Canadian Chamber of Commerce 2022 Budget

(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.