Finance minister encouraged by signs of economic revival

TORONTO — The recent revival of the Canadian real-estate market and a rise in consumer confidence are being heralded by federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty as positive signs for the economy.

TORONTO — The recent revival of the Canadian real-estate market and a rise in consumer confidence are being heralded by federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty as positive signs for the economy.

But Flaherty told a Toronto news conference Tuesday that he still expects only a measured and gradual recovery in the coming months.

In particular, Flaherty indicated he doesn’t expect a great improvement in employment figures in the immediate future despite the lower-than-expected number of job losses in June.

The unemployment rate rose to 8.6 per cent in July as thousands of people who lost their full-time jobs decided to start their own small businesses and become self-employed.

Flaherty said Canada remains in the most serious recession since the Second World War and improvements in things like employment tend to lag other aspects of a recovery.

However, Flaherty pointed to signs of progress, including government investment of billions of dollars in retraining and noted there are changes underway that are “transformational to the economy” including changes in the auto sector.

“The good news is things are stabilizing, there are encouraging signs, there is a brighter future ahead,” he said.

Flaherty was in Toronto to officially announce the launch of a national print and radio advertising campaign to raise awareness of the government’s Registered Disability Savings Plan, an initiative introduced several months ago.

The $1-million ad campaign began July 6 and is slated to run until the end of the month.

Department sources say that so far only 20,000 or just over 10 per cent of the 180,000 Canadians eligible for the tax savings, grants and other benefits under the program have so far opened RDSP accounts.

“We want all Canadians to be aware of the RDSP just as Canadians are well aware of the RRSP that’s been around since the 1950s and the RESP . . . that has been around 20 years or so,” Flaherty told an audience of reporters and others at Bloorview Kids Rehab in mid-town Toronto, Canada’s largest rehabilitation hospital for children.

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