April 29, 2016
Québec

Budget 2016: Growing the Middle Class

Speech by the Honourable Bill Morneau, Minister of Finance, Cercle finance du Québec

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Hello and thank you for joining me here today.

To begin, I would like to recognize the Huron-Wendat Nation, on whose traditional territory we are gathering.

I would like to thank Clément Gignac for that introduction. Thank you for your cooperation.

And it’s a pleasure to see Mayor Labeaume. You are a strong advocate for this city, its residents and their interests.

It’s a passion that is both inspiring and contagious, and I commend you for your public service.

In fact, your dedication to public transit is one which is also shared by many of Canada’s large cities.

The federal government is committed to being a reliable partner of the province and the municipalities, as well as the business community.

I would like to highlight that I did business myself for many years in Quebec.

Like you, I have a strong understanding of the business world.

What is even more relevant is that I want to work with you to serve all Quebecers.

So let me talk to you a little about how our government’s first budget affects you.

Since March 22, I’ve had the opportunity, along with Prime Minister Trudeau and my cabinet colleagues, to talk about our budget with people here in Canada and around the world.

I’ve travelled a lot.

In fact, my first stop was in Quebec, where I delivered a speech in Longueuil.

Since then, I’ve travelled across Canada, from the Maritimes to Vancouver.

I’ve also had the opportunity to take our message to international audiences—in New York, Paris, London, Chicago and Washington.

I met with economists, representatives from the financial sector, investors and other Finance Ministers—and I’m pleased to report that the feedback has been very positive.

The people I met abroad all said the same thing: “I really like what you are doing in Canada.” 

The Financial Times calls Canada a “glimmer of light” for our wise use of fiscal policy to invest in our economy.

The Wall Street Journal called us the poster child for the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) global growth strategy.

And Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the IMF, praised Canada’s approach.

And I believe that’s because our government has chosen the right priorities.

Budget 2016 is about revitalizing the economy and providing support for middle class families.

For the business community, that’s important. It means a more productive workforce, and more customers.

In December, we cut taxes for nearly 9 million Canadians.

With our budget, we took even bigger steps to put more money directly back in the pockets of families with children through the new Canada Child Benefit, which will give 9 out of 10 families more money every month to spend on everything from school supplies to healthier food.

We estimate that this will mean about $2.3 billion more for Quebec families over the next two years.

I applaud the efforts and the leadership of my colleague, Jean-Yves Duclos, on this file.

But in addition to providing direct help to families, we need to make strategic investments in order to grow the economy for the long term.

I am pleased to confirm that Budget 2016 proposes to restore the federal Labour-Sponsored Venture Capital Corporations tax credit, a measure that will help the middle class in Quebec save and that will help small and medium-sized businesses in the regions.

And we also need to better position Canada for the global economy of tomorrow.

To meet this goal, we must work together—the federal government, provincial governments, municipalities and, of course, the private sector.

Infrastructure

Over the next 10 years, we will invest a total of more than $120 billion in infrastructure projects across the country.

In the first phase of our plan, the government will invest $11.9 billion over five years.

Of this amount, the province of Quebec can expect to receive $924 million for public transit.

We will also invest $30 million to help more homeowners dealing with the consequences of pyrrhotite.

Right across the country, we will also invest $3.4 billion over five years to maintain and upgrade a large number of federal infrastructure assets.

These investments will contribute, among other things, to maintaining and improving national parks, ports and border infrastructure, and to the remediation of federal contaminated sites across the country.

Innovation and Research

But we want to go even further.

That’s why our budget proposes investments in youth, post-secondary education and innovation.

As a concrete example, I am pleased to confirm an investment of $50 million over five years for the National Optics Institute, headquartered in Québec, which provides research and development support and technical assistance to businesses in the areas of optics and photonics.

We also announced investments of up to $379 million over eight years, starting in 2017–18, for the Canadian Space Agency in Longueuil to formalize negotiations with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and undertake the necessary activities to extend Canada’s participation in the International Space Station to 2024.

Innovation and economic growth are not only good in themselves. They are essential in our struggle against global climate change.

Forestry and agri-food are good examples of sectors where the government can help facilitate the shift towards a cleaner economy, and ensure good jobs in rural areas.

We will invest $1 billion over four years, starting in 2017–18, to support clean technology, including in the forestry, fisheries, mining, energy and agriculture sectors.

But this growth that we will create together must benefit everyone.

Our seniors, our veterans and the most vulnerable members of society must all benefit from this growth.

For example, allow me to speak briefly about the importance of the inclusion of Indigenous peoples.

I commit to maintaining this relationship throughout my tenure as Minister of Finance.

In economic terms, and for the business sector, the arguments are irrefutable.

With an aging population the Canadian economy needs more workers.

The Indigenous population is young and growing, and it could participate more in the workforce.

That’s why our budget proposes historic investments of $8.4 billion over the next five years to ensure Indigenous peoples share in Canada’s prosperity.

Almost half that money will be invested in education.

Housing needs are urgent, and that’s why we are proposing investments in Indigenous communities, as well as for the Inuit of Nunavik, among others.

Conclusion

If you only take one thing away from what I have said today, I would like it to be that the federal government needs you.

And I am very comfortable expressing that need—because I know that the business community understands better than anyone the importance of partnerships.

We need to be better partners with each other—across sectors and disciplines—so that together, we are stronger.

This is a very special moment in our history.

We have both the capacity and the willingness to act to ensure a better future.

We need the resolve to follow through on sustained, strategic investments, guided by a vision of the future in which all Canadians have a real and fair chance at success.

And I look forward to working with all of you to make sure your city, your province and all of Canada live up to that potential.

Thank you very much.