The 2019 federal budget was tabled in the House of Commons on Tuesday, March 19th. CHC is pleased to see that many of our recommendations were included and applauds the government for a number of proposed measures that will help drive the growth of the horticulture industry. Highlights of particular interest to the horticultural sector are presented below.
National Food Policy
The creation of a new Food Policy for Canada will help drive economic growth and support competitiveness of the agri-food sector, and in the process, increase consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables across Canada.
CHC agrees that the four pillars of the Food Policy for Canada, namely, help Canadian communities access healthy food, make Canadian food the top choice at home and abroad, support food security in Northern and Indigenous communities, and reduce food waste, will provide appropriate guidelines for its implementation.
CHC is particularly pleased to note that as part of the Food Policy for Canada, the government will launch a three-year immigration pilot which aims to bring in full-time, non-seasonal agricultural workers, with a pathway to permanent residency, to address the labour shortage.
The federal government has committed to ensuring that 95 per cent of Canadians have access to internet speeds of at least 50/10 mbs by 2026 and 100 per cent by 2030, regardless of location. We are hopeful that this commitment to improved rural connectivity will enable farmers to increase their efficiency and assist in the adoption of digital technologies.
Budget 2019 includes new details around the government’s plan to modernize Canada’s regulatory framework. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), Transport Canada and Health Canada are receiving up to $219.1 million over five years, starting next year, to develop new regulatory roadmaps aimed at streamlining regulations and updating its systems.
Of particular interest to CHC, the proposed reviews include digitizing CFIA’s services. The agency currently relies on paper-based export certificates, and the system will now be moved online to allow for more rapid export.
Going forward, CHC is anticipating the release of the new Regulatory Roadmap for Agri-Food and Aquaculture.
Small Business Deduction (SBD)
Budget 2019 proposes to exempt all affiliated corporations which are engaged in producing, marketing and distributing agricultural products from the specified corporate income rules, and thus eligible for the small business deduction, an exemption for which CHC along with stakeholder partners had strongly advocated for the past year. Changes announced in Budget 2016 had disqualified “specified corporate income” of a Canadian-controlled private corporation (CCPC) from eligibility for the small business deduction. The unintended consequence of this change in policy negatively impacted agricultural affiliated corporations which were created for legitimate reasons of ensuring enough product to fulfill retail purchase orders and share costs among small farms for marketing, packing and shipping their product.
CHC thanks the Minister of Finance for recognizing that farmers were unduly impacted by previous changes to the small business deduction and for taking action to correct the oversight.
Funding to administer visas
The government proposes to invest $78.6 million over two years to ensure that resources are in place to process demand for visitor visas, work and study permits, recognising the need to ensure immigration and border officials are well-equipped to facilitate the efficient entry of visitors. Canada welcomes millions of visitors each year, including a large number of temporary foreign workers. CHC trusts that this additional administrative funding will help improve the efficiency in immigration processes.
Recognition of importance of intergenerational transfers
While the budget does not commit to any funding, it recognizes the importance Canadian farmers place on being able to pass their businesses on to their children. Budget 2019 confirms that the government will, as previously noted in the 2018 budget, continue its outreach throughout 2019 to develop new proposals to better accommodate intergenerational transfers of businesses.
Details on the Budget can be found here: https://www.budget.gc.ca/2019/docs/plan/toc-tdm-en.html