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For the past several months, I have been travelling across Canada—to more than two dozen cities and towns—to meet with Canadian workers and Canadian businesses.

I visited an auto parts manufacturer in Etobicoke, a potash mine in Colonsay, Saskatchewan, and the women and men in Sherbrooke who make the boots our Armed Forces wear around the world.

I visited the Port of Saint John in New Brunswick, and a family farm in Olds, Alberta.

In Dartmouth and Brampton and Calgary, I spent time with some of the truckers who keep our economy moving at all hours of the day and no matter the weather.

The Canadians I spoke to were all proud of our country. They were proud of the hard work they do every day—to feed Canada and the world, to build our cars, to send our goods to global markets, to raise their children.

But many were also anxious—anxious about whether Canada's future will be as prosperous as our past, and anxious about paying the bills today.

And that is where I want to start: with the high cost of living that I know so many millions of Canadians are concerned about.

The inflation we are seeing today—manifested in higher prices around the world—is the result of more than two years of historic global turmoil.

And while inflation is lower in Canada than in many of our peer countries, I know that fact brings little comfort to Canadians paying higher prices at the checkout counter, or spending more to fill their tanks with gas.

This is a challenging time for millions of Canadians—for our friends, for our families, for our neighbours.

And it's important, as both the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance, that I'm honest with Canadians about the challenges that still lie ahead.

Interest rates are rising as the central bank steps in to tackle inflation. And that means our economy is slowing down.

It means there are people whose mortgage payments are rising. It means business is no longer booming in the same way it has since we left our homes and went back into the world. 

That will be the case in Canada. That will be the case in the United States. And that will be the case in economies big and small around the world.

To say otherwise would be misleading. Anyone who claims they could prevent the challenges ahead is wrong.

Canada cannot avoid the global slowdown to come, any more than we could have prevented COVID from reaching our shores once it had begun to infect the world.

But we will be ready—indeed, we are ready.

That's because, for the past seven years, our government has been reinforcing Canada's social safety net. We have improved many important programs, and added some new ones, too.

These investments in Canadians are like a well-built house with a solid roof—needed in all seasons and in all weather, but most essential when the temperature drops.

And that is why, as fall turns to winter, we are standing up for the EI and the pensions Canadians have been contributing to for their entire working lives.

That's why we created the Canada Child Benefit and increased the Guaranteed Income Supplement, and that is why it is so important that our pensions and most important benefits are all indexed to inflation.

And in today's Fall Economic Statement, we're delivering on further promises that will help make life more affordable for Canadians—delivering on a plan that millions of Canadians voted for just over a year ago.

We're working to deliver lower credit card fees for small businesses—to help the businesses at the heart of our economy and our communities, and the Canadians who support them.

We're taxing share buybacks to make sure that large corporations pay their fair share, and to encourage them to reinvest their profits in workers and in Canada.

We're delivering a Multigenerational Home Renovation Tax Credit, which will help families across Canada afford to have a grandparent or a son or daughter with a disability move back in if they need to.

We're tackling housing speculation, and making sure that homes are for Canadians to live in—not assets for investors to trade for profit.

We're delivering on our commitment to make home ownership more affordable for young people, with a new Tax-Free First Home Savings Account that will make it easier to save for a down payment.

And we're delivering with a doubling of the First-Time Home Buyers' Tax Credit to help cover the closing costs that come with buying that first home of your own.

We're permanently eliminating interest on Canada Student Loans and Apprenticeship Loans.

We're working to make sure children can see a dentist, and we're providing much-needed support to low-income renters.

We're providing advance payments of the Canada Workers Benefit to put money, sooner, into the pockets of our lowest-paid—and often most essential—workers.

And we're delivering new support to those who need it most by doubling the GST Credit for six months—hundreds of dollars that will soon be arriving in the bank accounts of 11 million people and families to help them pay the bills.

We are providing targeted inflation relief, because that is the right thing to do.

But we cannot support every single Canadian in the way we did with emergency measures at the height of the pandemic.

To do so would force the Bank of Canada to raise interest rates even higher. It would make life more expensive, for everyone, for longer.

So as the central bank fights inflation, we will not make its job harder.

Canada has the lowest net debt and the lowest deficit-to-GDP ratios in the G7. In our April budget, with inflation in Canada and around the world elevated and still rising, we knew we had to chart a fiscally responsible course—and we did.

In the budget, we committed to bringing the deficit down to just over $52 billion this year. Today, we forecast it will be just over $36 billion—a decline of more than 30 per cent.

Because, critically, our pandemic spending worked. Canada is entering this time of a slowing global economy from a position of fundamental economic strength.

There are 400,000 more Canadians working today than before the pandemic. So far this year, our economic growth has been the strongest in the G7. Stronger than the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, France or Japan.

And thanks to that enviable economic performance, we are able to provide targeted support to the most vulnerable, while still shrinking our deficit.

We will be able to invest in the Canadian economy and be there for the Canadians who need it most—because we were prudent in April, and because we are being prudent today.

We are keeping our powder dry.

That's why we can all be confident we will get through this coming slowdown, just as we have gotten through these past two-and-a-half difficult years.

And when we do, with our fundamental economic strengths preserved, and the pandemic recession behind us, there is no country in the world better placed than Canada to thrive in a post-COVID global economy.

We grow food to feed the world, and we mine the potash that farmers here and elsewhere need to grow their own. We have the critical minerals and metals that are essential for everything from cell phones to batteries to appliances to electric cars.

We have the natural resources to power the global net-zero transition and to support our allies with their energy security as that transition continues to pick up speed.

And critically, Canada is the democracy that has all of these resources in abundance.

