Remarks by the Deputy Prime Minister for the 2022 Fall Economic Statement
3 November 2022
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
For the past several months, I have been travelling across Canada—to more than two dozen cities and towns—to meet with Canadian workers and Canadian businesses.
I visited an auto parts manufacturer in Etobicoke, a potash mine outside Saskatoon, and the women and men in Sherbrooke who make the boots our Armed Forces wear around the world.
I visited the Port of Saint John in New Brunswick, and a family farm in Olds, Alberta.
And in Dartmouth, and in Brampton, and in Calgary, I spent time with some of the truckers who keep our economy humming.
The Canadians I spoke to were all so proud of our country. They were proud of the hard work they do every day—to feed Canada and the world, to build our cars, to send our goods to global markets, to raise their children.
But they were also anxious—anxious about whether Canada’s future will be as prosperous as our past, and anxious about paying the bills today.
And that is where I want to start: with the high cost of living so many of us —so many Canadians—are concerned about.
I know it’s felt like just one thing after another since COVID first reached our shores.
We turned the economy off, and then we turned it back on again. Vladimir Putin illegally invaded Ukraine.
And now we are dealing with inflation.
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 turmoil.
Inflation was 6.9 per cent in September, after falling for the third month in a row. That is lower than in the US, the UK, and the Eurozone—but for Canadians feeling the pinch at the checkout counter, or when they fill their tanks with gas, it is still too high.
This is a challenging time for so many of us—for our friends, for our families, for our neighbours.
And it’s important, as both the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance, that I’m honest with Canadians about the challenges that still lie ahead.
Interest rates are rising as the Bank of Canada steps in to tackle inflation. And that means our economy is slowing down.
It means there are people whose mortgage payments are rising. It means business is no longer booming in the same way it has been since we left our homes after the COVID lockdowns and went back out into the world.
That is the case in Canada. That is the case in the United States. And that is the case in economies big and small around the world.
Canada cannot avoid the global slowdown, any more than we could have avoided COVID once it had begun infecting the world.
But we will be ready—indeed, we are ready.
That’s because, for the past seven years, our government has been reinforcing Canada’s social safety net. We have improved many important programs, and added some new ones, too.
These investments in Canadians are like a well-built house with a solid roof—needed in all seasons and in all weather, but most essential when the temperature drops.
And that is why, as fall turns to winter, we will continue to stand up to those who would cut the EI and the pensions Canadians have been contributing to for their entire working lives, and need today more than ever.
It’s why we created the Canada Child Benefit and why we are making child care more affordable.
It’s why we enhanced the benefits that those who served with our flag on their shoulder depend on.
It’s why we doubled the Canada Student Grant, to make it a little easier for all young people to go to college or university or to pursue an apprenticeship.
It’s why we enhanced the Canada Workers Benefit, and why we increased both Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement.
That is why it is so important that the Canada Pension Plan and our most important benefits are all indexed to inflation.
And in today’s Fall Economic Statement, that is why we’re delivering on a plan that millions of Canadians voted for just over a year ago—and why we’re delivering new measures to enhance the social safety net that is there to support all Canadians.
We’re working to deliver lower credit card fees, so that small businesses don’t need to choose between cutting into their already narrow margins and passing fees on to their customers.
We’re taxing share buybacks to make sure that large corporations pay their fair share, and to encourage them to reinvest their profits in Canadian workers and in Canada.
We’re delivering a Multigenerational Home Renovation Tax Credit, which will help families across Canada afford to have a grandparent or a family member with a disability move back in if they want to.
We’re tackling housing speculation, and making sure that homes are for Canadians to live in—not a frequently flipped investment asset.
We’re delivering on our commitment to make home ownership more affordable for young people and new Canadians, with a new Tax-Free First Home Savings Account that will make it so much easier to save for a down payment.
And we’re delivering with a doubling of the First-Time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit to help cover the closing costs that come with buying that first home of your own.
We’re permanently eliminating interest on the federal portion of Canada Student Loans and Canada Apprentice Loans.
We’re working to make sure that families don’t need to choose between taking their child to the dentist and putting food on the table.
We’re creating a new, quarterly Canada Workers Benefit to deliver advance payments and put more money, sooner, into the pockets of our lowest-paid—and often most essential—workers. This means the Canada Workers Benefit will now support 4.2 million Canadians.
