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With budget balanced, it’s time to focus on Canada’s economic future, business leaders say

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Having fulfilled its commitment to balance the budget, the government’s top priority should be a pro-growth agenda that ensures Canada’s continued success in a volatile and challenging global economy, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives said today.

“The recent fall in oil prices is just one example of the risks facing Canada’s economy,” said The Honourable John Manley, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives.

“Balanced budgets give governments the ability to respond in the event of unexpected shocks. But eliminating red ink is not enough to ensure Canada’s long-term prosperity. The next step is to implement a comprehensive strategy for economic growth, increased business investment and job creation.”

The CEO Council is the senior voice of Canada’s business community, representing 150 chief executives and leading entrepreneurs in all sectors and regions of the country.

Mr. Manley highlighted three key elements of an agenda for long-term prosperity:

A tax system that rewards growth.  Canada’s current tax system is overly complex and imposes high compliance costs on companies and individuals. As Canadian tax expert Jack Mintz has pointed out, it also encourages firms to stay small. A smarter approach would be to reward companies that expand, create new jobs and increase Canada’s trade with the world.

A pan-Canadian education and labour-market strategy. As the baby-boom generation approaches retirement, employers face an increasing need for highly skilled workers. Business has an important role to play by investing in workplace learning and development. At the same time, all three levels of government should be working together to improve education outcomes and enhance opportunities for young Canadians.

Accelerated efforts to open new markets for Canadian exports. The federal government deserves credit for embracing an ambitious trade strategy, but the work is unfinished. The Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement has yet to be ratified, and the future of the Trans-Pacific Partnership – a proposed treaty involving 12 Asia-Pacific countries – remains in doubt. Meanwhile, Canada needs a clear plan to strengthen commercial ties with China, our country’s fastest-growing major trading partner.

Mr. Manley welcomed a number of specific measures in the government’s 2015 budget, including:

  • The proposed 10-year extension of the accelerated capital cost allowance for manufacturers;
  • A planned investment of $65-million over four years to support partnerships between employers and educational institutions;
  • New investments in enhanced labour market information, including the launch of a one-stop national labour market information portal.
  • The allocation of $42 million over five years to expand the footprint and resources of Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service;
  • The promise of a new procurement integrity framework that will promote ethical business practices while ensuring suppliers receive due process; and
  • Amendments to the Canada Business Corporations Act that will increase opportunities for women to serve in corporate leadership roles.

Founded in 1976, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives is a non-partisan organization representing business leaders from across the country. Its member companies collectively employ 1.5 million Canadians and are responsible for most of Canada’s private sector investments, exports, workplace training and research and development.

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