Ottawa: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
Canada’s economy has made a remarkable recovery from the COVID recession.
Last year, Canada delivered the strongest economic growth in the G7.
There are 830,000 more Canadians working today than when COVID first hit.
We have recovered 126 per cent of the jobs that were lost in those first months—compared to just 114 per cent in the United States. When we announced a Canada-wide system of affordable early learning and child care in our 2021 budget, we said that it would create new economic opportunities for mothers in Canada—and thus greater prosperity for us all.
And you know what, Mr. Speaker? It worked. I am so proud to say that, last month, the labour force participation rate for Canadian women in their prime working years hit a record high of 85.7 per cent. Today, Mr. Speaker, there are more Canadians with good jobs than ever before.
Putin and the pandemic drove up inflation around the world. Central banks have responded with one of the fastest and most synchronized monetary tightening cycles since the 1980s. And today, here in Canada, inflation is coming down.
Inflation has fallen for eight months in a row, and the Bank of Canada predicts it will drop to just 2.6 per cent by the end of this year.
In February, the average wage for Canadians went up by 5.4 per cent. That meant paycheques outpaced inflation, which meant more money in Canadians’ pockets after a hard day’s work—from coast-to-coast-to-coast. But we all know that our most vulnerable friends and neighbours are still feeling the bite of higher prices. And that is why our budget delivers targeted inflation relief to those who need it most.
For 11 million Canadians and Canadian families, a new Grocery Rebate will help make up for higher prices at the checkout counter—without adding fuel to the fire of inflation.
Because what all Canadians want right now is for inflation to keep coming down, and for interest rates to fall. Which is why the budget I have tabled today will ensure that Canada maintains the lowest deficit and the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio in the G7. We’re making sure the very wealthy and our biggest corporations pay their fair share of taxes, so we can afford to keep taxes low for middle class families—and invest in our health care system and social safety net.
Canada is a country of peace, order, and good government. We have strong institutions and a resilient financial system that is the envy of the world.
Our country has a proud tradition of fiscal responsibility. That is a tradition we are determined to uphold.
We are reducing government spending by more than $15 billion—while taking great care not to reduce the services and direct support that Canadians rely on.
By exercising fiscal restraint, we are ensuring that we can continue to invest in Canadians and in the Canadian economy for years to come—just as we have done since 2015.
Because we know that investments in Canadians are also investments in our economy. This is what the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Janet Yellen, has referred to as “Modern Supply-Side Economics.”
We are investing in housing because our economy is built by people, and people need homes in which to live.
We are investing in Canadian workers so they have the skills they need, and can travel to where the jobs are.
We are investing in a stronger immigration system, and welcoming record numbers of skilled workers to Canada to support our growing businesses.
And we are investing in affordable child care for families from coast-to-coast-to-coast, so that more Canadian mothers no longer have to choose between their family and their career.
Investments in housing, and skills, and immigration, and child care: these are not just social policies—they are economic policies, too, Mr. Speaker.
And health care is another one of those policies.
So today, we are delivering the comprehensive, $198 billion investment in public health care that the Prime Minister announced last month.
And from helping every Canadian find a family doctor, to tackling the unacceptable backlog of surgeries, to combatting the opioid crisis that has devastated too many families and communities, we will ensure that Canadians receive the care they need.
We will ensure that every Canadian can rely on a world-class, publicly funded health care system—one that is deserving of its place at the very heart of what it means to be Canadian.
And just as we are reinforcing the public health care system we have today, we are also expanding its reach.
Since December, our investments have helped more than 240,000 Canadian children receive the dental care they need.
And today, I am so proud to announce the creation of the new Canadian Dental Care Plan.
By the end of 2023, we will begin rolling out a dental care plan for what will eventually be up to nine million uninsured Canadians. That will mean no Canadian, ever again, will need to choose between taking care of their teeth and paying the bills at the end of the month. These are significant and necessary investments, Mr. Speaker. Because a strong and effective health care system is essential for a strong and healthy Canadian workforce.
And we need a strong and healthy Canadian workforce now, more than ever.
Because as we wrestle inflation to the ground, Canada must also navigate two fundamental shifts in the global economy.
First, in what is the most significant economic transformation since the Industrial Revolution, our friends and partners around the world—chief among them, the United States—are investing heavily to build clean economies and the net-zero industries of tomorrow.
At the same time, Putin and the pandemic have cruelly revealed to the world’s democracies the risks of economic reliance on dictatorships.
As a result, our allies are moving quickly to friendshore their economies and build their critical supply chains through democracies like our own. Together, these two great shifts represent the most significant opportunity for Canadian workers in the lifetime of anyone here today. That is not hyperbole, or a mere turn of phrase.
