Yesterday, the Government of Canada unveiled its 2019 Federal Budget, Investing in the Middle Class. Though there are some measures in the budget that may benefit Timmins businesses and entrepreneurs, it also contains several measures that threaten competitiveness and growth, according to the Timmins Chamber of Commerce.

Budget 2019 includes several new spending measures targeted at first-time home buyers, additional support for skills training for workers, and increased access to high-speed internet to rural, remote and northern communities. Although Canada’s has outperformed many of its peers recently, the Timmins Chamber of Commerce has encouraged the federal government to take a fiscally prudent approach in the face of increasing economic uncertainty. “The competitiveness of our businesses — small or large — has never been more important than it is in the current global climate and we continue to call for governments to enact measures to encourage private sector capital investment and job creation,” said Nancy Mageau, President of the Timmins Chamber of Commerce.

“Businesses in Timmins and across Canada need a tax system that actually encourages investment, rather than make it more challenging or businesses to grow and thrive. Today’s budget makes it even more clear that Canada needs a complete and independent review of the federal tax system, and that’s something we will continue to work with our national partners to advocate for.”

However, Mageau added that there are some positive measures of interest to Timmins businesses in the budget, including:

• Multiple funding mechanisms to ensure that high-speed internet access is Canada-wide by 2030, with $1.7 billion specifically earmarked for rural, remote and Northern communities;
• $631.2 million to expand Work-Integrated-Learning (WIL) programs, with a view to create up to 20,000 new WIL opportunities outside of STEM-related fields;
• $150 million to create new partnerships between government and industry to create up to 20,000 new WIL opportunities; and
• Multiple funding mechanisms to enhance apprentice programs in skilled trades.

These items in particular stand as important means of addressing some prominent gaps, and will certainly prove beneficial for Timmins’ economy, said Mageau.

“We certainly appreciate some of the positive items that the government has introduced in this budget, but there are still too few measures to ensure that our businesses can remain competitive in an increasingly challenging global market. That also means that the Canadian economy itself must remain on strong footing, but that also means having a realistic plan to bring things back into balance.”

Some key items the Budget did not address, however, is a broad-based commitment to reduce the regulatory burden on businesses and a renewed commitment to eliminating inter-provincial trade barriers and mobility- something for which the Timmins Chamber strongly advocated in a policy resolution supported by the Canadian Chamber last April.

This concern was shared by Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, who said that there simply isn’t enough in the budget to address the changing fiscal reality for today’s entrepreneur.

“The core issues facing our economy that are driving away investment and suffocating our ability to attract top talent are broken taxation and regulatory systems and an inability to get our resources to tidewater. Without addressing the underlying, structural problems in our economy, we will not see the growth needed to create greater prosperity for Canadian families,” said the Honorable Perrin Beatty, President and CEO, Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

Heading into the 2019 Federal Election, the Timmins Chamber and Chamber network will continue to engage with Federal representatives to focus on reducing the overall taxation, regulatory burden, and workforce shortages as critical priorities for Timmins businesses to maintain competitiveness and prosperity.

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