By Mike Anderson

TORONTO — Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen say they recognize consumers are feeling the pain of high inflation and that their two countries are working together to combat price pressures by ensuring supply chains are more resilient. 

The pair spoke about the turbulent global economy at a joint news conference in downtown Toronto on Monday afternoon, which marks Yellen’s first trip to Canada as secretary of the Treasury. 

During the news conference, Freeland said there is a historic opportunity to ensure resiliency in supply chains after Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine marked the end of an era in global relations. 

“Our allies know that it’s worth strengthening our partnerships and building their supply chains with other democracies,” said Freeland.

The war in Ukraine has led to severe disruptions in the energy market and driven up oil prices globally. Yellen said better supply chains with allies will help create more price stability across the economy the long run.

“Both of our countries face high inflation driven by global factors like lockdowns in China and Russia’s war in Ukraine. Making our supply chains more resilient, including with partnerships with close trading partners and allies like Canada will help protect us against costly disruptions and shocks to the economy today and into the future.”

At their meeting, Freeland and Yellen said they discussed how to keep costs down for families on both sides of the border amid soaring consumer prices, as well as how the countries can continue to stand united against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, especially when it comes to restricting energy revenues to Russia. 

Both Freeland and Yellen emphasized the role of central banks in managing inflation, but acknowledged that governments have a part to play by keeping debt and deficits down.

Freeland said that federal government has moved to shrink spending, with a rate of fiscal consolidation matched only by the U.S. among G7 nations.

“Our government certainly respects the independence of the Bank of Canada, but we understand that fiscal policy has a role to play. That’s why we took this decision in April to pursue a path of really swift … fiscal tightening.”

She said the government decided to maintain the affordability measures in the April budget, and last year’s budget, rather than introduce new ones as inflation rises, in part to avoid further inflation stimulus. 

Last month, Statistics Canada reported the inflation rate for April rose 6.8 per cent compared with a year ago. That’s the highest since January 1991 but is lower than Britain, Germany and the United States.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 20, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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