June 16th, 2015

Tom Mulcair's speech at the Economic Club of Canada

It is good to be here with you at the Economic Club of Canada.

And it’s so great to be back in Toronto – Canada’s most important city.

An international city.

A global economic powerhouse.

Home to 80,000 new immigrants who come to Toronto every year to pursue their dreams.

The GTA is home to over 3 million highly educated and skilled workers who make up nearly one-sixth of Canada’s entire workforce.

Toronto is home to 90,000 businesses, exports $70 billion in goods and services and produces over 15 percent of Canada’s GDP.

Few cities in the world can boast numbers like that.

And as our country’s financial capital - hosting 40% of corporate headquarters in Canada –Toronto’s business community has its finger on the pulse of the entire Canadian economy.

And, looking at the performance of our economy over the past number of months, there is reason for concern.

The first quarter in particular has some alarming news.

Gross domestic product took the deepest plunge in nearly six years – down by point-6 per cent.

Business investment - down.

Exports – for the second quarter in a row – down.

Household spending - the lowest growth in nearly three years.

And BMO’s overall revised projection for 2015 sees the slowest growth for Canada’s economy, outside of recession, in the past thirty years.

But as worrisome as these first quarter trends are, they don't tell the whole story.

They don’t give us a sense of what’s happening to Canada’s middle class – the best measure of a well-functioning and diversified economy.

And in 2015, middle class families are working harder, but falling further and further behind.

Over the last 35 years, while our GDP has grown 147%, income for the typical Canadian family has actually shrunk by 7%.

And household debt is up – way up -- hitting a record 163% of disposable income.

The Governor of the Bank of Canada, Stephen Poloz, calls that “a significant risk to Canada’s financial stability.”

Young families just getting started can’t find affordable, quality childcare. That hurts families but it also hurts the economy.

The youth unemployment rate in Toronto is a whopping 17 per cent.

Post-secondary education and training for our young people is being priced out of reach for far too many.

Today, there are 200,000 more out-of-work Canadians than before the recession.

And too many of the new jobs that are being created are part-time and precarious.

In fact, since 2008, two-thirds of all jobs created in Ontario have been part-time, temporary, or in self-employment.

According to the CIBC, the quality of jobs today is at the lowest level in 20 years.

For the first time in our country’s history, current generations will be worse off than their parents.

Clearly, Mr. Harper’s plan just isn’t working.

To compete and win, Canada needs a strong and thriving middle-class.

A stronger middle-class means a stronger Canada.

Le NPD veut assurer le bien-être et l’épanouissement de la classe moyenne – le véritable moteur de notre économie – et aider les moins bien nantis à joindre les deux bouts, afin qu’ils puissent aspirer à une vie meilleure.

We have to diversify our economy so that it can absorb the shock of falling commodity prices.

So that it can welcome investment to kick-start new opportunities and create stable, full-time employment.

And so that it can seize new economic opportunities and take full advantage of Canada’s traditional strengths.

It starts by taking steps to kick-start advanced manufacturing and innovation.

Manufacturing built Canada’s middle-class.

But over the past decades, governments have sat on the sidelines while hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs disappeared.

Today, Canada must position itself as an innovative, energy efficient, high tech economy that is a magnet for both global and domestic investment.

Au NPD, nous croyons qu’il est impératif d’investir davantage dans les énergies renouvelables et dans les technologies innovantes.

On prévoit que d’ici 2030, cinq mille milliards de dollars – j’ai bien dit 5 mille milliards – seront investis dans le seul secteur des énergies propres et renouvelables.

Où est le Canada par rapport à ces opportunités? Ça prend un gouvernement qui y croit.

As minister of the environment and sustainable development in the Quebec government, I saw first-hand the emerging markets for renewable energy.

Around the world, governments and industry leaders are investing in wind, hydro, solar and geothermal technologies.

By 2030, $5 trillion will be invested in the renewable sector.

But Canada still lags far behind in investment attractiveness.

And that means that thousands of good paying, middle-class jobs have simply gone elsewhere.

That’s just not good enough.

I don't accept that a prime minister should just sit there on the sidelines, as an uninterested bystander, when it comes to these vital sectors.

