What your business needs to know about Canada's 2017 budget

Posted by: Kaitlyn Mason on April 4, 2017

When it comes to competitiveness, innovation and fiscal discipline, how did the 2017 federal budget stack up? Our Policy Team breaks down the recently tabled budget and assesses how the federal priorities compare with those of the Calgary business community.

Calgary businesses have been clear with what they would like to see from the federal government: don't implement policies that make it harder to succeed, provide jobs and improve the average Canadian's well-being.

In this economic climate, our business community can no longer afford additional costs.

At the Chamber, we advocate on behalf of your business to ensure your call for good policy echoes throughout every level of government, and is heard.

There are three issues that all levels of government must address: competitiveness, innovation and fiscal discipline.  

So, how did the federal government address these three highly-important issues in Budget 2017? 

What went well

This year, the federal budget’s main objective was to make Canada more innovative and globally competitive.

We agree that Budget 2017 sets some foundation for a more competitive and innovative Canada. This is done by encouraging superclusters (Silicon Valley is a great example of a supercluster), setting up a strategic innovation fund, providing funds for venture capital, and investing in trade supportive industry (something we've been advocating for for quite some time).

The Budget also provides $1.8 billion over six years to expand EI training programs, and tables significant improvements for accessing global talent through the Global Skills Strategy. You can find more information on the specific policies that may impact your business here. 

We also applaud some of the positive steps taken to promote the agri-food sector, a crucial industry for Alberta, representing our number two export.

We are also very happy to hear that our government will be addressing Canada's internal trade barriers. The trade barriers between provinces cost our economy billions of dollars each year. Simply put, they're a hidden constraint that hinders business growth. Progress on this front is a win for business.

What could use a bit more work

While we applaud the federal government’s steps to encourage innovation and support workers, we do have a few concerns.  

Many important policy issues were not addressed by the budget, as the federal government appears to be waiting for the U.S. to determine their policy direction.

Although we appreciate the difficult and uncertain position that our government faces, we cannot afford to wait for too long, as capital and decisions sit on the sidelines. We all know just how much investors and businesses dislike uncertain policy climates. 

We are also discouraged by the lack of fiscal discipline.

Although these policies may indeed encourage business growth, they come at a great price. This year we will see the deficit climb above $28 billion dollars – nearly three times larger than campaign promises.  
Budget 2017 appears to be thin on details, long on time lines, and comes with a large price tag.

As for the business community's three key priorities, only time will tell whether the policies resulting from this budget will improve Canada’s competitiveness, innovation, and eventually lead to a return to balance.

Zoe Addington is Director of Policy and Government Relations, and Gianfranco Terrazzano is an Economic Policy Analyst at the Calgary Chamber.