(Please see above article for introduction.)
Department of Finance’s Online Consultations for 2012 Budget
1. Are there measures in the Next Phase of Canada’s Economic Action Plan that should be revised to better promote job creation and economic growth? Should any be extended? Are there areas where funding should be shifted to meet changed priorities?
The 2012 Budget can build on previous federal spending set aside for affordable co‑operative housing in Budgets 2009 and 2010 by continuing to provide practical and long-term investments in urban infrastructure and affordable housing.
The federal government has an opportunity to reduce housing need by using the tax system to stimulate new affordable housing construction through a program that resembles the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program in the U.S. As recommended by the Co‑operative Housing Federation of Canada (see page four of its pre-budget submission for the federal Finance Committee’s budget consultations), the program would “be targeted at low-to-moderate-income family housing”.
The construction of new affordable housing will greatly benefit our national economy as new development will produce a multiplier effect in the construction industry and building supply sector.
2. Budget 2011 outlined a plan to return to balance that included a strategic and operating review of Government spending of taxpayers’ dollars (whose results will be reported on in Budget 2012). In what areas should we look for more efficient and effective spending? How can we better respect taxpayer dollars by ensuring they are not wasted on duplication, inefficient operating expenses, or programs that have outlived their usefulness?
While being mindful of the government’s goal of returning to a balanced budget by 2015-16, the federal government can ensure that the new Affordable Housing Framework (AHF) (signed on July 4, 2011) is both respected and implemented by provincial and territorial governments.
Canadian taxpayers are hoping that the new AHF will lead to the development of new forms of affordable housing options, including non-profit housing co‑ops.
With the goal of making Canada’s cities more livable, the federal government must demonstrate tangible results for federal tax dollars. These include new homes for vulnerable Canadians and measurable reductions in housing need, as a consequence of the new AHF and the new three-year (2011-14) cost-shared agreements with the provinces and territories.
Canada’s housing co‑ops asked for transparent accountability for federal housing spending. Let’s hope that we see significant improvements as governments are mandated to both enforce the new AHF and publicize their results through annual reports.
3. What should Canada’s priorities be for the short and long term to encourage private sector growth and leadership in the economy?
One of the best ways to secure short and long term growth for the Canadian economy is through targeted federal investments in infrastructure and affordable housing.
Investments in new rental housing construction, highways, roads, and other forms of municipal infrastructure, will lead to economies of scale for Canadian-made goods, which will ultimately foster job creation in Canada’s construction industry.
4. The global economic recovery is slowing. While Canada is still doing better than most, we are still vulnerable to shocks from beyond our borders. Are there measures we can take to protect our economic recovery in the face of international events?
The federal government has a unique opportunity to invest in the national economy by both supporting and developing co‑operatives of all kinds.
2012 marks the International Year of Co‑operatives. The federal government can take advantage of the UN declared year by investing in co‑ops. The theme of the International Year of Co‑operatives is “Co‑operative Enterprises Build a Better World”.
The Canadian Co‑operative Association’s recommendations for the International Year of Co‑operatives are found in their pre-budget submission:
- a federal Co‑operative Investment Plan (CIP), which would provide a federal tax credit for co‑op members and employees who invest in producer (agriculture, fishery, forestry) and employee-owned co‑operatives
- a co‑operative development fund, co-funded by the federal government and the co‑operative sector, which would provide capitalization loans to co‑operatives
- a renewed, expanded, and permanent Co‑operative Development Initiative (CDI), which would continue to provide grants and technical assistance to new and emerging co‑ops. The current CDI program expires in March 2013.
New investments in the co‑op model will help secure Canada’s own financial well-being.
5. If you have any other comments – please enter them below.
This question provides members with an opportunity to expand on their above-noted responses.