Remarks by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance in Edmonton 


Check Against Delivery

October 20, 2022

Thank you very much, Hugh, for that warm introduction.

I am, of course, really glad to be here with the Alberta Federation of Labour, and I really want to thank the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Lodge 146 for the very warm welcome. 

Now, unions know—the Boilermakers know, the AFL knows—that good economic policy means policy that is good, first and foremost, for workers. Policy that maintains and creates good jobs for people here in Alberta and across the country and puts them to work building an economy that works for everyone.

And it’s very fitting that I’m here today because part of what I want to talk about is the role that union workers must play in helping build a thriving and worker-focused economy for generations to come, and the role workers can and should play in developing the policies we need to build that economy that works for everyone. 

But first, I want to talk about our economy today and about what I know so many Albertans are feeling.

This summer, I travelled across Canada—21 different cities and towns—to meet with Canadian workers and Canadian businesses.

I visited a hydrogen facility here in Sherwood Park, a potash mine in Saskatchewan, a start-up hub in Ontario and the Port of Saint John in New Brunswick.

As you may have heard, I went up to the Peace Country and met with some farmers and other people in Grande Prairie.

I spoke with new parents, with union workers and with the truckers who keep our economy moving. 

I heard about the need to strengthen our supply chains, the need to create more good middle class jobs and that absolutely critical need to build more of the homes that our growing country requires.

And underlying all of the conversations I had, from one end of the country to the other, was the real uncertainty that Canadians are feeling today.

I know it has felt like one thing after another since COVID first reached our shores in early 2020.

We’ve experienced a once-in-a-generation pandemic.  We turned the Canadian economy off and then we turned it back on again. And Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine and now we’re dealing with inflation.

All of these are related, of course. Global inflation is not created by the decisions of any one government alone, but by the combined aftershocks of two-and-a-half years of historic tumult.

But that reality doesn’t change the impact it’s having on Canadians. I know how challenging these past few months—with higher prices at the gas pump and at the checkout counter—have been for people here in Edmonton and across the country. 

So it’s important as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister that I’m honest with you, with Canadians, about what still lies ahead.

Even as inflation continues to retreat in the months to come, and it was down to 6.9 per cent in September, falling for the third consecutive month in a row, I know that this will continue to be a difficult time for a lot of Canadians—for our friends, for our families, for our neighbours.

Our economy will slow as the central bank acts to tackle inflation.

There will be people whose mortgage payments will rise. Business will no longer be booming in the same way it has been since we left our homes after the COVID lockdowns and went back out into the world. Our unemployment rate will no longer be at its record low.  

That will be the case in Canada, that will be the case in the United States, and that will be the case in economies, big and small, around the world.

For the Canadians who need it the most—the most vulnerable among us; those who feel the bite of rising prices most acutely—our government will be there.

And we are there for them today—with a doubling of the GST Credit for six months, with an increase to the Canada Workers Benefit, with a payment for renters, with dental care for children under 12, and with other important support measures for those among us for whom inflation is making it just impossible to make ends meet.

Earlier this week, the doubling of the GST Credit received Royal Assent. That means those who need it most will soon be eligible for this support.

All of these support measures are targeted and they are fiscally responsible. And they will not pour unnecessary fuel on the flames of inflation.

But it is also true that today, we cannot support every single Canadian in the way we did with the emergency measures that kept people safe and solvent at the height of the pandemic.

We cannot fully compensate every single Canadian for all of the inflation she is confronted with today, inflation which is driven by a global pandemic and by Putin's invasion of Ukraine. To do so would only make inflation worse and more prolonged, and force the Bank of Canada to raise interest rates even higher. 

Canadians are smart and they understand that.

As we emerge from the pandemic, we are running a tight fiscal ship. We have the lowest deficit and debt to GDP ratio in the G7 and we committed to saving $9 billion from government spending in the 2022 budget.

Canadians are cutting back on costs and so too is our government. That’s how we’ll do our part to not make inflation both worse and longer lasting.

There are still some difficult days ahead for Canada’s economy and for the economies of all of our friends and allies around the world. To say otherwise would be misleading.

But Canada is ready. Our social safety net will be there, including the unemployment insurance and pensions that Canadians have been contributing to for their whole working lives. And we’re ensuring that Canada has and will have the fiscal capacity to support those who need it, today and in the challenging days ahead.

We will get through the economic slowdown that is coming for Canada and the world.

And when we do, with our fundamental economic strengths preserved, and the COVID recession behind us, there is no country in the world better placed than Canada to thrive in a post-COVID global economy.

The future for Canada and Canadian workers is bright if we choose to seize it. And our government has a plan to ensure that we do.

In the Fall Economic Statement, I’ll lay out some of the steps we’ll take to seize that brighter future.

But today, I want to focus on one essential element of that plan.

Last week, I gave a speech about how the global economy, how the world, is changing in the aftermath of Vladimir Putin's barbaric invasion of Ukraine.

I spoke about how the world’s democracies must react to those changes and about the work we must do together.

The most essential element of our response must be the strengthening of the economic ties between the world’s democracies.

What I described built on an idea that the US Secretary of the Treasury, Janet Yellen, has dubbed friendshoring—that the world's democracies must make a conscious effort to build our supply chains through each other's economies. 

Put simply, where democracies must be strategically vulnerable, we should be vulnerable to each other.

Our government believes that this shift represents a generational economic opportunity for Canada and Canadian workers. We have the chance to lead the global economy in a way that exceeds our size as a country of just 38 million people—to ensure that our economy can thrive for generations to come, to make life more affordable and to create thousands upon thousands upon thousands of good-paying jobs.

