Can you feel the excitement in the air? A brand new federal budget is about to be delivered into the world. A precious bundle of joy, full of hopes, expectations and the future of the Canadian economy will come screaming into the House of Commons in a couple of weeks. So what should we expect?
Three big things are keeping us on the edge of our seats. This baby will have larger deficits than last year amid economic uncertainty. She’ll be full of exciting details around previous announcements—the innovation agenda, the infrastructure bank, the FDI hub. Finally, we’ll see some nasty surprises coming from the review of tax credits. Wahhh!
The budget is unusually late this year. We’re now expecting it on March 21, after a number of delays. Pity the poor Finance Department. Last year’s budget was hit by a sharp decline in oil prices and an economy that was weaker than expected. This year’s budget is upended by Hurricane Trump—normal expectations around trade and business investment are out the window.
There is now more uncertainty than we’ve seen in decades, and the federal government has run out of fiscal room. The deficit will reach $26 billion this year, and that’s before the additional costs for new health deals with the provinces. For years, we’ve advocated balanced budgets, or at least a solid plan to return to balance. The Finance Department’s current forecasts show this will not happen before 2050. (This baby will be middle-aged by then.)
Growing deficits make it unlikely that we’ll see any large new programs. Instead, this budget is likely to fill in details around previous announcements. Remember, Budget 2016 left many of the tough questions to be filled in after consultations. The government had said Phase 2 of the infrastructure plan, with the “fast, efficient trade corridors” would be announced in the next year. The Innovation Agenda, a “bold new plan” to redesign how Canada supports innovation, was coming later. Health spending would be determined. A review of tax expenditures was coming soon.
We’re excited about the innovation program, but it’s that last promise that has us most worried. The government announced an internal review of all federal tax credits, with a view to eliminating poorly targeted and inefficient ones. A panel of external experts is in place, but there has been no consultation.
We certainly support simplifying the tax system, but some of these tax credits are very important to business and Canadians. For several months, we campaigned vigorously to oppose a plan to tax employer-sponsored health and dental plans. The plan would have cost workers thousands of dollars and was only abandoned by the government after tens of thousands of emails and negative media.
The government is looking for revenue so we’ll likely see a few unpleasant surprises in the budget. It would be odd if the government reviewed 150 tax credits and decided to keep all of them. So, we just don’t know if the capital gains inclusion rate, the federal dividend tax credit or flow-through shares might be on the chopping block. We’ll be watching the budget closely to determine the positive (innovation agenda, infrastructure) and negative impacts (tax credits and deficits) on business. I’m worried this baby could be adorable and smiling on the surface but with some smelly surprises hidden away.
Senior Director, Economic, Financial & Tax Policy
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce
Imagine this scenario. Someone you met once or twice informally sends you a message through LinkedIn inviting you for coffee. You join them. They tell you what they’re working on, the impact they’re making, the way they help others. You express your excitement for their work. Then, out of nowhere, they ask you to marry them and buy them a house that they will live in. They go on to tell you they will update you annually on the use of the house and invite you to see it. If you’re lucky.
Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, this is becoming a more and more common occurrence. Not in your personal life but in your philanthropic life. Increasingly, the charitable sector is fast tracking major gift solicitations to donors, not based on what works for the donor but based on the timeline that works for the charity.
It’s understandable why this happens. The need is great. There are many worthwhile projects making an impact that are benefiting our community. However, understanding why this is happening doesn’t make it okay. Donors who are asked for a major gift are asked to make an investment to positively impact the organization. This investment will also impact the donor and their family, perhaps for generations. Donors must be respected enough to be given the opportunity and the time they need to learn about the organization so they can build a relationship where they feel valued.
It’s the fundraiser’s job to ensure the donor is always asked for the right amount by the right person for the right project at the right time.
Fundraisers aren’t hired to only close gifts. They are hired to build partnerships. Donors need to know more than just the major gift priorities of our organizations. They need to know the gratitude we feel for their philanthropy.
What do you credit with your success?
What does Winnipeg mean to you?
Who do you want to inspire?
What excites you about the work you do?
What does the word 'community' mean to you?
What's next for you?
Chamber member Chef Peter Fehr from Gourmet Inspirations is hoofing his salted caramel whisky sauce to Los Angeles this weekend. He'll be serving Hollywood's stars (alongside GORP Clean Energy Bar's Colleen Dyck) in the Celebrity Luxury Gifting Suite at the 89th Academy Awards.
"I'm just getting feedback from the press release now, while also coping with all the logistics," said Fehr, who was approached by the company behind the gifting suite months ago. "It's a little crazy, but very exciting."
