Prime Minister Stephen Harper today issued the following statement highlighting some of the Government’s major accomplishments in 2014:
“I am proud of what our Government has achieved for hard working Canadians and their families in 2014.
“Our Government announced measures that will put considerable money back in the pockets of Canadians through the doubling of the Children’s Fitness Tax Credit and making it refundable, the Family Tax Cut, the increased and expanded Universal Child Care Benefit, and the greater Child Care Expense Deduction limits. In fact the average benefit to Canadian families of measures announced in 2014 will be over $1,100 per year.
“Through major infrastructure initiatives under the New Building Canada Fund and other infrastructure initiatives/investments, the Government is committing billions of dollars to support projects in communities across the nation – including roads, bridges, transportation networks, airports, and rail service – generating tens of thousands of new jobs.
“The conclusion of free trade negotiations with both the European Union and Korea, together with substantial efforts to boost job training, Canada’s digital connectivity and research, innovation and the commercialization of ideas will also help generate job growth in Canada for years to come.
“We continued to live within our means, staying on course towards eliminating the deficit and promoting efficiencies so that we are on track, as promised, to balance the budget in 2015.
“Our Government also took significant measures this year to promote the safety and security of families both at home and abroad.
“In Canada, we introduced ground-breaking legislation which will ensure that innocent victims of crime have clear rights in our judicial system and tougher penalties for child predators. In the aftermath of the deadly attacks on Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Corporal Nathan Cirillo and on Canada’s Parliament, we have also begun work to ensure our laws and policing powers are strengthened.
“On the international front, we took a strong stance against Russian military aggression and expansionism in Ukraine. Canada is also contributing to the fight against the terrorist group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which threatens not just the Middle East, but Canada.
“We continued to lead global efforts in promoting the health of women and children in developing countries, including by hosting the highly successful Saving Every Woman, Every Child: Within Arm’s Reach Summit in Toronto, in May, where Canada further committed to improving the health of mothers and children from 2015 to 2020.
“Our Government also continued to strongly support Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself against those who would do it harm. I had the chance to deliver this message in person during a historical appearance before Israel’s Knesset in January, which was a deep honour.
“In the new year, our Government will continue to build on the remarkable achievements of 2014 with a view to delivering the prosperity, safety and well-being that Canadians deserve.”
Some of the Government’s most notable accomplishments this year include:
- Announcing new tax measures and benefits for hard-working Canadians and their families, including the Family Tax Cut, increasing the Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB) for children under age six, expanding the UCCB to children aged six through 17, and enhancing the Children’s Fitness Tax Credit by doubling the maximum amount that may be claimed effective for the 2014 tax year, and refundable as of the 2015 tax year.
- Creating jobs, economic growth and productivity by launching the $53 billion New Building Canada Plan, which will support the construction or renewal of provincial, territorial and municipal infrastructure.
- Concluding negotiations for the Canada-European Union Trade Agreement and concluding negotiations and securing passage of implementing legislation for the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement, Canada’s first free trade agreement in the Asia Pacific.
- Continuing to reduce the deficit to balance the federal budget in 2015. This has been partly achieved by the Government controlling direct program spending without compromising the delivery of priority services to Canadians.
- Hosting the Saving Every Woman, Every Child: Within Arm’s Reach Summit (May 28 to 30) and announcing Canada’s commitment of $3.5 billion from 2015 to 2020 towards Canada’s top international development priority: maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH).
Over the past year, the Government of Canada has delivered on its commitments to:
Create Jobs and Opportunities for Canadians through:
- Continuing to reduce the deficit to balance the federal budget in 2015. This has been partly achieved by the Government controlling direct program spending without compromising the delivery of priority services to Canadians.
- Announcing $5.8 billion in additional new investments to build and renew federal infrastructure assets and on-reserve schools across the country.
- Supporting coastal communities by investing $106 million in maintenance, construction, repair and dredging projects at small craft harbours across Canada.
- Concluding agreements with 12 provinces and territories for the Canada Job Fund, including the Canada Job Grant and a separate agreement with Quebec for the transfer of funds under the Canada Job Fund, which recognizes that the principles of the Canada Job Grant are already formally and legislatively entrenched in Quebec’s training system.
