22 March 2017
New initiatives introduced in the 2017 federal budget have the potential to have a positive impact on business in New Brunswick, but the details are needed on their application before a substantive judgment can be made.
“Depending on how the initiatives roll out, there could be significant alignment between some of the innovation and job-readiness items contained in the budget and New Brunswick’s priorities,” said Krista Ross, CEO of the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce. “For example, education and skills funding, and an employment strategy for newcomers address clear needs for both Fredericton and New Brunswick. The Venture Capital Catalyst fund and Innovative Solutions Canada procurement program could provide tangible support at multiple stages for entrepreneurs and startup businesses - a key component of Fredericton’s economy and Vision 2020 economic development plan. Given Fredericton’s history of innovation and smart initiatives, the Smart Cities Challenge Fund could be leveraged to further enhance our reputation as a premier place to live and work.”
A number of questions need to be answered by both government and business to fully understand how the funding of business-led superclusters will be implemented and the locations and sectors that will be selected. Our province and business community should watch closely and be prepared to act quickly upon opportunities in this regard.
Similarly, the efficacy of infrastructure spending is entirely project-dependent. Investments must have long-term economic benefits such as encouraging private investment or facilitating trade. The chamber was hopeful that the budget would include some indication of a resolution to the policy issues at the federal level holding up the Fredericton International Airport expansion, but remain hopeful an announcement is forthcoming.
“Short-term job creation and its spin-offs are generally not enough to justify spending of public money,” added Ross. “Business investment in Canada has decreased for nine consecutive quarters, which is alarming for business and presumably the government. Not raising taxes on capital gains or small business income in 2017 is a small step in the right direction here, but clearly more must be done, especially given competitiveness challenges expected to increase with the Trump Administration in the United States, amongst other global pressures.”
“We are concerned with the size of the deficit with no stated target for balancing the books in the future,” added Paul Simmonds, Fredericton chamber president. “However, we do recognize and appreciate that there is minimal new spending and increased costs to business in this budget. The tax adjustment that will impact both employee and employer is the increase to EI premiums which, coupled with other pending increases such as CPP continues to increase the business cost burden. We are quite pleased with the expenditure management initiative - a comprehensive review of at least three government departments, a review of federal fixed assets, and federal innovation and clean technology programs. We would encourage governments at all levels to engage in this type of review on a continual basis.”
The Fredericton chamber expects more specific budget details to follow in the government’s fall economic update.
Fredericton Chamber of Commerce
With more than 950 members, the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce is one of Atlantic Canada’s largest chambers of commerce. A dynamic business organization, the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce is actively engaged in policy development that affects the competitiveness of our members and of the Canadian business environment. The Chamber’s vision is ‘Community Prosperity Through Business’.
For more information on this network initiative, contact Krista Ross, Fredericton Chamber of Commerce CEO – (506) 458-8006