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Canada's Finance Minister Jim Flaherty delivers his budget in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa March 29, 2012. (CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS/CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS)
Canada's Finance Minister Jim Flaherty delivers his budget in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa March 29, 2012. (CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS/CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS)

Full text of Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's budget speech Add to ...

We did it without taking on the massive debts and long-term deficits now faced by many other countries.

We did it without raising taxes.

As a result, in these difficult years Canada has outperformed most other industrialized countries.

But still, we remain concerned about the number of Canadians out of work. In response, this budget contains measures to create new, high-quality jobs. Still, it is important to remember that Canada is one of only two G-7 countries to have recouped all the jobs lost during the global recession. In fact, since July 2009 our economy has created more than 610,000 net new jobs. The World Economic Forum says our banks are the soundest in the world. Forbes magazine ranks Canada as the best place in the world for businesses to grow and create jobs. Our net debt-to-GDP ratio remains the lowest in the G-7, by far. The OECD and the IMF predict our economy will be among the leaders of the industrialized world over the next two years.

Taking the next steps

Canadians appreciate the fact that our country is outperforming our peers. They also understand that the global economy remains fragile. They know that our traditional trading partners face serious long-term economic challenges. In addition, Canadians are aware that our country faces challenges of its own. We need to promote innovation more effectively, to keep creating good-quality jobs. We need to plan for the rapid aging of our population, to secure our long-term prosperity.

Many Canadians are concerned about whether they will have enough money for their retirement. They wonder whether our social programs will be there when they need them. They ask whether there will be good jobs and a higher quality of life for themselves and for their children.

In response to these concerns, there are some who would raise taxes, increase government spending, and shun new trading opportunities. These short-sighted, irresponsible, and dangerous policies would kill jobs, impose crushing deficits, and cripple our economy. They would squander Canada’s advantage. Eventually they would make our social programs unsustainable. We see it in the very difficult circumstances in which Greece and some other European countries now find themselves. These policies would turn us away from long-term prosperity, down a path of long-term decline.

Our government will not allow that to happen. We will stay on course, to keep creating high-quality jobs and long-term economic growth for Canadians. We will not raise taxes. We will maintain our consistent, pragmatic, and responsible approach to the economy. We will take the necessary next steps to build confidence in our future.

Maintaining and strengthening Canada’s sound fiscal position

Canadians need to be confident in our prospects for economic growth. This is the key not only to creating good jobs but also to sustaining our social programs and improving our quality of life. Canadians also need to know that their government will be able to respond boldly to any future economic crises originating outside our borders. To provide this confidence, we must ensure that Canada’s finances are sustainable over the long term. To that end, we will fulfill the commitment we made in the Economic Action Plan budget of 2009, to return to balanced budgets in the medium term.

We are on track. In less than two years, we have already cut the deficit in half. We did it by ending our targeted and temporary stimulus measures, and by controlling the growth of new spending. Now, in this budget we will take the next steps. We will implement moderate restraint in government spending. The vast majority of the savings will come from eliminating waste in the internal operations of government, making it leaner and more efficient.

For example, our government will do what everyone agrees should have been done long ago. We will eliminate the penny. Pennies take up too much space on our dressers at home. They take up far too much time for small businesses trying to grow and create jobs. It costs taxpayers a penny-and-a-half every time we make one. We will, therefore, stop making them.

Canadians might wonder why this was not done earlier. Canadians might also wonder why public servants are sometimes asked to travel, when a videoconference would be easier for them and cheaper for taxpayers.

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