- Reforming the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to make sure Canadians are first in line for available jobs.
- Introducing a new generation of Labour Market Agreement(s) for Persons with Disabilities with the provinces and territories, to help Canadians with disabilities get jobs.
- Renewing, for a three-year period, the Targeted Initiative for Older Workers program.
- Introducing the Red Tape Reduction Act to enshrine the One-for-One Rule in law.
- Finalizing the renewal (2014 to 2019) of Gas Tax Fund Administrative Agreements with every province and territory.
- Launching SMART Advanced Technologies for Global Growth to help Southern Ontario’s manufacturers adopt advanced technologies, enhance productivity and expand global competitiveness.
- Launching Seizing Canada’s Moment: Moving Forward in Science, Technology and Innovation, Canada’s updated science, technology and innovation strategy.
- Launching the Canada First Research Excellence Fund, a $1.5 billion legacy investment to enable Canadian post-secondary institutions to excel globally in research areas that create long-term economic advantages for Canada.
- Introducing the New Small Business Job Credit which will lower small businesses’ Employment Insurance premiums.
- Launching the Business Innovation Access Program that will help small and medium-sized businesses access the business and technical services they need to get innovative products and services to market faster.
- Introducing Canada Small Business Financing Program regulation amendments to help reduce red tape, curb fraud and increase the amount of financing available to small and medium-sized businesses.
- Securing passage of the Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act. Announcing that the minimum grain volume requirements will be extended until March 28, 2015.
- Opening the world’s first cellulose filament production facility at the Kruger mill in Trois-Rivières, Quebec.
- Opening the Carbon Capture and Storage project at the Boundary Dam in Estevan, Saskatchewan.
- Announcing a new extractive sector strategy to help Canadian companies promote Canadian values and operate abroad with the highest ethical standards, strengthen their Corporate Social Responsibility practices, and maximize the benefits their investments can provide to those in host countries.
- During the 2014 Northern Tour, announcing the National Research Council Arctic Program, as well as measures to promote northern agriculture and fresh food production in the region; launching the construction of the Canadian High Arctic Research Station; sailing the Northwest Passage as part of the Victoria Strait Expedition; announcing an important investment to boost high-speed Internet in Nunavut and Nunavik; and participating in Operation NANOOK 14, as part of the Government’s efforts to assert Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic.
- Started construction on the Inuvik to Tuk Highway Project, a 137 kilometre all-season highway between the two towns in Northwest Territories that will link the Arctic Ocean for the first time to the national highway system.
- Announcing Canada’s International Education Strategy, a key component of Canada’s new Global Markets Action Plan.
- Providing additional support of up to $25 million over the next four years to complete the Trans Canada Trail, a 24,000 kilometre recreational trail which winds through every province and territory from coast-to-coast-to-coast.
- Launching the $10 million National Recreational Trails Program to help expand and rehabilitate Canada’s snowmobile, all-terrain vehicle and non-motorized trail system.
- Creating the Major Projects Management Office West to enable the Government of Canada and First Nations to collaborate on energy infrastructure development.
- Signing more than 20 commercial agreements valued at more than $2.5 billion between Canadian and Chinese companies that will increase trade, create jobs and bolster economic opportunities for Canadian workers.
- Launching the Canada-United States Regulatory Cooperation Council Joint Forward Plan which sets the stage for fundamental changes in the way regulatory departments and agencies in both countries work together.
- Achieving progress on the Beyond the Border Action Plan between Canada and the United States.
- Signing a Memorandum of Understanding on energy cooperation between Natural Resources Canada and the United States Department of Energy to expand our energy collaboration and achieve greater energy security.
- Developing Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (FIPAs) with Kuwait, Benin and China, bringing the total of Canada’s FIPAs around the world to 28.
- Securing passing of the Canada-Honduras Free Trade Agreement.
Support and Protect Canadian Families by:
- Announcing an increase to the Child Care Expense Deduction dollar limits by $1,000, effective for the 2015 tax year.
- Launching the Canadian Employers for Caregivers Plan which involves consultations with employers from across Canada to identify cost-effective workplace practices for informal caregivers, helping them to achieve a better balance of work and caring responsibilities.
