Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland delivers the federal budget in the House of Commons as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on in Ottawa on Monday, April 19, 2021. (Sean Kilpatrick - The Canadian Press)

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland delivers the federal budget in the House of Commons as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on in Ottawa on Monday, April 19, 2021. (Sean Kilpatrick - The Canadian Press)

Federal budget 2021: ‘Unprecedented deficit’ a worry for Vernon chamber

Support for businesses, non-profits welcomed by business advocacy group

The federal budget is welcome news for the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce, but it’s not free of worries.

Concerns about the taxpayers’ ability to “absorb an unprecedented deficient” remain after Finance Minister tabled the first budget in two years on April 19, complete with $101.4 billion in new spending over three years.

“We appreciate that the government faced a significant challenge in developing a budget as the COVID_19 pandemic continues to create economic uncertainty and there are overwhelming demands on government to not only stabilize the economy but to move Canada towards recovery,” chamber president Krystin Kempton said.

While wage and rent subsidy extensions will be welcomed by the business and non-profit community, Kempton said the chamber is hopeful new programs will aid in the hiring of staff or shifting to online platforms.

“The success of those initiatives will depend on the details.”

News of community-based market demand reviews, new skills training opportunities and $30 billion over five years for a national child care system pleased the chamber, Kempton said, but they’re still trying to determine if the budget will also provide excise tax parity for craft distilleries in Canada.

The chamber is also keen to learn if there are any incentives for developers to construct more attainable housing as real estate costs soar.

The budget indicates that the national deficit was $354.2 billion in 2020-21 and it forecasts $154.7 billion in 2021-22. Debt to GDP ratio climbs above 50 per cent.

“Government spending is required at this time to maintain economic activity, keeping in mind that what we borrow now must be paid for later,” Kempton said.

“Deficit reduction targets are important but growth targets will be essential as we shift from public spending to private investment in the years to come. We need policies and strategies that allow entrepreneurs to flourish, bolstering employment and community resilience.”

READ MORE: Funding to assist rural North Okanagan-Shuswap businesses with COVID-19 recovery

READ MORE: Federal Budget 2021: Liberals highlight plans for COVID supports, long-term care, child care


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