It’s time that Canada’s manufacturers had a partner here at home and a champion on the world stage to attract investment and help create export markets.

I will be that champion.

Aerospace is a good example. If President Obama can go to China to help seal the deal for Boeing, I will go to world’s largest aerospace trade events - England’s Farnborough, or Le Bourget in Paris to fight for our crucial aerospace sector.

Le NPD comprend l’importance de se doter d’une économie diversifiée et dynamique, notamment en santé, en haute technologie et en aérospatial.

D’ailleurs, il est tout à fait inacceptable que, alors que Bombardier tente de faire des gains à l’international, que ni Stephen Harper, ni aucun ministre conservateur n’ait été présent au Salon du Bourget à Paris, le plus grand salon aéronautique au monde.

I’ll work with industry, the provinces and territories on matters ranging from skills training to the coordination of clusters of excellence to seize every opportunity to ensure a vibrant and growing advanced manufacturing sector in Canada.

Earlier this year, I announced an Innovation Tax Credit to encourage the investments in machinery, equipment and property used in innovation-boosting research and development.

This initiative signals to manufacturers that their investment in innovation, R&D and stable full-time employment is a priority now and into the future

It will help trigger greater private sector investment in research.

And it will ensure that the companies that are developing innovative products and jobs of the future get the support they need.

But as important as manufacturing is to a stronger middle-class, we have to do more.

We have to provide immediate and permanent help to some of the hardest working job creators in our economy, Canada’s small business owners, the backbone of local communities and the creators of 80% of all new jobs in this great country of ours.

That’s why my plan starts by cutting the small business tax rate from 11 to 9%, a near 20% reduction.

With this one practical measure, small businesses can better weather the current economic climate, hire more employees and help their local communities prosper for years to come.

We tabled a motion to that effect in the House of Commons.

The Conservatives voted against it.

Weeks later they put our small business tax cut plan in their budget.

But let me say to small business operators here in Toronto and across Canada; don't be fooled by Stephen Harper.

If he truly believed in giving you a break – to help you create new jobs, he wouldn't make you wait another 3 years for it to come into effect.

In the NDP, we know where we stand.

We actually support small businesses and we’ll begin the tax reductions right away.

Au NPD, nous croyons à la science, à la recherche et au développement et surtout, à l’investissement responsable dans la recherche de solutions, et ce, à l’échelle mondiale où nos PME peuvent se tailler une place enviable.

L’économie torontoise, comme celle de l’Ontario et du Canada, est constituée surtout de petites et moyennes entreprises.

D’abord, le NPD va réduire le taux d’imposition des petites entreprises de 11 à 9 %.

Le NPD mettra également en place un crédit d’impôt à l’innovation qui profitera particulièrement à l’industrie manufacturière pour la recherche et le développement, ainsi que pour l’achat d’équipements de pointe.

A strong manufacturing sector and thriving small businesses depend on world-class infrastructure, the life-blood of the global economy.

But the gridlock in our major urban centres isn’t just inconvenient – it’s costing the economy billions.

In Toronto alone, gridlock costs at least $6 billion in lost productivity each year.

Today, the infrastructure deficit in Canada sits at a staggering $172 billion and growing.

We must do better.

Earlier this month at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities meeting in Edmonton, I announced that an NDP government will be a stable, long term partner to local governments on infrastructure.

And we’ll start by transferring an additional cent of the existing gas tax.

This will ramp up to an additional $1.5 billion annual investment by the end of the first mandate to help stabilize long-term funding for infrastructure.

This measure alone will help close the infrastructure gap, de-congest our transportation hubs and create jobs in local communities, right across Canada.

But we also know that we need to make serious investments in public transit if we're going to tackle gridlock.

An NDP government will partner with cities by creating a new public transit strategy called the Better Transit Plan.

Working alongside the provinces and territories, this 20-year plan will invest $1.3 billion annually, that’s money for every municipality with transit needs.

It will be predictable, direct and transparent.

Smart investments in transit are expected to increase Canada’s GDP by over $2-billion a year.

They’ll create more than 31,000 middle-class jobs in construction, manufacturing and transit operations.

And they’ll signal to every municipal leader across this country that an NDP government will be ready to do its fair share for transit.

Le NPD propose un partenariat avec les villes.

