Our Conservative Government responded to the global economic crisis with two main objectives in mind: To protect Canada’s economy from the ravages of a recession that started outside of our borders and to emerge from it with our fiscal house in order.
The success of the Economic Action Plan is well-documented on that first score. Our decisive action in the past two years has helped protect Canadians from the recession and has fuelled an economic upturn. But now, as the recovery takes root, the second objective is taking centre stage.
The effects of the worldwide recession have left us with a deficit. And so the same Action Plan that successfully created needed jobs and fuelled growth during the crisis will now - just as urgently - turn its focus on charting a path back to balanced books.
That has been our Government’s clear-eyed plan from the onset of the recession. And that was the call to action that our Prime Minister Stephen Harper made to world leaders when he hosted the G-20 Summit recently.
Around the world, public finances have been strained by the crisis and government interventions have come at tremendous cost. The shaky state of some countries’ finances remains a huge threat to the recovery. Restoring books to balance is the right way forward, for Canada and for the world.
Our country’s performance during the recession and Prime Minister Harper’s leadership on the world stage has started that process moving. The leaders agreed in Toronto to Canada’s call for governments to begin restoring public finances. The G-20 Toronto Summit Declaration calls on advanced members to “at least halve their deficits by 2013 and stabilize government debt-to-GDP ratios, or put them on a downward path by 2016.”
Canada’s Action Plan includes measures that will eliminate our own deficit by 2015, at the latest. In fact, half of the deficit will disappear in March 2011 simply by winding up the Action Plan’s stimulus measures as planned. We are on track to meet, and likely beat, our forecast to get back in the black.
The G-20 Summit was successful in many ways. Leaders agreed to make financial systems stronger and more transparent. A commitment to resist protectionism has been extended for another three years. And our Prime Minister’s maternal health strategy for the developing world received support.
But the commitment by world leaders to tackle deficits and responsibly manage public finances may yet prove the most important outcome of the Summit – and will better prepare the world to avoid another financial disaster in the future.