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Macleod MP says Canada remains ‘envy of the world’

Ted Menzies

Minister of State for Finance Ted Menzies, shown here speaking in the House of Commons, said Canada is poised for economic growth.

The man who helped build the country’s latest budget predicts a prosperous future for Canada.
Minister of State for Finance Ted Menzies told Rotarians on Wednesday the country is poised for economic growth.
“Our budget this year is focused on jobs and growth and most importantly long-term prosperity,” said Menzies, who is MP for the Macleod riding.
Menzies was guest speaker at the Rotary luncheon meeting at the Fort Macleod Midnight Stadium Agriplex concession.
Menzies told Rotarians the budget tabled last month by federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty builds on measures in previous Conservative budgets.
“Canada has come through this recession in an exemplary fashion,” Menzies said. “It is, I would argue, the envy of the world.”
As an example, Menzies cited recent discussions with a group of European bankers at a luncheon in Amsterdam.
The bankers told Menzies their clients wanted to know of opportunities to invest in Canada, because it is considered the safest and strongest economy.
“That’s the sense of it out there, and that was totally unsolicited,” Menzies said.
Menzies pointed out that for four years in a row Canadian banks have been recognized as being the strongest in the world.
“That’s something to be proud of,” Menzies said. “That’s come from successive governments.”
The world economy is still fragile, Menzies told Rotarians, which is why the budget is on the same track as the previous ones.
“But we’re now able to look father down the road,” Menzies added. “To be able to make the decisions that are going to keep the social systems, the support for industry growing in the manner that they should do without jeopardizing getting back to balance.”
The Conservative government intends to balance the budget by 2015-’16.
“There is a chance the way it’s going that we may balance a year earlier but, being Conservative, we wanted to make sure we weren’t putting pressure on any segment of society or any industries,” Menzies said.
Menzies told Rotarians the federal government will continue to increase health funding to the provinces at a rate of six per cent a year until 2017.
After that, funding will be tied to nominal gross domestic product plus inflation, an increase of four to five per cent.
“We think long-term that’s what needed to be done,” Menzies said.
The budget included changes to Old Age Security, with the age limit for eligibility rising to 67 years, from 65.
The change reflects the reality that in 1970, when Old Age Security was introduced, there were seven working Canadians for every person over the age of 65. In 2011 the ratio was four to one.
“By 2030, it will be two to one,” Menzies said. “So we’ve got a bit of a challenge.”
Funding for Old Age Security is predicted to increase to $108-billion a year in 2030, from $43-billion in 2011.
“There is a serious concern,” Menzies said.
The change in age of eligibility will be implemented slowly beginning in 2023, reaching 67 in 2029.
“Anyone who is 54 years old now isn’t going to see an iota of change,” Menzies said. “I won’t make any difference to them at all, and those younger than that will have lots of time to prepare.”
Another change is the federal government will automatically enroll people aged 65 in the Old Age Security program.
“You can’t believe the number of people who don’t apply,” Menzies said. “You pay for this all your life and if everyone else gets it, you deserve it too.”
People who at 65 are still employed can defer their Old Age Security benefits for up to five years and get a bigger cheque.
“This is the longest budget process I’ve ever gone through,” Menzies said of the sixth federal budget on which he worked.
The Conservatives cut $5.2-billion of ongoing spending from government programs with a total budget of $80-billion.
“That will help bring us back to balanced budgets,” Menzies said.
Those cuts will result in 12,000 jobs being lost in the federal public service.
Menzies pointed out each person will receive one year’s salary and support for retraining.
“They’re not being thrown out in the cold,” Menzies said.
Menzies also pointed out that each year about 13,000 people retire from the federal public service, whose numbers now total more than 400,000.

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