McLeod on federal budget: It will help build supply of skilled labour
When Cathy McLeod first got involved in the federal-government committee looking at the impact of red tape on the economy, she said they "started at the 100,000-foot level.
"Now, we're at the on-the-ground level and can see how the changes are helping Canadian businesses," the Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo Conservative MP said.
Measures announced in the Thursday, March 21, federal budget that address what she called "a silent killer of jobs" are one of the components McLeod said she is most pleased to see included.
It's why she focused on it during her speech to the House of Commons on Friday, March 22, when McLeod said red tape "imposes a crippling cost on small businesses. It restricts innovation, productivity and competitiveness. It's bad for business and it's bad for Canada."
Among the measures included is a commitment to reduce bureaucratic red-tape issues businesses face when dealing with the Canada Revenue Agency.
That organization is key to another component of the budget McLeod is delighted was included — new initiatives to reduce tax evasion and fraud.
Responding to criticism of that promise by lobbyists who point to the 911 revenue-staffing cuts introduced in the 2012 budget, McLeod said the areas of the agency that deal with tax invasion aren't affected.
Staff cuts are happening in areas that deal with tax returns, McLeod said, and reflect the reality fewer are needed to process returns because the majority — 70 per cent last year — are filed online.
The tax-audit departments at Canada Revenue have also been realigned, McLeod said, so staff can work more closely with prosecutors and police to pursue tax fraud.
One measure McLeod said is going to help Canadians drew criticism from Michael Crawford, the former Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo NDP candidate.
The spokesman for the local NDP said the budget "fails British Columbians by making significant cuts to infrastructure funding and by the federal takeover of skills-training programs under EI.
"Harper promised to focus on jobs, raising the hopes of the almost 1.4-million Canadians are out of work," Crawford wrote in an email to the media. "Instead, he's pushing job-killing austerity cuts, introducing no new measures to create new jobs and laying a shell game with skills-training money."
McLeod disagreed, noting the budget includes measures that will help employers train new employees and help build the supply of skilled Canadian labour.
She said significant money has been added the the infrastructure program and, in response to a question about its effectiveness when three-quarters of the money doesn't kick in until 2020 or later, said it's incumbent on municipalities wanting to build their infrastructures "to get into the fiscal framework" as they plan.
Kamloops Mayor Peter Milobar said the infrastructure funding is a "good start," noting there had been uncertainty until now as to whether program would mostly be chopped, still running in name only with no financial commitment or actually refunded.