Avec des engagements clairs pour améliorer nos infrastructures, créer de l’emploi et améliorer la productivité: sur 4 ans, un gouvernement du NPD injectera 3,7 milliards d’argent neuf pour financer des infrastructures clés.

Un gouvernement du NPD mettra sur pied un plan d’investissement pour le transport en commun avec financement stable, prévisible et à long terme.

Le plan du NPD prévoit atteindre des investissements de 1,3 milliard par année d’ici 2019.

Cette augmentation des investissements dans le transport en commun entraînera la création de milliers de nouveaux emplois dans les secteurs de la construction, des systèmes de transport public et de l’industrie manufacturière.

Une solution gagnante à la fois pour l’économie et pour l’environnement: en améliorant les infrastructures et le réseau routier, on améliore la qualité de vie des gens, la vitesse du transport des biens et donc la productivité en général; en soutenant le transport en commun, on réduit les émissions de gaz à effet de serre et on contribue à réduire notre empreinte de carbone.

Over the coming weeks as we head into the fall election campaign, I’ll be outlining more measures to help the middle class and build growth and prosperity.

Measures that past the litmus test of being both effective and affordable.

An example of such a measure is our plan for quality, accessible childcare across Canada.

Families in every corner of this country are struggling to get ahead and participate fully in the economy, because they can’t find childcare spaces. And when they do, they are spending up to $24,000 a year on childcare.

Our plan will deliver 1 million $15-dollar-a-day childcare spaces across Canada.

This initiative will not only save young families money, it will enable greater participation in the workforce.

Our plan is achievable, it’s effective and it’s affordable.

Nous nous sommes également engagés à aider les familles en mettant sur pied un réseau de garderies à travers le Canada.

Une bonne mesure pour les familles, aidant surtout les femmes à accéder au marché du travail et donc, bénéfique pour l’économie.

À travers le Canada, les Chambres de commerce appuient notre démarche, considérant que c’est non seulement bon socialement, mais essentiel sur le plan économique.

I don't believe budgets balance themselves, nor do I believe they become balanced just because you pass a law – zap your balanced.

But I do believe that it is fundamentally important that the federal government live within its means.

In the NDP, that idea goes back to the beginning.

I come from the school of Tommy Douglas who balanced 17 budgets in a row while he ushered in Medicare.

Or Roy Romonow, who rescued Saskatchewan from bankruptcy with prudent fiscal management.

Or Manitoba’s Gary Doer, who has the best track record of any Premier in the modern era for balanced budgets.

And you don't have to take our word for it.

The federal Department of Finance’s own reports show that NDP governments are the best at balancing the books when in office.

There was one exception – but he turned out to be a Liberal.

I believe in living within our means, because that’s the best way for Canadians to control their economic destiny.

The best way to grow a strong private-sector economy, with a strong middle-class supported by sustainable social programs and prudent, strategic economic investments.

You can’t do any of that unless your fiscal house is in order.

My beliefs and values stem from my upbringing.

My family story is that of millions of Canadian families.

Growing up the second oldest of 10 kids we had to work for everything we had. It wasn’t easy.

We worked hard, played by the rules and lived within our means. We learned the importance of looking out for one another, sticking together during good times and bad.

These are the values that guided me throughout my thirty-five years of public life and my time as a cabinet minister in the Government of Quebec.

And these are the values that will guide me in the future.

When we consider the recent job losses, the drop in oil prices, or the closures in the retail sector, I believe that the focus of our response must be on the hard-working families who feel the effects of these events day-in and day-out.

Their struggles will always guide my priorities.

Only with a strong middle-class, will we have a stronger Canada.

And while there is much to concern Canadians today, as I look ahead, I have tremendous optimism.

I see immense opportunity to ensure a prosperous, more sustainable future for Canada with a strong and growing middle-class.

What’s needed is the experience and the plan to seize them.

And friends, that’s my offer to Canadians in this fall’s election.

A choice between change or more of the same, a better economic plan versus one that isn’t working, a choice between a stronger middle class or one that falls further behind.

That’s the NDP’s offer this October.

By working together, we can bring change to Ottawa for a stronger, more prosperous Canada.

I invite you to be a part of it.

Thank you. Merci beaucoup.