Canada’s federal budget for 2021 is long on optimistic rhetoric but again lacked any comprehensive national strategy to support and grow our manufacturing sector.
This came as a surprise to many, considering how 2020 demonstrated just how important homegrown manufacturing is to this country.
“Today, the federal government missed an opportunity to have a more comprehensive approach which would have helped to make our manufacturers more competitive. A lot of the measures announced today are positive and will help, but there is not enough in there to move the needle and drive long-term growth.” said Dennis Darby, president and CEO of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME).
But its not all doom and gloom, as CME applauded many of the tactical policies outlined in the budget as initiatives that will help industry recover from the pandemic, such as more funding for the Strategic Innovation Fund, enhancing accelerated capital write-offs, extending the wage subsidy, helping companies transition to net-zero, investing in skills training and childcare.
However, CME says the government “missed an opportunity to address fundamental issues plaguing the long-term health and growth of the manufacturing sector.” The group has long advocated for targeted federal policy to significantly drive technology investment, scale-up and commercialization, cautioning that “This is not the plan that will launch our industry forward or see us win the global race.”
Focus on SMEs
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland presented Canada’s 2021 budget on April 19 and it’s packed with quick-hit measures to help the nation bounce back from the COVID-19, especially small and medium-sized businesses.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) liked extensions to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) into the fall.
“Small businesses have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic, with only 56 per cent fully open across the country a year after the pandemic began,” said CFIB president Dan Kelly. “Today’s budget delivered meaningful support to many, but there are still critical gaps in the federal relief programs that exclude tens of thousands of hard-hit businesses.”
Companies in the aerospace sector will likely see a boost in support with the launch of a $250 million regional aerospace recovery initiative. The money will be doled out over three years to regional development agencies, which will use the funds to help small and medium-sized companies to improve productivity, commercialization, capacity and energy efficiency of their operations and products.
“By tabling this budget, the federal government is sending a strong signal to the aerospace sector,” says said Suzanne Benoît, president of the aerospace think tank and advisory Aéro Montréal. “It is also demonstrating its willingness to work with the provincial government to provide the industry with a harmonized vision for a green recovery and concrete solutions tailored to the needs of the sector. With these measures, we will be able to make the aerospace industry one of the pillars of Canada’s economic recovery and a leader in the sustainable mobility of tomorrow.”