Surrey: The Surrey Board of Trade congratulates Federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver and the federal government for delivering a balanced budget in uncertain economic times. These are the high-level observations by the Surrey Board of Trade.

“The Transportation Infrastructure investments will provide needed federal support for Surrey’s proposed construction of the Light Rail project,” says Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade.

The $5.35B New Building Canada Plan (for infrastructure), and the new Public Transit Fund, which begins with $750M in 2017 increasing to $1 billion per year in 2019, could be a source of federal funds for Surrey’s Light Rail and the Pattullo Bridge replacement. While each of these projects will still need federal approval, the clarity this new funding opportunity provides will help regional and provincial planning for major transit and transportation infrastructure. However, like the Big City Mayors, the Surrey Board of Trade would like to see assurances in the legislation that a new transit fund from Ottawa will be permanent.

“The Surrey Board of Trade observes that we exist in a fragile economy with some real risks still at play. It will be important to monitor revenue projections with the nation finishing 2015 with a projected surplus. In respect to the $1.95B Labour Market Development agreement, some details will be required on how it will be fairly administered. The Surrey Board of Trade also has questions about investments important to Surrey such as support for crime reduction, environment and climate change impacts, emergency planning and tourism promotion,” said Anita Huberman, CEO, Surrey Board of Trade.

The Surrey Board of Trade is pleased to see the following initiatives:

Small Business Taxes:  Specific measures, such as the reduction in the small business tax rate from 11% to 9%, are a benefit to Surrey businesses. The rate will drop 0.5% per year between 2016-2019. EI rates will be lower starting in 2017 from $1.88 for every $100 reduced to $1.48.

Manufacturing industry:  The announcements of an auto supplier innovation fund of $100 million, and the extension of the capital cost allowance to 2025, is important for Surrey’s high-growth manufacturing industry base. Further, the advanced manufacturing skills certification training program investments in addition to the $65 million investment in universities and colleges to align graduate skills to match industry needs with curriculum development is welcome news.

Human Capital and Labour Market Information Portals:  Market intelligence available through these portals is important for businesses moving into Surrey or existing businesses making decisions about their business and their human capital/staffing needs. The Surrey Board of Trade is pleased to see investments in this area such as Aboriginal Labour Market programs, $2 billion for labour market development, and funding for the Foreign Credential Recognition Training program to help immigrants achieve employment in their chosen fields. These investments will ensure the right skills are linked to the right industries and to the right locations throughout the nation that will enhance our nation’s economic competitiveness.

Agriculture industry:  The Lifetime Capital Gains increase to $1 million is important with one third of Surrey’s land base zoned as agriculture. The capital gains increase also applies to the fishing industry. There are also investments in international marketing for the agriculture industry.

International Trade:  The Surrey Board of Trade appreciates the investment tools that will help Surrey’s small and medium-sized businesses receive the support they need to access global markets. In this federal budget, the trade investments will be increased for export market development programs, development financing in emerging markets, trade commissioners, and the creation of a development finance institute.

Positive Family investments:  Extending Compassionate Care benefits from six weeks to six months and the TFSA increase to $10,000 supports Surrey’s families.

Youth Entrepreneurs:  The Surrey Board of Trade is pleased with the initiatives to help small business such as increased access to capital via small business loans, and the financial support for the not-for-profit, Futurpreneurs, to assist the next generation of small business owners with mentorship and financial support.

Environment and Resources:  Liquid Natural Gas and Mining Exploration received capital cost credits and tax credits respectively with required environment studies now eligible as a Canadian Exploration Expense. The Surrey Board of Trade looks forward to see how the new measures for federal agencies to consult with public and Aboriginal communities will unfold with further investments for the National Energy Board and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. The Surrey Board of Trade notes with some concern that while there is some funding for oil spill impact research and response in fresh and salt water, little appears to be targeted for BC.

For more information on the Federal Budget go to: http://www.budget.gc.ca/2015/docs/plan/toc-tdm-eng.html