- Increasing access to EI sickness benefits for parents of critically-ill children and claimants receiving compassionate care benefits.
- Increasing the maximum amount of the Adoption Expense Tax Credit to $15,000.
- Taking action to strengthen the existing framework for federally-regulated private pension plans.
- Introducing legislation to create a Canadian Victims Bill of Rights.
- Introducing legislation to better protect children from a range of sexual offences and exploitation at home and abroad, including securing passage of the Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act to give police the modernized tools they need to protect Canadians, in particular children and youth, from acts of cyberbullying.
- Securing passage of the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act to protect and safeguard our communities (in particular women, children, and those who are at risk of being drawn into prostitution) from the dangers associated with prostitution, including violence, drug-related crime, and organized crime.
- Introducing Canada’s new Inspection Verification Teams, which will oversee the performance of Canada’s food safety system.
- Introducing the issuing of monetary penalties to businesses that do not meet Canada’s meat safety regulations.
- Launching Digital Canada 150 to help Canadians have access to high-speed Internet, secure the communications networks and devices that connect Canadians from foreign threats, and promote Canadian content online.
- Introducing the Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act to cut unnecessary red tape for law-abiding firearms owners, incorporate mandatory safety training for new firearms license applicants and enhance measures to prevent the criminal use of firearms.
- Providing ongoing support to the community of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, following the tragic train derailment in July 2013.
- Improving Canada’s railway safety system through a broad range of measures, including removing the least crash-resistant DOT-111 tank cars from circulation, ensuring industry is conducting route planning and analysis, conducting more frequent Safety Management System audits, and ensuring all transportation of high-risk hydrocarbons (including petroleum products) have associated Emergency Response Assistance Plans. In addition, requiring railway companies to meet standardized requirements for hand brake application and put into effect additional physical defences to secure trains.
- Introducing new regulations for identifying stronger requirements for labeling shipments of dangerous goods in transport and new monetary penalties to strengthen railway safety enforcement.
- Securing passage of the Offshore Health and Safety Act to enhance safety standards for workers in Canada’s Atlantic offshore oil and gas industry.
- Launching the National Conservation Plan and $252 million in additional investments over five years to secure ecologically sensitive lands, support voluntary conservation and restoration actions, and strengthen marine and coastal conservation, as well as wetlands.
- Providing $305 million over five years to extend and enhance broadband Internet service for Canadians in rural and Northern communities.
- Encouraging competition and lower prices by capping wholesale domestic wireless roaming rates.
- Releasing the Government’s Action Plan to Address Family Violence and Violent Crimes Against Aboriginal Women and Girls.
- Creating a national DNA-based Missing Persons Index to assist law enforcement in investigations and help bring closure to the families of missing persons through DNA matching.
- Improving water treatment and water delivery systems for several First Nations communities, including, Six Nations of the Grand River, Serpent River First Nation, Woodstock First Nation, Buctouche First Nation, Tallcree First Nation, Black River First Nation, the Halalt First Nation, the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, and the Whispering Pines/Clinton and Upper Nicola Indian Bands.
- Providing a total of $133.7 million this year and next year in direct subsidies for nutritious foods for Northerners in remote communities.
- Introducing the provisional federal rules in the Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act, to ensure that women, children and families living on First Nation reserves have access to the same matrimonial rights as other Canadians living off reserves.
- Taking action to ensure First Nations have access to information detailing how public funds are spent in their communities.
- Bringing into force anti-spam legislation to protect Canadian consumers from the most damaging and deceptive forms of spam and online threats, such as identity theft, phishing and spyware, and help drive out spammers.
- Launching Connecting Canadians to bring high-speed Internet to an additional 280,000 Canadian households in rural and remote regions of the country.
- Bringing into force the Fairness at the Pumps Act, to protect Canadian consumers against unfair retail practices.
- Securing voluntary commitments from Canada’s eight largest banks to enhance low-cost bank accounts and offer no-cost accounts to a wider range of eligible consumers.
- Working to develop a national strategy to strengthen the financial literacy of Canadians.
- Securing voluntary agreements from Visa and MasterCard to reduce credit card acceptance fees.
