Four thoughts from ICBA on the 2018-19 federal budget that came down yesterday:

#1 – No Vision for B.C. Infrastructure

We are disappointed that the federal budget did not contain any clear commitments on any of the following important projects for B.C.:

  • Metro Vancouver port infrastructure, especially Terminal II;
  • Massey Tunnel Replacement;
  • Broadway SkyTrain Line;
  • Surrey Light Rail;
  • Contribution to the Pattullo Bridge replacement
  • Trans-Canada Highway – 4-laning Kamloops to Alberta Border;
  • Trans-Canada Highway – adding capacity from Langley to Abbotsford; and,
  • Cariboo Connector 4-laning Program – Central Interior of B.C.

Building and investing in infrastructure is critical to our competitiveness, is imperative for the smooth functioning of Metro Vancouver, Canada’s Asia Pacific Gateway, and is foundational for spurring urban and regional growth, supply chain efficiency, job growth, affordable housing, and livability. The absence of clear commitments in this regard is very disappointing.

#2 – No Help for B.C. LNG 

ICBA is disappointed that there was no reference in the budget to providing relief to the LNG industry for duties resulting from a decision of the Canadian International Trade Tribunal (CITT) that will unfairly penalize companies like LNG Canada that is planning a $40 billion investment in B.C. LNG development on Canada’s coasts represents a generational opportunity for Canada. Benefits from the industry also accrue to all levels of government – including the federal government – through increased tax revenue, job creation, and the purchase of goods and services throughout the energy value chain.

The potential Canadian LNG industry operates within a highly competitive global context. As providers of construction services, ICBA fears that, should these determinations of CITT stand, there will likely be no LNG industry in British Columbia.

#3 – It Did Not Address Competitiveness

There was no reference to addressing Canada’s competitiveness. Canadian companies compete in a global marketplace, and Canada’s regulatory and tax regime are increasingly out of step with its major competitors. The United States recently introduced dramatic tax reductions that will now make increasingly even more challenging for Canadian companies to compete against their American counterparts or for Canada to position itself as an attractive place for companies to invest.

Canada continues to be a place where it is extremely difficult to do business, where taxes and regulation discourage investment and job creation, where investment in infrastructure is insufficient and where the approval process for large resource development projects is onerous, costly and has forced the cancellation of many projects and resulted in talent, opportunity and investment going to other jurisdictions.

#4 – They Stepped Back on Their Small Business Tax Measures – But Not Enough

The government has provided greater clarity on Small Business Tax Measures; the rules appear to be simpler and mark an improvement over the changes the government tabled last summer. We will be assessing and reporting back on the new passive income rules in the days to come. While this clarity is helpful and some of the most punitive aspects of the changes proposed last summer have been addressed, the Federal Government is simply not doing enough work to enhance the competitiveness of Canadian business.