Brampton, ON, March 22, 2017 - Taking a wait and see approach on tax reform, the 2017 federal budget confirmed this government's focus on innovation and broadened its scope of infrastructure spending to include trade-enabling infrastructure. Social and environmental investments were the focus of the 2016 budget.
A commitment of $2 billion over 11 years to support a National Trade Corridors Fund is part of the 2017 Budget. "Enabling trade is enabling jobs," says Todd Letts, CEO of the Brampton Board of Trade. "Now, more than ever, investments that help facilitate better movement of goods and people both regionally and internationally will boost a slow-growth domestic economy." An additional $5 billion will be provided through the proposed Canada Infrastructure Bank and a commitment of $152 million this year for CATSA, Transportation Canada and the RCMP to ensure better passenger flow and security.
The budget included new commitments to boost job opportunities for women and indigenous people. "Brampton businesses know full well that encouraging greater diversity in workplaces drives innovative thought and sets Canadian companies ahead of global competition in many respects including new product and service development," says Todd Letts.
The most concerning part of the budget for local businesses is how the government intends to pay for expenditures promised in the 2016 budget. "Deficit financing can easily get out of control. A plan to balance the books before 2021 requires better commitment from this government." Letts said. The deficit is $28B in 2017 and is forecast to remain unbalanced - a deficit of $21B is forecast for 2020. "We can't continue to back-end load this spending on the next generation," says Todd Letts.
"Brampton businesses had hoped for announcements that would simplify the tax system in order to help existing businesses scale up." says Letts. "Uncertainty in U.S policy development has caused our government to hesitate. Although it is admirable that our government is aware of its comparative costs of doing business in Canada versus the United States, there is no need to delay simplifying the tax system and reducing the overall rate for small business."
With respect to innovation, $150 million was set aside to top up $800 million in expenditure committed in 2016. It is to be spent over 5 years through a Strategic Innovation Fund. Initiatives within the fund include a competition among clusters to determine which (advanced manufacturing; bio science etc.) will be prioritized for future funding. An additional $400 million was allocated for venture capital through the Business Development Bank.
Skills-training has received a commitment of $1.8 billion over 6 years. More money will be transferred to the provinces for skills training, funded through Employment Insurance which will mean higher premiums for businesses. Commitments to better labour market information has been made, a recommendation that helps businesses, colleges and universities better plan for job-creation and employer expectations of new graduates.
In all, this budget was modest in its new expenditures and initiatives largely because of the uncertainty of the current economy and the large expenditure commitments made in 2016. "The Brampton Board of Trade will be continuing conversations with local MPs to ensure measures to boost our regional economy," says Todd Letts.
The Brampton Board of Trade will host a post-budget breakfast: In Conversation with Finance Minister Bill Morneau on Friday March 31st. MPs Raj Grewal and Kamal Khera will also provide a local perspective. Details can be found at www.bramptonbot.com.
Todd Letts, MBA, CCE
CEO, Brampton Board of Trade
ABOUT BRAMPTON BOARD OF TRADE
Serving the community for 130 years, Brampton Board of Trade is the go-to organization where businesses of all sectors, convene, collaborate and create solutions to boost regional economic prosperity. We provide solutions to the toughest problems businesses face every day including overcoming barriers to growth, attracting and retaining talent and making the right connections.