The federal budget must generate concrete measures for Montréal
Montréal, January 27, 2009 The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal recognizes the importance of the measures outlined in the budget presented by Canada's Minister of Finance, the Honourable James Flaherty, but stresses the urgent need to transform those commitments into action.
"Montréal and the entire country are currently undergoing what may be the worst quarter of the crisis. It is therefore important to take steps that will have an immediate impact. The government is on target with measures designed to support companies, including easier access to credit, tax breaks, and tariff relief to stimulate investment. It is crucial that companies improve their productivity and be prepared to take full advantage of the recovery, when it comes," declared Michel Leblanc, President and CEO of the Board of Trade.
"For Montréal, infrastructure investment is the most significant measure in this budget. That said, simply announcing these massive investments does not solve anything. It will be vital for investments to be made intelligently and rapidly. For this reason, the budget's implementation will be far more important than its filing. Over and above making speeches, the Board of Trade therefore urges the government to act efficiently to ensure immediate steps are taken to stimulate the economy and promote our long-term competitiveness. In the end, we will judge the success of this budget by the value of the disbursements made in the metropolitan area over the next year," stressed Leblanc.
"From this perspective, the Board of Trade expects the Canadian government to demonstrate exemplary leadership in the projects for which it is primarily responsible, such as phase II of developing the Old Port. It will also have to agree to bear the brunt of the burden in projects where it alone has the financial capacity to ensure they are launched quickly. Finally, it must facilitate access to financing for projects where it is not the principal contractor, such as the Outremont campus and the Quartier des spectacles," continued Leblanc.
"We also welcome the government's plan to devote $2 billion to upgrading facilities at colleges and universities. Their historic maintenance deficit handicaps their financial situation and distances them from their primary mission. In addition to helping stimulate the economy, this measure will directly benefit Montréal, one of whose primary strengths is its first-class higher education system," noted Leblanc.
The Board of Trade believes it is important that the public assume its share of responsibility for tackling other challenges facing the Canadian economy. "While the government devotes significant resources to counter the slowdown, it must also inspire companies and individuals to do their part to combat the recession. Reducing the tax burden on individuals and implementing a tax credit for home renovations will encourage Canadians to participate in the recovery," declared Leblanc.
"Finally, to ensure the sustainable recovery of our economy, the government must begin now to plan the return to fiscal balance. The abundance of means characterizing this budget must remain exceptional. We must not forget that, eventually, if we are to restore balance after the crisis, we will obviously have to make sacrifices," concluded Leblanc.
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 Greater Montréal and to provide individuals, merchants, and local businesses of all sizes with a variety of specialized services to help them achieve their full potential in terms of innovation, productivity and competitiveness. 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