Federal Budget takes small steps to address productivity gap and competitiveness: CMA Canada

    Much more can still be done to counter economic challenges

    OTTAWA, Feb. 26 /CNW/ - CMA Canada is encouraged by a number of measures
in the 2008 Federal Budget which address Canada's lagging productivity and
global competitiveness, particularly with investments in human capital such as
training and research.
    "Overall, this is a positive budget addressing a number of economic
challenges Canadians face today," said Richard Monk, CMA, FCMA, CFE, C.Dir ,
Chair of the Certified Management Accountants of Canada (CMA Canada). "What is
missing are a number of measures which require almost no hard cash
investments, yet can provide considerable assistance to small and medium-sized
businesses (SMEs) in boosting productivity." These SMEs are widely recognized
as the backbone of the economy, providing the bulk of Canadian jobs.
    CMA Canada was pleased that its recommendation to establish a scholarship
program to attract top students from around the world, was largely captured in
the government's new Canada Graduate Scholarship Award to be named after the
late Georges Vanier.
    While the budget introduced measures to fast track the entry of top
foreign students into Canada and to attract skilled immigrant workers, it does
not, as CMA Canada recommended, address ways to encourage gifted foreign
students to remain in Canada. Such students can only stay in Canada a maximum
of two years following studies. "This is a significant gap that needs to be
addressed - it doesn't make sense to spend money training the brightest
foreign students in the world, only to have them leave Canada and contribute
to the economies of other countries at our expense," said. Mr. Monk.
    CMA Canada is also pleased the budget picks up on an earlier
recommendation to establish a fellowship program which included funding
research chairs in fields linked to innovation, with $21 million announced to
establish 20 university research chairs to "undertake cutting-edge research."
    While the budget includes some other productivity measures such as
extending the Capital Cost Allowance (CCA) on machinery and equipment, CMA
Canada remains concerned that the budget does not go far enough to address
Canada's lagging productivity growth, essential to overcoming an economic
downturn. Analysts have called Canada's labour productivity growth since 2000
"dismal." CMA Canada's other recommendations in its pre-budget submission to
address the productivity issue are:

    Human Capital:

    - Directly invest in literacy and numeracy programs for the 40% of the
      labour force which does not have the capacity to participate in the
      knowledge economy. Poor literacy skills act as a drag on growth.

    Physical Capital:

    - Implement an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Tax Credit
      for small and medium-sized businesses as recommended by the
      government's Telecommunications Policy Review Panel in 2006. Such
      investments have a profound impact on productivity growth.

    - Harmonizing the provincial and federal sales taxes in all provinces.
      The Government continues to say in the 2008 Budget that it "recognizes
      the significant economic benefits to Canada from sales tax
      harmonization" but no measures were introduced to achieve this with the
      five remaining provinces.


    - Changing the Scientific Research and Experimental Development Tax
      Credit (SR&ED) tax credit so that the refundability provision currently
      available only to smaller businesses be extended to all businesses, or
      permit larger claimants to offset the tax credit against other
      government levies such as Employment Insurance (EI) premiums.

    - Adopting the recommendations made in recent reports by the Standing
      Committee on Public Safety and National Security and the Standing
      Committee on Industry, Science and Technology to combat the
      counterfeiting and piracy of intellectual property.

    CMA Canada's full submission is available on our web site at

    With more than 38,000 certified members and 10,000 CMA Candidates around
the world, CMA Canada grants a professional designation in strategic
management accountingTM and is responsible for standards-setting,
accreditation and the continuing professional development of CMAs. Working in
organizations of all sizes, CMAs provide an integrating perspective to
business decision-making, applying best management practices in strategic
planning, finance, operations, sales and marketing, information technology,
and human resources to identify new market opportunities, ensure corporate
accountability, and help organizations maintain a long-term competitive
advantage. To optimize the performance of global enterprises and build
strategic management accounting skills(TM), CMA Canada offers innovative
executive development programs, advanced on-line courses, and internationally
recognized knowledge management publications. CMA Canada is a leader in
forging strategic partnerships with allied professional groups to expand
career opportunities for CMAs, and to enhance the success of businesses
operating in the global marketplace. For more information, visit CMA Canada's
web site at www.cma-canada.org

For further information:

For further information: R. David Fletcher, Vice President Public
Affairs, CMA Canada, (905) 946-3106, Toll free: 1-800-262-7622 ext 3106,
dfletcher@cma-canada.org; Stuart McCarthy, Bluesky Strategy Group, (for CMA
Canada), (613) 241-3512 x 229, Cell: (613) 762-4321,

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