The current Federal Government's fourth budget. One overriding goal: the need to build both a stronger economy and a stronger society. A plan in place since this government took office; that plan acted upon, and built, in every one of the budgets. Four key elements of the plan. Establishing confidence in the country's management of its financial affairs. Taking action in areas that have an immediate impact on growth and jobs. Making key investments that will strengthen the prospects for longer-term economic growth. Focussing on investments to strengthen the social underpinnings of the nation. Putting the budget in the context of this plan. Two major milestones within reach: by 1998-99 the government will be able to finance its deficit internally, without having to go to the financial markets for any new borrowing; the second milestone stabilising the debt. Managing the debt as Canada's economy grows faster than the debt. The payoff for Canadians. The impact of lower interest rates. Employment increases. Moving towards a stronger economy. Opportunities and costs of globalisation and restructuring. The role of the government now to stand with those Canadians having difficulty adjusting to a turbulent world; not to stand aside. Taking direct action in this budget, as in previous ones, to promote economic growth and the creation of jobs. Short- and medium-term initiatives. Broadening the notion of infrastructure for the long view to include post-secondary education, knowledge, and innovation, the building blocks of the new wealth of nations. Some illustrative examples. A departure from the norm of government initiatives, with example. The need to strengthen our society. Publicly funded universal health-care at the top of the list for Canadians. The Government's commitment to the principles which underpin our health-care system to be preserved, protected, and enforced. Looking for better delivery of health-care services to Canadians. Protecting Canada's retirement income system. An agreement, reached last week, between the federal government and eight of Canada's provinces to preserve the Canada Pension Plan: some fundamental points as to how this will be done. Two other pillars of the retirement income system: the new Seniors Benefit in 2001, and tax assisted savings such as private pension plans and RRSPs. Focussing on the roots of the social problems of the future, addressing them before they arise. Meeting the challenge of creating a healthy and secure environment for our children, who are the future. Details of the Government's response in terms of budget monies allocated. The absolute critical factor of Canada and the provinces moving forward together, and why this is so. Taxation, and the goal to lower taxes. A brief discussion of the suggestion made by some that now is the time to consider a broadly based tax cut, and the Government's position on that issue. A summary of the underlying philosophy of the budget as a prelude to the following discussion. A Government showing its values according to what it does with its scarce resources. Substantial progress over the last three years. Now looking to the long-term investments Canada requires. The primary principle that the role of government is to look to both the social and economic needs of the nation. A balance between a strong economy and a strong society not the lowest common denominator, but the highest common ground. An abiding faith in Canada and Canadians.
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