadian families are filled with hope, and they’re not afraid of hard work.
But for decades now, the middle class has been struggling just to stay afloat.
Child care, tuition, the rising cost of living, long commutes, mounting debt—they all add up.
In the midst of this, the world is changing rapidly.
Many of the most dynamic economies are now in Asia and developing regions.
The Internet is transforming how we communicate, live and work.
Economies are facing the challenge of becoming cleaner and more sustainable.
So a year ago, Canadians asked for our help.
They wanted a government that would work with them to secure a brighter future for their kids and grandkids.
Progress for the Middle Class
We took a big first step by introducing a middle class tax cut, and raising taxes on the wealthiest one per cent to help pay for it.
Thanks to our Canada Child Benefit, 9 out of 10 Canadian families get more benefits for their children. On average, they will get $2,300 more for the 2016–17 benefit year.
For hundreds of thousands of children it could mean being lifted out of poverty.
For some families, it could mean more money to spend on skates this winter.
For others, it could mean paying down debt, or saving a little more.
We also improved retirement security for workers today and for future generations, including signing an historic agreement with the provinces to strengthen the Canada Pension Plan.
We have kept the promises we made to seniors, by strengthening the retirement income system.
We restored the age of eligibility for Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement benefits to 65.
We also increased the Guaranteed Income Supplement top-up benefit for single seniors.
We made it easier for young people from low- and middle-income families to go to university or college by boosting Canada Student Grants, and recent grads now get a break on paying back their Canada Student Loans until they are earning at least $25,000 per year.
We also immediately began investing in our future.
The investments we have made in the infrastructure needs of our cities and communities create jobs today, while building up Canada’s economy in the future.
I want to thank my colleague, the Minister of Infrastructure, for his ongoing leadership in working with provinces and municipalities towards the transformative changes ahead.
Canada’s Economic Situation
Taken together, our measures are creating jobs and helping the middle class get ahead.
Our economy is growing, just not as fast as we’d like.
Since the last budget, private sector forecasters have, on average, revised down their outlook for real gross domestic product (GDP) growth in Canada.
This is set against a backdrop of slow growth around the world due to factors such as slower-than-expected growth in the U.S., and the uncertainty surrounding the UK’s Brexit vote.
But our historic signing of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement—the most modern and progressive trade deal on the planet—shows that even in uncertain times, hard work and perseverance can lead to results that will create middle class jobs.
We have every reason to be optimistic about the future.
The world is now looking to Canada as an example to follow because of our investments and our inclusive agenda aimed at helping the middle class.
We have the most enviable position of all G7 countries in terms of our debt-to-GDP ratio.
We will maintain this advantage and maintain the fiscal anchor that we committed to in the last budget, while continuing our plan responsibly.
Investing in the New Economy
Slow growth here at home and around the world means our plan is more important than ever.
It’s time to take the next steps towards middle class progress.
In recognition of the long-term nature of our challenges and opportunities, I am announcing measures that invest more dollars, over a longer period of time, so that we can create good jobs now, and set our workers, business and communities up for success in the future.
Over the next 11 years, the Government of Canada will invest an additional $81 billion in public transit, green infrastructure, social infrastructure, in transportation that supports trade, and in smart cities.
This also includes a specific commitment to build up and build out Canada’s rural and northern communities.
In recognition of unique needs that require a more targeted approach, we are investing an additional $2 billion in our rural communities to ensure they can succeed and share in Canada’s overall success.
In all, combined with existing funds, we will invest more than $180 billion in this, and over the next 11 years, in our towns, cities and trade corridors to provide cleaner air and water, better neighbourhoods for our kids, and smarter, more connected communities.
This is unprecedented in Canada’s history. And it comes at a time when the need is great.
Our communities need to keep people and goods moving.
Our most vulnerable citizens need housing.
Our kids need and deserve clean air and clean water.
Our country needs long-term economic growth.
To solve these challenges we need to think even bigger.
We need reliable partners, and Canada’s own pension funds and institutional investors around the world have world-leading expertise, and they are eager to make big, long-term investments in Canada.
I am happy to announce that the Government of Canada is establishing a new Canada Infrastructure Bank through which at least $35 billion will flow to help us undertake transformational projects that might not otherwise get built.
This Bank will allow us to create thousands of jobs, get more projects built and attract as much as $4 to $5 in private capital for every tax dollar invested.
The new Infrastructure Bank will allow us to identify a pipeline of projects on which we can base our long-term investment decisions.
In short, the Bank will change how we plan, fund and carry out large infrastructure projects in Canada.
Sharpening Canada’s Competitive Edge
To prosper in the future we will need to hone Canada’s competitive edge.
Canadians are highly educated and skilled. We have what it takes to succeed.
That’s the story potential investors don’t hear often enough.
I am announcing today the creation of a new institution—the Invest in Canada Hub—whose job it will be to go out and sell Canada to the world.
It will complement the work of the Member from University–Rosedale, the most passionate, dedicated International Trade Minister Canada could ask for.
In a world in which some think that it is best to close borders, Canada stands out as an example to follow in terms of inclusion and managing diversity.
We have an enviable fiscal position, and an educated, skilled and, in particular, a resourceful population.
Investing in Canada will allow us to redouble our efforts to create good jobs for the middle class by attracting foreign investment.
To create good Canadian jobs, we need strong global partnerships.
Our Global Skills Strategy will further support Canadian companies by making sure they can attract top talent and can have timely access to the specific skills and international expertise that will allow them to scale up, create good Canadian jobs and thrive right here at home.
Thanks to the stellar work of the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Canada is also taking full advantage of our diversity to support long-term economic growth.
Just last week The Economist magazine remarked that: “The warmth of the welcome is as striking as the scale of the intake.”
Mr. Speaker, it’s not just what we are doing, it’s also how we are doing it.
We listen. We partner. We collaborate.
Those aren’t just words. They are at the very core of who we are as a government.
That’s why our Fall Economic Statement also contains measures to provide greater accountability for government spending, to put an end to secrecy at the Board of Internal Economy and to ensure the independence of Statistics Canada and the Parliamentary Budget Officer.
Decades from now, when my kids tell the story of when Dad was Finance Minister, I want them to be able to look back and see our government’s first year in office as the year Canada began its path towards a new, modern economy.
And we’re well on our way.
Compared to a year ago, nearly 9 million Canadians pay fewer taxes thanks to the middle class tax cut.
About 3.2 million families receive the Canada Child Benefit, which by 2017 will have helped reduce child poverty by about 40 per cent compared to 2014.
900,000 single seniors are more financially secure.
14 on-reserve boil-water advisories have been lifted in Indigenous communities.
We have built or improved 2,700 housing units on reserve.
Right across Canada, infrastructure projects are creating good jobs while ensuring stronger communities.
But we’re not done. Not even close.
We will continue to do what confident, ambitious countries do: invest in our own future.
And we will work with others to do it well.
As Members know, the Advisory Council on Economic Growth has provided me with invaluable insights into the challenges and opportunities ahead.
I thank them for their great work and advice.
Our work is also informed by all those who take the time to participate in pre-budget consultations, by our municipal, provincial and territorial partners, and by international partners.
We also rely on the great work of the Finance committees and all Members of both Houses of Parliament who wake up every day looking for ways to leave a better Canada to the next generation.
Through you, Mr. Speaker, I thank them for their service, and I look forward to working with all of you towards a strong middle class, and a better tomorrow.
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