The recent federal budget announcement by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has a number of good news commitments assuming all goes according to schedule. In relation to residential construction, there were items which will have a positive impact and a few areas that unfortunately went missing.
Infrastructure improvements are critically necessary right across the country and we see plenty of evidence of these needs in Winnipeg and throughout Manitoba. The long-term commitment by Ottawa for infrastructure funding is very important now and for future generations.
Some communities in Canada are financing community infrastructure by placing additional tax burdens upon new development and resale home buyers. This short-sightedness will result in a halt to economic growth and a decrease in housing affordability for future generations. Infrastructure improvement is everybody's business.
The New Canada Job Grant shows tremendous potential. An investment of $500 million to enhance employment opportunities for skilled labour may be a step in the right direction. Construction in Manitoba will need over 10,000 new entrants in the workforce over the next eight years.
The province of Manitoba recognizes that there is a need to create 75,000 jobs over a similar time period. If employers, provinces and the federal government can work together on this initiative, some of this shortfall may be alleviated.
Assistance offered to small business and the manufacturing industry will not only help produce domestic products that can be used in the construction of Canadian homes, but can also keep Canadians working in this sector, thereby enabling them to pursue home ownership.
One area where the federal budget fell short was in the domestic underground economy. The minister was quite diligent in targeting international tax cheating, but seemed to forget about what is happening at home.
The Home Renovation Tax Credit of a few years ago went a long way in combatting illegal contracting by identifying tax cheats. It was a small-c conservative budget that shows many honourable intentions, including a balanced budget and elimination of the deficit on the horizon. It will take a united effort to accomplish this, not increased rhetoric.
The well-being of our communities depends on more skilled labour, healthy infrastructure and housing choice and affordability.
Mike Moore is president of the Manitoba Home Builders' Association.