Kelowna Chamber of Commerce says federal budget missed opportunities

One area that was missed was tax competitveness

The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce says it’s pleased with a few aspects of the recent federal budget.

But, like many other chambers across the country, it sees it as a missed opportunity to move forward on what the chamber calls “bold” changes to the tax code.

“The move by the federal government to reduce the regulatory burden to the free flow of wine and spirits across provincial borders is extremely positive,” said Carmen Sparg, president of the Kelowna chamber.

“But while it is a good step forward, we still need greater cooperation from the provinces to remove inter-provincial trade barriers. While the budget delivers on some of our advocacy priorities, particularly in the areas of skills and infrastructure, it misses an opportunity to provide concrete measures to address the tax and regulatory burden on businesses.”

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The Kelowna chamber raised the issue of inter-provincial trade barriers at last year’s Canadian Chamber of Commerce AGM and said it was pleased federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau recognized that call, both during his fall fiscal update and again in tabling the 2019 budget.

Morneau also announced a $2.2 billion top up of infrastructure funding which will help local governments address major infrastructure deficits, which could allow Kelowna’s municipal government to provide a bit of a break on future property tax hikes for . They are likely to see an average four per cent hike in their local property tax bill this year, said the chamber.

The election-year budget addressed financial security, skills training, younger home buyers (they can tap into $10,000 more from their RRSPs and use a new first-time buyers’ program through CMHC— basically a federal loan. But there were no changes to the stress tests introduced by the government to make sure Canadian can afford to the mortgages they take out.

“(The) Pharmacare (measure in the budget) is just a plan to be a plan,” said the chamber in a news release. “The highest budget item is spending on Indigenous services ($8.1 billion over five years).”

The chamber said it feels the the budget is skews directly toward attracting younger voters.

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