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Budget 2017: Room to Innovate on Reducing Deficit

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EDMONTON, CANADA - The Edmonton Chamber of Commerce was pleased to see the federal government’s focus on innovation, training, and infrastructure, in the budget released on March 22, but urges government to come up with a plan to return Canada’s finances back to balance.

The budget projects a deficit of $28.6 billion for the upcoming fiscal year, with continuing deficits through to 2022. While measures designed to stimulate Canada’s economy are appreciated, they need not come at the expense of a strategy to balance the budget.

“Given the economic downturn, a budget deficit was to be expected this year. We expected, however, a clear signal from government about how budget deficits will be addressed over the long term,” said Janet Riopel, President and CEO of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce. “Economic growth and a plan to balance the budget are complementary goals. Working on both would inspire business confidence, especially during these uncertain times.”

The Edmonton Chamber of Commerce was pleased to see emphasis on trade-enabling infrastructure and innovation in this budget.

“We are a long-time, vocal advocate for investing in major infrastructure projects that will improve the flow of goods, services, and people across Canada and to markets around the globe,” said Riopel.

The budget includes $950 million over five years to support “superclusters” in innovative industries, including health and bio-sciences, agri-food, and digital technology.

“For Edmonton, there is an exciting opportunity to take advantage of the funding for superclusters,” said Riopel. “This means that we can continue to develop Edmonton’s health and bio-sciences industry and further Mayor Don Iveson’s goals to become Canada’s Health City.”

The budget includes $2.7 billion to Labour Market Transfer Agreements over six years, which will go to provinces and territorities for programs to help unemployed workers return to the workforce.

“The economic downturn has fundamentally changed Alberta’s economy and many jobs within the oil and gas sector will not return,” said Riopel. “We were pleased to see the federal government’s investment in retraining workers. That will help close the skills gap, allowing workers to shift to high-value, growth sectors.”

The Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, the official voice of business in the Capital Region, is one of the largest Chambers in Canada. The Edmonton Chamber proudly serves its 2,291 members, representing over 111,000 employees, to achieve its mission of creating the best environment for business.

Media contact:  Sheila Keenan

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