We’re providing hundreds of dollars in new, targeted support to low-income renters.
For the Canadians who need it the most, we are doubling the GST Credit for the next six months.
And I have some very good news about that. For the 11 million Canadian households who need help the most, those GST cheques will start arriving in your bank account or in your mailbox—tomorrow.
We are providing targeted inflation relief, because that is the right thing to do.
And as the Bank of Canada fights inflation, we will not make its job harder. We are compassionate and we are also responsible.
Canada has the lowest deficit and the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio in the G7. In our April budget, with inflation in Canada and around the world elevated and still rising, we knew we had to chart a fiscally responsible course—and we did.
In April, we committed to bringing the deficit down to just 2 per cent of GDP this year. Today, we forecast it will be just 1.3 per cent of our $2.8 trillion dollar economy.
We can bring the deficit down today because our pandemic spending worked.
Thanks to the historic support we provided—and thanks to the incredible resilience of Canadians— Canada is entering this time of a slowing global economy from a position of fundamental economic strength.
There are 400,000 more Canadians working today than before the pandemic. Our economy is now 103 per cent the size it was before COVID hit. So far this year, our economic growth has been the strongest in the G7. Stronger than the United States, stronger than the United Kingdom, stronger than Germany, stronger than France, and stronger than Italy or Japan.
Thanks to that enviable economic performance, we are able to provide targeted support to the most vulnerable, while still shrinking our deficit.
In the months to come, we will be able to invest in the Canadian economy and to be there for the Canadians who need it the most—because we were responsible in April, and because we are keeping our powder dry today.
Canadians are tough and the Canadian economy is resilient. And that’s why we can all be confident we will get through this, just as we have gotten through so much over these past two-and-a-half years.
In fact, there is no country in the world better placed than Canada to get through the coming global slowdown.
And when we do, with our fundamental economic strengths preserved, and the pandemic recession behind us, there is no country in the world better placed than Canada to thrive in a post-COVID global economy.
We grow food to feed the world, and we mine the potash that farmers here and elsewhere need to grow their own. We have the critical minerals and metals that are essential for everything from cell phones to batteries to appliances to electric cars.
We have the natural resources to power the global net-zero transition and to support our allies with their energy security as that transition continues to pick up speed.
And critically, Canada is the democracy that has all of these resources in abundance.
The global economy is at a turning point. We are entering an era of friendshoring—a time when our democratic partners and their most important companies are looking to shift their dependence from dictatorships to democracies.
That is why the Prime Minister and Chancellor Scholz signed an agreement in Newfoundland for Germany to buy Canadian hydrogen.
That is why the United States has moved from a Buy America to a Buy North America policy on critical minerals and electric vehicles.
That is why our Minister of Industry has been signing agreements with global car manufacturers and battery makers—a new one almost every day, it seems to me!
That is why our Minister of Natural Resources is pitching Canada’s critical minerals to the world, and working hard with provinces and territories to get them out of the ground and to global markets.
Because the world knows Canada can build the electric vehicles of today and tomorrow. Canadians can mine and process the critical minerals that those vehicles, our phones, and our computers are all made of.
And Canadian energy workers—the very best in the world—can make Canada the leading provider of energy as the global economy moves to net-zero.
Our allies are counting on us. And our government believes that this ongoing shift is the most significant opportunity for Canadian workers and Canadian businesses in a generation.
Seizing this opportunity is what our April budget invested in. And it is what this Fall Economic Statement invests in, too.
With major investment tax credits for clean technology and clean hydrogen, we will make it more attractive for businesses to invest in Canada to produce the energy that will power a net-zero global economy.
We are launching a new Canada Growth Fund that will help attract the billions of dollars in new private capital required to fight climate change and create good jobs in Canada at the same time.
From critical minerals, to ports, to energy, we will continue to make it easier for businesses to invest in major projects in Canada—projects with meaningful Indigenous participation; projects that meet the highest environmental standards; projects that will create good jobs; and projects that will allow Canadian workers to drive our economy forward.
We will continue to invest in tackling the productivity challenge that is Canada’s economic Achilles heel.
