Support for businesses and skilled trades a positive in Budget 2021; misses the mark on significant infrastructure investment
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The Mechanical Contractors Association of Canada (MCAC) was pleased to see a commitment to the skilled trades, as well as continued support for employers, in Budget 2021, but felt more could be included to provide for continued and predictable project funding for the sector.
“The trade contracting sector employs more than 80 per cent of workers in the construction industry across Canada, so any additional support for the skilled trades is welcomed,” said Tania Johnston, MCA Canada CEO. “However, cash flow and project funding is critical for our members to have the confidence to hire workers and apprentices. We look forward to engaging with the government on what mechanisms may be available to provide mechanical contractors with that confidence.”
The federal budget, entitled Budget 2021 – A Recovery Plan for Jobs, Growth, and Resilience, was the first federal budget in more than two years as the country looks to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. To help businesses and workers while the pandemic still rages, the government proposes to extend the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) until September, while also implementing a new program to temporarily subsidize new hiring, providing $1,100 per month for every new employee. Overall, the budget proposes over $100 billion in stimulus spending in various programs and investments.
Other items of interest for the mechanical contracting sector include:
- An investment of $470 million over three years, beginning in 2021-22, to Employment and Social Development Canada to establish a new Apprenticeship Service. The Apprenticeship Service would help 55,000 first-year apprentices in construction and manufacturing Red Seal trades connect with opportunities at small and medium-sized employers.
- Employers would be eligible to receive up to $5,000 for all first-year apprenticeship opportunities to pay for upfront costs such as salaries and training.
- To boost diversity in the construction and manufacturing Red Seal trades, this incentive will be doubled to $10,000 for employers who hire those underrepresented, including women, racialized Canadians, and persons with disabilities
- An investment of $960 million over three years to Employment and Social Development Canada for a new Sectoral Workforce Solutions Program. The Sectoral Workforce Solutions Program will work with associations and employers to fund the design and delivery of training that is relevant to the needs of businesses.
- Investment to connect 90,000 Canadians with training to access jobs in sectors where employers are looking for skilled workers (i.e. PSWs, health, clean energy, construction).
- Will look to diversify skilled sectors by ensuring 40 per cent of funding goes towards supporting workers from underrepresented groups, including women, persons with disabilities, and Indigenous peoples.
Retrofits and infrastructure investment
- Reallocate $1.3 billion in existing funding to speed up the construction, repair, or support of 35,000 affordable housing units.
- $300 million in funding in 2021-22 and 2022-23 from the Rental Construction Financing Initiative, which will be allocated to support the conversion of vacant commercial property into housing.
- Budget 2021 proposes to provide $22.6 million over four years, starting in 2021-22, to Infrastructure Canada to conduct Canada’s first ever National Infrastructure Assessment. The assessment would help identify needs and priorities for Canada’s built environment.
- Budget 2021 will provide $4.4 billion on a cash basis ($778.7 million on an accrual basis over five years, starting in 2021-22, with $414.1 million in future years) to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to help homeowners complete deep home retrofits through interest-free loans worth up to $40,000.