OTTAWA, March 20, 2019 /CNW Telbec/ - The CPQ (Conseil du patronat du Québec) generally welcomes the new measures aimed at the labour force, first-time home buyers, municipal infrastructure support, and R&D credit upgrades, as well as the leg up for digital infrastructure. It notes, however, that too little was done to stimulate business productivity and competitiveness, and that nothing was presented in terms of balancing the budget despite Canada's good economic growth performance.
"In the final year of its mandate, the government has chosen to table a budget with measures that may be well received by certain segments, but which involves much new spending. We also worry that the lack of concrete measures aimed at stimulating the competitiveness of our business environments, as well as the broken promise with regard to balancing the budget, will stall the establishment of a solid economic footing to help weather difficult times that may lie ahead," explains Norma Kozhaya, CPQ Chief Economist and Vice-President.
With regard to current labour force shortages —the central concern of employers— the CPQ positively views the measures aimed at removing some of the obstacles to job integration and employee retention, namely through new incentives for experienced workers, the expansion of on-site job training, as well as the Canadian Training Benefit offering workers a job training tax credit. Changes to the Employment Insurance program will also offer workers a partially paid leave to pursue job training. Still, the CPQ would have liked to see employment insurance contribution credits offered to all employers.
The CPQ calls attention to the $2.2 billion set aside to give municipalities new elbow room for earmarked infrastructure projects, such as those supporting public transit, and makes note of the new incentives proposed for the purchase of electric vehicles.
Investments announced for digital infrastructure promise to bring internet access to remote regions, a far from unimportant measure for citizens and businesses located outside urban centres at a time when access to information technology is so vital to productivity.
Access to Home Ownership and Investments in Housing
The CPQ commends measures such as first-time home ownership incentives to be offered through the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and the revamping of the Home Buyers' Plan (HBP) but waits to hear more about how these measures will be implemented. It also looks favourably on pursuing investments outlined by the National Housing Strategy as well as those aimed at energy-efficient building improvements.
A Budget Offering No Concrete Solutions for Business Productivity and Competitiveness
"Canada will eventually be subject to an economic downturn and an interest rate hike. It is increasingly necessary to exercise caution and avoid accumulated deficits. We had also hoped the government would demonstrate a better understanding of the realities and challenges faced by businesses, both within and beyond our borders, by putting in place concrete measures to afford Canada an increasingly competitive business environment," added Kozhaya.
The CPQ is deeply concerned that, aside from certain measures aimed at supporting innovation, research and development, this budget does not present any strong means by which to improve the competitiveness of the corporate fiscal framework, despite the issue being of major concern for Canadian businesses wrestling with US competition and aggressive fiscal policy.
…and the moral of the story
Ultimately, the CPQ cannot ignore that by going back on its electoral promise to balance the budget, the government has essentially become the grasshopper from Aesop's fable, content to sing throughout its mandate despite the risk of finding itself empty-handed when the Canadian economy eventually encounters strong headwinds.
Over the last few years, the government has failed to leverage the economic upturn to improve public finances. "Though we cannot qualify the deficit level in relation to GDP as catastrophic, the government could have, much like the Aesop's ant, set some reserves aside while the time was ripe to help the economy weather the next storm. The question then becomes: Will we have enough to hold us when the wind turns?" asks Yves-Thomas Dorval, CPQ President and Director General.
About the CPQ:
For 50 years, the Conseil du patronat du Québec has rallied together many of the province's largest businesses as well as the vast majority of sectoral employer associations making it the only employer congress in Quebec. It represents, directly and indirectly, more than 70,000 employers of all sizes doing business in Quebec both in the private and public sectors. www.cpq.qc.ca
SOURCE Conseil du patronat du Québec
For further information: Nadine Légaré, Principal Advisor - Communications and media relations, Conseil du patronat du Québec, [email protected], Office: 514-288-5161, ext. 243, Cell.: 514-265-5471