Federal budget vulnerable to strong economy for its success

Chamber of Commerce says additional $80 billion in debt over next five years could be 'major problem'

This week’s introduction of the federal government’s budget is one that counts on a strong economy to fund its programs, adding almost $80 billion over the next five years to the total public debt.

That could be a major problem if the government’s assumptions fail to materialize, says the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in its analysis of the budget document.

Concerns that an increase in interest rates, an economic slowdown, or trade negotiations (or all of the above) could disrupt the government’s plans.

Still, where the budget is largely absent initiatives designed to help businesses as a whole, there are some positive new measures to help women entrepreneurs and small businesses who want to innovate.

Highlights of the budget include:

—Private corporations will still be able to maintain passive investments, but only up to $50,000 per year. The way in which they are taxed after $50,000 is simplified.

—A new Apprenticeship Grant for women and Pre-Apprenticeship Program to encourage under-represented groups to explore careers in the skilled trades.

—$100 million to develop the next generation of rural broadband, particularly the use of low Earth orbit satellites

—$573 million to implement a Digital Infrastructure Strategy

—$140 million for collaborative projects between business and colleges

—$105 million for regional development agencies to promote women-led businesses

—$1.2 billion to establish a new EI Parental Sharing Benefit

—Creation of an Advisory Council to develop plans for a National Pharmacare Program

—$8 million to modernize VIA Rail passenger service to continue assessing VIA’s high-frequency rail proposal

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