Statement By Minister Of Finance On 2013 Federal Budget
Today Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance, released the following statement on the 2013 Federal Budget:
"Today we were looking for action on four key areas of importance to the people of Ontario - the closing of corporate tax loopholes, combating the underground economy, skills and training and infrastructure.
We are happy to see the federal government has taken action on each of these areas of priority to the people of Ontario.
However, we have some concerns about the way in which some of this action is proposed to be taken.
There are elements in this budget - particularly in the area of skills and training - that appear to remove much of the flexibility we need to adapt federal funding to meet the specific needs of the Ontario economy and labour market.
Because of changes in the structure of our economy, cooperation and a strong partnership between our governments are more important now than ever.
Integrity of the Tax System
We are pleased to see federal action being taken in this budget to close corporate tax loopholes, and address the underground economy.
While these actions are important to ensuring everyone is paying their fair share so both orders of government can fund vital public services, more opportunities to collaborate exist, and we need to continue to work together to continue to enhance the integrity and fairness of our tax system.
We also called on the federal government to renew funding for labour market transfers that are going to expire.
We are concerned that the conditions on a large portion of the renewed funding to deliver the new Canada Job Grant could force the Province to divert existing resources that serve under-represented groups, to this new federally-designed program.
After all, we have always said we need maximum flexibility to respond to the specific labour market needs of the Ontario economy.
Ontario already invests significant resources, supported by existing federal funding, to achieve results for both employers and those looking to upgrade their skills and find work.
Employment Ontario has helped more than 290,000 Ontarians access training and find work in 2012. Employment Ontario also connected more than 90,000 employers with the qualified employees they needed.
Today's budget suggests that the federal government thinks it is better placed to design programs that meet the needs of Ontario's workers. We believe Ontario has the best understanding of the labour market requirements in this province, and how best to meet them.
Infrastructure and Affordable Housing
Ontario is pleased that the federal government is committing to continued investments in infrastructure through its new Building Canada Plan.
Today's Budget shows that the federal government is prepared to provide the financial investment needed to fulfill this role through a long-term funding commitment.
The Province expects the federal government to allow provinces to use these investments to support provincial priorities- like public transit, roads and bridges, highways and wastewater - and do so in a way that is smart and strategic, and provide value-for-money to citizens.
We are also pleased that the federal budget has made a commitment to continue investing in affordable housing. While we will continue to look for a longer-term commitment from the federal government to affordable housing, this is an important step forward.
We look forward to working with the federal government in the coming months to ensure flexibility in these programs.
Overall, the federal government has today made some progress in moving Ontario forward.
However, the federal government needs to provide greater flexibility to provinces that are in the best position to determine provincial needs.
The people of Ontario expect all orders of government to work together to create good jobs, build strong, healthy communities and protect vital public services."