Timmins Chamber applauds workforce support in 2013 federal budget


Date:  3/21/2013
ArticleType:  Press Release

TIMMINS, March 21, 2013—Strong measures to enhance the Canadian labour market are among the reasons the 2013 federal budget is largely positive for the local business community, according to the Timmins Chamber of Commerce.

The federal budget, as tabled on March 21 by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, offers several opportunities for Timmins businesses, including:

• The creation of a $300-million Canada Job Grant, which allows businesses to match costs for employee skills training with the federal and provincial governments, at $15,000 or more per person;
• Apprenticeship improvements, including greater mobility between provinces;
• $241 million over five years to support employment opportunities for First Nations youth through the on-reserve Income Assistance Program;
• A two-year, $225-million extension of the Hiring Credit for Small Business;
• A two-year, $1.4-billion extension of the temporary capital cost allowance for manufacturers who invest in machinery and equipment;
• A two-year, $92-million extension for programs to enhance forestry innovation and market development support;
• A one-year extension of the 15-per-cent Mineral Exploration Tax Credit for flow-through share investors.

“As a whole, the 2013 federal budget offers some promising levels of support for Timmins-area businesses,” said Timmins Chamber Vice-President Phil Barton.
“With workforce challenges continuing to be one of our most significant local issues, we’re encouraged to note that the government has made some significant commitments to help address the problem. Businesses need the right people in the right jobs in order to succeed, and these measures are a positive step towards that goal.”

One of the budget items of particular interest to the Timmins Chamber and its 800+ members is the creation of the Canada Job Grant, which provides businesses with greater authority and broader options for training prospective or existing employees.

This will allow employers to upgrade skills by matching funding with the provincial and federal governments, at $15,000 or more per employee.

The budget also offers stronger support for building the national workforce. This includes a move to harmonize apprenticeship requirements across provinces and territories, allowing for greater mobility for such workers throughout the country. As many as 5,000 paid internships for post-secondary institutions will also be supported by a federal $70-million investment over three years.

First Nations training opportunities have also been proposed, with $241 million over five years to support employment opportunities for First Nations youth through the on-reserve Income Assistance Program.

Money has also been allocated to accelerating immigration claims, building upon other positive measures to help provide industry with much-needed employees, said Barton.

A series of extensions to existing, popular programs in the budget will also assist Timmins businesses, such as the two-year extension of the Hiring Credit for Small Business, which should help transition these positions into the workforce.

Manufacturers also stand to benefit from a two-year extension of the temporary capital cost allowance for manufacturers, which will allow for continued investment in machinery and equipment manufacturing.

Also of benefit to the region is an additional $92 million to enhance innovation and marketing programs for forestry companies, enhancing the $105 million committed in last year’s budget. In another crucial resource sector, a further one-year extension of the 15-per-cent Mineral Exploration Tax Credit should help to ensure that junior mineral exploration firms can continue to see incentives to invest in places like Timmins.

However, the continued elimination of tax credits for operating mines, a process that began in the 2012 federal budget, remains an ongoing disappointment for the Timmins Chamber.

“Though there are a few small points of concern, these measures directly address some of our region’s more pressing issues,” said Barton. “With specific supports for employment, small business, and investment in our primary industries, we look forward to working with our provincial and federal partners to ensuring these changes strengthen our business community, both in Timmins and beyond.”

This point of view is shared by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, which saw much to like in the 2013 federal budget, despite some disappointment in its approach to research and innovation funding.

Specifically, the organization applauded the federal government’s plan to balance the budget by 2015, an ambitious but important goal, according to Canadian Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Perrin Beatty.

“We think that’s going to be tough, but it’s essential,” said Beatty. “Much of our recent economic success is tied to our reputation as a prudent country which follows through on its fiscal plans.”

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About the Timmins Chamber of Commerce
With over 800 members, the Timmins Chamber of Commerce is one of the largest accredited chambers of commerce with distinction in northeastern Ontario. As the “Voice of Business in Timmins” since 1949, our advocacy and policy initiatives focus on ensuring a positive business climate in the City of Timmins.

Contact:
Nick Stewart
Policy and Communications Director
Timmins Chamber of Commerce
(705) 360-1900
policy@timminschamber.on.ca