2014-2015 federal budget: A number of interesting measures and positions, but some questions remain, in the Quebec Employers Council's opinion
OTTAWA, Feb. 11, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - The Quebec Employers Council believes the 2014 Economic Action Plan tabled today by federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is staked on continuity and responds overall to the concerns the business community in Québec and Canada have repeatedly raised in recent years in an effort to encourage wealth creation and economic prosperity. But, at the same time, the Council is still puzzled by some of the measures the government has decided to deploy to address these major challenges.
Return to a balanced budget and control of public spending
From the outset, the Employers Council underscores the desire of the federal government to stay on course for a return to a balanced budget in 2015-2016, primarily by continuing its efforts to rein in public spending growth without affecting transfer payments to the provinces. The Council also applauds the federal government's commitment to maintain an overall competitive tax rate for companies and individuals, especially in the area of payroll taxes, with the freeze on contribution rates in the employment insurance and public pension plans.
Employment and job training
In regard to the Canada Job Grant program, the Employers Council reiterates its support to the federal government to encourage a better matching of job skills and employers' needs. The Council takes issue, however, with the way the federal government has decided to take to attain this objective, even though improvements to the program have been announced, such as waiving the mandatory contribution by the provinces.
The Employers Council hopes that discussions to reach a new agreement on the labour market with the provinces, especially the province of Québec, will assert that the provinces must remain in charge of their respective programs and takes into account the models and structures some of the provinces have developed and are working well, particularly in Québec with the Commission des partenaires du marché du travail (CPMT). The federal government, meanwhile, could set the national job training guidelines and objectives.
Aiding research and innovation
The Employers Council endorses the establishing of the First Research Excellence Fund to encourage research. The Council hopes a fair share of the $1.5 billion over a 10-year span allocated to funding will serve to foster applied, as well as fundamental research to increase productivity, innovation and trade.
"Overall, this budget stays the course on a number of priority issues for employers and companies that have a real impact on the country's wealth creation and economic prosperity," remarked Ms. Norma Kozhaya, the Quebec Employers Council's Vice-President of Research and Chief Economist. "In some areas, especially in terms of employment and skills training, the federal government needs to remain open and attentive to the position of the other stakeholders who are involved, notably the employers and provinces, to respect each one's competencies and maintain models that are working well."
The Quebec Employers Council brings together many of Québec's largest companies and the vast majority of sector-based employers' groups, making it Québec's sole employer federation.
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