KENORA – Since 2015, our government has accomplished a lot to help ensure everyone has a fair and equal shot at success. What we know is that in order to build a strong economy we need to make the right investments in businesses and people. This fall, Canadians will have a choice between our plan to invest in people and the Conservative plan of unfair cuts to those who need it the most. Andrew Scheer is just like Stephen Harper and Doug Ford; time and time again he has voted against policies that make life more affordable for Northerners and their families. He opposed the Canada Child Benefit, voted against a stronger Canada Pension Plan for seniors, and voted against lower taxes for middle-class Canadians.
We’ve put in place a plan to invest in Canadians and build an economy that works for everyone. The results speak for themselves: over 1 million new jobs have been created – about 75% of them fulltime – pushing unemployment to historic lows. Northerners also have more money in their pockets, with the typical family being more than $2,000 better off every year, compared to 2015 when we first took office.
As we know, small and local business have a huge role to play in all levels of our economy. We’ve helped them by lowering the small business tax from 11% in 2015 to 9% in 2019. As a result, Canada now has the lowest small business tax rate among the G7 countries. We’re also encouraging businesses to invest more by allowing them to immediately write off the full cost of equipment used for the manufacturing of goods. We also put in place a plan that allows businesses to immediately write off the full cost of specified clean energy equipment and introduced the new Accelerated Investment Incentive, which provides the opportunity to write off a larger share of the cost of newly acquired assets in the same year they make investments.
In Ontario alone, we’ve announced the Prosperity and Growth Strategy for Northern Ontario (PGSNO) to deliver the Innovation and Skills Plan in a way that makes sense to local communities, businesses, and people. The strategy is being developed to help diversify the economies of Northern Ontario communities. The North has a diverse economy with strong and well-developed mining, forestry, wood products, and tourism sectors. For example, the Ring of Fire project alone is valued at over $60 billion and has the potential to create over 5,500 jobs.
As I travel throughout the Kenora riding, I have to say how amazing it is to see the extent to which many of our communities are thriving. The reality is that when I visit and meet with business and municipal leaders, one of their key concerns, is the shortage of workers. In some communities, job boards are filled with help wanted signs as businesses continue to expand and diversify. While this can be viewed as a good problem to have, we are now beginning to confront the issue of the lack of affordable housing. That’s why we have taken concrete steps to ensure that all Canadians have an opportunity to access the housing they deserve.
Just this year, we launched the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive to help make homeownership more affordable for first-time buyers. This new program will help lower monthly mortgage payments without increasing down payments for first-time buyers. While this is a great start, the fact is that we have much more to do to make housing affordable to everyone, including our seniors. By making the right investments in affordable housing and home care, we are working to improve the all-around quality of life for seniors.
As an example, in Budget 2016, we reversed the Harper Government’s changes to the age of retirement and restored the age of eligibility back to 65 from 67. As a result, 100,000 seniors who would have fallen into poverty because of this unfair change was prevented. The bottom line is we still have much more to do to ensure that our seniors are provided with the security they need to lead healthy and secure lives, and one of the ways to ensure that is by investing in affordable housing. While this may not seem like an economic driver to some, when we invest in seniors to ensure they have a good quality of life, we’re investing directly back into our communities.
In order to continue growing the North to its full potential, we must continue to invest, build and improve infrastructure to attract new business investments and expansion. We must also ensure that our youth and labour force have the skills and training necessary to meet the needs of the future. Our goal for the North is to build an even more diverse, skilled and educated labour force that enables small and medium-size businesses to grow and transform ideas into products and services.
We know the full potential of the North, and we also know that our entrepreneurs are willing and able to take the necessary risks to grow their business and grow our local economies when they are provided with the right financial environment. With the investments and tax changes we’ve made since 2015, I believe that the North will continue to grow resulting in more jobs and opportunities for Northerners.
Canada is open for business, investors know it, entrepreneurs know it, and as Northerners, let’s show the rest of Canada, what we can do.