This Plan sets out a medium-term economic framework for action. It provides a balanced approach, recognizing that there is no silver bullet, no single policy, which alone can secure sustainable prosperity. We must invest in people, ideas and innovation while we simultaneously build the right investment environment and intelligently open and connect our economy.
Just as in 1994, we must recognize that success will require sustained effort. The world and our demographics have both changed profoundly. We cannot achieve sustainable prosperity in one budget. However, we must begin immediately to build upon the success of the last decade. That is why the Government intends to include major initiatives outlined in the 2005 Economic and Fiscal Update in its next budget in order to put this Plan into action. With the support of Canadians, we will do more in subsequent budgets to make continued and unremitting progress on each interrelated element of the framework.
Sustained focus requires a focus on results. We have already made strides in measuring the success of our policies, and we will redouble these efforts in coming budgets. Productivity in government requires transparency, accountability and measurement.
In the fight against the deficit, measuring progress was straightforward. The deficit itself was a simple (yet hugely important) number which was either getting bigger or smaller. Similarly, our government debt burden was either increasing or decreasing.
The Government is launching this new Plan with the objective of sustaining a quality of life for all Canadians second to none. Measuring quality of life is more subjective than measuring the deficit. While we cannot measure quality of life directly, we can and should measure how the Government’s economic initiatives contribute to improved living standards. As outlined in Chapter 1, there are a number of contributors to quality of life, including health, environment, families, communities and culture, our place in the world, and living standards.
Improving our quality of life is the ultimate goal of economic policy. Economic growth contributes to a higher quality of life by creating more and better jobs and raising our standard of living and by creating the resources to build the Canada we want and our children deserve. Other contributors to our quality of life—such as a sustainable environment, health, safe communities and culture—also have a direct impact on our productivity. Moreover, by improving our quality of life, they favourably impact the willingness of firms and individuals to invest in Canada.
The federal government cannot deliver sustainable prosperity on its own. For example, many of the most important initiatives to bolster prosperity—including post-secondary and early childhood education, workplace skills, tax competitiveness and a more effective Canadian economic union—require provincial action.
The federal government is committed to working with the provinces and territories on a wider variety of initiatives that will affect Canadian prosperity. Success will depend on coordinated action with a focus on results. The Government of Canada will make major investments in priority areas and invites the provinces and territories to join in realizing the goals of this Plan.
Achieving sustained increases in our prosperity and ensuring that they are shared equitably among Canadians will require a joint commitment by government, business and labour to work together to develop common objectives and make improvements in employment practices, incomes and the work environment.
This Plan has underscored the importance of greater business investment in workplace skills, new machinery and equipment and R&D. It has also highlighted global opportunities and the related need for a more global orientation from our firms. On all these fronts, the Government is committed to help through future initiatives and an unshakable focus on getting the fundamentals right by continuing to build the right investment environment.
Ultimately, the initiative of Canadians will determine our success. Canadians can be confident that we will respond well to both the rapid changes in the world economy and our own demographic challenge. Collectively, we have turned this country around since 1993 and moved Canada from laggard to leader among the major economies. We have momentum and are advancing from a position of strength. Canada is uniquely positioned to benefit from the profound reordering of the global economy due to our diverse and highly skilled population, openness to the world, immense natural resource potential and robust financial health.
Most importantly, Canadians retain the same adventurous spirit that built this great country. Unprecedented technological opportunity and the integration of almost 40 per cent of the world’s population into the global economy have created a new frontier. We can make this global opportunity our destiny. The rewards are clear: a quality of life second to none and a world of opportunity for all.