Hello, and thank you for being here.
I am so pleased to announce the launch of consultations that will help inform and guide our growth plan and feed into the measures and investments that will make up Budget 2021 – and help Canada build back better.
Right now, many of us are facing tighter public health restrictions and even lockdowns. Canadians continue to stay home and do the right thing in the face of this aggressive second wave of the pandemic.
And thank you, everyone for doing that. I know that it’s hard, and it is so important that we act carefully to take care of ourselves, and take care of each other.
We knew this would be a hard winter. And it is proving every bit as difficult as we expected – indeed, in many cases, even tougher.
But there are good things happening, too.
Safe, effective vaccines are being administered across Canada – beginning with our most vulnerable seniors and health-care workers on the front lines.
We all wish it were happening more quickly. We all want to know that our elders and vulnerable loved ones are safe. I know that we all want our lives back.
I want to assure you that our government is doing everything in our power to speed the rollout of vaccines – and that we will continue to be there to support Canadians during this unprecedented and challenging time. We will do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes.
By the end of September, every Canadian who wants to be vaccinated, will be. And when the pandemic is beyond us, we will rebuild.
The 2020 Fall Economic Statement in November detailed our plan to protect Canadian lives, Canadian jobs, and Canadian businesses. And we are moving quickly to deliver on these commitments. By supporting Canadian businesses, Canadian jobs and Canadian families now, we will not only help each other and our communities make it through a hard winter: we will prevent the scarring of our country’s economic tissue, and be much better prepared for a strong economic revival in the spring.
Fighting and defeating COVID-19 remains our most pressing and immediate priority. The virus is still with us, still virulent, still doing great harm.
Once the coronavirus is under control will come the time to rebuild. When our national economy is ready to absorb it, we will inject targeted stimulus to jump-start new growth. The timing will be critical. This is why the work of identifying investments begins now.
Our growth plan will create good jobs for middle-class Canadians by investing between $70 and $100 billion, or roughly 3 to 4 per cent of GDP, over three years.
Today, more than 600,000 Canadians who had a job before COVID-19 hit are still out of work.
Each one of those job losses is a tragedy for a Canadian and a Canadian family. Our government is committed to investing in economic growth and to help create the one million jobs as we pledged to do in the Speech from the Throne.
This pandemic has been a setback for our economy. That’s why, with our growth plan, we are committed to doing the hard work we need to do, so that Canada can and will come roaring back from the COVID-19 recession.
Our plan will be time-limited and carefully targeted. Fiscal guardrails will help us determine when the job of building back from the COVID-19 recession is done and when the stimulus can be wound down.
But let me be clear: we are not simply aiming to get back to where we were before COVID-19.
The pandemic has exposed critical gaps in our social safety net. And the virus has hit certain sectors, certain groups of people, harder than others – seniors, women, low-wage workers, young people, people of colour, Indigenous people. Small businesses, which are not only the foundation of our economy, but the heart of our communities, have also been particularly affected. And we need to build an economy that is greener and more sustainable than ever.
We also know that Canada’s economy in the post-COVID era needs to be more innovative and more competitive than ever before.
For all these reasons, the 2021 budget will be among the most significant of our lifetime.
And that’s why we want to hear from Canadians about your priorities.
We want to hear your ideas about what we can do better to support families and businesses, kick-start our economy, and maintain Canada’s strong fiscal position.
We encourage all Canadians to visit letstalkbudget2021.ca. Please share your views about how we can best grow Canada’s economy and create those one million jobs.
What is most important to you? What challenges lie ahead? How do we build an economy that is greener, more innovative, and more inclusive?
After a year when many of us lived virtually, how do we help our small businesses thrive in the digital economy? How do we ensure Canadians have the skills we need to do digital jobs, and that everyone across our vast country has access to broadband?
In the weeks ahead, our government will hold virtual roundtables with stakeholders and experts from a range of sectors and industries, to discuss ways to strengthen our country’s economic recovery.
Together with Associate Finance Minister Mona Fortier and Parliamentary Secretary Sean Fraser, we are asking Canadians to share your ideas on a range of important issues – to address the she-cession, supporting our small businesses economy, and building a green economy that will create jobs and opportunities.
We look forward to hearing your thoughts about how the federal government can continue to prepare our country for a robust recovery.
Your ideas on what we can do, all of us together, to ensure that Canada comes roaring back from COVID.
Together, I know that we will build a stronger, more resilient middle class and grow the Canadian economy that improves the lives of every single person in our country.
Let me just conclude by saying that I know we are living a tough time. It is a cold and hard winter.
But we all know that it is darkest before the dawn. As a country, we have faced adversity before. We are no strangers to cold, hard winters. And every time, Canada has faced challenges, we have emerged stronger.
I know we will this time, too, by facing this challenge together.