- Helping to establish North America’s first offshore renminbi centre in Canada.
- Financial sector initiatives: expanding access to low cost and no cost bank accounts, voluntary reductions on credit card interchange fees, measures to improve financial literacy.
- Improving the fairness and integrity of the tax system, and strengthening tax compliance.
- Taking action to further strengthen Canada’s world-class tanker safety system.
- Renewing the national Homelessness Partnering Strategy using a Housing First approach and a commitment of approximately $600 million over five years.
- Starting to transparently publish drug safety reviews to improve the openness of Health Canada’s findings and decisions.
- Undertaking consultations with Canadians to find ways to improve the way nutritional information is presented on food labels.
- Securing passage of the Protecting Canadians from Unsafe Drugs Act (Vanessa’s Law) to better protect the health and safety of Canadians.
- Taking action with all levels of government to stop the spread of the Ebola virus disease to Canada and improve current safety measures. This includes deploying mobile laboratories to Sierra Leone to assist with the outbreak response.
- Launching a Canadian Phase I clinical trial for Canada’s Ebola vaccine. This includes testing the experimental vaccine in the hopes of generating valuable information about the use of the vaccine in older adults.
- Launching the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging, a national initiative aimed at tackling the growing onset of neurodegenerative diseases.
Put Canada First by:
- Marking of a National Day of Honour for those who served in Afghanistan.
- Continuing to implement the Canada First Defence Strategy, including the delivery of 15 new Chinook heavy-lift helicopters to the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), announcing the intent to acquire a fifth C-17 strategic transport aircraft for the RCAF, and moving forward on the delivery of the new CH-148 Cyclone helicopters to replace the Sea King fleet starting in 2015.
- Continuing to implement the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy, including continued progress on the design of the Royal Canadian Navy’s Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS) and the Offshore Fisheries Science Vessels for the Coast Guard with a view on placing the first orders for both fleets in 2015.
- Awarding a $137.8 million contract to General Dynamics Canada of Ottawa for upgrades to the Canadian Armed Forces’ combat net radios and vehicle interface units, which will be employed in the Canadian-built LAV III light armoured vehicles, among other assets.
- Continuing to advance the new Defence Procurement Strategy to ensure that the CAF are provided with the equipment they need in a timely and cost-effective way and with a focus on securing the strongest benefits in terms of high-quality jobs for Canadian industry.
- Taking measures to defend Canada against terrorists of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), including attacks inspired by ISIL against Canadian military personnel and against Parliament. This has involved deploying hundreds of CAF personnel, as well as fighter aircraft and other equipment, to support and conduct coalition air strikes in Iraq as part of the international coalition against ISIL. CAF personnel are also providing crucial advice and assistance to Iraqi and Kurdish forces combating the terrorist group and its allies in Iraq. These actions are in addition to substantial humanitarian assistance that has been provided to help Iraqi civilians who have been subject to the crimes and brutality of ISIL.
- Announcing new and expanded mental health initiatives for veterans, serving military members and their families to strengthen Canada’s world class treatment, care and research for CAF members and veterans.
- Launching the Veterans Affairs Mental Health Services for Veterans Action Plan to further improve an already strong continuum of mental health supports and services.
- Advancing legislation that would improve job opportunities for Veterans in the federal public service
- Providing eligible veterans, survivors or dependents with compensation for Earnings Loss, Canadian Forces Income Support and War Veterans Allowance benefits dating back to May 29, 2012.
- Introducing the Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act which will strengthen Canadian laws to prevent barbaric cultural practices from happening on Canadian soil.
- Securing passage of reforms to the Citizenship Act. The reforms will help ensure that new citizens are better prepared for full participation and integration into Canadian society, with the goal of fostering in new Canadians a stronger attachment to Canadian values and traditions.
- Discovering Her Majesty’s Ship Erebus, one of the ill-fated Franklin Expedition ships lost in 1846.
- Inaugurating the War of 1812 Monument on Parliament Hill to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 and recognize the courage and bravery of those who successfully defended their land in the fight for Canada.
- Welcoming the 2014 Royal Tour by Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall in May 2014, which included stops in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Manitoba.
