Media Releases Apr 04, 2022

Budget 2022: Critical choices at a critical time


(OTTAWA) – April 4, 2022 – The Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s President and CEO, Perrin Beatty, issued the following statement today ahead of Thursday’s federal budget.

“This Thursday Finance Minister Freeland will present the government’s spending plans for the next few years. She will no doubt take great care in sketching out the immediate impacts for helping Canadians improve the quality of their lives.

However, we need much more than a simple description of how the government intends to spend (or “invest,” which has become Ottawa’s preferred euphemism) our tax dollars. Budgets, when done well, should also lay out a strategy to grow the nation’s economy, and with equal care demonstrate how their spending will provide an economic return. Responsible politicians understand that the standard of living for every Canadian must be underpinned by a thriving private sector.    

It’s not clear that Ottawa grasps that reality. Too often our elected officials have demonstrated an inability to distinguish between government spending and economic growth, believing that we can somehow borrow our way to prosperity. As a result, we risk creating the first generation of Canadians that will be less successful than their parents.

The past few years have seen tectonic shifts in the economic, trade, security and social spheres throughout the world. We stand at an historic inflection point, in the shadow of three intractable and escalating crises: the largest debt our country has ever had, climate change that is increasingly damaging our land, and rising national security threats that demand military renewal. The next fifty years of Canadian life will be defined by how well we address these tremendous challenges.

In these crises, we are not afforded the luxury of choice. We must meet the challenge, but we can’t do so without a level of economic growth that we haven’t seen in five decades. And since the turn of the century we have experienced anemic real growth that struggles to get beyond two per cent, often not even keeping pace with the cost of living.

For all of the ways we have fallen short in recent years, Canada still has enormous potential. Our assets are enviable: we have a diverse and creative society, tremendous freedoms, a well-educated work force, and abundant natural resources, to name a few of our assets. We can be a great nation and an economic powerhouse. Improved social programs can be part of that equation, but we must have a step change in economic growth to afford them. Wishful thinking won’t pay the bills.

We need a national consensus on our economic goals, one that is beyond ideology and partisanship. As a starting point to get from where we are today and where we need to be, Canada should establish a target for sustained annual growth that substantially outpaces our spending and debt obligations. It will take massive levels of private sector investment. All budgets, all government plans should begin with these goals and lay out strategies to get us there. Today, however, this requirement doesn’t seem to be on the radar of elected officials.

We have a choice. We can either commit ourselves to dramatically improving our performance or we can fall further behind our international competitors. Will we come together to engage in true nation building or ignore the challenge and simply hope for the best? The historic inflection point at which we find ourselves requires political leadership that grasps and focuses on the fundamentals in a way we’ve not seen in many years.

Other countries are working hard to earn the standard of living that we assume is our birthright. Their leaders understand the difference between the must-haves and the nice-to-haves when they do their economic planning. And they know that before you make plans for how to spend money, you need a plan to create it.

Thursday’s budget will show whether our leaders have the same degree of understanding and determination.”

About the Canadian Chamber of Commerce — The Future of Business Success

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is Canada’s largest and most activated business network — representing 450 chambers of commerce and boards of trade and more than 200,000 business of all sizes, from all sectors of the economy and from every part of the country — to create the conditions for our collective success. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is the undisputed champion and catalyst for the future of business success. From working with government on economy-friendly policy to providing services that inform commerce and enable trade, we give each of our members more of what they need to succeed: insight into markets, competitors and trends, influence over the decisions and policies that drive business success and impact on business and economic performance.  

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Contact

Phil Taylor

Canadian Chamber of Commerce

E-mail: ptaylor@chamber.ca (fastest response time)