Also on the local front, mining and oil and gas have helped to ensure communities like Fort Nelson and Chetwynd, which were hit by forest layoffs, are now experiencing growth and excellent employment numbers. Likewise, the economies of Fort St. John, Dawson Creek, and Tumbler Ridge are thriving. The significant challenge in many areas is actually the severe shortage of skilled and unskilled labour. Yet, aside from the positive activities I’m viewing locally, the hard economic facts indicate Canada overall is thus far resistant to the economic storm to the south.While many countries are seeing their economies shrink, the Bank of Canada has forecast economic growth for our nation this year at one per cent. Plus, Canada has the fastest employment growth among G7 countries, which has contributed to one of the highest standards of living in the world. Not bad in the midst of these tough global markets.Advertisement MP Report by Jay Hill, M.P.Local and National Economy on Solid FootingI’m feeling optimistic about Canada’s economy. – Advertisement -We’re certainly not immune to the current challenges facing the global economy. Our forest-dependent communities like Mackenzie are harsh evidence of that, and all levels of government continue to focus on ways to turn those local economies around. The fact that certain sectors of our economy are slowing should come as no surprise. Canada is not an island. However, I believe Canada is well-positioned to weather the global economic turmoil and to keep building towards future growth and prosperity.I admit, I wondered if perhaps my positive outlook was influenced by the past number of weeks spent travelling throughout the most beautiful riding in the country and talking to the “can-do”, hard-working people who make northeastern BC their home. Who wouldn’t feel hopeful under those circumstances?Advertisement Our Conservative Government’s fiscal management plan that for two-and-a-half years has been laying the ground work for growth while ensuring we are prepared for leaner times, is a major contributor to Canada’s comparatively brighter future.We have created an environment that rewards hard work, encourages growth and spurs further job creation through broad-based, permanent tax relief, significant and aggressive debt reduction and a new fiscal management that delivers focussed and controlled government spending. We delivered almost $200-billion in tax relief for individuals, families and businesses. And we’ve invested heavily in vital infrastructure so that communities don’t have the added worry of a future with the crumbling bridges, roads and highways that impede growth and potential.In the coming months, we expect revenue growth will pick-up and spending growth will moderate. And yes, we expect a more modest surplus in 2008-2009. Recent “warnings” and criticism that Canada’s budgetary surplus will be smaller this fiscal year puzzles me. A massive surplus is NOT a positive indicator. Massive budget surpluses are created by massive over-taxation … that’s your hard-earned money! The last thing our economy needs in an uncertain global climate is massive new taxation, like the kind proposed by all of the three federal opposition parties. The Conservative Government has delivered three consecutive balanced budgets and we will continue to do so … but it won’t be done on the backs of taxpayers!