September 20, 2020
With summer almost behind us, I hope you had a chance to put your feet up, ideally in some of our province’s special and nature-infused places, and reconnect with family and friends. I spent regenerative time at a very rustic Lasqueti Island cabin – although with solar power and broadband available, work is always at hand! I have been reflecting on lessons of the past six months. One lesson is that information technology, or digital, is at the heart of everything government offers. A program like CERB for example was effective because it was designed to be delivered quickly and be simple to access. Digital was at the heart of that. The COVID-19 Benefits Finder, COVID Alert exposure notification app, the app enabling you to regularly “Get Updates on Covid 19” from the Government of Canada…why can’t every transaction you have with government be that easy! My focus as Minister of Digital Government is to develop and champion a plan for accelerating the digital government transformation so as to make all sorts of formerly frustrating transactions with the federal government – benefits, documents, permissions, taxes, for example – faster, better and easier for you.
This past week was spent in Ottawa, including 2 full days working with cabinet colleagues to lay out our government’s vision for Canada’s recovery, which will be presented in the September 23rd Throne Speech. There’s been much anticipation and media commentary. However, the multiple MPs in quarantine due to recent positive COVID-19 tests of the Conservative and Bloc Party Leaders, reminds us all that Canada is not out the other side of this pandemic yet. Canadians’ health and safety must continue to be our top priority.
In considering how, and how much, to continue financial support for Canadians and impacted organizations, I want to share the perspective of former Parliamentary Budget Officer, Kevin Page. “The economics of deficits have changed” he notes. With historically low interest rates, it is financially viable to run high deficits in order to launch a bold economic recovery. It is worth noting as well that Canada’s projected federal Debt-to-GDP ratio is small compared to other advanced economies (see chart below). However, this opportunity comes with a significant responsibility to target spending to areas that 1) need the help the most, and 2) will substantially benefit from capital injection. This is why our government is considering not only immediate needs, but long-term aspirations – fostering equality and opportunity, improving safety nets for the most vulnerable, acting to achieve ambitious climate change targets, while setting the foundation for future economic competitiveness and vitality.
If you’re interested in reading more on this, Mr. Page’s recent article be found at this link.
In case you missed it:
Enjoy the rain laundering Vancouver’s smoky skies, and have a wonderful weekend!
The Hon. Joyce Murray, P.C., M.P.
Member of Parliament for Vancouver Quadra
Minister of Digital Government
P.S. Do you know someone who might like to receive my weekly updates? They can go to www.joycemurray.ca and click the "Get Updates" button to be added to my email list.