By Stephen Fuhr
Canada’s economy is firing on all cylinders. Our conscious choice to invest in Canadians is working.
We lead the G7 in economic growth and have a low and declining debt to GDP ratio. Deficit spending is trending down while we focus on economic stimulus for more Canadians.
Canada has posted the best job numbers in almost 40 years with Canadians creating almost 600,000 new jobs, dropping the unemployment rate from 7.1 percent to 5.9, and proving that when people are working the economy is working.
With the Canadian economy outpacing projected growth and driving higher levels of Canadian consumer and business confidence, it would be foolish to take our foot off the gas. Budget 2018 builds on this progress by staying focused on investments that will support long-term growth.
We are committed to supporting small business by lowering the small business tax – the lowest in the G7 – and ensuring the sector has improved access to essential business innovation programs.
We recognize that investing in our next big innovations will advance Canadian business and our long-term competitiveness. As a result, Budget 2018 represents the single largest investment in investigator-led fundamental research in Canadian history.
Forward-thinking institutions, like our own University of British Columbia Okanagan, will have access to more money for researchers, labs and post-secondary partnerships to support these goals.
We are encouraging more workforce participation by women. The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that by taking steps to advance greater gender equality – such as employing more women in technology and boosting participation – Canada could add $150 billion to its economy by 2026.
Budget 2018 will make significant progress towards equality of opportunity by addressing the gender wage gap, supporting equal parenting, providing greater access to capital for women entrepreneurs, and targeting support for women in the trades.
We are expanding on the former Working Income Tax Benefit with the new Canada Workers Benefit, which will help low-income workers by allowing them to take home more money while they work – encouraging more to join and stay in the workforce.
And movement on a National Pharmacare strategy will lead to better outcomes for seniors and others who far too often must choose between paying for necessary medication and putting food on the table.
Closer to home, our communities are facing challenges with affordable housing and the opioid crisis.
Budget 2018 addresses affordable housing by building on our recently announced National Housing Strategy with the Rental Construction Financing Initiative, which will provide more opportunity to build more rental units across the country.
To help communities like our own that have been severely affected by the opioid crisis, Budget 2018 invests an additional $230 million in funding so people can access treatment and get the help they need.
Challenges such as an aging population, climate change, the expanding digital economy, and automation make it even more important that we stay the course; one that has demonstrated it is not only working, but exceeding many experts’ expectations.
The path Canadians voted for in the last election, prudent investments that reinforce our strengths, is the path we will continue to take.
Budget 2018 supports our aim of equal opportunity and ensuring no one is left behind, so that every Canadian has a real and fair chance to work, to contribute and to succeed. We will all be better off as a result.
Stephen Fuhr is the Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country.
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