We will continue to invest in making sure that Canadians have the skills they need to get good-paying jobs, and we will continue to bring to Canada more of the skilled workers that our growing economy requires.
But we know these investments represent only a down payment on the work that lies ahead.
And so, in the months to come, we will continue to work hard to ensure that Canada is the best place in the world for businesses to invest and create good-paying jobs from coast-to-coast-to-coast.
Now, these investments—the ones we are making today, and the ones we will continue to make—will be crucial to the future of the Canadian economy.
They will help make Canada a leader in the industries of tomorrow. They will help to build an economy that is more sustainable and more prosperous for generations to come.
But what matters most is what these investments mean for Canadians.
If you’re an energy worker in Alberta, investments in clean energy mean there will continue to be good-paying jobs for you and your children.
If you’re a young couple in Vancouver, more workers in the building trades means more affordable homes for your new family.
And if you’re an auto worker in Windsor, Canadian leadership on electric vehicles means you can build the next generation of the cars that have powered our economy for more than a century.
Canadian workers know how important our social safety net is—and that is why our government will never deplete the contributions that keep Canada’s Employment Insurance and pensions strong.
And Canadian workers know how important training is to equip them for valuable, good-paying jobs. So we are investing in that, too.
But Canadian workers also know that the single most important thing—the difference between managing to pay your mortgage and fearing you could lose your home; the difference between paying the bills at the end of the month and falling behind—is a well-paid, stable job; doing work you are proud of with people who respect you and your skills.
That’s why our overriding economic objective during COVID was to preserve Canadians’ jobs.
And that is why today, what Canadian workers need is a government with a real, robust industrial policy; a government committed to investing in the net-zero transition, to bringing in new private investment, and to helping create good-paying jobs from coast-to-coast-to-coast.
That is what we’ve been doing. And that is what we are continuing to do today.
Now, Mr. Speaker, in 1903, Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier stood in this House and said:
“This is not a time for deliberation; this is a time for action. /../ We cannot wait, because time does not wait; we cannot wait because, in these days of wonderful development, time lost is doubly lost.
“We cannot wait, because at this moment there is a transformation going on in the conditions of our national life which it would be folly to ignore and a crime to overlook.”
He was speaking then about the Transcontinental Railway—one that connected Canada and the Canadian economy from east to west, and which helped usher in a new era of prosperity for the people of our growing country.
That project, like Laurier himself, was imperfect. The prosperity and opportunity it brought were not shared equally—with Indigenous Peoples, with women, with new Canadians.
But his message then is one that we should heed today.
At the turn of the last century, Laurier and a generation of Canadian statesmen understood that Canada was at a turning point—and that we could seize it, or risk being swept aside by the manifest destiny of more ambitious leaders.
Today, we are likewise at a pivotal moment.
The global green transition calls for an industrial transformation comparable in scale only to the Industrial Revolution itself—and Canada is blessed with the talented people, the natural resources and the manufacturing base needed to drive that transformation.
At the same time, Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine has upended geopolitics, reinforcing for our allies the value of turning to each other—to us—for the most critical elements of their supply chains and for their energy security.
Together, these two great shifts represent a generational opportunity to build a thriving and sustainable Canadian economy.
We can lead the global economy in a way that far exceeds our footprint as a country of just 39 million people.
We can lead the fight against climate change, and we can do it in a way that creates good jobs and new businesses for Canadians from coast-to-coast-to-coast.
We can build affordable homes and deliver affordable child care—helping our economy grow and making life more affordable for middle class Canadian families.
And we can ensure that everyone in this country can enjoy the prosperity we are investing in together.
That is the future that we can create for ourselves and for our children.
But we cannot wait, because time truly does not wait. We cannot wait, because in these days of wonderful development, time lost is doubly lost.
I know that times feel tough right now. And they are.
But we have a well-built house with a solid roof, and we have survived far colder winters before.
And just as fall turns to winter, so, too, does winter turn to spring.
There are warmer days ahead, and we will reach them together.
By building a country where everyone can earn a good living for a hard day’s work.
By building an economy that works for everyone.
By investing in the Canada we are all so proud of today, so we can be even prouder of our amazing country tomorrow.
Because of all the countries in the world, the 21st century will surely belong to Canada.
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