|Prime Minister Stephen Harper highlights government's 2013 achievements|
Prime Minister Stephen Harper today issued the following statement highlighting some of the government's significant accomplishments in 2013:
“In 2013, our Government delivered on the priorities of Canadians: creating jobs and opportunities, supporting and protecting Canadian families, and putting Canada first.
“We know Canadian families work hard for their money; that’s why we kept taxes low. The federal tax burden is at its lowest level in 50 years, and Canadian families are paying less in taxes than in 2006.
“We’re also looking out for Canadians, among the most digitally connected people in the world, by introducing specific measures to promote more choice, lower prices and better service in Canada’s wireless and cable television markets.
“And we know that nothing contributes to a better quality of life than a good job. Since 2009, Canada has created over one million new jobs, most of which are high-wage positions in the private sector.
“To ensure that Canadians always have the first crack at available jobs we’ve improved the Temporary Foreign Workers Program, and introduced the Canada Job Grant to connect people with the skills training they need to fill available jobs.
“Our Government also understands that spending more than you earn is not a sustainable path to prosperity. So in 2013 we introduced measures to reduce the federal deficit, as well as the size and cost of Government.
“As a result of our actions, Canada’s economy remains among the strongest in the world, and we are on track to achieve a budget surplus in 2015-16. This will allow us to keep taxes low, and ensure that Government spending on priorities like health care is sustainable.
“In October we reached an historic trade agreement with the European Union that will create thousands of new jobs for Canadians and give Canadian businesses from every region of the country preferential access to a half-billion affluent new customers in the EU.
“We also continued to invest in the bridges, highways, harbours and transit systems that keep our economy moving. These investments include: supporting small craft fishing harbours on the East Coast; redeveloping the Lévis ferry area in Quebec; improving the public transit system in Toronto; seeing the completion of Winnipeg's Centreport Canada Way; building the Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk highway to the Arctic Coast; and announcing an accelerated timeline for the construction of the new bridge for the St. Lawrence.
“Our Government was there for the people of Lac Mégantic in the aftermath of the deadly train disaster, providing support for recovery and decontamination efforts, and for the victims of unprecedented flooding in Alberta.
“And we will continue to be there for children and for victims of crime. That’s why we introduced legislation to crack down on cyberbullying and sexual predators on the internet. We also took steps to ensure that public safety comes first when authorities make decisions regarding persons found Not Criminally Responsible on Account of Mental Disorder (NCR), and we will introduce a Victims’ Bill of Rights to restore victims to their rightful place at the heart of our justice system.
“After a decade of darkness, our Government is fulfilling its commitment to give Canada’s armed forces ‘more teeth, less tail.’ We launched the Defence Renewal initiative that will put front-line capability before back-office bureaucracy. And, from a new fleet of Chinook F-model helicopters, to progress in the building of new ships for the Royal Canadian Navy, and the modernization of our light armoured vehicles, we’re delivering the tools our armed forces need.
“To further defend Canada’s sovereignty and long-term prosperity, our Government has been marshalling resources from across Government to establish and defend the outer limits of Canada's continental shelf in the Atlantic Ocean and Arctic region. In 2013, the Government submitted two claims to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.
“We continued to work with Aboriginal leaders in 2013 to advance shared priorities, including: providing job and skills training; improving water and wastewater systems; strengthening transparency and accountability for First Nation governments; and enhancing the rights and protections offered to First Nations living on-reserve.
“And Canada continued to play a vital role internationally. From the deployment of our Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, and the provision of humanitarian assistance to innocent civilians affected by the ongoing conflict in Syria, to our ongoing support of initiatives to improve maternal, newborn and child health in developing countries, Canada is making a tangible difference in the lives of people around the world.
“In the new year, our Government will build on the achievements of 2013 and continue to seize every opportunity to secure prosperity and security for Canadians. We will do so by creating jobs and opportunities, supporting and protecting Canadian families, and putting Canada first.”
Government’s 2013 Achievements
Over the past year, the Government of Canada has delivered on its commitments to:
Create Jobs and Opportunities for Canadians by:
Continuing to increase trade and open new markets for Canadian businesses. In 2013, we concluded a historic agreement in principle on a Canada-European Union Trade Agreement, which will provide Canada with preferential market access to the European Union’s more than 500 million consumers. In addition, Canada brought into force the Canada-Panama Free Trade Agreement, and signed a Free Trade Agreement with Honduras.
Concluding, signing or bringing into force 10 foreign investment promotion and protection agreements (FIPAs), including with Nigeria, Benin and Tanzania; more than any previous year.