The global economy is at a turning point. We are entering an era of friendshoring—a time when our democratic partners and their most important companies are looking to shift their dependence from dictatorships to democracies.

That is why the Prime Minister and Chancellor Scholz signed an agreement in Newfoundland for Germany to buy Canadian hydrogen.

That is why the United States has moved from a Buy American to a Buy North American policy on critical minerals and electric vehicles.

And that is why our Minister of Industry has been signing agreements with global car manufacturers and battery makers, and why our Minister of Natural Resources is pitching Canada's critical minerals to the world.

This year alone, new investments in these sectors have secured thousands of Canadian jobs.

Because Canadians can build the electric vehicles of tomorrow. Canadians can produce the critical minerals that those vehicles, our phones, and our computers depend on.

And Canadian energy workers can help Canada become the leading provider of energy in a net-zero world.

Our allies are counting on us. And that's good news for Canadians, because our government believes that this ongoing shift is the most significant opportunity for Canadian workers and Canadian businesses in a generation.

Seizing this opportunity is what our April budget invested in. And it is what this Fall Economic Statement invests in, too.

With major investment tax credits for clean technology and clean hydrogen, we will make it more attractive for businesses in Canada to invest in technology and to produce the energy that will help to power a net-zero global economy.

With the launch of the new Canada Growth Fund, we will help attract the billions of dollars in new private capital required to fight climate change and create good jobs at the same time.

From critical minerals, to ports, to clean energy, we will continue to make it easier for businesses to invest in major projects in Canada—projects with meaningful Indigenous participation, projects that will create good jobs, and projects that will drive our economy forward.

We will continue to invest in tackling the productivity challenge that is Canada's economic Achilles heel.

We will continue to invest in making sure that Canadians have the skills they need to get good-paying jobs, and we will continue to bring to Canada more of the skilled workers that our growing economy requires in a changing world.

But we know these investments represent only a down payment on the work that lies ahead.

And so, in the months to come, we will continue to work hard to ensure that Canada is the best place in the world for businesses to invest and create good-paying jobs.

Now, these investments—the ones we are making today, and the ones we will continue to make—will be critical to the future of the Canadian economy.

They will help make Canada a leader in the industries of tomorrow. They will help to build an economy that works for everyone, and a country that is more sustainable and more prosperous for generations to come.

But what matters most is what these investments mean for Canadians.

If you're an energy worker in Alberta, investments in renewable energies mean there will continue to be good-paying jobs for you and your children.

If you're a young couple in Vancouver, more workers in the building trades means more affordable homes for your new family.

And if you're an auto worker in Windsor, Canadian leadership on electric vehicles means you can build the next generation of cars that have powered our economy for more than a century.

Canadian workers know how important our social safety net is—and that is why our government will never deplete the contributions that keep EI and CPP strong.

And Canadian workers know how important training is to prepare them for valuable, good-paying jobs. So we are investing in that, too.

But Canadian workers also know that the single most important thing is a well-paid, stable job; doing work you can be proud of with people who respect you and your skills.

That's why our overriding economic objective during COVID was to preserve Canadians' jobs.

And that is why today, what Canadian workers need is a government with a real, robust industrial policy; a government committed to investing in the net-zero transition, to bringing in new private investment, and to helping create good-paying jobs from coast-to-coast-to-coast.

And that is what we are doing.

In 1903, Prime Minister Laurier stood in this House and said:

"This is not a time for deliberation; this is a time for action. /../ We cannot wait, because time does not wait; we cannot wait because, in these days of wonderful development, time lost is doubly lost.

"We cannot wait, because at this moment there is a transformation going on in the conditions of our national life which it would be folly to ignore and a crime to overlook."

Sir Wilfrid Laurier
Prime Minister of Canada

He was speaking then about the Transcontinental Railway—one that connected Canada and the Canadian economy from east to west, and which helped usher in a new era of growth and prosperity for the people of a growing country.

That project, like Laurier, was imperfect. The prosperity and opportunity it brought were not shared equally—with Indigenous Peoples, with women, with new Canadians.

But his message then is one that we should heed today.

At the turn of the last century, Laurier and a generation of Canadian statesmen understood that Canada was at a turning point—and that we could seize it, or risk being swept aside by the manifest destiny of more ambitious leaders.

Today, we are likewise at a pivotal moment.

The road to net-zero calls for an industrial transformation comparable in scale only to the Industrial Revolution itself—and Canada is blessed with the talented people and the raw materials and the industries needed to drive that transformation.

And Putin's illegal invasion of Ukraine has transformed geopolitics, reinforcing for our allies the value of turning to each other—to us—for the most critical elements of their supply chains.

Together, these two great transformations represent a generational opportunity to build a thriving and sustainable Canadian economy.

We can lead the global economy in a way that far exceeds our footprint as a country of just 39 million people.

We can lead the fight against climate change, and we can do it in a way that creates good jobs and new businesses for Canadians from coast-to-coast-to-coast.

We can build affordable homes and deliver affordable child care, which will help our economy grow and make life more affordable for middle class Canadians.

And we can ensure that everyone in this country can enjoy the prosperity that the road ahead can provide.

That is the future that we can create for ourselves and our children.

But we cannot wait, because time truly does not wait. In these days of wonderful development, time lost is doubly lost.

I know that times feel tough. The north wind is blowing.

But we have a well-built house with a solid roof, and we have survived far colder winters before.

And just as fall turns to winter, so, too, does winter turn to spring.

There are warmer days ahead, and we will reach them together.

By building an economy that works for everyone.

By building a Canada where everyone can earn a decent living for an honest day's work.

And by building a Canada where nobody gets left behind.

The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, P.C., M.P.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

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