11 business leaders react to the federal budget

Ottawa's latest budget has received mixed reviews from across the business and economic community.
The business and economic community has mixed feeling about Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's latest budget. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's latest federal budget has brought a swift reaction from the business and financial community, with economists and business-leaders eager to get in their two cents. Or is it two nickels now?

The following are some of the comments about Ottawa's latest budget:

Ken Neumann, national director for Canada, United Steelworkers

"Eliminating the penny won't distract from the Harper Conservatives' deep cuts to important public services, jobs and retirement security, the United Steelworkers (USW) union says."

"The Harper government claims it has introduced a jobs budget, but it actually projects a higher unemployment rate this year than last year. Conservative cuts will directly eliminate 19,200 jobs from the delivery of public services, and remove funding that helps support thousands of private-sector jobs."

Timothy M. Egan, president and CEO, Canadian Gas Association

"In a time of economic difficulty, keeping services affordable is key. Innovation is fundamental to affordability, it furthers environmental objectives, and it drives longer term productivity in the economy."

James L. Turk, executive director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers

"With this budget, the government turns away from the kind of research that leads to new discoveries in favour of a narrow and short-term commercial agenda. By linking research only to business interests, the government will stifle rather than promote growth and scientific advancement."

Ian Russell, president and CEO, Investment Industry Association of Canada

"We have not had a strong recovery since the 2008 financial crisis, and only modest growth is expected over the next few years.  However, the budget has addressed the need to encourage sustained private sector growth and job creation in the country, and put health, education and social programs on a sound footing," said .   "In that regard, this budget is different from those of the past."

The Canadian Bankers Association

"The government has announced its intention to eliminate the penny from circulation, citing the savings to taxpayers and its reduced purchasing power. Given the banking industry's role in the handling of currency, banks will be pleased to work with the government on this process in an effort to ensure a smooth transition for the benefit all stakeholders and individual Canadians."

Dave Coles, president, Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada

"Today's federal budget moves us closer to a meaner, leaner, lesser country that will soon be unrecognizable... It causes needless hardship for seniors who can least afford it, cuts public sector jobs that our struggling economy badly needs, and fast tracks good jobs out of Canada, while smoothing the way for multinationals to increase profits."

Russell Williams, president, Canada's Research-based Pharmaceutical Companies

"The 2012 federal budget includes initiatives to bolster Canadian innovation and foster partnerships between Canada's world-leading researchers, both of which are critical to advancing life science research in Canada... We welcome the government's commitment to encourage the development of public and private sector partnerships."

Ron Olson, president, Canadian Home Builders' Association

"This is a practical budget that sets the stage for future economic renewal, while delivering worthwhile measures today... We're pleased that Minister Flaherty resisted calls to tighten amortization and down payment rules. This type of intervention would have prevented thousands of first-time buyers pursuing their dream of homeownership. Market stability is essential, and more regulation could threaten every Canadian who owns a home."

John McKenna, president, Air Transport Association of Canada

"The Air Transport Association of Canada was deeply disappointed to learn that Transport Canada's Operating Budget was cut by 10% in today's Federal Budget. This will drastically impact upon the manpower of this department... and will consequently impact upon the oversight of safety, security and the economic development of the transportation sector."

Paul Moist, national president, CUPE

"The 11 million Canadians without a workplace pension have been abandoned by the Harper Conservative government. These unnecessary and arbitrary cuts to Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement will only heighten the crisis."

Barry Thorsteinson, president, The National Pensioner and Senior Citizens Federation

"Ever tried to sit on a three legged chair after one of them has been tampered with? We look forward to seeing this ill advised choice of spending priorities set aside in the next election."