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Steady budget should help housing industry

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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.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 22, 2014 F8

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