Concluding negotiations for new or expanded air transport agreements with 26 countries – a record number for one year – including with China, Japan, Senegal, Malaysia, Peru, Turkey, Pakistan and South Africa.
Making progress on the Beyond the Border Action Plan, including by releasing the first ever joint Canada-United States Border Infrastructure Investment Plan, and launching Phase II of the Canada-U.S. Entry-Exit Initiative.
Launching consultations on the Canada Job Grant, which will help ensure that Canadians are able to obtain the skills and qualifications they need to get jobs in high-demand fields.
Reforming the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to ensure that Canadians are given the first chance at available jobs.
Making significant infrastructure investments across the country to create jobs and growth, including through providing support for the revitalization of the Lévis ferry area and the redevelopment of Gilmour Hill in Quebec; the creation of a new Centre for Northern Innovation in Mining at Yukon College; the construction of the 140-kilometre Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway – the first all-weather road to the Arctic Coast; improvements to the public transit system in Toronto; and construction, repair and maintenance at core commercial fishing harbours across Canada.
Announcing a new accelerated timeline for the construction of the new bridge for the St. Lawrence.
Introducing the New Building Canada Plan to build roads, bridges, subways, commuter rail and other public infrastructure in cooperation with provinces, territories and municipalities.
Supporting innovation by announcing the new Build in Canada Innovation Program to kick-start businesses and get their innovative products and services from the lab to the marketplace.
Announcing the government’s Venture Capital Action Plan to improve access to venture capital financing by high-growth Canadian companies, so that they have the capital they need to create jobs and growth.
Transforming the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) into an industry-focused research and technology organization.
Renewing the Automotive Innovation Fund by providing $250 million over five years (2013-2018) to automotive companies in Canada in support of strategic, large-scale research and development projects.
Launching the Growing Forward 2 policy framework (2013-2018) for Canada's agricultural and agri-food sector to ensure that Canadian producers and processors have the tools and resources they need to continue to innovate and capitalize on emerging market opportunities.
Launching the Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships Program to support the protection, restoration and rebuilding of recreational fisheries habitat.
Announcing new measures to further strengthen Canada’s pipeline safety record by adding new security and emergency management requirements.
Re-introducing the Offshore Health and Safety Act (Bill C-5) to strengthen safety in Canada’s offshore oil and gas industry.
Adopting the Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 1 (Bill C-60) and the Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2 (Bill C-4) to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 21, 2013, as well as other measures.
Lowering the annual deficit in 2012-13 to $18.9 billion – down by more than one-quarter from the deficit of $26.3 billion in 2011-12.
Reforming Public Sector Pensions by introducing a 50-50 cost sharing model for public service pension plan members, including Parliamentarians. The retirement age for new federal hires was also increased, effective January 1, 2013, from 60 to 65 years of age. Reforms will save Canadian taxpayers $2.6-billion over the next five years.
Ceasing distribution of the Canadian penny, and phasing-out pennies in circulation, saving taxpayers an estimated $11 million a year.
Investing $241 million over four years to help First Nation youth between the ages of 18 and 24 get personalized job and skills training.
Finalizing the federal loan guarantee for Nalcor’s Lower Churchill projects.
Supporting the development of innovative clean technologies, including by providing more than $82 million through Canada’s ecoENERGY Innovation Initiative for 55 projects aimed at producing and using energy in a cleaner, more efficient way; and announcing $76.5 million through Sustainable Development Technology Canada’s (SDTC) SD Tech FundTM for new investments supporting the development of innovative clean technologies.
Committing to establish new mandatory reporting standards for Canadian extractive companies with a view to enhancing transparency on the payments they make to governments.
Introducing the Northwest Territories Devolution Act, which will give Northerners greater control over their lands and resources, support economic growth and provide opportunities for Northerners.
Passing the Northern Jobs and Growth Act (Bill C-47), which empowers the people of Nunavut to manage land and resource development to fuel strong, healthy, self-reliant communities.
Support and Protect Canadian Families by:
Providing support to the community of Lac-Mégantic following the tragic train derailment in July 2013, including by providing expert advice to first responders; setting up mobile outreach services to provide access to Government of Canada programs and services, including Employment Insurance, Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security; and allocating $60 million to support the response and recovery efforts, as well as up to $95 million for decontamination efforts.
Consulting provinces and territories on the development of a National Disaster Mitigation Program to reduce the impacts of future natural disasters.
Introducing the Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act (Bill C-13) to address criminal behaviour associated with cyberbullying.
