April 6, 2018
Check against delivery.
Hello everyone. Thank you for giving me the privilege of being in the presence of people who are central to our economic and social development.
I would like to highlight the fact that we are meeting today on the traditional territory of the Huron-Wendat Nation.
I would also like to thank Ms. Dawn Farrell and Mr. Claude Gagnon, as well as the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, for organizing this important event.
As Member of Parliament for the constituency of Québec, where we are today, I would like to welcome you to our beautiful region of Québec.
I would like to talk to you about the Government of Canada’s plan to support inclusive growth—that is, growth in which we can all take part and from which we can all benefit.
Investing in our citizens and their future, in our communities and our infrastructure, is not just the right thing to do; it is the smart thing to do for the development of our businesses.
We all know that globalization, the rapid evolution of technology, demographic changes and calls for protectionism and isolationalism create a great deal of pressure on businesses and governments.
By appointing me Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, the Prime Minister assigned me a large portfolio that includes Employment Insurance, child care, old age pensions and family benefits, housing and the fight against homelessness.
It is a key department for improving the quality of life of all Canadians through every stage of their life.
This department also contributes to attaining higher levels of development—sustainable development, economic development and inclusive development.
In particular, I would like to emphasize our vision of inclusive development.
We live in a world where extreme wealth rubs elbows with severe poverty; not only globally, but also in many countries.
Between the two extremes, members of the middle class and those who are working hard to join it often experience insecurity for themselves and their children, and regularly ask themselves what their place in society will be and what they can expect for their future.
I’m also thinking of how economic and political processes can elicit feelings of exclusion and frustration among members of the public concerning, among other things, the effects of free trade and technological changes, the perceived ability of governments to work for the betterment of all and involvement in the major development challenges facing our society.
When we see how feelings of social exclusion—sometimes legitimate, sometimes imagined—generate increasingly worrying political tensions, I think it is important to recognize the value of inclusion, not only for social reasons, but also for economic development and political reasons.
As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently said:
“Concerns about losing out are not unique to Canada. We see it, in widespread calls for nationalism over globalization, and in those who promise to build walls instead of tearing them down. When prosperity isn’t shared, people increasingly feel left behind, and they start to look to deceptively easy solutions.”
Concrete measures by the Government of Canada
In Canada, we’ve taken some steps to help allay that anxiety and to help people deal with the uncertainty of a changing world.
For example, we increased taxes for the wealthiest 1 percent of individuals in order to lower taxes for the middle class. We did not do it out of lack of consideration for people who are very successful in life, but rather because we believe that middle class families need more help.
We also transformed assistance to families by introducing a new tax-free, monthly Canada Child Benefit that is simpler, fairer and more effective.
This innovative policy allows nine out of ten Canadian families to have more money to raise their children and about 300,000 Canadian children to escape poverty.
We have implemented the first National Housing Strategy, which will enable more Canadians to have a safe, affordable home where children can learn and grow, where parents can find the stability that they need to be successful in the labour market and where seniors can live in dignity.
We have increased the amount of assistance Canadian students can get, helping make post-secondary education more affordable.
In 2019, we are going to enhance the Canada Workers Benefit, which will put more money in the pockets of low-income workers. This will help over 2 million Canadians who are working hard to join the middle class and will lift 70,000 workers out of poverty by 2020, while encouraging more Canadians to join or stay in the labour market.
And we’re investing in a range of training and employment programs for unemployed and underemployed Canadian workers, allowing them to upgrade their skills so they are ready for the modern workforce.
These are just a handful of the things we have done to help people adapt to and feel confident in the context of the changes we are all feeling.
Before I finish, I would also like to add that Canada is well aware that we cannot allow ourselves to leave out half of our population.
That is why we are implementing various measures to help more women access the labour market.
We therefore do not hesitate to support pay equity, women’s entrepreneurship and the participation of women in non-traditional jobs.
We also encourage gender equality, not only at work, but also at home.
That is why we are providing significant support to the efforts of the provinces and territories to offer high-quality, affordable child care services.
Taking gender equality seriously also means taking the supply of high-quality, affordable child care services seriously.
In addition, our recent Budget provides for a new Parental Sharing Benefit that aims to increase gender equality and promote more equal parental roles.
Our government recognizes that new growth opportunities and the importance of equality are central to Canada’s future economic success.
Giving the Canadian population the opportunity to reach its full potential is not only the right thing to do; it is also the smart thing to do to create a growing economy that benefits everyone.
To do this, we know that we can and must work together, because a prosperous society, a society in which diversity is our strength and pride and a society in which everyone has a real and fair chance to succeed, is a society of the future.
Thank you. Merci.
– 30 –