This week, Canadians and British Columbians finally had their chance to see the financial impact the pandemic has had on our country and province. First and foremost, it's clear these are not ordinary times. The Chamber and our national network understand that long-term economic health will require governments to get debt and deficits under control.
What we wanted to see from this week's budgets were investments that will allow businesses to soar as the post-pandemic economy lifts off. The outlook is good, with the Bank of Canada calling for better than expected growth this year.
We've seen many Pivot Pilots adapt and succeed. Their resilience is inspirational and will help lead the way as Greater Victoria's economy returns to the robust health we enjoyed before the pandemic. Below is a look at a few highlights from both budgets.
Federal budget's focus on short-term is OK for now
Monday's federal budget included a number of items advocated for by The Chamber.
Supports for businesses were extended, including the wage and rent subsidies. There were also funds for retraining workers to have the skills needed by employers. And we welcomed news of investment in child care that will help working mothers continue in their chosen careers. However, we'll have to wait and see how quickly this will translate to accessible and affordable child care spaces in our region.
All in all, the budget delivered on continuing support for hard-hit businesses and, hopefully, will lead to less reliance on subsidies as businesses get back to thriving — and playing their role in growing the economy.
“The budget’s focus on growth and jobs is an important step towards our economic recovery, but our growth drivers will need to shift from public spending to private investment to help get our finances under control," said Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
To hear more about the 2021 federal budget, register now for A Conversation with the Hon. Joyce Murray, Thursday, April 22, from 1:30-2 pm.
Provincial budget offers update on BC's fiscal health
On Tuesday, the first provincial budget in two years estimates a deficit of $9.7 billion for 2021-2022, before recovering quickly in the next two years. BC will get back to balanced budgets within nine years, Finance Minister Selina Robinson announced.
The budget included funding for tourism recovery, and the province said it is working with industry to ensure money will help the hardest-hit businesses survive.
“We’ve been calling for immediate help for large tourism operators that anchor that vital sector," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said. "It was good to hear $100 million is being allocated for tourism, attractions and trails, and we look forward to seeing more details.”
However, transportation companies are still waiting for funding.
"We’re hoping to see money that, in some cases, was announced very publicly, actually get into the pockets of businesses that need it," Williams said. "As we recover from the pandemic, it will take much longer for the economy to recover if we have to rebuild transportation infrastructure that could be lost if those businesses are not able to hang on."
To hear more about the 2021 provincial budget, register now for A Conversation with the BC Finance Minister Selina Robinson, Monday, April 26, from 3-4 pm.