Releasing the Action Plan 2010-2015 for Canada’s Cyber Security Strategy. This action plan demonstrates the accomplishments to date under Canada’s Cyber Security Strategy and describes the government’s ongoing efforts to make cyberspace more secure for all Canadians.
Announcing an intent to introduce legislation the Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act; legislation that will better protect children against sexual exploitation.
Providing more than $2.2 million in support for Child Advocacy Centres across the country, including in Winnipeg, Calgary, Simcoe/Muskoka and Montréal.
Holding consultations across the country to discuss priorities on the development of a Canadian Victims’ Bill of Rights.
Adopting the Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act (Bill C-14) in the House of Commons, to ensure that public safety comes first in the decision-making process with respect to accused persons found Not Criminally Responsible on Account of Mental Disorder (NCR). The new legislation would also create a new designation to protect the public from high-risk NCR offenders and promote greater victim involvement.
Introducing the Safe Food for Canadians Action Plan to further improve Canada’s food safety system.
Introducing new patient safety legislation (Bill C-17) to protect Canadians and ensure that no drug that is unsafe is left on store shelves.
Launching the Plain Language Labelling Initiative, to make drug labels and packaging information easier to read and understand.
Working with the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada to put in place Automated External Defibrillators and related training in community hockey arenas across the country to help save lives.
Defending Canadian consumers by committing in the October 16, 2013 Speech From the Throne to: supporting greater competition in the wireless sector by addressing roaming costs on networks within Canada; providing Canadians with the opportunity to choose the combination of television channels they want by requiring that they be unbundled; and taking steps to address geographic price discrimination against Canadians. In 2013 the government introduced measures to promote more choice, lower prices and better service in Canada’s wireless market.
Ensuring that Canadians living in rural areas benefit from greater access to high-speed Internet services.
Introducing and advancing the Combating Counterfeit Products Act (Bill C-8), to protect Canadian consumers, Canadian manufacturers and retailers as well as the Canadian economy from the health and economic threats presented by counterfeit goods coming into Canada.
Making significant investments to improve First Nation water and wastewater systems, including by investing $330.8 million over two years to sustain progress made to build and renovate water and wastewater infrastructure on reserves, and to support the development of a long-term strategy to improve water quality in First Nation communities.
Promoting a better model of health service delivery for British Columbia First Nations by transferring all health programs and services previously administered by Health Canada to the new British Columbia First Nations Health Authority.
Delivering results to Aboriginal people and all Canadians by adopting key pieces of legislation, including: the First Nations Financial Transparency Act (Bill C-27), the Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act (Bill S-2), the Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act (Bill S-8), and the Yale First Nation Final Agreement Act (Bill C-62).
Adopting the First Nations Elections Act (Bill C-9) in the House of Commons, to address longstanding issues with the current election system under the Indian Act by extending the terms of office for chiefs and councils; introducing a more robust nomination process; adding penalties for defined offences and fraudulent activities; and raising the possibility for common election days among several First Nations.
Re-introducing the Respect for Communities Act (Bill C-2), which would require any potential applications for supervised drug consumption sites in Canada to meet clear criteria before such applications can be considered.
Adopting the Nuclear Terrorism Act (Bill S-9), to better respond to the threat of nuclear terrorism.
Adopting the Combating Terrorism Act (Bill S-7), to ensure that Canada has the tools it needs to anticipate and respond effectively to acts of terrorism.
Adopting the Safer Witnesses Act (Bill C-51), to improve the federal Witness Protection Program, and to help combat terrorism and organized crime.
Announcing a series of measures to enhance transportation safety, including an emergency directive to further enhance existing safe railway operations and the security of railway transportation; and, announcing a protective direction directing rail companies to share information with municipalities, to name a few.
Announcing a number of measures toward the creation of a World-Class Tanker Safety System, including the implementation of eight tanker safety measures along with the re-introduction of the Safeguarding Canada's Seas and Skies Act (Bill C-3), and the creation of a Tanker Safety Expert Panel to review Canada's current tanker safety system and propose further measures to strengthen it.
Bringing the provision of the Citizen’s Arrest and Self Defence Act (Bill C-26) into force, to expand the existing power to make a citizen's arrest.
Re-introducing and advancing the Tackling Contraband Tobacco Act (Bill C-10), to combat the trafficking and cross-border smuggling of contraband tobacco.
Put Canada first by:
Filing a submission with the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf in the Atlantic Ocean, to obtain international recognition for the outer limits of our extended continental shelf, and announcing our plan to do the work required to file a submission incorporating the full extent of Canada’s extended continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean, which includes a claim to the North Pole.
