The Conservative government’s fifth budget, tabled today by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, was short on new measures. Stimulus spending will continue as announced in last year’s budget. A recovery in revenues and spending restraint is designed to bring the $49 billion deficit in 2010-2011 back to near balance by 2014-2015.
The biggest single budget announcement in dollar terms is the complete elimination of tariffs on imports of machinery and equipment and manufacturing inputs. There were also several announcements that may provide some benefit over time particularly to small- and medium-sized business. Despite these and other initiatives relating to innovation and competitiveness, a coordinated strategy to improve productivity is lacking. This is not only a national issue but a specific concern in Atlantic Canada where productivity lags well behind the national level. This Commentary highlights other specific budget measures or announcements and their relevance for Atlantic Canada.