- Welcoming the 2014 Royal Tour by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal (Princess Anne) and Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence.
- Providing up to $500 million in support for the staging of the Toronto 2015 Pan and Parapan American Games and launching the Federal Cultural Strategy for the 2015 Pan and Parapan American Games.
- Securing passage of the Northwest Territories Devolution Act to support the Government’s commitment to recognize the Northwest Territories’ political evolution and give Northerners the tools and political freedom to build a strong and prosperous North and a strong and prosperous Canada.
- Securing passage of legislation to make Nááts’ihch’oh National Park Reserve Canada’s 44th National Park.
- Introducing legislation to formally establish Rouge National Urban Park as Canada’s first urban national park, located in the Greater Toronto Area.
- Establishing Ukkusiksalik National Park under the Canada National Parks Act.
- Introducing the Multi-Sector Air Pollutants Regulations to regulate industrial air pollutant emissions.
- Hosted a successful year as Chair of the Arctic Council. Hosted a series of international meetings and workshops across Canada’s three territories, including the inaugural meeting of the Arctic Economic Council, in support of our theme, Development for People of the North.
- Taking further action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to provide cleaner air for Canadians through lower air pollutant emissions from cars and trucks.
- Taking action to prevent fast-growing emissions.
- Announcing permanent renewal of arts funding as part of a larger announcement of permanent funding renewal for cultural programs that include the Canada Book Fund and the Canada Music Fund.
Promote Canadian values by:
- Announcing that Canada and its partners have founded the Global Financing Facility For Every Woman Every Child, a global resource to finance health services for women and children in developing countries and to help ensure that maternal, newborn and child health remains a top priority in the post-2015 agenda. Also announcing specific support for civil registration and vital statistics systems in developing countries, which is the bedrock of accountability for women’s and children’s health.
- Contributing $150 million over five years to the Micronutrient Initiative, which will support direct, evidence-based and cost-effective nutrition interventions. The efforts will help to avert up to 200,000 child deaths and prevent 100,000 cases of mental impairment each year.
- Providing $500 million in new support towards life-saving vaccines for children around the world through the GAVI Alliance, a global health partnership representing stakeholders in immunization from both the private and public sectors.
- Confirming Canada’s support for the important work of La Francophonie in advancing stability, democracy and prosperity for developing Francophonie nations and welcoming the confirmation of Madame Michaëlle Jean, Canada’s former Governor General, as new Secretary General for the organization. Madame Jean is well placed to lead the organization in the 21st century.
- Providing additional support of $150 million to respond to increasing humanitarian needs in Syria and neighbouring countries stemming from the Syria crisis that began in March 2011.
- Prime Minister Harper receiving the Rotary Foundation Polio Eradication Champion Award, for his longstanding support and continued leadership in efforts to eliminate polio around the world, including the Government of Canada disbursing $297 million to support polio eradication efforts since 2006, namely through the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
- Taking numerous measures to support Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression and expansionism, including sanctions against Russian and Ukrainian individuals and entities, support for Ukraine’s economic and social development, the providing of non-lethal security supplies to Ukrainian security forces, as well as support through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to build up the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Canada also provided hundreds of election observers to both presidential and parliamentary elections in 2014.
- Participating, through the Canadian Air Task Force, in the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission to respond to any intrusions of Baltic air space (from September to December 2014).
- Announcing that individual Canadians have contributed over $85 million in eligible donations that the Government of Canada has matched through its Typhoon Haiyan Relief Fund.
- Continuing to strongly support Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself against those who would do it harm, including during Prime Minister Harper’s historic address to Israel’s Knesset on January 20, 2014.
- Taking a whole-of-government approach to help fight the Ebola virus disease in West Africa. Canada has committed a total of $113.4 million to the efforts to support health, humanitarian and security interventions to address the spread of the disease.
- Marking important milestones on the Road to 2017 including commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the start of the First World War, the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown and Quebec Conferences, the 200th anniversary of the birth of Sir George-Étienne Cartier as well as the 75th anniversary the start of Canada’s engagement in the Second World War.
- Introducing the Extractive Sector Transparency Measures Act to establish reporting and transparency standards, and to deter corruption in the extractive industry.