Federal budget focuses funding on "innovation and skills plan"

Ahead of the budget, business groups urged Morneau to follow Trump's tax cuts or take other steps to make Canada a more attractive place to invest.

"If you can get something buried in the budget that nobody knows about, sometimes you can get something past without getting the kind of heat it deserves", said Michael Bryant, executive director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and a former Ontario attorney general. But Gillian Barth, its president, said the government needs "to raise ambition in line with Canadians' desire for increased influence and compassion on the worldwide stage".

He has already hinted at efforts to boost the participation of women in the workforce as part of an overall plan to promote so-called inclusive growth. "The good news is they've recognized the diversity of families today, and so any employer that has a diversity and inclusion initiative, it makes it much easier for them to say, 'We're providing gender equity for leaves and benefits'".

But it remains to be seen whether the additional investments will be enough to give future generations the economic boost the Liberals have promised.

"Their priorities are on spending programs as opposed to programs that encourage growth".

The budget does little new to address worldwide tax planning, mostly just reminding taxpayers that Canada is participating fully in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's base erosion and profit-shifting initiative, John Wonfor, a spokesman for Chartered Professional Accountants Canada, said February 27.

Morneau's budget provides neither, although the 2018-2019 deficit is now lower than projected in the last budget.

Morneau is focused on another fiscal "anchor" of lowering the net debt-to-GDP ratio, which is a measure of Ottawa's debt burden.

The measures were meant to keep private corporations from excessively benefiting from access to the 15 percent small business income tax rate, which applies to the first C$500,000 of business income, compared to 25 percent for public corporations and up to 50 percent for individuals.

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Governments in Canada should be posting surpluses, paying down debt and putting money away for a rainy day. The budget acknowledged the uncertainty and said more analysis was necessary.

If anything, the government made things even worse by proceeding with their controversial small business tax changes (which, to be fair, are much improved from the original proposals floated last summer.) But even the watered-down final version in the budget will squeeze small businesses for more than $1 billion annually by 2020 - not exactly hanging out a "welcome" sign for investors and entrepreneurs.

The budget would limit the ability of private corporations with more than C$50,000 in passive investment income in a tax year, equivalent to C$1 million in passive investment assets, to claim the small business tax rate.

"We've proven we can do it", she said. "When you're talking about science, you're talking about the very long term".

Opposition parties also criticized the ruling Liberals for continuing to rack up large budget deficits at a time when the economy is strong, saying it leaves little room in a downturn to adjust to shocks.

One small measure - $30 million for what's known as a patent collective - was being pushed for by the Council of Canadian Innovators as a way to help smaller business share the intel they need to develop their products. Instead of following its approach as laid out in the July 18, 2017 and October 18, 2017 releases, the budget will instead propose two new measures to limit deferral "advantages" from holding passive assets in a CCPC. Some women will gain by this measure, but so will many men.

Business owners who were feeling anxious ahead of this year's federal budget were likely reassured after details were unveiled on Tuesday.

Economist Armine Yalnizyan agreed that the budget lacks the "secret sauce" of child care.

"Most economists have no objection to budget deficits when the economy is weak because we understand the need for government spending in a weak economy", she said. $4 billion of the $7.2 billion being removed from infrastructure spending will be spent to fund programs and services for veterans.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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