CTA calls federal budget ‘vague,’ applauds portions
OTTAWA, Ont. — The recently announced federal budget has caused division not only within the ranks of the Canadian government, which is currently in the midst of a historic vote of non-confidence against the Conservative minority, but also within the trucking industry.
The Canadian Trucking Alliance’s reaction is divided regarding the budget, calling certain sections “vague” and “unclear,” while applauding others.
The budget allocates $48 million to “develop transportation sector regulations and next generation clean transportation initiatives,” but no further details were provided. According to CTA, neither the bureaucrats nor the political staffers in the relevant departments and ministers offices could shed any light on whether or how this money might be used for the kind of programming CTA has been seeking, including aftermarket technologies and alternative fuels.
Similarly, the budget contained an equally vague announcement of an additional $252 million “to support regulatory activities to address climate change and air quality.”
“Perhaps there is something here to build upon, perhaps not,” says David Bradley, CEO of the CTA. “It’s all academic for the time being.”
CTA says it was disappointed that once again there was no movement on capital cost allowance (CCA) rates for tractors and no mention of the 2008 election promise from the prime minister to reduce the excise tax on diesel fuel by 50%.
Although the federal government’s economic action plan will come to an end at the end of this month, no new program of predictable and sustained funding for maintaining or expanding Canada’s highway infrastructure was announced, CTA said.
“We always said that ‘shovel ready’ did not represent a national highway policy,” says Bradley. “And, while the infrastructure gap narrowed somewhat as a result of the stimulus plan, it is bound to widen again in the absence of a new highway program.”
However, the CTA did applaud the announced $228 million over three years to fund repairs and maintenance of the Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges in Montreal; $150 million for the construction of an all-season road between Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk; and legislation that would make permanent the $2 billion per year provided to municipalities for infrastructure.
The budget also highlighted that Human Resource and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) is expected to reduce spending by $495 million between 2011 and 2014, but CTA noted that what this might mean in terms of the future of sectoral councils or funding for training is unknown at this time. Projected cost savings from Infrastructure Canada are expected to total about $124 million over the next three years.
Other budget measures of potential interest to some motor carriers include the fact that scheduled reductions in corporate income taxes will go ahead as previously announced; work sharing agreements will be extended by up to 16 weeks and a consultation process on EI rate setting mechanisms will be undertaken; and spending on Marine Atlantic is projected be cut by $5.4 million between now and 2014.
The government is also proposing to introduce amendments to the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Canada Labour Code to prohibit federally regulated employers from setting a mandatory retirement age unless there is a bona fide occupational requirement.
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