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Summer Reflections on the Parliamentary Year that Was

July 20, 2012

The House of Commons is adjourned until September and Members of Parliament are in their local communities, talking to constituents and assessing the year that was. I am enjoying the opportunity to meet with many of you and hear your feedback on a number of issues.

A year after the election is a good time to reflect on the work of government that has taken place since then.

A number of things have been accomplished since the last election. For example, despite having faced one of the worst global recessions since the 1930s, Canada is today internationally recognized for our strong economic leadership and sound fiscal policy.  In fact, we have the strongest fiscal position in the G-7 and are amongst the best financial prospects in the G-20. As it stands, Canada is on track to achieving a balanced budget in the medium term, and achieving a budget surplus by 2015-16.
 
Since July 2009, we have created nearly 760,000 net new jobs and have fully recovered all of the jobs lost during the recession.  This is a result of significant investments by our government, such as the Hiring Credit for Small Business and adjustments to the Work-Sharing program. 

However, the government has also faced tough decisions in order to ensure the effectiveness of some federal programs.  In order to protect its long-term sustainability, we made number of necessary changes to the Old Age Security (OAS) and Employment Insurance (EI) programs. Changes are also being introduced to the pensions of pubic servants and parliamentarians.
 
In the case of OAS, the government needed to take action to address Canada’s rapidly changing demographics and ensure that the program could support future generations of retirees.  Changes made to the EI program are intended to help create jobs by providing more incentives for Canadians to accept available employment. 

Having made a number of prudent and measured decisions, and having achieved a number of successes, the government also recognizes areas for improvement. 
 
For example, after the Department of National Defence released its estimated costs for buying the F-35s, the Auditor General said that the government should have also provided the operating costs, which includes jet fuel, oil, consumables, and pilot salaries. 
 
While these costs are associated with any aircraft (including our current CF-18s), the government accepted the Auditor General’s conclusions and will include these figures moving forward.  The government has also taken additional steps to exceed the Auditor General’s recommendations, including a 7-point plan that responds to the Auditor General’s report. 
 
This example highlights the important role played by arms-length bodies, such as the Auditor General.  Moving forward, we will continue supporting Canadians while exercising fiscal prudence.  While no government is perfect, I am optimistic that Canada is on the right track regarding the number one concern of local residents: economic growth and job creation. The government will continue building upon our successes when Parliament reconvenes in September.
 
I look forward to taking your feedback with me to Ottawa and encourage you to contact me if you have any questions.  You can contact me by phone at (866) 878-5556 or by email at michael.chong@parl.gc.ca.


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