Taxes, Cost Increases to Businesses and National Pharmacare Not Addressed
Today, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland tabled and presented the Federal Government’s 2022 Budget. The Surrey Board of Trade evaluates the Federal Budget, as they do with all government budgets, because it impacts businesses.
Although government has claimed this budget is modest, the reality is that regulatory, tax and policy changes will greatly impact international competitiveness. We live in a time of great economic uncertainty, coupled with the effects of the pandemic and global socio-economic factors.
“We were hoping that the Federal Government would commit to a comprehensive tax review, but that was not the focus,” said Anita Huberman, President & CEO, Surrey Board of Trade. “The Federal Government needs to keep inflation at bay as the number one challenge that businesses are facing is increased costs.”
As the Conference Board of Canada noted, the Federal Budget had the opportunity to:
Cut unnecessary spending:
- While not easy to do politically, cutting unnecessary spending is not only good economics but also the right thing to do. The government should consider dropping programs that have been announced but not yet funded. It would be best to avoid adding new spending to economic sectors like construction that are already hot and experiencing labour shortages.
- A large chunk of the $101 billion in additional spending announced during the previous budget hasn’t been allocated. Given new spending pressures brought about by the Liberal Party-NDP deal and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the government should consider how, when and where it will spend the remaining amount.
Spend to enhance productivity:
- Any additional spending should enhance the economy’s productivity and be a move away from supporting more consumption. This would mean investing in projects that enhance Canada’s productivity, for instance, by making it easier for businesses to invest more. The government could also spend more on innovation, technology adoption and research and development. Spending in these areas will increase economic productivity, which will push prices down and increase long-term economic growth.
Don’t spend away the upcoming revenue windfall:
- Thanks in part to higher commodity prices, the government is likely to have more revenue than previously anticipated. The temptation of course will be to spend away the unexpected flow of money and fulfil platform pledges. But the government must be careful not to over-stimulate the economy. Prudent fiscal policy would point to the need for restraint in the face of the unexpected revenue increase.
- It would be best to save the newfound revenue for a rainy day or, at the very least, to adhere to the spending plans announced during the 2021 fall update. If so, the government will reduce its deficit and put the country on a path towards a healthier fiscal standing.
Lower certain taxes or at least don’t raise them:
- Canadians should be given some reprieve from high prices in the form of tax cuts in certain sectors such as energy. If so, Canada won’t be the only country giving tax cuts to provide some breathing room to its citizens from inflation.
- Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in the United States are also calling for tax reductions to ease the inflation burden on ordinary citizens. In the UK, Finance Minister Rishi Sunak announced “the biggest net cut to personal taxes over a quarter of a century” in his mini-budget to shelter Britons from the pickup in inflation. Measures in the UK included tax cuts for workers, slashed fuel duty and a future reduction in income tax. If tax breaks in Canada aren’t on the horizon, the government should at least not raise them.
Strengthen the labour force:
- Job vacancies are near an all-time high. The government’s commitment to affordable childcare will boost labour force participation, putting downward pressure on prices. Still, the labour market needs more support in upskilling and reskilling Canadian workers. Continued investments in enhancing the labour market will improve labour productivity, putting downward pressure on prices.
Increase housing supply, not housing demand:
- Inflation figures fail to accurately capture the price trends in Canada’s (still) red hot housing market. Making housing more affordable should be one of the government’s priorities in this budget. This shouldn’t be done by inducing more demand through measures such as offering tax credits to first-time homebuyers since such measures can push prices even higher. Instead, the federal government should work with provinces and municipalities to increase the housing supply. More housing supply, albeit not a short-term solution, should help cool the market, making housing more affordable.
Inflation is as high as it’s been for many decades. Now is the government’s opportunity to protect Canadians from spiralling prices, and to implement sound fiscal policies with a view to increasing Canada’s future prosperity, not just for some, but for all.
Deficit projection: $114.5B for 2021-2022, $52.8B for 2022-2023, $8.4B by 2026-2027
Net New Spending: $60B for 2022-2025
Debt to GDP Ratio: 46.5% for 2021-2022, 45.1% for 2022-2023
WHAT WE HEARD:
Plan: Budget 2022 proposes to phase out access to the small business tax rate more gradually, with access to be fully phased out when taxable capital reaches $50M, rather than at $15M.
JOBS AND GROWTH:
$84.2M over four years.
Plan: funding for the Union Training and Innovation Program, which each year would help 3,500 apprentices from underrepresented groups—including women, newcomers, persons with disabilities, Indigenous Peoples, and Black and racialized Canadians—begin and succeed in careers in the skilled trades through mentorship, career services, and job-matching.
Labour Mobility Deduction, which would provide tax recognition on up to $4,000 per year in eligible travel and temporary relocation expenses to eligible tradespersons and apprentices. This measure would apply to the 2022 and subsequent taxation years.
$15B over the next five years for Canada Growth Fund will target three dollars of private capital for every one dollar that it invests:
- To reduce emissions and contribute to achieving Canada’s climate goals.
- To diversify our economy and bolster our exports by investing in the growth of low-carbon industries and new technologies across new and traditional sectors of Canada’s industrial base.
- To support the restructuring of critical supply chains in areas important to Canada’s future prosperity—including our natural resources sector.
- $7,500 tax credit for granny suite.
- Tax free first home savings account, $8k/year with a maximum lifetime contribution of $40k, which will be tax free going in and out, established by 2023.
- Double first-time home buyer tax credit to $10k – in effect since January 1, 2022.
- Home buyers bill of rights, guarantee right to inspection prior to purchase, ban foreign buyers from purchasing non-recreational, residential property in Canada for the next two years.
- New rules so that any person who sells a property they have held for less than 12 months would be subject to full taxation on their profits as business income, applying to residential properties sold on or after January 1, 2023. Exemptions would apply for Canadians who sell their home due to certain life circumstances, such as a death, disability, the birth of a child, a new job, or a divorce.
- $475M in 2022-23 to provide a one-time, $500 payment to those facing housing affordability challenges.
Plan: to implement Canada’s first Critical Minerals Strategy.
Plan: to cover dental care costs for all kids under 12 with a household income of less than $90k starting this year.
SUPPLY CHAIN INFRASTRUCTURE:
$603.2M over five years, starting in 2022-23, to Transport Canada.
- $450M over five years, starting in 2022-23, to support supply chain projects through the National Trade Corridors Fund, which will help ease the movement of goods across Canada’s transportation networks. This is in addition to the $4.2B that has been allocated to the fund since 2017. The Minister of Transport will rename the fund to reflect the government’s focus on supply chain;
- $136.3M over five years, starting in 2022-23, to develop industry driven solutions to use data to make our supply chains more efficient, building on the success of initiatives like the West Coast Supply Chain Visibility Program. Of this amount, $19M will be sourced from existing resources; and,
- $16.9M over five years, starting in 2022-23, to continue making Canada’s supply chains more competitive by cutting needless red tape, including working to ensure that regulations across various modes of cargo transportation (e.g., ship, rail) work effectively together.
Budget 2022 signals the government’s intention to accelerate the deadline for provinces to fully commit their remaining funding under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program to priority projects to March 31, 2023.
$1.2B over five years, starting in 2022-23.
Plan: for the CRA to expand audits of larger entities and non-residents engaged in aggressive tax planning; increase both the investigation and prosecution of those engaged in criminal tax evasion; and to expand its educational outreach.