Over 150 celebrities who are attend the Academy Awards will arrive at the Luxury Gifting Suite on Saturday to taste Fehr's gourmet sauces. There will be opportunities for photos as well as the opportunity to connect with investors.
"We sent an invite to Ryan Gosling’s publicist," says Fehr, who hopes Hollywood's social media powerhouses give his own following a boost. "There's no guarantee he’ll show up, but if he did - that would be perfect."
Gourmet Inspirations was established in 2013 with the purpose and goal of creating gourmet, specialty food products that are versatile, convenient, and easy to use. Gourmet Inspirations currently offers a line of delectable five-star sauces for use at home. Flavours include Creamy Peppercorn Whiskey, Sweet & Spicy Lemon, Strawberry Balsamic with Basil, and Salted Caramel Whiskey Dessert Sauce. All products are Canadian made and contain no preservatives.
“I’m honoured to be part of showcasing amazing local Canadian products at the Academy Awards,” says Fehr.
Manitoba is a major hub of CN’s transcontinental rail network. Much of our trafﬁc passes through Winnipeg’s Symington Yard. Winnipeg is also home to Transcona Shops, our main Canadian railcar and locomotive repair facility, and our rail plant. In Winnipeg, we also have CargoFlo® bulk handling, forest products and automotive distribution facilities, and an intermodal terminal.
CN signed a 10-year contract with Amsted Rail to produce one million railcar wheels for Transcona Shops. The new wheels will be produced using 100 per cent recycled steel in Winnipeg, providing high-quality jobs there. In 2016, we invested about $90 million to strengthen our rail network and support safety, efﬁciency and long-term growth in Manitoba. The program focused on the replacement and upgrade of rail, ties and ballast, plus bridge maintenance, level crossing rehabilitations, signal upgrades, and improvements at Transcona Shops.
In 2016, CN invested almost $400,000 in 32 Manitoba-based organizations, including:
Canadian Mental Health Association
The CMHA held its first ride-a-thon in Winnipeg to help people in the community get the best possible care and support in their recovery from mental illness.
FortWhyte’s roster of 40 leading-edge outdoor environmental educational programs incorporate key themes of sustainable development and rail safety into Manitoba’s education system.
Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre
Deeply rooted in the province of Manitoba, the centre aspires to both reflect and inform the community it serves by providing affordable and accessible performances of the highest calibre
Tell us about your organization.
Who do you help with what you do?
Describe a moment where you realized you made a difference.
For the last several years, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce has published an annual list of the Top 10 Barriers to Canadian Competitiveness. That document listed some of the self-inflicted wounds that have prevented Canada’s economy from achieving its full potential and set out our recommendations for change.
Many of those recommendations were acted upon by government while others remain unaddressed. This year’s document is different.
Instead of focusing on barriers, it sets out 10 opportunities to improve our economic success. It still makes some specific recommendations that we will add to and advocate throughout the year. The document is far from a comprehensive list of our broad policy agenda, which includes the resolutions passed at our Annual General Meeting and Convention, the work of our standing policy committees, the roundtables we hold across Canada throughout the year, the research undertaken by our talented policy specialists and the suggestions we receive directly from the more than 200,000 members of our network.
Instead, Ten Ways is designed to offer a focused view of measures governments can take to improve our competitiveness. Identifying the issues that make up the list is as much art as science. It involves bringing together all of the policy input mentioned above and making a judgement about which issues will be particularly timely in the year ahead.
After wide discussion and debate, the final list is approved by our Board of Directors. This year’s list comes at a time of both challenge and opportunity for Canada. The global economy’s slow growth and the rising tide of protectionism and geopolitical insecurity provides an uncertain canvas on which to paint the Canadian picture.
However, we continue to possess important advantages, including our rich resource inheritance, the skills and industry of our citizens and our proximity to the world’s richest market. With imagination and plain hard work, we can translate these advantages into business success that will benefit every Canadian family.
President and Chief Executive Officer
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce
1. Promote Innovation and Harness the Power of Data
Canada’s innovation agenda must leverage the private sector and help companies get from idea to product. Harnessing the power of “big data” and ensuring data are secure will also be critical to competitive success.
2. Fight Global Protectionism
As a trade-dependent nation, Canada must combat protectionism by leveraging its critical resources and other products and services its partners need. The completion of CETA and the Trade in Services Agreement will also open markets to Canadian business.
