GREATER SUDBURY, March 1, 2018 – The 2018 Budget includes many positive measures, but does not address the fundamental issues facing Canada’s economy, says the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce. A strong and prosperous Northern Ontario depends on a competitive business environment, but businesses are struggling with the rising cost of operations.

“The chamber is encouraged by the positive measures in the budget, such as the allocation of $28 million over the next five years to fund FEDNOR programs and the reduction of the small business tax to 9% by 2019.  This is important to our membership, as SMEs represent the largest portion of our business community,” says Michael Macnamara, Chair of the Board of Directors for the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce.  “The Minister of Finance clearly heard the chamber network’s strong opposition to the proposed corporate tax changes, but we caution there is still much more work to be done.”

The Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce is encouraged by the government placing priority on increasing economic participation through funding for women entrepreneurship and Indigenous peoples capacity-building.

In the Internet Age, access to broadband is crucial for economic progress and Northern Ontario’s economic development has lagged behind the rest of the province due to inadequate broadband access. To that end, the chamber applauds the government’s decision to invest $100 million over five years into developing broadband in rural communities.

Despite these positive steps, the business community is still concerned about the government’s inability to reign in its spending. The budget does not provide a timeline for eliminating the deficit, which currently stands at $18 billion. The forward-looking projections in the budget are based on very optimistic views of Canada’s economic future over the next five years and are a cause for concern for our national fiscal health. A balanced budget is crucial to maintaining flexibility to respond in economic recessions and the government has eliminated much of the room it had to act in such circumstances.

“By adding a further $27 billion to the national debt in 2018, the government appears to believe that we can spend our way to prosperity. If Ottawa continues to run up the debt when times are good, we can only speculate on what our national finances will look like next time there is a downturn,” said the Hon. Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

The Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, set out its proposals to make Canada a more competitive, and attractive, country for businesses in the recent 10 Ways to Build a Canada that Wins document. Among these was a recommendation to make Canada an investment magnet by completely overhauling our archaic tax system.

“Canadian business asked the government to focus on fundamentals like the growing competitiveness gap, the need to attract more private sector investment and presenting a realistic plan to balance the government’s books. Although the budget sets out many positive measures, including support for women entrepreneurs, a clearer path to Indigenous self-determination and improved skills development, it doesn’t address the most basic issues facing our economy,” said Mr. Beatty. “The cost of running a business in Canada is rising rapidly. Without a strong private sector, there’s no way to pay for all this spending, except by sending the bill to our kids.”

The Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce welcomes the clarity provided in the budget on the government’s approach to taxing private corporations, a sign that government listened to the Chamber and its network. However, there is still much work to be done.

“Issues like the new measures on passive income, or the unequal taxation of non-tangible goods, are all symptoms of a broken tax system that discourages investment and growth. It’s now more urgent than ever to have a full, independent review of Canada’s tax system,” said Mr. Beatty.