Martin, The Hon. Paul
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A joint meeting of The Empire Club of Canada and The Canadian Club of Toronto.
A description of the budget as it was brought down. A clear background. Opportunities before us as a country. An economy that is breaking new records. Some clouds on the horizon: the uncertainty that some would create over the future of Quebec; the debt and the deficit. Dealing with the challenge of the debt and the deficit the purpose of the recent budget. Some specific figures. A look ahead. On our way to balancing the books. Two immediate targets. The downward track that is being established by the actions taken in this budget continuing in the years thereafter. What is planned to happen over the next few years. Facing an historical challenge with an historic response. Cautious economic assumptions and some implications of those assumptions. The factor of interest rates and income growth. Full fiscal health rather than temporary fiscal remission. Continuing to set short-term deficit goals with rolling, two-year targets, until the deficit is erased. What else the budget is about besides hitting targets: how the targets will be achieved. Results of reform as reflected in dramatic reductions in spending by many government departments. The plans to carry through reforms by individual cabinet ministers. Setting in motion substantial reform in three major areas of government spending: unemployment insurance, transfers to the provinces and the support and protection for Canada's seniors. Details of those reforms. Response to criticism. Building in flexibility so the provinces can innovate in the design of their programmes. Setting in place the reform of Canada's public pension system. Continuing efforts in the future. The presentation then proceeded to an open discussion.