OTTAWA – Yesterday was federal budget day in Canada. Finance Minister Bill Morneau stood before Parliament and read out the Liberals’ first effort to spend our way out of the economic doldrums.
The $10-billion budget deficit promised during the recent election campaign ballooned to $29.4 billion for 2016-17, an announcement that surprised almost no one. The plans to spend billions and billions will support middle class families, provide aid for aboriginal communities, support infrastructure construction, and extend the employment insurance program in areas hardest hit by the fall of the oil price.
Of key importance for the mining industry is the government’s continuing support for Mineral Exploration Tax Credit. The definition of a allowable expenses has been expanded to include environmental studies and community consultations as well as geotechnical surveys and drilling.
Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada president Bob Schafer summed it up thus, “The budget adopts a holistic approach to resource development with support for innovation, financing, aboriginal and community consultation, and northern economic support.”
The Mining Association of Canada also supports the new budget. MAC president and CEO Pierre Gratton stated, “Canada’s mining industry … supports the government of Canada’s priorities of a clean growth economy and reconciliation with indigenous peoples.”
As well as continued support for the mineral exploration sector, MAC is pleased to see the budget addresses many other issues of concern to the mining industry:
- Investments in the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and Fisheries and Oceans Canada to ensure the agencies have the capacity to carry out efficient regulatory reviews of major mining projects and consultations with aboriginal groups;
- New investment in Natural Resources Canada’s science laboratories to create new partnerships aimed at clean tech and innovation for mining;
- Support for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and its role in supporting regulatory efficiencies; and
- Resolution of the double taxation of greenhouse gas emission allowances.
Gratton particularly noted the government’s investment in reconciliation, education, skills training, and social and economic infrastructure for aboriginal people, saying, “Mining is proportionally the largest private sector employer of indigenous Canadians and is actively implementing over 265 agreements with indigenous communities across Canada. MAC members recognize that Canada’s indigenous peoples are key partners. Today’s investments will increase the ability of indigenous Canadians to participate in, and benefit from, the opportunities offered by mineral exploration and mining development.”