That is the task that lies ahead of us. That’s the future we can create for ourselves and our children. And here’s why I’m confident that we can do it.

First, Canada has what the global economy needs.

We grow food to feed the world, and we have the fertilizer that farmers elsewhere need to grow their own. We have the critical minerals and metals that are required for electric cars, cell phones, and the technologies of today and tomorrow.

And we have the natural resources to power the global green transition—the most significant economic transformation since the Industrial Revolution itself. And we have the resources to support our allies with their energy security as that transition continues to pick up speed.

Second and crucially, we are the democracy which has all of these in abundance.

Our allies and their most important companies are already looking at how they can shift their strategic economic dependence from dictatorships to democracies.

Germany, bracing for a cold winter because of its dependence on Russia for energy, looked to Canada this summer and signed an agreement in Newfoundland for Canadian hydrogen.

The same day I spoke about friendshoring in Washington, the Prime Minister and my friend Minister François-Philippe Champagne were in Quebec with Rio Tinto announcing a $222 million investment in critical minerals. And of course, this is part of a national effort being led by Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources, to implement the Critical Minerals Strategy announced in the budget in April. 

Hydrogen, critical minerals, EVs—these are all examples of friendshoring in action, supporting our closest allies and creating good jobs and long-term prosperity for Canadian communities and Canadian workers at the same time.

And with the Inflation Reduction Act, the United States moved from a Buy American policy to a Buy North American policy on critical minerals and electric vehicles.  That is friendshoring in action, too, and enables our own efforts.

And as this shift accelerates in the months and years to come, Canada will be ready with a clean electricity grid, with strong labour, environmental and Indigenous standards, with robust institutions and a commitment to the rule of law, with our triple-A credit rating.  

Our allies and their leading businesses are looking for peace, order and good government. And that, of course, is what Canada provides.

We’ve already been investing in the green transition with the Critical Minerals Strategy, with the Net Zero Accelerator and with the Canada Growth Fund, which will attract the billions of dollars of new private capital that our economy needs. These measures and the green industrial policy they are launching will create good jobs for Canadian workers in a changing global economy.

Now, as a proud daughter of Alberta, I want to speak for a moment about what this green transition means for this province and the remarkable people who live and work here.

The global economy is going green. That is already a reality as certain as the fact that before too long, there will be snow on the ground in Edmonton’s beautiful River Valley. Making sure Canada is also energetically investing in the green transition is therefore both a moral imperative and an economic necessity.

And the green transition can be an incredible opportunity for Alberta. I know that this province has the people, the skills and the resources to be a reliable supplier of energy in a net-zero world.

Energy workers here in Alberta, very, very many of them union workers, have helped drive prosperity for decades— not just for the Alberta economy but for the Canadian economy. Our government understands that.

We know that Alberta’s prosperity is an essential engine of Canada’s prosperity, and we know that Alberta’s prosperity is built by Alberta’s outstanding workers, by the people who are building TMX and who will operate it, the people who are building and operating hydrogen facilities, like the one I visited in Sherwood Park over the summer, and who will build new resilient infrastructure across the province.  

They are the people—you are the people—who will help make Canada and Alberta a global leader in CCUS, in hydrogen and in critical minerals. 

Welders, plumbers, electricians—we will need every skilled worker in this province. And across industries, old and new, workers here in Alberta can help to build a thriving and prosperous economy for generations to come if we make smart investments today.

Now, we have always been a government that believes in investing in people and in the workers who are the heart of the Canadian economy.

But today, Canadian workers need more than skills training and early learning and child care, and health care, and EI and the CPP, as important as all of these are.

What Canadian workers also need today and in the years to come is a government with a real muscular industrial policy, a government committed to investing in the green transition, to bringing in private capital to invest alongside our own and to helping to create good-paying jobs from coast-to-coast-to-coast.

That’s what I talked about with Alberta labour leaders today. And I need them—I need you—at the table to help create these policies and put them into action because these kinds of investments in Canadian industries are really about investing in Canadian workers and about investing in jobs for them, for you, for today and for tomorrow. 

We have an historic opportunity to build an economy that will deliver great jobs and prosperity for generations to come, but we’re going to have to act to seize it, and none of us should assume that success is preordained.

We need to take real action to tackle the productivity challenge that is our economic Achilles heel, and take real meaningful steps in the wake of the Inflation Reduction Act to ensure that Canada is the very best place in the world for businesses to invest in the green transition. 

Our major trading partners, the US, the EU are already investing heavily in the green transition and they are increasingly demanding that their international supply chains go green too. These are our customers. And remember, the customer is always right.

We need to make sure that Canadians have the skills they need for the jobs of today and tomorrow.

We need more new Canadians who will help our businesses grow.

We need strong unions that are fighting for and will continue to fight for the hardworking people here in Alberta and across the country who build our economy every single day. And thank you so much for that hard work. 

And we need a real plan to ensure that Canada can lead the way.

All of this was central to our budget this past April. It will be our continued focus in the Fall Economic Statement, and it will be our priority in the budget that will follow next spring.

We’ll get through this challenging economic moment. These storm clouds will part and there are brighter days ahead.

And when those clouds do part, we must be ready and we will be ready to seize this generational opportunity for Canadians and the prosperity for today and tomorrow that can come with it.

We’ll do that by building an economy that works for everyone, by building a Canada where everyone can earn a decent living for an honest day’s work with a good, safe, secure middle class job.

And we’ll do it by building a Canada where nobody gets left behind—together. 

Thank you very much.  

Page details

Date modified: