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Vaughan Chamber of Commerce is ‘pleased’ after Ontario releases new budget

‘The government has taken the advice we gave in our 2019 pre-budget submission,’ it says
April 15, 2019
Dina Al-Shibeeb

Vaughan Chamber of Commerce said its “pleased” to see Ontario plans to return to “balanced budgets” after Finance Minister Vic Fedeli unveiled the provincial budget, which the PC government says is aimed at tackling the province’s $343 billion.

“The government has taken the advice we gave in our 2019 pre-budget submission and in our recent report, Accounting for Ontario’s Debt,” the chamber said in a statement.

With Ontario’s debt having $13.3 billion in interest, the chamber said the province’s “robust plan” is to “improve government’s fiscal responsibility via a ‘spend smarter’ approach rather than an austerity approach.”

While some said the new budget is “austerity-lite” with Fedeli touting deficit reduction as necessary for “protecting what matters most,” the government is projecting a deficit of $11.7 billion in 2018-2019 with a plan to return to a balanced budget by 2023-24.

The chamber also said the new budget “takes a holistic view of economic development” to refocus on “key outcomes” as “recommended” by their prebudget submission.

“Strengthening commercialization through an intellectual property framework and tax incentives will help address Ontario’s scaleup challenge and drive economic growth,” it said.

With the new budget, the Conservatives are focusing on some sectors over others, with a key focus on manufacturing, for example.

Changes pertaining to workforce development and the immigration program were also supported by the chamber, which said these are key to “reflecting the changing labour market needs across the province.”

One of the changes is the promotion apprenticeships and skilled trades as a career pathway for all students from kindergarten to Grade 12. Another goal is to attract more “technology-focused” professionals when it comes to skilled immigrants.

Meanwhile, York Region leaders on Wednesday praised Premier Doug Ford’s announcement of the Yonge North subway extension as part of Ontario’s transit plan.

The extension will run-up Yonge Street from Finch station in Toronto to Highway 7 in Richmond Hill.

“We are also pleased to see the Ontario government taking a regional focus in its transportation plan, with projects earmarked for both rural and urban parts of the province including the Yonge-North Subway extension,” the chamber said.