President Von Der Leyen stood in this House earlier this month and said she wants Canada and Europe to “join forces for the climate, for our economies,” and to end what she called Europe’s “dangerous dependencies” on authoritarian economies.
President Biden stood in this House, just last week, and he told us that we are at an inflection point in history—one of the kind that happens every five or six generations. He said we had all learned the hard way that just-in-time supply chains expose us to significant risks, and urged us to work together to build a future based upon our shared prosperity—“where Canada and the United States can anchor the most competitive, prosperous, and resilient economic region in the world.”
These are our closest friends and our steadfast democratic allies. These are our two greatest trading partners.
And like so many of our partners around the world, they need the expertise of Canadian workers, the ingenuity of Canadian businesses, and the resources that Canada has in such fortunate abundance.
Today, and in the years to come, Canada must either meet this historic moment—this remarkable opportunity before us—or we will be left behind as the world’s democracies build the clean economy of the 21st century.
So we will fight for Canadians, and we will fight for Canadian businesses. We will ensure that Canada seizes the historic opportunity before us.
We are going to build a clean electrical grid that connects Canadians from coast-to-coast-to-coast, protects our environment, and delivers cleaner, more affordable electricity to Canadians and Canadian businesses.
We are going to make Canada the very best place in the world for businesses to invest, because that means more vibrant, prosperous communities, and more good careers for Canadians.
Canada has free trade deals with countries that represent two-thirds of global economy. We are going to make Canada a reliable supplier of clean energy to the world, and, from critical minerals to electric vehicles, we are going to ensure that Canadian workers mine, and process, and build, and sell the goods and the resources that our allies need.
We are going to make sure that the unions who built the middle class can continue to thrive, and we are going to make it easier for Canadian workers to learn the skills they need.
When the Government of Canada buys things from other countries, we are going to make sure that those countries offer Canadian businesses the same access that we give them. We’re going to build big things here in Canada—from a Volkswagen battery plant in Ontario, to the Galaxy Lithium mine in Quebec, to the TransMountain Expansion in Alberta, to the Atlantic Loop, to the LNG terminal in Kitimat, BC.
Our plan is going to mean good-paying jobs—good careers—for everyone, everywhere—from big cities to small towns. From Toronto, Ontario to Peace River, Alberta. For our auto workers building electric vehicles, and our bus drivers who drive them.
For our skilled tradespeople expanding our clean energy grid, and building thousands and thousands of affordable energy efficient homes. For our miners and our energy workers, powering Canada and the world. For our health care workers and our teachers in thriving communities—big and small. For our farmers and our fishers, who feed Canada and the world. For our incredible service workers—who will continue to be as essential as ever. For our forestry workers, for our climate scientists, and for our environmental biologists. For our engineers designing hydrogen plants and SMRs, and for our computer scientists who have made Canada an AI superpower.
For Indigenous Peoples building major projects, and sharing in the prosperity they create.
And for our new generation of small business entrepreneurs dreaming up solutions to the challenges of the 21st century—and their hardworking employees providing for their families all across our great country.
As I’ve travelled across Canada over the past year, Mr. Speaker, I’ve met a lot of incredible, hardworking Canadians.
Jeff, an electrician who lives in Mississauga with his wife, Sheryl—an ICU nurse. They are proud of their jobs—and proud of the family their jobs have made it possible for them to raise.
Léonard, a software developer in Quebec City, who codes charging stations that are used from San Diego, California to Happy Valley-Goose Bay in the north of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Two young union women: Nicholle in Oshawa, who will start her first electrical placement this week, and Kayla—first in Edmonton, and then again in Calgary—who teaches apprentices to weld—and gave me a lesson, too.
I’ve met potash miners and child care workers. I’ve met scientists and innovators, and the longshore workers and truckers who keep Canada’s economy moving.
And all across our great country, I’ve met people who value the same things.
A good career that pays them well, doing work they are proud of.
The ability to live with dignity—to be who they are, to love who they love, and to be judged on their character, rather than what they look like or where they were born. The belief that if they work hard, they can raise their children and launch them into an even more prosperous future.
And the conviction that because they live in Canada—by birth or by choice—every day represents a new opportunity.
And that is what this budget invests in: the possibility for every single Canadian to share in the remarkable opportunities that Canada provides—and in the new era of prosperity that we will build together.
The brave people of Ukraine have reminded us that we must never take our freedom and our democracy for granted. We have the power to shape our country’s future—and we must always be sure to use it.
What a gift it is to call this remarkable country home. Canada is a land filled with good, hardworking people—people who do big and important things.
And it is because of them—the people of Canada, and the big and important things they will do in the months and years to come—that I have never been more optimistic about the future of our country than I am today. Thank you very much.