3. Upgrade Canada’s Regulatory System to Get Natural Resources and Other Exports to World Markets
Canada needs a regulatory environment that makes it possible to develop natural resource projects and to build the infrastructure required to get those resources to customers. Its regulatory system must also be open, transparent, fact-based and efficient.
4. Work with Business to Combat Climate Change and Maintain Canada’s Competitiveness
Canada needs a national carbon-pricing policy that has one objective: lowering GHG emissions while preserving Canada’s competitiveness. For the benefit of the environment and of the economy, Canadian business must be at the centre of the design and execution of Canada’s climate change strategy.
5. Build Canada’s Brand
Canada must provide reliable and sufficient funding to Destination Canada’s international marketing budget. A well-marketed national brand would increase foreign investment, encourage the world’s most talented people to immigrate to Canada and add value to quality-dependent exports, like agri-food products.
6. Grow Small Business to Take on the World
Canada must ensure small businesses have innovative access to capital, the talent and the programs that will get their goods to international markets so they can grow and flourish in the global economy.
7. Build Digital Skills to Compete in the New Talent Economy
Canada must build its capacity to harness digital technologies and apply them across its economy. It must also grow its pool of information and communications technology workers by encouraging student enrolment in computer-centric fields, improving the digital literacy of Canadians or hiring foreign workers.
8. Assure Better Access to Capital for Indigenous Entrepreneurs
Canada must support Indigenous entrepreneurs in their efforts to access the capital needed to invest in equipment, training and other tools that can translate the benefits of short-to-mediumterm projects into the long-term benefits of jobs and wealth for their communities.
9. Dismantle Internal Barriers that Cost Consumers and Discourage Investors
Canada must develop a new Agreement on Internal Trade that includes the mutual recognition of regulations. Allowing business to operate more freely between provinces and territories will increase economic growth and job creation.
10. Encourage Investment by Cutting the Cost of Doing Business in Canada
Canada must reduce the cost of doing business in this country. Reducing those rising costs will provide a significant boost to our competitiveness and leave more money for businesses to invest.
We encourage you to join the discussion online and tweet your thoughts using the hashtag #10Ways
On Tuesday, February 14 we were honoured to sit down with Minister Ralph Eichler to discuss the future of Manitoba's food sector - one of the four key pillars The Winnipeg Chamber identified for our province's economic development strategy.
Joined by our Board Chair Wadood Ibrahim (Protegra) and Board Member Lisa Dyck, we were deeply pleased to have a wide ranging conversation with the Minister on critical issues facing the sector - a conversation we look forward to continuing as carbon pricing and possible NAFTA changes loom on the horizon.
Our suggestions included:
We're grateful to connect with a Minister who has deep ties, history and support for Manitoba's food sector and look forward to future discussions.
I never thought that the name 'The blanket exercise' gave the activity the justice it deserves, although this is how the activity was created and is commonly known. It is originally from the KAIROS, a joint venture by the United Church of Canada as an advocacy for social change.
I've been a workshop facilitator for over 15 years, I have facilitated hundreds of very valuable and meaningful lessons to a variety of audiences, but this is definitely a presentation that is very dear to my heart. It is my story, as much as it is all our story.
The blanket exercise is an activity where participants explore the nation-to-nation relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada, and explore a timeline of over 500 years. Blankets arranged on the floor represent land, or ‘Turtle Island’ known by the Indigenous peoples, and each participant plays a part, by stepping into the roles of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. I added my own touches to the presentation by noting some dates, specific stories and names that participants might relate to. When people leave, they will have a new, deeper understanding of the history, like they haven’t before. The activity really ties together all of the points of things we may have heard about such as the Indian Act, residential schools and the 60’s scoop.
I was moved by the growing interest of Winnipeggers wanting to learn what the indigenous history and reality, really is, and I felt called to step into the role of a knowledge-sharer and put together a workshop called Indigenous Insights Seminar, which includes the activity and much of the knowledge I collected and learned about as an urban, Indigenous adult. We also touch base on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, some background on where the ‘Calls to Action’ came from, and I also present an opportunity to learn about some traditions you might see in our region such as the value of ‘passing tobacco’.
The recognition of the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions Calls to Action was definitely a driver to sharing this knowledge. I give credit to the leadership that Senator Murray Sinclair in starting the movement to reconciling Canada and we all have a part to play. This is part of my journey.
I was honored to share this presentation with the board of directors and staff at the Winnipeg Chamber and received valuable feedback, click this link. This is my community. I want my children to one day be teaching this workshop and for this knowledge to be shared widely and openly and never be hidden again.