Steady budget should help hous­ing in­dus­try

Winnipeg Free Press - Section F - - HOMES - By Mike Moore

MANY people com­plained that the re­cent federal budget lacked a cer­tain piz­zazz and didn’t have the ex­cite­ment and in­cen­tives of other bud­gets. What is it about jobs, in­fra­struc­ture and deficit re­duc­tion that they don’t like?

The Cana­dian Home Builders As­so­ci­a­tion sup­ported the federal budget be­cause it did what it was sup­posed to do: move Canada ahead.

The New Build­ing Canada Plan will con­trib­ute $53 bil­lion in in­fra­struc­ture fund­ing. In­fra­struc­ture needs have been iden­ti­fied as one of Cana­di­ans’ great­est con­cerns. This is cer­tainly no dif­fer­ent in Win­nipeg and through­out Man­i­toba. Crum­bling in­fra­struc­ture in an old com­mu­nity has long been a lo­cal pri­or­ity.

These federal funds can also as­sist hous­ing af­ford­abil­ity in the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties as they should not have to fund in­fra­struc­ture on the backs of new home buy­ers now that these federal dol­lars are avail­able. For too long, new de­vel­op­ment has borne the brunt of mu­nic­i­pal fund­ing short­falls even though it has more than paid its’ fair share of the costs.

The Im­mi­grant Ex­pres­sion of In­ter­est sys­tem will al­low those for­eign trained in­di­vid­u­als to move up the im­mi­gra­tion queue depend­ing upon the de­mand for their par­tic­u­lar oc­cu­pa­tion. This will al­low im­me­di­ate at­ten­tion to skilled labour short­falls. The Canada Ap­pren­tice Loan will al­low young Cana­di­ans to achieve the train­ing they need do­mes­ti­cally.

The Canada Jobs Grant has been the sub­ject of con­sid­er­able dis­cus­sion re­cently with the prov­inces and the federal govern­ment jock­ey­ing for a po­si­tion that may be amenable to all. The pro­gram starts on April 1 of this year, and it will be crit­i­cal to get these dol­lars in the hands of Cana­dian work­ers and businesses that need to train people in skill sets that are cur­rently lack­ing.

With­out proper iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, re­cruit­ing and train­ing, the gap be­tween de­mand and sup­ply will con­tinue to widen and we run the risk of fall­ing fur­ther be­hind. This col­umn will not point fin­gers and as­sign any blame; just urge all par­ties to re­solve their dif­fer­ences and get people to work.

Fi­nally, the federal govern­ment is call­ing for a sur­plus budget by 2015. Cyn­ics ques­tion the tim­ing as it is just be­fore the next elec­tion. Oth­ers ap­plaud the fact that the govern­ment may be able to achieve this and chal­lenge all other lev­els of govern­ment to fol­low suit.

Back to the ini­tial premise: If skilled labour is ad­dressed, if new jobs are cre­ated, if the in­fra­struc­ture prob­lem is be­ing ad­dressed and if the deficit is be­ing elim­i­nated, it seems like we’re headed in the right di­rec­tion. Not flashy, but ef­fec­tive.

Mike Moore is pres­i­dent of the Man­i­toba Home­builders’ As­so­ci­a­tion.

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