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Chamber responds to federal budget

VERNON – The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce welcomes federal support for businesses and non-profits, but there is concern about taxpayers’ ability to absorb an unprecedented deficit.

On April 19, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland tabled the federal government’s first budget in two years, including $101.4 billion in new spending over three years.

“We appreciate that the government faced a significant challenge in developing a budget as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to create economic uncertainty and there are overwhelming demands on government to not only stabilize the economy but to move Canada towards recovery,” said Krystin Kempton, Greater Vernon Chamber president.

“Businesses and non-profits will welcome the extension of the wage subsidy, the rent subsidy and the lockdown support as they address immediate pressures faced daily. We are hopeful new programs will assist businesses with hiring staff or shifting to online platforms, but the success of those initiatives will depend on the details.”

The Chamber is also pleased with the budget focus on reviewing labour market demand in individual communities. Opportunities for workers to learn new skills can help ease the labour shortage, which is a recurring issue for Greater Vernon businesses.

The budget includes $30 billion over five years for a national child care system, with $8.3 billion annually after that.

“A shortage of child care in the community makes it difficult for employers to attract or retain workers so we are glad that the federal government is taking the matter seriously. Key to rolling out this program will be graduating a sufficient number of early childhood education students from post-secondary institutions,” said Kempton.

The Chamber is trying to determine if the budget will provide excise tax parity for Canadian craft distilleries trying to compete in a global market, and if there are incentives for developers to construct more attainable housing as real estate costs soar.

The budget indicates that the national deficit was $354.2 billion in 2020-21 and it forecasts $154.7 billion in 2021-22. Debt to GDP ratio climbs above 50 per cent.

“Government spending is required at this time to maintain economic activity, keeping in mind that what we borrow now must be paid for later. Deficit reduction targets are important but growth targets will be essential as we shift from public spending to private investment in the years to come. We need policies and strategies that allow entrepreneurs to flourish, bolstering employment and community resilience.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:    
Dan Proulx, General Manager   
Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce
P: 250-545-0771              E: manager@vernonchamber.ca