Archive for the ‘election’ Category

Budget 2019: Highlights for Businesses

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s election year budget, tabled on March 19th, 2019, forecasted a deficit of $19.8B for fiscal 2019, with deficits projected to decline gradually to $9.8B by 2023.

No additional measures were proposed to provide business tax reductions, or to address the 2018 Fall Economic Statement announcements regarding an Accelerated Investment Incentive or the immediate write-off of manufacturing/processing and clean energy machinery and equipment in response to the recent U.S. tax reform.  

The initiatives proposed in Budget 2019 are heavily focused on investments in skills and training and offer some limited benefits to Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs).

SR&ED Enhanced Tax Credit Rate Eligibility Amended

The Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) Tax Incentive Program provides a  basic 15% , non-refundable credit to all businesses performing SR&ED in Canada. Eligible small and medium-sized companies can qualify for enhanced 35% refundable tax credit rate of qualifying SR&ED expenditures up to $3M per fiscal year.

Eligibility for the 35% rate is determined by a business’ level of taxable capital and income from the prior fiscal year. 

  • The taxable capital threshold is between $10M and $50M.
  • The taxable income threshold begins at $500,000 taxable income in the prior year and reduces current fiscal year eligibility for the enhanced credit on a sliding scale until $800,000 taxable income in the prior year.

Budget 2019 proposed to eliminate the income threshold to qualify for federal enhanced (refundable) SR&ED investment tax credits for taxation years beginning on or after March 19, 2019, for SMEs, in order to increase support for SMEs that are scaling up their R&D efforts or have variable income from year to year. The capital threshold will continue to apply.

The proposed changes will allow SMEs to continue to receive refundable tax credits on up to $3M in expenditures, regardless of their profitability. 

Corporate Rates and Employee Stock Option Deductions (Compared to U.S. Tax Measures)

Despite tax-payer anticipation for Canadian corporate tax rate reductions in accordance with recent U.S. tax reform, there were no proposed changes in Budget 2019 to the corporate income tax rates or to the $500,000 Small-Business Deduction Limit for Canadian-controlled private corporations (CCPCs).

Budget 2019 proposed to impose a $200,000 annual cap on employee stock option grants for employees of large, long-established, mature firms in alignment with the U.S. tax treatment. Employee stock option benefits of startups and rapidly growing Canadian businesses will remain uncapped.

Further details of this measure will be released before the summer of 2019.

Canada’s Innovation and Skills Plan is Ongoing

Canada’s Innovation and Skills Plan was launched in 2017 to help Canadian businesses start up, scale up, and become globally competitive.

  • In February 2018 the Government announced a $950M investment in five regional industry-led innovation superclusters including digital technologies, food production, advanced manufacturing, artificial intelligence in supply chain management, and ocean industries. These superclusters have assumed operation and are expected to create 50,000 jobs and add $50B to the economy over the next 10 years. 
  • The $1.2B Strategic Innovation Fund was launched in July 2017, to spur Canadian innovation by supporting the costs of direct labour, subcontractors, and consultants, as well as overhead, direct materials and equipment, land and building, and other direct costs. As of January 2019, the Fund had secured 31 investment agreements from leading researchers and manufacturers, worth a total of $8.1B, including a federal investment of $795M. Budget 2019 proposes to provide a further $100M over four years, starting in 2019–20, to the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF).  The SIF will leverage private sector co-investments in order to support the activities of the Clean Resource Innovation Network.
  • Innovative Solutions Canada was launched in December 2017, replacing the Build in Canada Innovation Program (BCIP), to help companies bridge the technology gap between the R&D stage of projects and the pre-commercialization phase through government acquisitions. The program will dedicate over $100M annually by the end of March 2020 to support challenges issued by twenty participating federal departments and agencies to address federal government needs.
  • The first Canadian National Intellectual Property Strategy was proposed in Budget 2018. Budget 2019 announced intent to move forward with a pilot Patent Collective, to help Canadian start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises pool together vital intellectual property assets.

Workforce Development Investments

Budget 2019 proposed investments in talent acquisition and skills training that impact businesses including: 

  • $35.2M over five years, starting in 2019, with $7.4M per year ongoing to make the Global Talent Stream a permanent program to give Canadian businesses enhanced access to top global talent. The Global Stream Talent pilot project was a part of the Global Skills Strategy that was announced in the 2016 Fall Economic Statement.
  • More than $1.7B over five years, and $586.5M per year ongoing to: (1) implement a Canada Training Benefit which will include a new, refundable Canada Training Credit (CTC) to help cover up to half of eligible tuition and fees associated with training, and (2) to implement a new Employment Insurance Training Support Benefit to provide income support when an individual requires time off work As of 2019, eligible individuals will be able to accumulate $250 annually (up to a maximum of $5,000 over a lifetime) that can be applied towards eligible expenses beginning in 2020.
  • An additional $150.0M over four years, starting in 2020, to Employment and Social Development Canada to create up to 20,000 additional work-integrated learning opportunities annually in partnership with innovative businesses.

