By Stephen Fuhr
I take issue with a column that appeared in the Daily Courier on Jan. 24 written by Brett Millard. The article was a hyper partisan political opinion piece and it had no place being on the front page of the business section, giving the impression it had credibility, which it did not deserve.
In short, Mr. Millard feels Canada is merely “along for the ride.”
In fact, Canada has the fastest growing economy in the G7, with the World Economic Forum reporting that Canada is considered to have the most positive global influence on world affairs.
On the trade front, Canada recently signed the new Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership giving Canadian agricultural, advanced manufacturing, and forestry market access to the world’s fastest-growing region.
With tariffs set to fall, economists predict Canadians will realize an estimated $600 million in tax cuts as a result of the CPTPP.
In terms of NAFTA, Mr. Millard contends that negotiations are being handled by “inexperienced people”. But Canada has full confidence in Mr. Steven Verheul, Canada’s Chief Negotiator who has many years of experience working on trade negotiations including the first NAFTA negotiations, World Trade Organization negotiations, and the Canada-EU trade deal.
Finally, Mr. Millard takes aim at taxes, first quoting a Fraser Institute report which makes the assertion that 90 per cent of families are today paying more in taxes.
As several economists have noted, the report not only fails to take into consideration the transfers from government that offset tax changes, including the Canada Child Benefit, but includes both employee and employer contributions to an enhanced CPP which won’t be fully implemented until 2023.
CPP contributions are not a tax. Full stop.
Mr. Millard also points to a new carbon tax. BC residents have had a carbon tax since 2008, which has successfully reduced emissions in the province and has had negligible effects on economic performance.
Furthermore, polling data shows that the public, which initially opposed the tax, now generally supports it.
Like them or not, taxes support the quality of life we enjoy in Canada, including access to universal healthcare. And while taxes might be considered too high by some, according to the OECD, Canadians remain among the lowest of the low when it comes to the total tax burden. This includes low payroll taxes and social security contributions.
Mr. Millard’s cynicism aside, Canada’s economic outlook is positive: not only has the International Monetary Fund raised its estimate for economic growth in Canada, the Chief Economist of the Business Development Bank of Canada says the outlook is great news for entrepreneurs and is generating confidence in all sectors of the economy, contributing to an increase in exports, business investment, and a thriving labour market.
This positive outlook is also being reflected locally; according to the just released 4th quarter report of the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission, economic indicators reveal a thriving local economy.
Yes, there will be challenges. As we move forward in 2018, our Government knows it will need to work harder than ever to deliver on our commitments and build a better Canada for the middle class.
To date we have lowered income and business taxes; provided greater support to families, seniors, and Veterans; invested in transit, infrastructure, post-secondary education and affordable housing; supported innovation and sustainability both in industry and for the environment; and demonstrated a commitment to gender equality, diversity and fairness.
These investments fortify a stable society. As we head into the second half of our mandate, you can be assured our government will continue to do all it can to sustain Canadians confidence in the economy for that is what underpins job creation, growth and opportunity, and makes our communities better, safer places to live.
Stephen Fuhr is the Liberal MP for Kelowna-Lake Country.
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