NEWS

Stephen Harper says falling oil prices will not throw government off course

01/22/2015 02:48 EST | Updated 03/24/2015 05:59 EDT
Prime Minister Stephen Harper says falling oil prices may force the government to make some adjustments, but won't change its course over the long term.

"We live in a world of volatility and these things are creating some shocks that will impact us, but they're not going to throw us off our fundamental growth path, Harper said in St. Catharines, Ont., on Thursday.

Harper's comments come a day after the Bank of Canada cut its interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point and revised growth projections, citing the harm from falling oil prices on the Canadian economy.

The central bank cut its forecast for economic growth for 2015, but projects more growth in 2016 assuming oil prices average $60 US a barrel over the next two years. 

Asked whether further stimulus was needed in light of the Bank of Canada's cut to its overnight lending rate, Harper said no.

"In terms of fiscal policy, the appropriate action is to make sure that as long as the Canadian economy continues to grow, we balance our budget."

The opposition parties have accused the Conservatives of not having a backup plan after the government decided to delay its spring budget until at least April in the face of plunging oil prices and market volatility.

Harper said the government would continue with its plan to help small and medium businesses grow and keep taxes low.

"This is the formula that has made the Canadian economy one of the most stable and solid in the world, it's the formula that has given us two million net new jobs in a time of incredible volatility."

More money for small businesses

Harper was in southern Ontario to announce a new program to make it a little easier for small businesses to access certain financing.

​Most companies with gross annual revenue of $10 million or less — up from $5 million — will now be eligible under the Canada small business financing program.

They can borrow up to $500,000 each.

The changes will allow more small businesses to borrow money to buy or improve land or buildings.

He said the program, which aims to help new businesses get started and existing ones to grow, will help create jobs.

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