Freeland argues Canadian economy is strong despite inflation during finance committee appearance

‘I do really want people to come away from today with an understanding that we have done a really good job as a country of managing what was a devastating crisis’

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OTTAWA – Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland says the Canadian economy is strong and has weathered COVID better than many other nations, while dismissing Conservative claims about inflation at a House of Commons committee Thursday.


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Freeland attended the finance committee as she attempts to get the government’s pandemic relief bill through the House of Commons and pick up the support of at least one opposition party to pass the bill.

Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre repeatedly asked Freeland to explain how the government will address inflation which is pushing up food prices and other costs across the country.

“Food prices are going to go up $1,000 this year for single mothers who can’t afford to pay their bills. Young people are living in their parents basements, because they can’t afford homes,” he said.

Freeland argued the country’s economy is strong and getting better as jobs return, GDP growth rises and the economy expands.


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“It’s really important for Canadians, not to be misled by a false narrative,” she said. “I do really want people to come away from today with an understanding that we have done a really good job as a country of managing what was a devastating crisis and what could have been much, much worse.”

Poilievre also repeatedly asked Freeland if Canada’s housing market, which has seen massive price spikes this year, is stable and if the country is heading for a housing crash.

She said it was dangerous for MPs to speculate that the economy was headed for a crash.

“To speculate irresponsibly and make assertions that could damage confidence in the Canadian economy is highly irresponsible, so let me just assure that our banks are very stable and that our government took steps last summer to ensure Canadians were not taking undue risk.”


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Despite the Conservatives concerns about the Liberals fiscal management, the Conservatives have not yet ruled out supporting the benefits bill. The party issued a series of demands for its support last week, which included Freeland’s appearance at committee, but also investigations in to whether some CERB payments went to organized crime.

Freeland described the government’s benefits bills as the last economic measure as Canada hopefully comes out of the pandemic and such supports will no longer be needed. The bill offers to extend wage and rent subsidy programs, but limits them to businesses in hard-hit industries like tourism and hospitality that still face steep revenue declines.

It also extends sickness benefits for people with COVID-19 and offers a benefit to workers who can’t work because their workplace is locked down or closed.


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She said especially with the new Omicron variant the government has to have support ready to go.

“There is a great deal of uncertainty and unpredictability. We need to keep and increase an insurance policy of lockdown support. Keep this targeted support for the hardest hit sectors

Freeland said she hopes that lockdown benefit isn’t necessary, but the government has to be prepared.

She said she is also committed to finding a way to extend supports to people working in the cultural industry. The Bloc Québécois has raised the issue as one of their key concerns with the pandemic benefit bill.

We do appreciate that this is a challenging situation

Freeland also said the government is looking to find a solution for seniors who face clawbacks to their guaranteed income supplement (GIS) payments. She offered no specific of when a change might be coming, but said the government was aware of the problem.


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“We do appreciate that this is a challenging situation. Seniors who received GIS are among the most vulnerable Canadians and they accepted the CERB at a time when the whole country was in crisis, and they really needed it,” she said.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh said there is no excuse for a delay in fixing the problem.

“There’s no reason why a senior on GIS, a vulnerable senior who doesn’t have enough resources to get by, should have their GIS clawed back because they needed help in the pandemic,” he said.

Singh said this problem should be addressed immediately, but said the party still can’t support the government’s pandemic benefits bill because it is cutting support while the pandemic is still underway.

“The Liberals are proposing to cut help to people while we still need to get people that support. And so that’s why we’re opposed to the bill.”

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