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2017 Federal Budget



2017 Federal Budget Analysis

Today, the Government of Canada tabled its 2017 Budget. What follows is a summary of the key highlights from Ontario’s business perspective.



  • Budget 2017 increases federal funding through the Labour Market Transfer Agreements by $2.7 billion over six years.
  • The Government also intends to establish a body that will collaborate with employers and other stakeholders across the country to identify skills gaps.
  • The Budget provides for more grants for adults who wish to return to school, more work-integrated learning placements for students and resources that increase flexibility for those individuals on Employment Insurance who also wish to pursue job training.

OCC Analysis

The spotlight placed on skills in Budget 2017 is an important acknowledgment from the federal government of one of the top concerns to the business community: finding the right people with the right skills. The critical importance of this issue to our members is why Skills & Workforce Development is one of the OCC’s key priorities for 2017. While the commitment to skills training in the budget is welcome, we urge the federal government to do more to tackle this issue through all appropriate tools and policy levers - including immigration, as discussed in Passport to Prosperity: Ontario’s Priorities for Immigration Reform



  • The Government intends to invest up to $950 million over five years in business-led “superclusters” that are driving innovation and have the potential to accelerate economic growth.
  • Budget 2017 also makes allowance for an additional $400 million in funding through the Business Development Bank of Canada over three years.
  • A new Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative, dedicated to increasing late stage venture capital, is also part of a plan to grow innovative start-ups.
  • Investments in Budget 2017 will support Canada’s earlier pledge to double its investments in clean energy research
  • The Budget overall is focused on key growth industries such as clean technology, agri-food and digital.

OCC Analysis

The OCC has placed an emphasis on clusters as a key feature of innovative, high-growth sectors, most recently in Adopting Our Advantage: Supporting a Thriving Health Sector in Ontario. In that report, we also called for improved venture capital funding, particularly to help innovative businesses surpass the commercialization valley of death, and then successfully scale.

Specifically, in our Federal Pre-Budget Submission, we called on the government to renew the Venture Capital Action Plan or to consider encouraging or incentivizing investment in this sector through a dedicated VCAP fund. The Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative is an important effort to address the need for this kind of funding among innovative Canadian entrepreneurs.

The recognition of agri-food as an innovative, key growth industry is welcome, as the OCC highlighted the importance of this sector in our recent report, Fertile Ground: Growing the Competitiveness of Ontario’s Agri-Food Sector.



  • Budget 2017 formalizes the creation of the Canada Infrastructure Bank which will be responsible for investing at least $35 billion over 11 years, using loans, loan guarantees and equity investment through public and private sector capital.
  • Through Canada’s Trade and Transportation Corridors Initiative government intends to invest $10.1 billion over 11 years to modernize Canada’s transportation system.
  • To advance Canada’s efforts to build a clean economy, the Government will invest $21.9 billion in green infrastructure, including initiatives that will support the implementation of the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change.
  • The federal government will invest more than $11.2 billion in a National Housing Strategy, which focuses on a range of initiatives designed to build, renew and repair Canada’s affordable housing stock. This also includes a 225 million dollar investment to improve social housing conditions for Indigenous Peoples not living on-reserve.


OCC Analysis

While we recognize the critical importance of investments in social infrastructure, Canada’s export economy relies upon its roads, ports, waterways, railways, airports and pipelines to move Canadian products and services to the markets of its trading partners.

As highlighted in the Ontario Economic Report, both the price and availability of appropriate shelter impacts the ability of Ontario business to attract global talent, reducing our competitiveness. Therefore, an investment in social infrastructure is essential to the business community. However, the OCC is concerned that not enough of the dedicated federal infrastructure spending will go towards the trade-enabling infrastructure that improves productivity and promotes economic growth.

In our Federal Pre-budget Submission, the OCC asked that the Government of Canada demonstrate a greater commitment to investment in trade-enabling infrastructure.The establishment of a Canada Infrastructure Bank is therefore a positive development, as alternative financing and funding of infrastructure is an important component of this commitment. Throughout 2017, the OCC will be actively engaged on this file through our Environment & Infrastructure policy program.

Previously, the OCC has called on the federal government to allocate infrastructure funds on a per capita basis, potentially increasing the amount of federal infrastructure funds Ontario receives by $1 billion every year. Like many of our concerns regarding the fiscal gap, this was unaddressed in the 2017 Budget.


Other notable announcements:

  • The federal government has formally reached new health funding agreements with the provinces and territories: $11 billion over 10 years, with dedicated funding for increasing home care and mental health resources. Budget 2017 provides for hundreds of millions of dollars in new funding.
  • The Budget provides funding for the launch of a new Development Finance Institution that will promote economic growth, create jobs, advance women’s economic empowerment and reduce poverty in areas where alternative financing is scarce.
  • Budget 2017 also includes further investment in the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy program, as well as funding for improved health care services, infrastructure investment (including housing), and increasing the capacity for self-government.

Questions or comments?
Contact Karl Baldauf, Vice President of Policy & Government Relations.

Read the Full 2017 Federal Budget


Read the OCC's media release

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