Niagara Chamber’s Perspective on Canada’s 2017 Budget

Innovation investment is welcome, but Canada must do more to reduce cost of doing business

An Analysis on Canada’s New Budget from the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

Posted March 22nd, 2017 on Niagara At Large

Niagara Greater Chamber of Commerce CEO Mishka Balsom

Niagara, Ontario This Wednesday, March 22nd, the Government of Canada released its budget for 2017-2018. The Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce was glad to be a part of the budgetary process and to provide our input through Niagara’s Liberal Members of Parliament, Vance Badawey and Chris Bittle.

Businesses in Niagara and throughout Canada have identified skills and training as one of their biggest challenges. $225 million will be invested over four years, beginning in 2018, for a new organization to support skills development.

We were pleased to see that the new budget includes an innovation and skills plan for high-tech growth in agri-food, which will greatly benefit Niagara, but also in advanced manufacturing, clean tech, digital industries, health/biosciences, and clean resources.

Innovation investment is welcome given that Canada is falling behind in research and development funding and, consequently, is behind many peer countries in innovation output. The Government of Canada must not underestimate the magnitude of this problem, given the level of investment and business attraction efforts taking place in other countries, especially the United States.

The GNCC, through its Women in Niagara Council, is working to help women in business succeed. We were therefore also pleased to note that Canada is reaching out to the United States to learn from their experiences in overcoming barriers to women in business, and that the government will invest in family-friendly measures for workplaces, including creating 40,000 new subsidized daycare spaces.

However, there is room for improvement.

Employment Insurance (EI) premiums are being increased from $1.63 to $1.68, the maximum allowable increase under the Employment Insurance Act, which will place an additional burden on employers.

In our advocacy work for the budget, we asked the government to consider the interests of businesses in the Employment Insurance system, and we suggested that they make good on a broken electoral promise to offer a 12-month EI insurance premium for young new hires being offered permanent positions. This would have helped not only employers, but also young people trying to get a foothold in the workplace.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce drew attention to the fact that export growth has virtually flatlined over the last two years, and that business investment has decreased for nine straight quarters.

While an investment of $400 million over three years for the Business Development Bank of Canada to channel more venture capital to entrepreneurs is a step in the right direction, the Canadian Chamber and the Greater Niagara Chambers are both calling on the Government of Canada to develop and implement a national strategy aimed at cutting the cost of doing business in Canada.

With Canada’s competitors, especially to our south, looking to be more competitive for business and to reduce costs, we cannot afford the rising costs of doing business that we see in Canada. To attract investment and growth and truly build prosperity, the government must look at easing the burden on employers and making it easier to do business here.


“The 2017 budget contains positive steps for Niagara, such as the investment in agri-food innovation, but the cost of doing business in Niagara and Canada is rising. Government investment in key sectors is welcome, but we ask what can be done for all businesses, rather than just for those who have been identified as key industries. We will continue to work with the Government of Canada to ensure that the voice of business is heard in Ottawa.”Mishka Balsom, President and CEO of the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

“While we welcome specific measures in the budget on skills and innovation, our international competitors are racing ahead. The U.S. election was a game-changer, yet the budget is written as if nothing has changed. As our number one trading partner rolls back regulation and cuts taxes, Canadian businesses face more regulation and increased costs imposed by all levels of government for fees, taxes and essential inputs like electricity. Investment crosses borders like light through glass. If we continue to allow a growing gap between what it costs to do business in Canada and the costs our competitors face, businesses will be forced to locate their activities elsewhere.” The Hon. Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce

The Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce is the champion for the Niagara business community. With almost 1,600 members representing 50,000 employees, it is the largest business organization in Niagara and the third largest Chamber in Ontario. The Chamber Accreditation Council of Canada has recognized the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce with its highest level of distinction.

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 “A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders


One response to “Niagara Chamber’s Perspective on Canada’s 2017 Budget

  1. According to the Fraser Institute, the combined debt of the federal and provincial governments increased “from $778.7 billion in 2007-08 to $1.1 trillion in 2012-13 – a 42.7 per cent increase in just five years or 30.8 per cent after adjusting for the effects of inflation. As a share of the Canadian economy, total federal and provincial government debt has grown from 49.7 per cent to 61.1 per cent over this period.”
    Now, the Trudeau government’s budget, despite campaign promises to do so, still doesn’t include any plans to balance the books. The deficit projection for 2016-17 is $23-billion, rising to $28.5-billion by 2017-18!
    Consider this. If your total assets were $100,000, $61,000 of it would be owed to someone else! Would you let the part you own continue to decline? Of course not! Otherwise, you would risk losing it all.
    Yet, that’s just what our combined Canadian governments are doing. They are putting us all deeper and deeper into debt. The inevitable result will be bankruptcy and depression unlike we have never seen before in Canada.
    Sadly, the Trudeau government and even more blatantly, at a provincial level, the Wynne government continue to dig the hole deeper. The time is not too far away where the cost of carrying such debt as the Liberals alone have gotten us into, will be more than what it takes to run, for example, our Ontario hospitals, or our school system.
    The time is now come when responsible governments will stop paying for their agendas with the National credit card. Canada cannot afford to keep on its current financial trajectory. The government can no more continue to go to the National ATM and not expect a time of reckoning. Now, not 10 or more years from now, is the time to stop borrowing to achieve the “National Dream” otherwise all Canadians, but more especially our children and grandchildren will be living the Canadian Nightmare.
    How long will be continue to borrow from our children’s future?


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