Additional Funding Proposed in Budget 2019

  • $100M over three years (on a cash basis), starting in 2019, to Western Economic Diversification Canada to increase its programming in western Canada.
  • New Strategic Science Fund starting in 2022, which will operate under a principles-based framework for allocating federal funding for third-party science and research organizations. The Minister of Science will provide more detail on the Fund over the coming months.
  • Implementation of new Regulatory Roadmaps for reviewing and modernizing regulatory requirements and practices that impede innovation and growth in the following high-growth sectors:
    • Agri-food and aquaculture
    • Health and bio-sciences
    • Transportation/infrastructure

This includes the establishment of a regulatory sandbox for new and innovative medical products such as tissues developed through 3D printing, artificial intelligence, and gene therapies targeted to specific individuals. Further details will be released in the coming weeks.

Job Creation A Priority for All Ontario Electoral Candidates

Wednesday marks the beginning of the 2014 Ontario election campaign as Lieutenant Governor David Onley signed the official election writs.  Although all of the candidates began campaigning when NDP leader Andrea Horwath announced she would not support the proposed provincial budget, this signing was necessary to formally complete the process. The party leaders wasted no time beginning their tours of the province, and already one thing has become abundantly clear: no matter the outcome of this election, job creation will be a top priority.

Finance Minister Charles Sousa tabled the proposed provincial budget last Thursday. Among the initiatives listed in the budget was a $2.5 billion “Jobs and Prosperity Fund” aimed at supporting job creation across the country. Despite both the NDP and Conservatives’ lack of support for the budget, it appears that Wynne’s opponents share similar views on job creation.

Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak was quoted today as saying that his campaign will centre on “laying out in detail how [his] plan is going to work to get people back to work.”  Similarly, Andrea Horwath of the New Democrat Party has placed jobs and affordability for families at the core of her campaign.  Horwath announced that, if elected, the NDP will implement a Job Creation Tax Credit program to offer incentive to businesses to create jobs at home.  During a visit to Niagara Falls, Horwath noted her increasing concern for high rates of unemployment in Ontario, indicating her commitment to working with “the real job creators” to address the problem.  The new initiative, if implemented, will cover 10% of a new hire’s salary to a maximum of $5000 per job.

It appears that even the most divided of electoral candidates can agree that jobs must be a provincial priority.  We may be able to look forward to some serious investment in job creation very soon.

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How Will The Federal Election Impact the SR&ED Program?

[ Image courtesy of the Toronto Star ]

During the Leaders’ english debate on October the 3rd, one issue that was broached was the federal SRED (Scientific Research and Experimental Development) business incentive program. Under the existing federal SR&ED program, non-profitable corporations with large revenues may receive research and development tax credits that cannot be applied.  Liberal leader Stephane Dion and Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe both proposed that these tax credits be partially refundable.

“A Liberal Government will encourage all companies to innovate, even if their innovation does not lead to immediate profitability, by making the SR&ED Tax Credit partially refundable. This change is vital at a time when many companies are struggling to become or stay profitable.  Every company that puts money into R&D should be rewarded for innovating.” [ Source ]

Large corporations can sometimes receive millions of dollars in tax credits through the SR&ED program.  I think that this measure, if implemented, will increase the cashflows of these large corporations drastically!

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“It’s the Economy, Stupid”

With a federal election just around the corner, Canada is experiencing weakest GDP growth in almost 17 years.  The deteriorating health of the Canadian economy is reflected in recent polls, in which Canadians now rank the economy ahead of health care and the environment as their chief concern.

“For too long, we allowed high commodity prices to make us feel wealthy,” says Glen Hodgson, chief economist at the Conference Board of Canada. “In a perfect world, we’d have an election campaign that debated how to improve our lagging productivity, which any economist will tell you is the key to sustainable prosperity.”

According to Anne Golden, President of the Conference Board of Canada, steps that are needed to ensure sustainable prosperity include:  enhanced labour mobility, a credentialing system that more rapidly integrates skilled newcomers, along with measures to improve health care.

I think that the key to turn around the economy is to enhance labour mobility by investing in R&D and scientific innovation.  Investment dollars need to be spent to encourage students to pursue advanced studies in engineering, physics, and math, because these are the fields of studies that are pre-requisites to scientific innovation.

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