Federal budget notes for the glass industry
By Patrick Flannery
The federal government released its 2021 budget on April 19. Here are some highlights of special interest to the architectural glass industry.
COVID relief and stimulus
Budget 2021 proposes to extend the wage subsidy until Sept. 25. It also proposes to gradually decrease the subsidy rate, beginning July 4, in order to ensure an orderly phase-out of the program as vaccinations are completed and the economy reopens. It proposes to extend the rent subsidy and Lockdown Support until Sept. 25. It also proposes to gradually decrease the rate of the rent subsidy, beginning July 4. The government recently extended the application deadline for Canada Emergency Business Account to June 30. The government proposes to provide up to 12 additional weeks of Canada Recovery Benefit to a maximum of 50 weeks. The first four of these additional 12 weeks will be paid at $500 per week. As the economy reopens over the coming months, the government intends that the remaining eight weeks of this extension will be paid at a lower amount of $300 per week claimed. All new Canada Recovery Benefit claimants after July 17 would also receive the $300 per week benefit, available up until Sept. 25. Budget 2021 proposes to introduce the new Canada Recovery Hiring Program for eligible employers that continue to experience qualifying declines in revenues relative to before the pandemic. The proposed subsidy would offset a portion of the extra costs employers take on as they reopen, either by increasing wages or hours worked, or hiring more staff. This support would only be available for active employees and will be available from June 6 to November 20, 2021. Eligible employers would claim the higher of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy or the new proposed subsidy. The aim is to make it as easy as possible for businesses to hire new workers as the economy reopens.
The budget also proposes many long-term changes to EI, saying “Canada needs a more effective income support system for the 21st century.”
Budget 2021 proposes to provide $46.9 million over two years to support additional research partnerships between colleges, CEGEPs, polytechnics, and businesses through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’s College and Community Innovation Program.
Budget 2021 proposes to invest $5.7 million over two years to provide more businesses with access to the National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program’s Interactive Visits, where firms can access equipment, facilities, and expertise at college-affiliated Technology Access Centres. Budget 2021 proposes to provide $500 million over five years, starting in 2021-22, and $100 million per year ongoing, to expand the Industrial Research Assistance Program to support up to 2,500 additional innovative small and medium-sized firms. The budget also commits $5 billion over seven years to increase funding for the Strategic Innovation Fund’s Net Zero Accelerator. Through the Net Zero Accelerator the fund would scale up its support for projects that will help decarbonize heavy industry, support clean technologies and help meaningfully accelerate domestic greenhouse gas emissions reductions by 2030.
In order to demonstrate to Canada’s trading partners the importance of balanced procurement opportunities, the government will pursue reciprocal procurement policies to ensure that goods and services are only procured from countries that grant Canadian businesses a similar level of market access. This will protect Canadian supply chains and ensure that Canada’s trading relationships are mutually beneficial economic relationships. Budget 2021 proposes to allocate $21 million over three years to work with provincial and territorial partners to enhance the capacity of the Internal Trade Secretariat that supports the Canadian Free Trade Agreement in order to accelerate the reduction of trade barriers within Canada. Advance work with willing partners towards creating a repository of open and accessible pan-Canadian internal trade data to identify barriers, including licensing and professional certification requirements, so that we can work together to reduce them. Budget 2021 announces the government’s intention to launch public consultations on measures to strengthen Canada’s trade remedy system and to improve access for workers and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This may result in proposed amendments to the Special Import Measures Act and the Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act.
Budget 2021 proposes to provide $22.6 million over four years to Infrastructure Canada to conduct Canada’s first ever National Infrastructure Assessment. The assessment would help identify needs and priorities for Canada’s built environment.
Small business financing
Budget 2021 proposes to provide up to $101.4 million over five years to Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada for the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Development Program. To provide affordable financing, increase data and strengthen capacity within the entrepreneurship ecosystem, Budget 2021 proposes to provide up to $146.9 million over four years to strengthen the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy. Women entrepreneurs would have greater access to financing, mentorship, and training. Funding would also further support the Women Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Fund and the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub.
Budget 2021 proposes to provide up to an additional $51.7 million over four years, starting in 2021-22, to Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada and the regional development agencies for the Black Entrepreneurship Program.
Budget 2021 proposes to provide $960 million over three years to Employment and Social Development Canada for a new Sectoral Workforce Solutions Program. Working primarily with sector associations and employers, funding would help design and deliver training that is relevant to the needs of businesses, especially small and medium-sized businesses, and to their employees. This funding would also help businesses recruit and retain a diverse and inclusive workforce. Budget 2021 proposes to provide $470 million over three years to Employment and Social Development Canada to establish a new Apprenticeship Service. The Apprenticeship Service would help 55,000 first-year apprentices in construction and manufacturing Red Seal trades connect with opportunities at small and medium-sized employers. Employers would be eligible to receive up to $5,000 for all first-year apprenticeship opportunities to pay for upfront costs such as salaries and training. In addition, to boost diversity in the construction and manufacturing Red Seal trades, this incentive will be doubled to $10,000 for employers who hire those underrepresented, including women, racialized Canadians, and persons with disabilities.
Budget 2021 announces that the government will engage with stakeholders to examine what barriers exist to the creation of employee ownership trusts in Canada, and how workers and owners of private businesses in Canada could benefit from the use of employee ownership trusts.