Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland will deliver her first major speech since the budget today to outline the programs her government has introduced to deal with rising inflation.
“The Deputy Prime Minister’s address will focus on the global challenge of inflation and the real, tangible steps the federal government is taking to make life more affordable for Canadians.” Freeland press secretary Adrienne Vaupshas said in an email.
Freeland is expected to use his speech to the Empire Club in Toronto to give his assessment of the state of the economy and explain how he views measures introduced by his government to help Canadians make ends meet.
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Those measures include increases to the Canada Child Benefit, Old Age Security, the Canada Housing Benefit and the Canada Workers Benefit.
An official speaking in the background said changes to the Workers’ Benefit could increase annual payments by as much as $2,400 for low-income workers.
The official said the speech will also discuss the Bank of Canada’s role in keeping the economy stable and the government’s plans to manage debt and increase competitiveness and productivity in the medium term.
Conservative leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre accused the Bank of Canada and its current governor, Tiff Macklem, of worsening inflation through their pandemic-era quantitative easing policy. He has also promised to fire Macklem if he becomes prime minister, a promise that has drawn criticism from some who say the Conservative MP is unfairly politicizing an institution that has always operated on the fringes of partisan politics.
The programs Freeland is expected to discuss in his speech are not new: They were all outlined in the budget. The finance minister is expected to argue that such programs will address the affordability crisis plaguing the country.
Opposition criticizes repeated announcements
The NDP and the Conservatives have been lobbying the Liberal government on the inflation issue for weeks. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh told the House of Commons during question period on Wednesday that re-announcing programs that were disclosed in the budget is not enough.
“One in four Canadians will lose their homes if interest rates continue to rise. One in four Canadians is going hungry because they can’t afford food,” Singh said.
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“The Chancellor of the Exchequer is going to give a speech…that was supposed to respond to their needs, but instead it’s going to be a new announcement of previous measures, none of which will help people at this point.”
Singh said the federal government must take action to help people immediately by providing direct financial support to families.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that while programs like the federal childcare scheme were put in place months ago, their financial effects are only being felt now that they are starting to kick in.
In a speech on Wednesday, caretaker Conservative leader Candice Bergen said the Liberal government needs to make temporary cuts to GST and carbon taxes on fuel and diesel.
“That would go a long way in bringing down the cost of gasoline and, frankly, everything else,” he said.