Finance Minister Jim Flaherty revealed late this afternoon the details of the 2013 federal budget titled: Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Economic Action Plan.
There were a number of positive developments related to border and road infrastructure in the document. Below are early highlights of the budget from a Canadian Trucking Alliance perspective:
• Over $47 billion in new infrastructure spending over 10 years starting in 2014-15, for provincial, territorial and local infrastructure including $14 billion for a new Building Canada Fund to support major economic projects that have a national, regional and local significance. Specifically, the budget proposes to provide (a) up to $124.9 million to build a bridge-causeway between Nuns’ Island and the Island of Montreal; (b) $25 million over three years to advance the Windsor-Detroit crossing project; (c)$100 million for Stony Trail Ring Road in Calgary; (d) $705 million for completion of Phase II of highway 30 project in Quebec; (e) up to $365 million to support South Fraser Perimeter Road (Deltaport to TCH); (f) twinning in Banff National Park $267 million; (g) $29.9 million for Highway 8 expansion in Kitchener.
• Under the Beyond the Border Action Plan, the federal government over the next five years will commit to the following measures to improve border efficiency: (1) Upgrading border infrastructure at S-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Que., Lansdowne, Ont., Emerson, Man., and North Portal, Sask., and installing border wait-time technologies at key ports of entry; (2) Implementing a single window for companies to submit electronically all the data required by government departments for arriving shipments; (3) harmonized and enhanced benefits for trusted traders (FAST); (3) Equipping new custom facilities at the port of Vancouver and pilot projects at the ports of Prince Rupert and Montreal; (4) Developing and implementing pilot projects to automate small and remote ports of entry; (5) supporting integrated cross-border law enforcement initiatives; (6) establishing and co-ordinating entry and exit information systems with the United States, including a system where the record of land entry into one country can be utilized to establish a record of exit from the other.
• The government also proposes to implement other measures that facilitate the secure movement of people and goods and ensure that border processing is not a hindrance to legitimate trade and travel.
• The creation of the Canada Job Grant. Under the new labour market agreements, provinces and territories will deliver the Canada Job Grant directly to businesses and Canadians, in addition to other training they provide. Businesses with a plan to train unemployed and underemployed Canadians for an existing job or better job will be eligible to apply for a Canada Job Grant. Canadians seeking training can, in partnership with an employer, benefit from the program. The Grant could provide $15,000 per person or more for training, which includes up to $5000 in federal contributions. Federal contributions must be matched by both provinces and employers. The Grant will be for short-duration training, and will include eligible training institutions, including community colleges, career colleges and trade union training centres. The detailed design of the Grant will be negotiated with provinces and territories over the next year, in consultation with stakeholder groups including employer associations, educational institutions and labour organizations.
• Budget 2013 confirms the government’s intention to create a new and innovative ‘Expression of Interest” immigration management system. It will allow for Canadian employers, provinces and territories to select skilled immigrants from a pool of applicants that best meet Canada’s economic needs. The budget also announced that the government will take action to reform Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program to ensure that Canadians are given the first chance at available jobs.