June 23 (UPI) -- After struggling through the energy market downturn last year, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the best economic days lie ahead.
The prime minister addressed lawmakers with a mid-year progress report, saying pensions have improved, tax relief went to the middle class and more jobs were added to the Canadian economy.
"In the last year, the Canadian economy has created over 300,000 new jobs," he said in a statement. "We still have plenty of work to do, but as we get ready to celebrate the 150th anniversary of confederation, I am confident that Canada's best days lie ahead."
The Central Bank of Canada reported an inflation rate of around 1.6 percent for April, below its 2 percent target for growth. The nation's economy, which relies in part on exports of fossil fuels, was hit hard by the downturn in crude oil prices last year, though Deputy Gov. Carolyn Wilkins said that phase was in the rear-view mirror.
Trade issues with the United States, its largest trading partner, have created headwinds for the Canadian economy, through Trudeau's administration has reached out to his partners in Asia to break the North American landlock on oil exports. In February, a month after a U.S. president wary of the North American Free Trade Agreement took office, the European Parliament approved a free trade agreement with Canada.
"[The agreement] is a gold-standard agreement that will give consumers more choice, make it easier and less costly for businesses to compete, and create good, middle class jobs on both sides of the Atlantic," Trudeau said.
Trudeau touted the country's evolving environmental legacy, noting the country has strong commitments to climate change and introduced measures that ban crude oil tankers on the pristine north coast of British Columbia. The opposition New Democrats, however, said much of the prime minister's agenda, on climate issues in particular, have failed to deliver.
The government reported first quarter growth of around 3.7 percent for gross domestic product, beating the performance in the U.S. economy, the world's largest. The Central Bank cautioned, however, that headwinds remained as crude oil prices are almost $10 per barrel less than they were at this point last year.