April 7, 2017
London, United Kingdom

Building Confidence in Our Economic Future

Speech by the Honourable Bill Morneau, P.C., M.P.

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Thank you, Janice (Charette) for that kind introduction. And thanks to those who helped organize this event here at Canada House today: David Marsh from the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum, and Rachel Pine. And thank you to all of you for coming. It's a pleasure to be here.

I'm thrilled to be back in London.

During my last visit here in November, I had the opportunity to speak with students at my alma mater, the London School of Economics, about what makes the Canada-U.K. relationship so special.

Whether through our history, or through trade, our two countries are deeply connected.

But it is our common values and our continued friendship that truly unite us.

For decades we sustained economic growth in our two countries—and indeed around the world—on hope and optimism, the promise that our hard work would lead to a better life and a better world for our kids and grandkids.

That hope is no longer as clear.

We live in a time when many people are worried that the economy only benefits society's luckiest few. Their anxiety is valid.

One of the greatest challenges we face today as leaders is how to inspire the confidence people need to succeed and that economies need to grow.

In Canada we have been working to fix this.

But back when we first formed government in 2015, our plan was met with skepticism by some in the international community.

At my first G20 Summit in Antalya, Turkey, in 2015, the new plan in Canada was looked upon with curiosity by some of the other representatives.

At the time we had just introduced a number of measures, all directed at helping middle-income Canadians—what we call our "middle class."

A new, tax-free and more generous child benefit.

A tax increase for the richest one per cent.

A tax cut for middle-income earners.

And ambitious investments in infrastructure that put our strong fiscal position to work on things like public transit.

Our goal was, and is, simple: use all the tools we have to grow the economy in a way that benefits all Canadians—and give them a clear signal that their government and their economy are working for them.

Less than a year later, at the G20 Summit in China, the idea that the benefits of growth need to be more widely shared was on everyone's lips and top of the agenda.

A few weeks ago, at the G20 Finance Ministers' Meeting in Germany, it was simply accepted as fact.

For our part, Canada will continue doing what hopeful and optimistic countries do: invest in ourselves. And we are inviting the world to also invest in us and to work with us.

We have proven our resilience and our stability through the global financial crisis and the recent downturn in commodity prices, and we are building on these strengths.

We have the lowest total government net-debt-to-GDP (gross domestic product) ratio of all the countries in the G7.

The International Monetary Fund projects that we will be one of the strongest-growing economies in the G7 in economic growth over the coming years.

We have a highly skilled, diverse and cohesive population, including the best availability of skilled labour in the G20.

Our financial system is sound.

And finally, and maybe most importantly, we work well with others.

We know that Canada's future success is tied to its place in the world.

We can't go it alone.

But we also fundamentally believe partnership is essential to building a more inclusive economy.

Since taking office, we have built a strong case for our plan and our vision.

Consumer spending is up, due in part to our introduction of a middle class tax cut and a new enhanced child benefit.

Unemployment has fallen in the time since we took office in late 2015.

Over the past seven months, the economy generated more jobs than in any seven-month period in a decade.

And the pace of economic expansion is forecast to pick up in 2017.

These are good, early signs of a plan that is working.

But we know there's more to do.

This is why we are not just creating the jobs of today, we're getting people ready for the jobs of tomorrow.

We are supporting a culture of lifelong learning and skills training to help workers and their families adapt to the changing demands of our time—and ensure that Canada remains competitive.

Our aim is to make sure that the benefits of a more innovative society are shared equally across genders, generations and geography.

For us to accomplish our goals in Canada, we will continue to build global trading partnerships that create growth for all Canadians.

That means being champions for trade and selling what we do in Canada to the world.

That also means selling the benefits of trade to Canadians and people around the world.

That is the message I bring to international forums, and that is the message I bring when I meet with people like United States Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin.

And the more time I spend in the United States promoting Canada and promoting our trading relationship, the more I understand how much we agree on this.

Trade needs to bring real benefits to people—people who may be struggling, people who are worried about their children's futures.

Those same people will support trade if they see it creating better jobs and making their lives more affordable. 

That is how you restore hope and bring optimism back to people who have lost it.

That is what people expect of their government, and I for one fully intend to make sure that we work hard to deliver.

Thank you. I am happy to take a few questions.