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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 ...

Economic Action Plan 2012 Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity

Today we present Economic Action Plan 2012. It is Canada’s plan for jobs, growth and long-term prosperity.

Looking ahead, Canadians have every reason to be confident. Other Western countries face the risk of long term economic decline. We have a rare opportunity to position our country for sustainable, long-term growth. Others now have little room to manoeuvre. We are free to choose our future. We have made our choice. Our government chooses prosperity, for all Canadians. We will take decisive action to ensure our economy will create good jobs and sustain a higher quality of life for our children and grandchildren.

In this budget our government is looking ahead not only over the next few years but also over the next generation. We are taking major steps forward to build on the strong foundation we have laid since 2006.

We are avoiding foreseeable problems while seizing new opportunities in the global economy. The reforms we present today are substantial, responsible, and necessary. They will ensure we are focused on enabling and sustaining Canada’s long-term economic growth.

Our goal is to strengthen the financial security of Canadian workers and families, to help create good jobs and long-term prosperity in every region of the country. Still, it is not enough simply to maintain Canada’s advantage among the major advanced economies. We must also position Canada to compete successfully with the world’s large and dynamic emerging economies. In a changing global economy we must aim higher.

We must avoid falling behind. We must realize the enormous potential of our great country.

Sir George Foster wrote of that potential, a century ago. He helped to shape it over crucial generations– from serving as Minister of Finance under Sir John A. Macdonald to attending the Paris Peace Conference with Sir Robert Borden. His words are more compelling now than he could have imagined.

“There is especial need just now for long vision and the fine courage of statesmanship, and the warm fires of national imagination. Let us summon them all to our aid. We should not be thinking overmuch of what we are now, but more of what we may be fifty or a hundred years hence. Let us climb the heights and take the long forward look.”

Since 2006 our government has taken that long forward look. We have acted consistently to help create jobs and economic growth. Our plan is founded on the understanding that keeping taxes low helps hard-working families and supports the businesses that create jobs for Canadians. In the past few years of global economic recession and instability, we have seen the wisdom of that plan. It has enabled us to meet an historic challenge. It has positioned us to seize an historic opportunity. It has protected and strengthened our country.

Protecting and strengthening our country

Let us review the record. Our government reduced personal income taxes and cut the GST. We allowed seniors to split their pension. We established the Working Income Tax Benefit for low-income working people. We removed more than a million low-income Canadians from the federal income tax rolls altogether. We established the Registered Disability Savings Plan and the Tax-Free Savings Account–the most important personal savings vehicle since the RRSP. Altogether, we have saved the average family of four more than $3,100 per year in lower taxes.

At the same time, we reduced taxes on the businesses that create jobs for Canadians. Canada now has the lowest overall tax rate on new business investment among major advanced economies. This is a significant advantage for Canada in the global economy. It is helping to create and preserve jobs in communities across the country, now and for the long term.

Because we made responsible choices, when the global economic recession hit we were able to respond decisively. We implemented one of the largest and most effective economic stimulus plans among the nations of the G-20. We made historic investments in infrastructure. We encouraged businesses to invest and helped them to avoid layoffs. We made substantial new investments in skills training, and we extended support for workers who lost their jobs. We did all of this without creating permanent new bureaucracies.

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