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Burnaby Board of Trade issues wish-list for federal budget

B.C. businesses hope to see budget measures to deal with labour shortages
Federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, right, will hand down budget March 28. | Chung Chow

Federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland has signaled that the budget she hands down next week will exercise fiscal restraint, while also including financial supports for Canadians struggling to make ends meet in a time of high inflation.

Freeland will hand down a federal budget on March 28. The Burnaby Board of Trade is hoping Freeland’s budget will address affordability issues not just for ordinary citizens, but for businesses well.

“Affordability definitely needs to be the theme of this federal budget, not just for our citizens, but also for our businesses that we rely on to fund needed investments in affordable housing, childcare and healthcare,” said Burnaby Board of Trade CEO Paul Holden.

The board of trade says it will welcome increased social spending that addresses housing affordability and childcare.

“We certainly support investments in those areas, but at the end of the day it’s a strong, healthy, resilient business community that is relied upon to largely fund these investments,” Holden said.

The board would like to see the budget focus on three areas to address the cost of doing business in Canada:

  • a “full review” of Canada’s tax structure;
  • a talent recruitment strategy that includes expedited foreign credential recognition; and
  • a supply chain strategy that eliminates bottlenecks at ports.

“It’s been some time since there’s been any full review of the tax structure,” Holden said. “What we’ve seen across the country, through the provincial systems and the federal, is an increase in the cost of doing business. We would be looking for the federal government to say that it’s initiating a full review of the tax structure in Canada.”

One of the big challenges facing many businesses is a lack of skilled workers, something that can be addressed somewhat through immigration and foreign credential recognition.

“The provincial government has taken some steps towards that, but without the federal government, the picture’s not complete,” Holden said. “We would want to see announcements of some investments in the area of bringing in skilled workers and ensuring that their credentials are recognized.”

In a speech in Oshawa today, Freeland said the Bank of Canada is now expecting inflation in Canada to be largely tamed to three per cent by the middle of the year and 2.6 per cent by the end of 2023.

Freeland said her budget will have some additional spending to “deliver additional, targeted inflation relief.”

"This support will be narrowly focused and fiscally responsible,” she said. “The truth is, we cannot fully compensate every single Canadian for all of the effects of inflation or for elevated interest rates. To do so would only make inflation worse and force rates higher, for longer.

“What Canadians want right now is for inflation to come down and for interest rates to fall. And that is one of our primary goals in this year’s budget: not pour fuel on the fire of inflation. So, in our budget, we will exercise fiscal restraint.”

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