The President of the Board of Directors, Dave Craven and CEO Gerry Macartney, had the opportunity to present the Chamber’s positions on the upcoming 2014 Federal Budget in a pre-budget consultation hosted by London North MP, Susan Truppe on November 13th at the London Convention Centre.
During the consultation they had an opportunity to deliver the following points.
With respect to Debt Management they emphasized the critical need to balance the federal books by 2015-2016 and ensure that the debt-to-GDP ratio falls below 30 per cent by 2016. “Your government, and in particular Finance Minister Flaherty deserve credit for establishing these goals and working to ensure that we meet them” said Dave Craven, President of the Chamber. “These are clearly in line with the goals of the London Chamber and that of our national Chamber in Ottawa”, he added.
On Program Spending they stressed that the government should limit growth in program spending to an average of 1.5 per cent per year through 2015-16 and continue to examine new ways to reduce costs, modernize how government works and ensure value for taxpayers’ money, including in the areas of service delivery, corporate asset management, travel and administrative systems.
On the matter of Tax Policy they emphasized the need for the government to ensure that Canada’s tax system is as neutral, simple, efficient and fair as possible. They also want government to avoid ad hoc changes to tax legislation, like the constant addition of special provisions and targeted tax benefits that some analysts say cost Canadian business about $2-3 billion annually. They also wanted the government to appoint an advisory panel (similar to the Advisory Panel on Canada’s System of International Taxation) to identify ways to reduce the complexity of Canada’s tax system. This should include a comprehensive review of the hundreds of exemptions, deductions, rebates, deferrals or credits that are part of the federal tax system to determine which ones are inefficient and wasteful. The panel should be supported by a secretariat and rely on the Department of Finance, the Canada Revenue Agency and the Auditor General of Canada for information and data regarding the current system.
Furthermore they want the government to reduce Canada’s heavy reliance on more damaging, high-cost sources of taxes, namely income and profit taxes, and rely more on consumption-based taxes, like the GST/HST.
Once the books are balanced, the government should be in a position to reduce the 15 per cent rate that applies to the first $43,561 of taxable income (2012) to 14 per cent, and the 22 per cent rate that applies to taxable income between $43,561 and $87,123 to 21 per cent. They can also raise the threshold at which the top federal marginal personal income tax rate kicks in to $200,000 from $135,054. As a result, income in the $135,054 and $200,000 range would be taxed at a rate of 26 per cent, down from 29 per cent.
During the exchange they also had an opportunity to share with the MP their frustration over the lack of High Speed Rail services in SW Ontario and the need for her government to demand that SW Ontario, particularly the Windsor/London to Toronto corridor, not be left out of the High Speed Rail Conversation.
Dave Craven also insisted that the Government needs to accelerate its efforts in support of the Keystone Pipeline and the opportunities that exist to export Canadian energy specifically liquid natural cast in both BC and the Maritimes.
CEO Macartney pointed out that with the advent of CETA (Canada Europe Trade Agreement) the government must do everything it can to eliminate the wasteful practice of interprovincial trade barriers that cost Canadian businesses in excess of $8 billion annually. Macartney credited Minister Flaherty for attempting to at least partially resolving one of those debilitating issues by trying to get a single securities regulator in place as opposed to the 13 we presently have in this country.
The chamber will continue to monitor these and other issues and the response to its recommendations as more details of the 2014 Federal Budget become known to us.