Finance minister vows to "do what it takes"

Thu Mar 26, 2009 9:00pm EDT
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By Rita Devlin Marier

MONTREAL (Reuters) - Canada's Conservative government will do whatever it takes to help Canadians through the worst global recession since the 1930s, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said on Thursday.

In a speech at McGill University in Montreal, Flaherty pledged to move as quickly as possible to roll out a stimulus package as of the start of the fiscal year on April 1.

"We must do what it takes now to protect Canadians during the current global storm," he said.

"The global situation is unprecedented, changing rapidly, at times its deeply unsettling."

Flaherty announced a C$40 billion ($32.5 billion) two-year stimulus plan in his budget in January. Parliament has since approved up to C$20 billion of that for 2009-10.

"These funds need to be spent now," Flaherty said.

As the economic outlook steadily worsens, opposition parties have begun hinting there may be a need for additional stimulus, and at the very least, further changes to unemployment benefits for displaced workers.

Flaherty has said recovery will only come to Canada once the global banking system is repaired, a theme Canada is likely to emphasize at the summit of G20 powers in London next week.   Continued...

<p>Finance Minister Jim Flaherty speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa March 26, 2009. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>