There are items in the federal budget the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce supports and others not so much.
The chamber applauded the budget’s focus on bolstering the economy and easing pressure on young families and seniors, but there are still concerns about the country’s overall financial condition.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s budget makes significant investments in the forestry, tourism and oil and gas sectors, while employees will be able to take paid leave for training at 55 per cent of weekly earnings.
“These measures will go a long way towards supporting sectors critical to the overall economy of the North Okanagan. As for paid leave for training, this will certainly help individuals switching careers, but the program doesn’t start until late 2020 and could escalate costs for employers,” Greater Vernon Chamber general manager Dione Chambers said.
“We also welcome the $1.7 billion for high-speed internet in rural and remote areas and the one-time transfer of $2.2 billion to address short-term priorities in municipalities, as infrastructure, whether it’s roads, water lines or the internet, provides the basic building blocks for business to succeed.”
Another positive aspect of the budget is the removal of the federal requirement that alcohol moving from one province to another be sold or consigned to a provincial liquor authority.
The chamber is concerned about the $22.8 billion in new spending over the next five years coming at the same time the 2018-19 deficit is projected to be $14.9 billion and debt of $685.6 billion is expected to climb to $761.7 billion by 2023-24.
“We understand it takes a considerable investment to meet the needs and wants of Canadians, including business, but a home with a poor foundation puts the occupants at risk, and the same goes for a nation’s ability to function effectively if the financial foundation is fractured. We need the government to put its house in order,” Chambers said.
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