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The Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal

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2017-2018 federal budget: investment in innovation, but a worrying sign for public finances

Montréal, March 22, 2017 – The Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal believes that the budget tabled today by Canada's Minister of Finance, the Honourable Bill Morneau, creates a worrying situation for the country’s public finances. Despite some positive elements for long-term growth, this budget risks shifting Canada into an era of structural deficits.

A worrying budgetary position
“The lack of a plan to balance the budget makes the country’s economy vulnerable to potential conjunctural risks and increases the risk of a structural deficit. While the world economy is already in its ninth year of recovery, the government is shifting the burden of a balanced budget to future taxpayers,” stated Michel Leblanc, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal.

A negative message for taxpayers
“Keeping Quebec’s combined marginal tax rate at 53% sends a negative message to taxpayers and discourages investment and work. This very high maximum tax rate must be contextualized in the North American reality, because it hurts Canada’s tax competitiveness,” added Michel Leblanc.

A number of investments in key sectors for Montréal
“We welcome the government’s decision to invest in innovation and prioritize sectors of the future in which Montréal universities and companies excel. Clean technologies, artificial intelligence, self-driving vehicles, genomics, biological sciences and health sciences are all sectors in which Montréal demonstrates leadership. These investments will create a genuine leverage effect and should lead to the creation of new businesses. The Chamber insists, however, that the government pay particular attention to commercialization potential when allocating its investments,” continued Michel Leblanc.

“The $1.4-billion investment to support clean technology companies is particularly promising, as this is a sector of the future that has an excellent outlook for growth across the globe. Considering that many countries are in the middle of an energy transition, Montréal is in a very good position to establish a competitive edge, as its 500 companies in this sector represent the only clean technology cluster in Canada,” explained Michel Leblanc.

Strategic infrastructure projects are waiting for funding
“We are pleased with the government’s willingness to continue investing in infrastructure to stimulate the economy. However, we have noticed that it has been slow to release the necessary funds so that structuring projects can proceed. The budget would have been a good opportunity to send a strong signal by explicitly targeting projects such as the Réseau électrique métropolitain and the extension of the blue metro line. We also want to take this opportunity to reiterate that the federal government should choose Montréal as the location for the future Canada Infrastructure Bank,” concluded Michel Leblanc.

About the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal (CCMM)
With a network of over 7,000 members, the CCMM is active on two fronts: being the voice of the Montréal business community and delivering specialized services to businesses and their representatives. With its finger on the pulse of current events, it acts on issues that are decisive for the prosperity of the city’s businesses. With the support of the Acclr experts, the CCMM’s goal is to accelerate the creation and growth of businesses of all sizes, at home and around the world.

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Source: 
Guillaume Bérubé
Advisor, Media Relations
Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal
Tel.: 514 871-4000, ext. 4042
gberube@ccmm.ca

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