Bill Morneau watching to see if Liberal moves will spark Canada’s economy

Finance Minister Bill Morneau says the government is closely tracking Canada’s fiscal performance amid a sluggish world economy and will take additional steps to kickstart growth if needed.

During an interview on CBC News Network’s Power Politics, Morneau said some of the marquee Liberal programs — the Canada child benefit and the infrastructure program — will have a positive impact on the economy, but the effects have not yet been realized.

“It’s too soon to judge,” he told host Rosemary Barton. “I’m not saying we don’t have to stay on top of the changes in the economy, because we do. But I think you’re going to start seeing the impacts of those investments and we’ll need to keep watching the economy to see what other measures are appropriate.”

He said Canada’s immigration system is also integral to Canada’s economic success.

Targeted health investments

On health care, Morneau did not rule out a possible rise in health funding to the provinces beyond the three per cent increase in transfers, but said improvements are not only about dollars. He said there must be targeted investments on home care, palliative care and pharmaceuticals to help cope with an aging population.

“Our goal is to make improvements together with the provinces while being fiscally responsible,” he said.

Morneau launched pre-budget consultations today with a warning about “worrying” global economic trends. But he also said there’s much cause for optimism about Canada’s outlook.

‘Worrying trends’

The finance minister warned that a sluggish global growth and a decline in trade will be a direct hit on Canada’s economy. But he urged Canadian consumers and businesses to have confidence about the economic future, and take a long-term view on prosperity that builds on help for the middle class and significant infrastructure investments. 

“I know that no country is better positioned than Canada to flourish in a world that’s increasingly connected and where trade is truly global,” he said.

“I believe that this can be our moment as a country.”

‘Be bold’

Last year’s pre-budget consultation process had the highest engagement with Canadians on record, with more than 250,000 “touch points” including email, Facebook and Twitter, according to Morneau’s office.

MPs on the finance committee will also carry out a pre-budget consultation process. That committee has received 420 written submissions from various sources.

Morneau urged Canadians of all ages to participate in the 2017 budget process.

“Think big, be bold, bring us your ideas — and keep your eyes on the future,” he said before hosting a Google hangout with students from across the country at Ottawa’s La Cité collégiale.

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