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Fed budget passes muster with business, industry groups

The 2016 federal budget “holds promise” for local business, said the Timmins Chamber of Commerce.
Ottawa’s investment in Aboriginal training is meeting with the approval of industry (Pic Mobert Forestry)

The 2016 federal budget “holds promise” for local business, said the Timmins Chamber of Commerce.

They’re giving the thumbs up to Ottawa’s pending investments in infrastructure, First Nations education and broadband, although small business tax freezes are a concern.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s budget offered $120 billion in infrastructure spending over 10 years,

$8.4 billion for First Nations, Inuit and Metis education and skills training over five years, and $500 million over five years for a new program to expand broadband in rural and remote areas.

“With several items that stand to make a difference for Timmins businesses, the 2016 federal budget is a promising one,” said Timmins Chamber President Kurt Bigeau in a news release.

The government’s emphasis on improving training and educational opportunities to build the country’s workforce is “top of mind for many Timmins businesses.”

Investing in Aboriginal education and infrastructure is a key, the chamber said, as First Nations represent a surging part of Canada’s population “whose supports have long gone underfunded.”

An area of concern is the deferral of reductions to the small business income tax rate, initially planned to drop from its current rate of 10.5 per cent to 9 per cent by 2019. Small business, Bigeau said, is in particular need of relief during these challenging economic times.

The tripling of the debt to nearly $30 billion is also an issue with a budget surplus not projected until 2019. The chamber believes this poses some questions about the country’s fiscal footing and how the government plans to eventually balance the budget.

For the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC), the one-year extension of the 15-per-cent Mineral Exploration Tax Credit (METC) for flow-through share investors was particularly pleasing.

"The budget adopts a holistic approach to resource development, with support for innovation, financing, Aboriginal and community consultation and northern economic development,” said PDAC president Bob Schafer in a statement.

"Renewal of the METC sends an important signal to investors that the government understands the importance of Canada's junior mining sector," added PDAC executive director Andrew Cheatle. "The METC helps to fund exploration activities that lead to the discoveries that could become the mines of the future."

The Forest Products Association of Canada was pleased about the government’s focus on climate change initiatives, innovation and research and development.

With a heavy lean toward combating climate change, the budget included a $1 billion fund over four years to support clean technology for forestry and other resource industries, and $2 billion over two years for a Low Carbon Economy Fund.

Morneau said that forestry is a good example where the government can facilitate the shift to a cleaner economy and ensure good jobs in rural areas.

“Canada’s forest products industry is innovating and positioning ourselves to be part of the solution to climate change. We are producing an array of new innovative bio-products that can replace materials made from carbon-intensive fossil fuels,” said FPAC CEO Derek Nighbor.

As a main employer of Aboriginal people, FPAC is welcomed the commitment to better housing on reserves and measures to help Aboriginal skills training.