The 2004-2005 federal budget:
Prudent, but at the expense of boldness
Montreal, March 23, 2004 The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal considers that, while the budget presented today by Canada 's finance minister demonstrates sensible prudence, it does so at the expense of boldly dealing with the important issues of city funding and the economic competitiveness of Canada .
On January 13, when the Honourable Ralph Goodale appeared as its guest speaker, the Board of Trade revealed to him its pre-budget recommendations on behalf of its some 7,000 members. In particular, it highlighted the importance if increasing city funding and improving our economic competitiveness.
In the light of Mr. Goodale's budget speech, the Board of Trade is pleased by the federal government's recognition of the fundamental role played by urban centres in the development and economic prosperity of Canada . In making the development of cities one of his priorities, Prime Minister Martin has raised many expectations. Because this is a vital issue for the Board of Trade, we placed particular importance on it in our pre-budget submission. There clearly remains much to be done, but the confirmation of a full GST rebate to municipalities and the announcement of accelerated spending from the municipal infrastructure fund are significant steps in line with the Board of Trade's wish to see cities gain access to new, increased, diversified, and predictable revenue sources, declared Benoit Labonté, president of the Board of Trade.
With regard to the competitiveness of the Canadian economy, the Board of Trade commends the government's desire to facilitate and increase access by young Canadians to higher education, particularly by strongly encouraging education savings. Given the relatively low participation of Montrealers in higher education, these are decisions we welcome with enthusiasm. That said, the Board of Trade believes the government could have done more to enhance competitiveness, either by accelerating the elimination of the tax on capital or by paying more attention to the needs of exporters.
In general, this first budget of the Martin government earns points for prudence. On the other hand, the Board of Trade believes the government could have demonstrated more daring and creativity in terms of funding cities and supporting our economic competitiveness. While endorsing the need to limit increases in government spending, the Board of Trade nevertheless supports the making of new strategic investments likely to generate high returns in terms of innovation, productivity, and competitiveness, concluded Labonté.
The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal has some 7,000 members. Its primary mission is to represent the interests of the business community of the Greater Montreal region and, as a contributing and responsible player, to promote the economic development of the urban area. Encompassing three specialized services ( Info entreprises , the Electronic Commerce Institute and World Trade Centre Montréal ) that serve merchants and businesses of all sizes throughout Quebec and Canada , the Board of Trade is Quebec 's leading private economic development organization.
Coordinator, Media relations
Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal
Tel.: (514) 871-4000, ext. 4015
Federal pre-budget submission for 2004-2005