All eco­nomic signs point to a grow­ing econ­omy

The Daily Courier - - OPINION - STEPHEN FUHR

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment has re­leased its fall eco­nomic state­ment and the news is pos­i­tive: Cana­dian eco­nomic growth has ac­cel­er­ated sharply, growth is be­com­ing more bal­anced across sec­tors and re­gions, our net debt to GDP con­tin­ues to de­cline and be­cause of grow­ing con­sumer con­fi­dence, lo­cal economies are thriv­ing.

Here at home, re­cent statis­tics from the Cen­tral Okana­gan Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Com­mis­sion in­di­cate house­hold in­come has risen, labour force par­tic­i­pa­tion and hous­ing starts are up, un­em­ploy­ment is low, more busi­ness li­cences have been ap­proved, and record break­ing num­bers in pas­sen­ger traf­fic at Kelowna In­ter­na­tional con­tinue to bring visi­tors to the Okana­gan.

Even the Par­lia­men­tary Bud­get Of­fi­cer’s lat­est fi­nan­cial re­port con­firms that “cur­rent fis­cal pol­icy in Canada is sus­tain­able over the long term” and rel­a­tive to the size of the econ­omy, “to­tal gov­ern­ment net debt is pro­jected to re­main be­low its cur­rent level over the long term.”

As the eco­nomic state­ment noted, house­hold con­sump­tion has been the main con­trib­u­tor to eco­nomic growth over the past year, un­der­pinned by solid em­ploy­ment gains, low in­ter­est rates, im­prov­ing con­sumer con­fi­dence and, since July 2016, the sup­port of the Canada Child Ben­e­fit to fam­i­lies.

In fact, Bank of Canada Gov. Stephen Poloz cred­ited the Lib­eral gov­ern­ment’s Canada Child Ben­e­fit pro­gram as a rea­son for the coun­try’s strength­en­ing econ­omy, call­ing it “highly stim­u­la­tive.”

In the past few months, I’ve been frank in my crit­i­cism about the way the gov­ern­ment ex­plained its ob­jec­tives dur­ing the re­cent con­sul­ta­tion on tax pro­pos­als. But as Fi­nance Min­is­ter Bill Morneau noted in his eco­nomic state­ment to the House, feed­back from those who at­tended our town hall in Kelowna and other en­trepreneurs, pro­fes­sion­als and hard­work­ing small busi­ness peo­ple drove him to get things right.

Our gov­ern­ment has re­sponded with a set of mod­i­fied tax pro­pos­als that will en­sure small busi­ness own­ers are re­spected.

The gov­ern­ment is ful­fill­ing its com­mit­ment to lower the tax on small busi­ness, from 11 per cent in 2015 to nine per cent by 2019.

In ad­di­tion, the gov­ern­ment has also an­nounced it will not be mov­ing for­ward with pro­pos­als to limit the mul­ti­pli­ca­tion of the Life­time Cap­i­tal Gains Ex­emp­tion, which was of con­cern to many farm­ers and fam­i­lies who were plan­ning on hand­ing down their busi­ness to the next gen­er­a­tion.

Fi­nally, the gov­ern­ment made amend­ments to its con­sid­er­a­tion of pas­sive in­vest­ment to pro­vide busi­ness own­ers the flex­i­bil­ity af­forded from sav­ings ac­cu­mu­lated in the cor­po­ra­tion, while en­sur­ing th­ese mea­sures are pro­vided in a man­ner that do not en­cour­age wealthy in­di­vid­u­als to have un­lim­ited tax-as­sisted sav­ings over and above the RRSP and TFSA lim­its avail­able to ev­ery­one else.

The mod­i­fied pro­pos­als also en­sure in­cen­tives are main­tained for ven­ture cap­i­tal and an­gel in­vestors.

Canada’s econ­omy is grow­ing faster than it has in more than a decade. By in­vest­ing in Cana­di­ans, the econ­omy is thriv­ing and Canada con­tin­ues to have the best fis­cal po­si­tion among G7 coun­tries.

This in­cludes cut­ting taxes for nine mil­lion mid­dle-class Cana­di­ans, in­tro­duc­ing a new Canada Child Ben­e­fit, and strength­en­ing the Canada Pen­sion Plan so fu­ture gen­er­a­tions of work­ers can re­tire with dig­nity.

You have my as­sur­ance that I will con­tinue to ad­vo­cate strongly for our com­mu­nity and I thank all of you who have con­tacted me to help bring our com­mu­nity’s con­cerns to the at­ten­tion of our gov­ern­ment.

Stephen Fuhr is the Lib­eral mem­ber of Par­lia­ment for Kelowna-Lake Coun­try.

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