Though he pointed out a couple of bright spots, Corner Brook Mayor Jim Parsons would have liked a little more clarity on infrastructure spending in the 2018 federal budget.
“It seems to be light on that, and on cities and municipalities in general,” Parsons said Tuesday night after spending some time skimming over the details.
Though Parsons was happy to see the government stick to the previously announced Investing in Canada infrastructure plan of more than $180 billion over 12 years, he said the money is still not getting allocated anywhere.
“That’s a big problem,” he said.
He said the government has expressed the desire to spend it more quickly and catch up, and he pointed to a number of the city’s “big needs,” such as the waste water treatment project, as areas where some of that money could be of tremendous use.
“Getting more clarity and more movement on those things would have been good, but I don’t see those things here,” he said.
Parsons did find promising the allocation of funds to continue a strong legal fight when it comes to trading with the United States.
“Hopefully that will help our mill here,” he said.
He also liked seeing some of the funding and focus on aboriginal communities, especially if it benefits the local Qalipu community.
Keith Goulding, president of the Greater Corner Brook Board of Trade, said he was happy to see a greater emphasis on supporting women in the employment sector and a focus on Indigenous skills development.
“Almost 50 per cent of our population are women,” Goulding said. “And I think, right now in western Newfoundland, 21 per cent of the population identify as Indigenous.
“Given those numbers, I think that’s an important step forward from a community standpoint,” said Goulding, who is also band manager for Qalipu First Nation.
A drop in small business tax, from 10.5 per cent to 9 per cent in 2019, was good to see, he said, as were incentives given to low-income earners, and parental supports, as well.
“They are going to be helpful to small businesses that hire people that work casual or minimum-wage jobs,” he said. “To help people retain those employees.”
One glaring issue for Goulding, however, was the projected $18.1-billion deficit.
“Deficit spending definitely needs to be reined in,” he said.
He said the government advocated spending through economic downturns, and that was done, but now it’s time to slow down.
“You’re going to add $27 billion to the national debt this year?” he said. “That’s unsustainable over time.”
He said the last thing he, and the greater business community, wants to see is the debt balloon to the point that payments are unaffordable.
“We want to see growth,” he said. “Not stagnation through servicing debt.”