January is a good time to review the year that was and look ahead to the one that will be.

Over the past year, many of you have told me that your main concerns are job creation (especially youth employment) and economic growth, as well as the environment.

Last year, we continued to implement Canada’s Economic Action Plan. Job creation remained robust throughout the year and the Canadian economy continued to grow, outshining its peers in the G-7. To date, Canada’s Economic Action Plan has helped create over 880,000 net new jobs since the summer of 2009. Nine out of ten of these jobs have been full-time positions, three-quarters in the private sector, and most in highly skilled and paid sectors of the economy.

Part of the Plan included last year’s federal budget. The budget included a one-year extension of the job-creating Hiring Credit for Small Business, a benefit that helped nearly 534,000 employers hire more workers last year. It also improved the Registered Disability Savings Plans (RDSPs), and implemented tax rules for Pooled Registered Pension Plans (PRPPs), creating workplace pensions for Canadians who don’t currently have one. The budget also included $350 million for the Youth Employment Strategy that will help young Canadians find jobs.

Last year also saw the government take a number of steps to address climate change in Canada. The government implemented new environmental regulations to reduce greenhouse gasses (GHGs) in a number of sectors. Our ambitious new regulations for passenger cars and light trucks for model years 2017 to 2025 will improve fuel efficiency and reduce GHGs.

Last summer, strict new regulations were introduced to reduce GHGs for Canada’s coal sector and before that, regulations were introduced to mandate renewable fuel content in gasoline and diesel sold in Canada. As a result of the government’s sector-by-sector regulatory approach, we are moving toward meeting our commitment to reduce Canada’s GHG emissions by 17% below 2005 levels by 2020.

Since the government came to power in 2006, total GHG emissions have actually fallen over the past six years in Canada. In the near future, we’ll be introducing new regulations for the oil and gas sector, as well as for other large final emitters.

Looking forward to the year ahead, the ongoing economic turmoil in Europe, the “fiscal cliff” in the U.S., and the continued instability in the Middle East all present challenges to the Canadian economy.

Your federal government remains focused on managing those external risks in a way that ensures continued job creation and economic growth. We also remain committed to protecting our environment and ensuring that resource development is conducted in a responsible manner.

I will continue to share your feedback with my colleagues in Ottawa to ensure that your voices are heard. Contact me if you have any concerns or questions you wish to discuss. You can reach me by phone at 866-878-5556 or by email at michael.chong@parl.gc.ca