Saint John, New Brunswick
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Thank you very much, Wayne and Andy, for those kind introductions and for the truly inspiring tour of the Port and of everything you’ve been doing here.
I want to begin by acknowledging that the land we’re gathered on today is the traditional territory of the Wolastoqiyik.
I was really glad I had the chance to meet the all-female crew of the Maiden. They’ve stopped here in Saint John to raise awareness about the importance of girls’ education to help encourage more girls and young women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math.
And there is no better host for them, or for me, than Port Saint John.
Whether it’s shipping, energy, fishing, or tourism, Port Saint John is a hub of excellent, well-paying middle-class jobs here in New Brunswick.
As Atlantic Canada’s largest port ‒ as a cornerstone of the New Brunswick and Canadian economies ‒ the work that happens here connects Canada to the global economy and helps supply the goods that Canadians rely on.
And between the pandemic and Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, these past two years have reinforced how important stable supply chains ‒ like the ones that flow in and out of Saint John ‒ are to Canada and our allies.
Major trade hubs like Port Saint John help Canadian businesses get their goods to market, and they help keep costs down and our shelves stocked here at home.
That is why, in May of this year, our government announced a $42 million investment in Port Saint John to help increase its capacity and improve the flow of goods in and out of New Brunswick.
And we’re depending on places like Port Saint John more than ever to continue growing our economy and to make life more affordable for Canadians.
Because even as our economy continues to recover from the COVID recession, I know that inflation is making life more expensive for families here in New Brunswick and across the country.
We know that inflation is a global phenomenon ‒ driven by Vladimir Putin’s barbaric and illegal invasion of Ukraine, by China’s COVID-zero policies, and by the snarled supply chains that are affecting people and businesses around the world.
And I know that Canadians are feeling the impact of that global inflation when they go to buy groceries. I know that they feel it when they fill up their cars or trucks with gas.
So, what is our government doing to help Canadians weather this latest storm?
We’re doing exactly what we’ve done over these past two years of COVID: we have a plan, we are working together, and supporting Canadians.
For the Canadians who need it most, our government has an Affordability Plan to help directly with the rising cost of living.
Our Affordability Plan includes:
- An enhanced Canada Workers Benefit that will put up to $2,400 more into the pockets of low‑income families;
- Cutting child care fees by an average of 50 per cent by the end of this year;
- A 10 per cent increase in Old Age Security for seniors 75 and over, which started last month;
- A dental care program for Canadians with family income under $90,000 per year, starting with children under 12 this year;
- A $500 payment this year to help people who rent and who are struggling with the cost of housing;
- And, of course, our main government support programs – including the Canada Child Benefit, the GST Credit, the Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security, and the Guaranteed Income Supplement – are all indexed to inflation and will therefore be increasing.
For a couple here in Saint John, with an income of $45,000 and a child in daycare, this Affordability Plan could mean roughly an additional $6,150 on top of existing benefits this fiscal year.
For a senior with a disability, in Sussex, she could benefit from over $2,500 more this year than she received last year.
And crucially, the measures in this affordability plan are not pouring unnecessary fuel on the flames of inflation.
They are accounted for in Canada’s AAA‑rated fiscal framework.
And they were accounted for in the fiscally responsible Budget we tabled in April ‒ one in which we committed to a responsible $8.9 billion reduction in government spending.
But for the Canadians who need this support the most – the most vulnerable Canadians ‒ these measures represent new money they did not receive last year, and they will make life more affordable at exactly the right time.
This is a difficult time for countries around the world, and it is undoubtedly a challenging time for Canadians.
But, thanks to the smart, hard‑working people of amazing places like Saint John, I know there is no country in the world better positioned to make it through these turbulent economic times than Canada.
I want to conclude by commending all of the civic leaders who are here today ‒ all of the leaders of Port Saint John, labour leaders, Indigenous leaders, everyone in your community who has worked together so effectively on this really inspiring expansion of your Port.
It is apparent to the naked eye how effectively you are building your community and building your local economy.
And I do want to say as Finance Minister, as Deputy Prime Minister, this is a real contribution to Canada’s national economic security as well.
So, thank you very much, Saint John, you have really inspired me today.