Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, alongside Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and fellow Members of Parliament, spoke to the media Friday to announce the completion of the Ronald McDonald House Toronto and to talk about the nation's domestic issues.
Ronald McDonald House Toronto
On Friday, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and several Members of Parliament helped welcome the completion of the Ronald McDonald House. The new facility, funded through Canada’s Economic Action Plan, will provide a temporary home for children who are suffering from serious illnesses and are being treated in hospitals in the city of Toronto.
The federal government committed more than $8.6 million to the construction of the new home located at 240 McCaul Street. It is located near several downtown hospitals and consists of 65 family bedrooms, 15 two-bedroom suites, a one-room school for elementary and secondary students and a program space.
Conservative Member of Parliament for Don Valley West, Jon Carmichael.
“As a minister responsible for the [Greater Toronto Area], I have been following this great project very closely for years now,” said the finance minister. “It has been wonderful to see so much generosity and so many people dedicated to helping families with children facing serious health challenges.”
Flaherty explained that despite the global recession and the European sovereign debt crisis, Canada is managing quite well compared to other advanced nations. “I think that’s a credit to our government’s focus on keeping taxes low, controlling spending and stimulating job creation and economic activity.”
Each House will include a full staff and volunteers, who will help complete the day-to-day operations. These Houses first began in the 1970s in the United States. In 1981, the Ronald McDonald House opened up in Toronto. There are now 12 Houses across Canada and nearly 300 Houses in 31 countries.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper shakes hands with the audience at the Ronald McDonald House in Toronto.
Following his formal remarks, the prime minister took questions from the media, which ranged from a variety of issues that face both the public and private sectors of the country.
The prime minister was asked if he will be leading the Conservative Party in the next election, which is slated for 2015. Harper responded that he would like to say yes, but the government isn’t talking about an election because the Canadian people gave them a majority.
Instead, said Harper, his government is focused on the economy and creating jobs.
“The economy will remain in the year to come the number one concern for this government. I think it needs to given the circumstances we see around the world,” said Harper, when asked what his long-term plans were for the federal government.
“But we will be looking, as we go forward into the next year, not just to do things that will hopefully immediately improve prospects for Canadians, but also things that will put our economy on a very good path for the generation to come.”
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks at a media event in Toronto.
It was reported Friday that Research In Motion hit an eight-year low in the stock market. The 11 percent drop came following the company’s announcement of its quarterly numbers, which were considered quite low.
Harper was asked how concerned he is about RIM’s situation. He responded that he won’t make comments regarding a private corporation, but he did call RIM “an important Canadian company” and wished them the best of luck.
“Obviously there are opportunities and there are challenges for management to address, but we all know this is an important Canadian company,” stated the prime minister. “And I obviously wish them all the best with the challenges.”
This week, Chiquita Brands, an American fruit producer, joined other companies in an effort to avoid using fuel from Alberta’s oilsands. The 13 companies, which include cosmetics juggernaut Avon and American drugstore chain Walgreen’s, say they are trying to reduce their carbon footprint.
The prime minister explained that the federal government will try to publish “real information out there” in order to fight incorrect information regarding the oilsands’ environmental impact.
“The fact of the matter is that emissions from our oilsands are comparable to other heavy oils and that the industry continues to invest and continues to find ways to reduce those emissions,” explained Harper. “It is absolutely clear if you look at the trajectory of world supply and demand of North American supply and demand that the need for this energy is just overwhelming.”