Over the last several months, I’ve talked to thousands of you in Wellington-Halton Hills.
People have voiced concerns regarding their jobs and the economy, the rising cost of food and fuel, and about the state of our democracy. In discussions with my colleagues about the priorities of the federal government, I will ensure that these concerns are voiced and heard. These concerns will be my focus and I’d like to take this opportunity to talk about them.
Our government’s top priority is to create jobs and grow the Canadian economy. In the fall of 2008, we promised to steer Canada’s economy through the worst global recession since the Great Depression. We’ve delivered on that promise. Thanks to our Economic Action Plan, Canada has emerged from this recession stronger than any other developed economy.
According to Bloomberg, Canada is the first major economy to return to pre-recession employment levels. For three years in a row, the World Economic Forum has named the Canadian banking system the soundest in the world. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recently predicted that Canada will lead industrialized countries in economic growth during the first half of 2011.
While Canada has emerged out of this recession stronger than any other major developed economy, the recovery is still fragile and risks remain. The ongoing energy turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa, the continuing sovereign debt crisis in Europe and the economic aftershocks from Japan’s earthquake highlight the great deal of uncertainty that remains.
Therefore, June’s federal budget will be focused on the next phase of Canada’s Economic Action Plan to sustain the fragile recovery. We will end our stimulus spending and gradually return to a balanced budget in the next five years.
The other concern consistently raised is the cost of food and fuel. Our government is aware of the burden placed on Canadian households by rising food and fuel prices. In order to help Canadian families with the rising cost of food and fuel our government is focused on economic growth, job creation and keeping taxes low. Our plan to return to balanced budgets will not include increases to personal income taxes. Since coming to power in 2006, our government has significantly reduced taxes for Canadian families. As a result of our low-tax plan, the average Canadian family is now saving over $3,000 every year through reduced federal taxation.
Finally, many of you have voiced concerns about the state of our democracy. I remain committed to the reform of Parliament and will continue to push for these reforms in Ottawa. The election of a new Speaker on June 2 will be another opportunity to renew and strengthen the people’s place, the House of Commons.