Speaking Notes for an address to the Economic Development Forum in Leeds-Grenville
Thank you for inviting me.
As another year draws to a close I’m proud to say that together we have been able to build a stronger, safer and more robust Canada.
Our biggest challenge remains the economy.
We know that in order for Canadians to be prosperous we need a strong and stable economy. Our focus remains on jobs and growth.
Our recovery—while strong internally—remains vulnerable to outside forces.
There is serious concern that the global system could experience a shock to the system similar to the one it took back in 2008.
That’s why we must continue to build on our accomplishments such as helping create over 820,000 net new jobs since July 2009, maintaining the soundest banking system in the world 5 years in a row, and retaining our triple-A credit rating.
How do we plan build on this? The answer is simple: by keeping taxes low and attracting high-quality
jobs to this country, we can ensure that Canada stays prosperous over the long term.
We do not believe that “one-size-fits-all” big-government spending programs benefit the economy. Unnecessary spending and regulation actually have the opposite effect: they kill jobs and they kill growth.
We recently introduced the Jobs and Growth Act, 2012. This piece of legislation follows through on the promises made in Economic Action Plan 2012; it continues to promote the responsible development of our natural resources, supports small businesses, allocates taxpayer money efficiently and helps us return to a balanced budget in the medium term.
I’d like to take a minute to highlight some of the important measures in this piece of legislation.
We’re renewing The Hiring Credit for Small Business. For each new hire a small business makes, they receive a credit which reduces their share of the new employees’ EI premium. And the best part is that business owners don’t have to spend time filling out forms in order to qualify because the credit is applied automatically.
We are also working towards balancing the budget and while our Government is prepared to rein in spending, we’re not prepared to do it on the backs of hardworking Canadians as Governments have done in the past.
Recently, the government’s financial report for 2011-2012 confirmed that our Government is on the right track to returning Canada to balanced budgets in spite of global economic challenges.
Our debt-to-GDP ratio is the lowest in the G7 and our deficit is half of what it was this time two years ago.
Recently, we’ve also introduced responsible changes to Employment Insurance.
Before these changes, those who were once discouraged from working a few days part-time because they wouldn’t receive any benefit, can now work those days because they will be able to keep more of their money.
We believe EI should encourage people to find work, not discourage them. That’s why we’ve provided options to those seeking to work while on claim.
Considering how often part-time work leads to full-time employment, we believe this is an important initiative to help people get back into the workforce.
As part of our plan for long-term prosperity, we’re continuing our efforts to make Canada’s immigration system more efficient and more focused on economic growth.
We’re also creating a new, separate program for skilled tradespersons. This change will address the long-standing need in Canada for more workers with these skills.
One of the changes that has received a lot of attention is our reform of MP’s pensions. As most of you know, we’re bringing MP’s pensions back in line with the private sector model by moving towards a 50-50 cost sharing model between MPs and taxpayers. We’re also moving back the age of eligibility from 55 to 65.
With these changes—and the similar changes proposed for public sector pensions as a whole—we expect to save taxpayers $2.6 billion over the next five years.
Those are just a few of the important developments aimed at helping protect and grow the economy.
We will continue to implement measures to strengthen our economy and keep Canada on track towards long-term prosperity.
Earlier this week Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced the beginning of his annual pre-budget consultations. The Minister announced that the next Budget will build on our Government’s pro-growth initiatives and will continue to create jobs and long-term prosperity for Canadians.
If you have any suggestions to pass along to the Minister, please let me know.
Locally, the Community Futures Development Corporations continue to support worthwhile economic development efforts across the United Counties of Leeds & Grenville creating hundreds of jobs in the process.
As caretakers of the Eastern Ontario Development Program, the 1000 Islands, Grenville and Valley
Heartland CF offices have invested over $2,000,000 during the past 12 months in support of various initiatives within their respective territories and they have collaborated to jointly fund almost half a million dollars’ worth of regional programming with broad impact across Leeds & Grenville.
Regional efforts that have recently received support include the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve, the Rideau Heritage Route, Eastern Ontario Maple Syrup Producers, the Volunteer Centre of St. Lawrence - Rideau and the United Counties of Leeds & Grenville.
As your Member of Parliament, I will continue to champion the valuable work being done by our local CF's and I will continue to fight for additional resources in support of economic development efforts taking place right here in Leeds & Grenville.
There have also been significant contributions from the federal government into municipalities and industries over the past year and I will soon be making announcements about new infrastructure projects in the riding.
As your Member of Parliament I would also like to remind you that if you have any questions or concerns to please contact me.