Hello, readers. I’m Justin Trudeau.
Two years ago, world oil prices bottomed out, a significant economic shock. Interest rates around the world were all at historic lows, and Canada was affected by this global crisis too. We need to do everything we can to protect against that threat, and the Bank of Canada certainly did that.
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At the time of the Bank of Canada’s decision to raise interest rates last year, the US dollar was already at a two-year high. That means we’re now paying more to borrow dollars than we ever have before, to finance our operations and our expansion.
As a result, the Canadian dollar is now around the lowest level since 2009. That is driving up import prices, and all Canadians are paying for it in the form of higher grocery bills and higher auto loan payments. And with high unemployment at more than five per cent, businesses are now facing declining demand for their products and services, and lower corporate profits. As a result, we’re already starting to feel the hit.
A stronger economy is crucial to creating middle-class jobs and fighting against economic inequality. This is why last summer I held a national dialogue to hear directly from businesses, workers and retirees on the challenges we face. All those who spoke with me know what’s at stake.
Open this photo in gallery The official Bank of Canada sign is seen at the entrance to the Bank of Canada in Ottawa on December 10, 2018. Adrian Wyld/Reuters
We have the biggest economy in the G7, with the largest share of jobs held by women and visible minorities. This, too, needs to be our priority. That’s why the economy became an essential component of my platform. We have the government with one of the lowest levels of youth unemployment in the G7. Why aren’t we increasing the skills of Canadians? Why aren’t we offering more tax breaks for things like vocational education? Why aren’t we investing in our future by setting aside the most taxpayer-friendly income tax bracket, the lowest corporate tax rate, and the lowest personal tax rate, all while cutting CPP and OAS contributions and premiums?
We need to be more fiscally prudent, and we need to simplify our tax system by closing loopholes in the GST and income-splitting rules. The time for gimmicks is over. The time for one-off announcements is behind us.
Our taxes don’t help Canadians feel secure in their retirement, or their kids’ future. We don’t like to talk about it, but Canadians don’t have enough money. That’s why I’ve called for a national discussion on taxation, aiming to put policy choices on the table that do make a difference.
One major thing that needs to be done is to give Canadians more opportunities to save for retirement. That’s why today I announce to you that the government is going to introduce a new system for spousal RRSPs. This change will address one of the real barriers to saving, and will give individuals more options to save.
This is one way the government can help businesses and Canadians through tighter regulations and taxes. So in the weeks ahead, we’ll be examining options to address low productivity, and streamline and simplify investment to ensure we are working to create the many good-paying jobs that so many Canadians need today and tomorrow.
We’re looking at a number of other ways to empower Canadians to open their own businesses, and help promote entrepreneurship in small business.
For instance, I’ve recently introduced new legislation that will help more women and visible minorities become entrepreneurs. I want to put these opportunities in front of more Canadians. That’s why the government has created the Business Opportunities Fund, so small businesses can get direct assistance to help make them more successful. I’m very proud of this program, which is providing access to capital for entrepreneurs across Canada, and it is supported by the EY Global Entrepreneurship Centre, which is based right here in Ottawa.
You see, the times of record low interest rates are gone. And the days of an open-borders immigration policy are far behind us. We’re in the middle of a global opportunity grab, and the government is prepared to embrace and seize it. With the strongest economy in the G7, we’re open for business, and we’re driving growth and