The Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce (GCACC) responded to the 2023 Federal Budget by expressing concern about the lack of a plan for economic growth and the impact of the growing national debt on our economy.
With over 800,000 job vacancies nationally, our Chamber was hoping to see a clearer focus on how we close the skills gap and expand the labour market. Our Chamber is also concerned about the lack of relief for businesses facing rising costs. In a recent survey on our membership, inflation and cost of doing business was ranked as the number one concern for respondents.
“While it is encouraging to see the federal government introduce some measures to tackle overall affordability for Canadians and measures that may aid in the cost of doing business, like the lowering of interchange fees, we are concerned not to see a plan to get back in balance in response to our slowing economy,” said Kim Horrelt, GCACC interim CEO.
The federal deficit is projected to be $40 billion for the fiscal year, nearly $10 billion more than forecasted in the Fall Economic Statement. In 2021, Canada’s GDP was 5%, and it is now predicted to be 0.3% in 2023.
“While we acknowledge this is a difficult time in our economy for this budget, deficit budgets limit government’s ability to prepare for a downturn in the economy, like the one we are seeing,” said Horrelt. “We believe that in preparation for such times, government should look for ways to lower debt.”
Overall, our Chamber welcomes other budget announcements such as:
- Capping of the federal excise tax on alcohol for 2023 at 2%. This was originally set to increase 6% on April 1.
- Secured commitment from Visa and Mastercard to lower credit card interchange fees, predicted to see a 27% decline on fees for SMEs.
- Free access to online fraud and cyber security resources from Visa and Mastercard.
- A $108-million investment over the next three years in the tourism sector through the Regional Development Agencies.
- $250 million over three years for the Upskilling for Industry Initiative to support more than 15,000 workers, and $215 million over five years to launch the Sustainable Jobs Training Centre.
- $815 million over five years for the Canada Training Credit, which covers up to 50% of eligible training fees.
- $595 over six years for the Labour Mobility Deduction for Tradespeople to make it more affordable to travel where the jobs are.
- A commitment to establish a National Supply Chain Strategy with strategic trade corridor investments, such as more than $33 billion in funding for public infrastructure projects across Canada through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program.
Our Chamber was disappointed not to see further details of the $1 billion set aside for Hurricane Fiona-related requests, as was mentioned in the Fall Economic Statement, or aid set aside for businesses impacted by future damaging storms as recommended in our federal pre-budget submission.
In our submission, we also called for continued immigration supports for newcomers and employers to combat the ongoing labour shortage and grow our economy, and improved regional connectivity and infrastructure funding for small airports.
The Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce, with the Canadian Chamber network, will continue to advocate for these recommendations and continue advocating on the priorities of our member businesses.