Municipal funding best budget news, says federation
$70B available to cities over next 10 years
Although there is little new money to be found in the 2013 federal budget released Thursday, a municipal organization believes a recommitment of infrastructure funds will likely help P.E.I. the most.
Roughly $70 billion over the next ten years will be available to cities through the Building Canada Fund, the Community Improvement Fund and the GST Rebate for Municipalities.
That includes $7.3 million for upgrades to the Charlottetown perimeter highway.
"There's always a place to spend your money on infrastructure," said Bruce MacDougall, president of the Federation of P.E.I. Municipalities.
"There's all kinds of roads and streets and bridges and water lines and everything else that need to be fixed. And this new Building Canada Fund with the 10-year agreement put in place really helps our projects."
For the first time, according to Egmont MP Gail Shea, educational institutions and airports will have access to these funds.
The budget also includes a commitment of $1 billion over five years to the aerospace industry —another Island highlight.
There is little new spending in the budget — about $900 million — and no new tax cuts -- all in the federal government's attempt to eliminate the deficit by 2015.
Small business benefits
Meanwhile, the P.E.I. director of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Erin McGrath-Gaudet, said small business is the big winner in the budget with renewed tax breaks.
"There really has been a focus that we saw in the budget on helping the private sector, in particular small businesses, because they are the bulk of the private sector," says McGrath-Gaudet.
"When we look at all the talk of skills and training and with the [Employment Insurance] credit for hiring and retirement savings and all those items -- that was really geared towards our audience."
The federal budget is also shuffling funds to create Canada Job Grants, a new skilled workers training program that will match contributions from the province and the private sector.
Despite this, Jody LaPierre, the head of the P.E.I. Public Service Alliance doesn't see anything he believes will ease last year's cuts.
"I thought today's budget was a lot of smoke and mirrors. It was a lot of renamed, revamped programs from the past that they're trying to claim as new spending and it really left me more questions than answers really," said LaPierre.
"The cuts were substantial last year and they rolled out over three years, so anything today is compounded on top of whatever was done last year."