Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Canada's Economy Needs a Jump-Start

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Canada's Economy Needs a Jump-Start

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Canada's economy needs a jump-start

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An editorial from the Toronto Star, published Jan. 18:

With Canada's economy facing a harder uphill climb than even three months ago, it only makes sense to change gears. Additional and immediate traction is necessary light of the slipping loonie, shaky stock market, skidding oil prices, and a worrying downturn in the value of other commodities.

A faster, bigger investment in much-needed infrastructure might well provide the push the country needs to power through hard times. With that in mind, Canadians should welcome news that the Liberal government is "actively considering" speeding up its promised spending on infrastructure projects.

This would almost certainly result in a higher-than-anticipated deficit next year, but demanding times require bold measures. And there's no doubt Canada's prospects are difficult indeed.

Still struggling to cope with a steady erosion of manufacturing jobs in Ontario, the economy has seen oil prices plunge lower than they've been in more than a decade. That's been especially damaging for Alberta, but the effects are spreading across the country.

Other commodities have lost value too, driving down the loonie. It sank below 69 cents U.S. on Friday for the first time since 2003. The stock market is stumbling as well.

A big reason for all this grief is economic turmoil in China, a huge market for Canada's raw materials. That instability is unlikely to end anytime soon, and it's impossible for any government in Ottawa to fix.

Federal officials can, however, do more to stimulate economic activity and job creation. That's where judicious use of infrastructure spending could be particularly useful.

A huge increase in that kind of spending was the main plank in the Liberal campaign platform. But it was meant more as a long-term commitment to address chronic needs than as a speedy response to deteriorating economic conditions.

About $60 billion is to be spent on infrastructure projects over the coming decade. But only about $17.4 billion of that, not even one-third, is planned for the next four years. And stimulus is needed now.

According to The Canadian Press, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government is looking at advancing its original spending schedule, given the worsening economic outlook. …

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