Remarks by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance on the green economy and extension of COVID-19 benefits and business support measures to support stronger economic recovery


July 30, 2021 -  Hamilton, Ontario - Department of Finance Canada

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Good morning, everyone.

I’m so happy to be here.

Let me start by acknowledging that we’re here today on the traditional territories of the Erie, Neutral, Huron-Wendat, Haudenosaunee and Mississaugas.

And thank you very much, François-Philippe [the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry] for your introduction, but above all, for your very hard work. François-Philippe has really been absolutely indefatigable in his pursuit of this particular deal, and I’m grateful to him.

I also want to thank Filomena Tassi [the Honourable Filomena Tassi, Minister of Labour], who I think has Hamilton steel in her blood. And she is such a fighter for Hamilton and her community around the Cabinet table and everywhere else.

I am so glad to be here with my colleague Karina Gould [the Honourable Karina Gould, Minister of International Development], a Hamilton neighbour and someone else who fights really hard for this community.

And, of course, it is great to see my colleagues Bob [Bob Bratina, MP] and Ali [Ali Ehsassi, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry] here as well.

But, I have to say, the people I am the happiest to see today are the people of Dofasco and the steelworkers here.

I really feel that we all bonded during the 232 tariff fight. And I just want to thank you so much.

With hindsight, it seems obvious that taking a tough stand – imposing retaliatory tariffs – that was the right thing to do, because it worked and we won. But, at the time and in the middle of it, it wasn’t so obvious.  And people here know that we were all under tremendous pressure to compromise, we were under tremendous pressure to accept a quota deal. I knew that was the wrong thing because I didn’t want to permanently limit your future and I want to thank you guys for trusting us, for trusting your government, for working with us and fighting together for the long term. So thank you so much.

And I think that we can really all be proud that we hung in there, that we won. That’s one of the reasons that we are able to move forward today and make another announcement, another investment in building a strong and resilient Canadian steel industry that will be internationally competitive in the 21st century low carbon economy.

We are at a pivotal moment in the world economy right now.

The green transition is a reality. It’s happening.

And the question for Canada is: Are we prepared to make the investments we need to make to be world beating in that 21st century green economy? 

The answer that we’re giving here today, at Dofasco, in Hamilton, is yes – we absolutely are. We have what it takes and we are committed to do what it takes for Canada to be at the cutting edge. I’m so proud of all of you and so grateful to you for that.

Since last October, our government has committed $53 billion towards our country’s green recovery, investing in world leading clean technologies and reducing emissions. That investment includes $8 billion for the Net Zero Accelerator, keeping François-Philippe very busy, so that Canada has the money to invest in projects that can accelerate our country’s green industrial transformation.

And today’s $400 million investment is a tangible concrete example of this fund, of this money, at work. The Net Zero Accelerator is about making sure that Canada will be at the cutting edge of the global green wave of investment and growth.

Because the reality is, we have no choice. Either we go green, or we will not be competitive. So this investment is about protecting good middle class jobs today, and about being sure that we have the jobs of the future.

It is about ensuring that the goods Canada produces, the fantastic steel we export, is competitive in the global economy. And it’s about ensuring that we reach our goal of net zero emissions by 2050 and build a healthy environment, with clean air for all of our children. 

Just this month, the Net Zero Accelerator has supported clean innovation at two steel giants, here at Dofasco today, and at Algoma.

These investments, as François-Philippe has described, will result in really significant emissions reductions: an estimated reduction of 1% of Canada’s entire emissions output. This is an investment that supports the planet. It’s an investment that supports Canada’s international competitiveness and it is an investment that supports you guys – our great steelworkers. 

So, it’s a real personal privilege and kind of an emotional moment for me to be here today and to be part of this investment and real guarantee of your future. 

I have some further news to share about our economy and our economic recovery.

Canada’s economy is showing very strong signs of recovery and the economic growth projections continue to be revised upward, including this week by the IMF. Canada leads the world in vaccination. And thank you very much, Dofasco, for the effort you’ve made there. I’m really grateful. And we now have enough vaccines in Canada for every single eligible Canadian to get two doses.

I really want to emphasize this. I’m speaking to you as a mother whose kids are going to go back to school in September and to do that safely we know everyone who can get vaccinated has to get vaccinated. Everyone in my family has had two doses, except for my son who is 11. He turns 12 over the weekend. He is celebrating by getting his first dose.

But I’m also talking to everyone here at Dofasco and across the country as your Finance Minister.

The single most important economic policy in Canada today is for everyone who can get vaccinated to go out and get vaccinated.

We have done tremendously well, but there’s still that last mile to go. And I would just like to encourage everyone here: talk to your friends, talk to your neighbours, talk to your family members. If there’s someone in your community, in your circle, who hasn’t been vaccinated yet, talk to them and really encourage them to do it. This is how we can take care of each other and ourselves, and it is truly the best investment we can make as a country. So please, let’s get it done.

In the April budget, our government recognized the economic and public health situation was dynamic and frankly, unpredictable. So we made sure that we had the flexibility to extend business and income supports further into the fall, if needed. The budget committed to extend those supports to September 25th and we said we would be monitoring the situation.

Now, we all know that it took us a little longer to fight back the third wave of COVID than we had expected.

Here in Ontario, we only entered this third stage of reopening on July 16th.  Public health guidelines still require many businesses to operate at reduced capacity, and hard hit small businesses like restaurants, music venues, tour operators and the workers who rely on those jobs are just starting to get back on their feet. And I know all of us are watching carefully the Delta variant and are concerned about that.

From the government’s perspective, it is essential to do everything we can to be sure the country’s economic recovery is fast and robust, and that no one is left behind. So, today I am announcing that we are extending the wage and rent subsidies and Lockdown Support until October 23rd of this fall.

And, we are increasing the planned wage and rent subsidy rates for the period of August 29 to September 25.

These support measures have been a lifeline for millions of workers and for businesses across the country. I’ve been traveling recently, now that we’re allowed to do that, and it’s been very moving for me to hear from people who run a small restaurant in a small community saying to me, “I would have had to close my business and fire everyone who works here without this support”. And I’ve heard that story dozens of times. 

With this extension we are making sure that Canadian businesses, particularly small businesses, have the support they need to be sure that we have a strong and full and robust recovery.

We also know that the ongoing reality of recovering from, as François-Philippe said, the deepest recession since the Great Depression – the reality that COVID is still around means that some workers have not been able to go back to their jobs – yet.

So we’re extending the Canada Recovery Benefit, the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit and the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit until October 23rd, at current rates, and increasing the maximum number of weeks available under the Canada Recovery Benefit for an additional four weeks, for a total of 54 weeks. These additional weeks will also be available to those who have exhausted their employment insurance benefits.

Canadian workers always inspire me with their ingenuity and their resilience.

When faced with illegal tariffs – you guys – the steelworkers of Hamilton, stood strong.

During the pandemic, you kept going. And frontline workers, essential workers, health care workers across our country, kept working hard.

They kept our country going and they kept COVID at bay. I am so grateful to Canadians for your resilience in the face of COVID and in the face of the COVID recession.

Our country is now coming roaring back and these extra measures will help ensure our recovery is strong, swift and robust.

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