Federal Budget: BC Chamber wary of continued federal deficits, welcomes key investments into tech, energy and skills

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Though wary of the ramifications of the continued federal deficit, the BC Chamber welcomes the federal government’s investments into technology and innovation, clean energy and skills training. 

Most notably, the BC Chamber is pleased to see an investment into the National Trade Corridors Fund to address urgent capacity constraints and freight bottlenecks at marine ports in British Columbia.

“The investment into the National Trade Corridors Fund is absolutely critical to expanding Canada's trade with Asia and we’re heartened to see the federal government putting a focus on increasing capacity for international trade,” said Val Litwin, President and CEO of the BC Chamber of Commerce. 

“That said, a $2-billion investment over eleven years is a drop in the ocean in terms of what we need to ensure we are trade-ready, and we would like to see more investment into trade-enabling infrastructure that is so vital to driving economic growth and improving Canada’s GDP.”

The BC Chamber is encouraged to see investment into public transit infrastructure, specifically $2.2 billion into lower mainland transit projects, which ultimately benefit the whole province by efficiently moving people through the lower mainland into the surrounding regions and beyond.

Here are some of the highlights from Budget 2017:

Innovation: $1.26 billion over five years to consolidate and simplify an existing 147 different business innovation funding programs and tax credits to create a more client-centric system that makes it easier for Canadian businesses to access targeted innovation funding. 

Technology: $950 million over the next five years to be provided on a competitive basis in support of a small number of business-led innovation “superclusters” that have the greatest potential to accelerate economic growth, specifically in advanced manufacturing, agri-food and digital technology.    

Clean Energy: The federal government has committed to doubling the federal governments investments into clean technology over the next five years, including $1.4 billion in new financing.

Skills Training: A $225 million investment into establishing a new organization to support skills development and measurement in Canada, which will help identify skills gaps in our economy. 

Domestic Trade: A collaborative effort by the provincial and federal governments to redefine rules and reduce barriers to trade within Canada, which includes a process towards liberalizing the trade of alcoholic beverages. This would benefit the B.C.’s wine industry, booming craft beer industry and burgeoning craft distillery industry. 

Tourism: Temporary funding of $37.5 million to Destination Canada will be become permanent. However, the 2017 Budget removes the GST rebate for foreign-tour operators. 

While the BC Chamber recognizes the positive investments made for Canadian businesses and appreciates the constrained fiscal environment the federal government is operating within, Litwin says that Budget 2017 leaves much to be desired.

“Many of the investments highlighted in this budget were a reallocation, repurposing or consolidation of funds and there is very little in new spending, which is a consequence of the federal government running a $28 billion deficit,” said Val Litwin. “We are also concerned that there is no clear path for the federal government to get to balancing the books, unlike here in B.C. where we recently applauded the Province for tabling its 5th consecutive balanced budget.”

The BC Chamber is the largest and most broadly-based business organization in the province.  Representing more than 125 Chambers of Commerce and 36,000 businesses of every size, sector and region of the province, the BC Chamber of Commerce is “The Voice of Business in BC.”

 

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For further details, please contact:

Neha Prihar
Communications Coordinator
BC Chamber of Commerce
T 604.638.8114
E nprihar@bcchamber.org