Supporting and strengthening the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), including by launching a major initiative – Defence Renewal – to reduce corporate overhead and inefficiencies, and to streamline business processes. The initiative is forecasted to generate between $750 million and $1.2 billion in savings per year by 2017-18, to be reinvested in Defence operational and front-line priorities.
Further investing in front line CAF capabilities, including by awarding subcontracts for the Light Armoured Vehicle III Upgrade and acquiring a new fleet of 15 medium-to-heavy lift Chinook F-model helicopters.
Continuing to make progress in the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Coast Guard Fleet Renewal.
Continuing to defend our national sovereignty in the Arctic by opening a Canadian Armed Forces Arctic Training Centre.
Keeping Prime Minister Harper’s 2007 commitment to expand and modernize the Canadian Rangers from 4,000 Rangers in 166 patrols to 5,000 Rangers. As of August 2013, there were more than 5,000 Rangers in 178 patrols, a 25 per cent increase since 2007.
Supporting our veterans by: announcing changes that will deliver increased benefits to traditional veterans; creating partnerships to prevent homelessness among veterans; establishing a number of collaborative initiatives to help veterans find employment after their military career; and introducing the Priority Hiring for Injured Veterans Act (Bill C-11), to provide medically released veterans injured in service to Canada the top level of priority consideration for job openings in the public service. The government is also committed to supporting the comprehensive review of the New Veterans Charter, with a special focus placed on the most seriously injured, support for families and the delivery of programs.
Announcing new measures to promote Canadian history, as we approach the 150th anniversary of Canada in 2017, including through support for Urbamania's “Deux rives, une męme musique,” a show featuring singers, musicians and artists commemorating the 400th anniversary of Samuel de Champlain's passage through the Ottawa region, his interaction with the first inhabitants of the country and the westward expansion of the French language.
Continuing to educate Canadians about the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 through the commemoration of key battles to honour our military heritage, such as the Battle of York, the Battle of Crysler’s Farm and the Battle of Châteauguay.
Signing a new agreement to keep the headquarters of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in Montréal.
Launching the Start-Up Visa program to provide sought-after entrepreneurs with permanent residency and access to a wide range of business partners.
Introducing the new Federal Skilled Trades Program to target workers abroad in skilled trades occupations in high demand. The program addresses serious labour shortages that some regions of the country are facing, and will help grow Canada’s economy.
Strengthening the integrity of Canada’s immigration system by adopting the Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act (Bill C-43).
Unveiling the Canadian High Arctic Research Station’s Science and Technology Plan for 2014 to 2019, which outlines the priority areas on which our cutting-edge High Arctic science and technology program will initially focus.
Promote Canadian values by:
Taking decisive action to provide emergency relief to the victims of Typhoon Haiyan, including by: providing more than $20 million towards emergency relief activities; deploying more than 300 members of the Canadian Armed Forces’ Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART); and creating a matching fund by which the government will contribute a dollar for each eligible dollar donated by individual Canadians to registered Canadian charities until December 23, 2013.
Providing an additional $180 million in humanitarian, development, and security assistance in response to the crisis in Syria in 2013, and also contributing $15 million in humanitarian assistance in response to the crisis in Mali.
Continuing to protect Canada’s national interests at home and on the world stage, including by deploying Canadian Armed Forces members to assist with flood relief efforts in Alberta; working with partners and allies for peace and security in the maritime environment of the greater Middle East region; and providing logistical support to France during their counter-terrorism operations in Mali. The government is also beginning to mark the end of Canada's mission in Afghanistan, with the last group of CAF personnel slated to return to Canada in March 2014.
Consistent with our Muskoka Initiative commitments, making significant contributions to improve maternal, newborn and child health in developing countries, including by: allocating $250 million between 2013 and 2018 to support the global goal of eradicating polio; committing $650 million over three years to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; committing $250 million for 28 new projects that will help save the lives of mothers, infants and children in Haiti, Africa and Asia; and committing $145.8 million for nine new initiatives that will strengthen the capacity of countries to address under-nutrition, particularly among mothers and children.
Establishing the Office of Religious Freedom, to encourage the protection of religious communities under threat around the world and to promote Canadian values of pluralism and tolerance.
Following the passing of Nelson Mandela, announcing the creation of the African Leaders of Tomorrow Scholarships Fund, in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation, as well as the Canada Graduate Scholarships to Honour Nelson Mandela. These scholarships will allow gifted Canadian students and early career public sector professionals from Africa to pursue further studies in Canada.
Within the G-8 context, initiating partnerships with Peru and Tanzania to further strengthen transparency in their extractive industries.
December 31, 2013
PMO Press Office: 12/31/2013