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Budget 2019 Puts Business on the Sidelines

(Medicine Hat) March 20, 2019 – Yesterday’s federal budget fails to address the fundamental issues undermining the ability of Canada’s business owners to provide economic prosperity for all Canadians, according to an analysis by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Medicine Hat & District Chamber of Commerce.

 “While the Budget delivers on some of our advocacy priorities, particularly in the areas of skills and infrastructure, it fails to provide concrete measures to address the tax and regulatory burden on businesses, or the importance of getting our resources to market and receiving  full value for them,” said Sarah MacKenzie, 2018-2019 Medicine Hat & District Chamber of Commerce President. "Until these issues are addressed, we will struggle to grow our economy, create meaningful employment for more Canadians, and generate the revenues we need to sustain our roads, healthcare and education systems."
“We are concerned that this budget did not lay out a plan to return to balance as promised in the last election cycle,” added MacKenzie. “Our concern is that increased revenues are being spent instead of being put towards reducing the deficit. We want to ensure that we are in a strong fiscal position to combat any economic challenges we might face.” Looking into the future, the budget predicts a deficit of $19.7 billion for 2020-21 and $14.8 billion in 2021-22. The fall economic update had forecast a deficit of $19.6 billion for 2019-20, $18.1 billion for 2020-21 and $15.1 billion in 2021-22.
The Medicine Hat & District Chamber of Commerce is the local voice in a chamber network representing over 800 members in our community, 25,000 businesses provincially, through the Alberta Chambers of Commerce, and 200,000 businesses nationally encompassing all sectors of the economy across the country. On behalf of this network, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce had outlined several public policy priorities for the government in advance of the 2019 Budget.
The Budget did deliver on some of the Canadian Chamber’s policy proposals outlined in its Pre-Budget Submission, 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.
  • Multiple funding mechanisms to enhance apprentice programs in skilled trades.
However, the Budget did not address the key issues identified by businesses across Canada:
  • A commitment to a comprehensive review of the taxation system to make it fair and less cumbersome for businesses.
  • A broad-based commitment to reduce the regulatory burden on businesses.
  • A renewed commitment to eliminating inter-provincial trade barriers and mobility.
  • Support for SMEs to help them find new export opportunities and expand Canada’s ability to diversify its trade.
  • A clear strategy to move the Trans Mountain pipeline forward, given the significant investment made by Canadian taxpayers.
Some Budget 2019 proposals require more consideration and details before determining the impact on businesses:
  • The Budget identified funding programs to develop “regulatory roadmaps” to address stakeholder issues and irritants. While these efforts align with the chamber network’s interest in reducing the regulatory burden on Canadian businesses, the Budget proposals unfortunately maintain a lackluster, made-by-government solution to a made-by-government problem.
  • The new Canadian Training Credit and EI Training Support Benefits to support the up-skilling and re-skilling of Canadians align with the chamber network’s recommendations. However, the potential impact on small businesses remains unclear. We require more information and need to see a commitment to consult business before layering more costs onto already struggling businesses.
  • The Budget offered little new information regarding the national pharmacare plan. We support focusing on the 10% of Canadians that are uninsured or underinsured with a “fill in the gap” approach that will not create more administrative and cost burdens on business.
  • Our chamber supports making the Global Talent Stream program permanent and would like to see the program include a focus on bringing skilled immigrants to rural communities, where they are often most needed.
“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 Medicine Hat & District Chamber and Chamber network will continue to engage with Federal representatives to focus on reducing the overall taxation and regulatory burden on business and stress the importance of returning to balanced budgets. A vital and successful business community is comprised of citizens who live in and give back to their communities. We are dedicated to advocating for our members so that our region’s economic potential is recognized and enabled with the necessary tools to ensure the prosperity of our region, our province and all Canadians.
Please direct all media inquiries to:
Sarah MacKenzie, 2018-2019 President
Medicine Hat & District Chamber of Commerce
(403) 527-5214 ext.221

The Chamber of Commerce is a member-driven, volunteer-led organization, proudly representing the interests of businesses in our region, and working diligently to stimulate a strengthened and vibrant economy through our connections, support and influence. For more than 115 years, the Chamber has stood for promoting business, monitoring government and championing managed growth in the local economy. The Chamber represents over 800 businesses in our region and is aligned with both the Alberta Chambers of Commerce (ACC), which represents over 25,000 businesses and the Canadian Chambers of Commerce (CCC), which represents over 200,000 businesses. With the largest and most influential business organizations locally, provincially and federally, the Chamber network is the most unified, valued and influential business network in Canada and works together to shape policy and programs that will make a difference to businesses in our region.

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