Budget 2019: positive investments in people, more work needed to promote economic growth

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Budget 2019: positive investments in people, more work needed to promote economic growth

Today’s federal budget confirms that Canada’s economy has slipped into low gear, underscoring the need for action to boost private-sector confidence and ensure a future of good jobs and a high quality of life.

“In the long run, it’s a growing economy that allows us to sustain the kinds of social investments the government made today,” said Goldy Hyder, President and CEO of the Business Council of Canada.

The 2019 federal budget includes a number of important measures in areas such as skills development, regulatory reform, housing affordability and income security for seniors, Mr. Hyder said.

But there is still more work to do to address the root cause of Canada’s economic challenges: the fact that many other countries offer a more attractive destination for business investment, talent and job creation.

“The government’s own numbers show that the economy is slowing down and will continue to underperform for several years, but it doesn’t have to be that way,” Mr. Hyder said. “The real solution is for governments to work collaboratively with business, labour and others to build a strategy for economic growth.”

Mr. Hyder congratulated the government on its decision to step up support for student work placements, which give young Canadians the opportunity to gain paid experience related to their field of study.

Four years ago, the Business Council launched the Business/Higher Education Roundtable (BHER), representing some of Canada’s largest companies and post-secondary institutions. In 2016, BHER set a goal of ensuring that every post-secondary student in Canada has the opportunity to participate in some form of on-the-job or work-integrated learning experience.

Today’s budget explicitly endorses that target. The government has pledged to provide BHER with up to $17 million over three years to work with employers, educators, non-government organizations and other levels of government in expanding work-integrated learning placements and opportunities.

“We welcome the federal government’s decision to join this effort to help Canadian graduates hit the ground running, with the skills and experience they need to succeed,” Mr. Hyder said. “The Business/Higher Education Roundtable is a textbook example of business leadership in addressing the legitimate concerns of Canadians, and it’s a model for the kinds of practical solutions we can develop together in other areas of need.”

The Business Council acknowledged a number of other specific measures in Budget 2019, including:

  • Measures to give Canadian businesses expedited, predictable access to top global talent when Canadian workers are unavailable;
  • Progress on long-awaited regulatory reform initiatives, including the planned introduction of an annual “modernization bill” to eliminate outdated federal regulations and keep existing regulations up to date;
  • A new training credit that will give eligible working Canadians $250 a year to put toward the cost of future occupational skills training;
  • Changes to the Guaranteed Income Supplement program that will increase take-home pay for low-income working seniors;
  • Continued efforts to bring higher quality internet access to underserved parts of Canada, including rural, remote, and northern communities;
  • Several new programs to improve housing affordability, including a $300 million Housing Supply Challenge by which municipalities and other stakeholders will be encouraged to find new solutions to enhance housing supply.

Founded in 1976, the Business Council of Canada is a not-for-profit, non-partisan organization representing business leaders in every region and sector of the country. The Council’s member companies employ 1.7 million Canadians, contribute the largest share of federal corporate taxes, and are responsible for most of Canada’s exports, corporate philanthropy, and private-sector investments in research and development. Through supply chain partnerships, service contracts and mentoring programs, Business Council members support many hundreds of thousands of small businesses and entrepreneurs in communities of all sizes, in every part of Canada. Please connect with us on LinkedIn or Twitter and subscribe to our recently launched podcast, Speaking of Business.

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