Growing Canada's middle class, improving living standards on First Nations reserves and investing in the clean economy are the main pillars of the Justin Trudeau Liberal government’s first budget, which was unveiled on March 22.
Highlights that will affect B.C. and its business community
•$32 million over two years for the Vancouver-based Centre for Drug Research and Development, a drug development and commercialization centre that helps biotechs and universities commercialize new drug discoveries.
•$212 million toward Metro Vancouver’s $700 million Lions Gate Wastewater Treatment Plant. The 50-year-old primary treatment plant will be upgraded to provide secondary treatment.
•$460 million for public transit infrastructure in B.C.
•$73 million for 57 community infrastructure projects in the province, including drinking water and waste-water treatment, recreation and culture projects, roads and bridges and upgrades to the Smithers Regional Airport.
Other spending that could trickle down to B.C.
•$1 billion over four years, starting in 2017, to foster investment in clean technology in the forestry, fisheries, mining, energy and agriculture sectors.
•$87 million over two years to support research in forestry, mining, earth sciences, mapping and energy technologies.
•$62.5 million over two years in funding to Natural Resources Canada (NRC) to build more electric vehicle, hydrogen and natural gas fuelling stations.
•$50 million to NRC for technology investments that reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas sector.
•$2.9 billion over five years to address climate change and pollution, including emissions reduction initiatives in the energy sector and transportation.
•$237 million to Genome Canada, an umbrella group for seven provincial centres, including Genome BC, which provides genomics-based research funding.
•$130 million over five years to support clean-technology research development.
•$14 million over two years for Mitacs’ Globalink program. Mitacs links business with universities, allowing them to tap the scientific expertise of graduates. Globalink provides
funding allowing researchers to travel and conduct research in other countries.
The federal budget provides a one-year extension of the mineral exploration tax credit, which was slated to end this year. The tax credit allows exploration companies to pass tax credits onto shareholders through flow-through shares.
Tax reforms scrapped and restored
The 2015 Conservative budget included a new income tax exemption on capital gains when the proceeds from the sale of real estate or shares were donated to charity. That exemption has been scrapped.
A 15% tax credit for investment in labour-sponsored venture capital corporations that allows small and medium-sized business to access venture capital was to be phased out in 2016. The 2016 budget restores the tax credit. •