The Road to Balance: Creating Jobs and Opportunities, the Federal government’s 2014 budget, was released yesterday. This year, CCEDNet submitted two recommendations to the Federal government’s pre-budget consultations: the inclusion of 20% social value weighting in all requests for proposals and community benefit agreements on all relevant contracts; and investment in training to ensure government staff understand the social enterprise and co-operative business models so these businesses can access federal business development programs on a level playing field with other businesses.
Neither of these submissions is addressed in the budget document. Parts of the budget that are relevant to the CED sector include:
- Continued focus on social finance, likely building on the report issued last year. The budget reiterated the government's intention to work with the not-for-profit and private sectors to “explore the potential for social finance initiatives.” A Ministerial Advisory Council on Social Innovation was created in December 2013 to support that process. (p.215 of the PDF budget document)
- The Canada Jobs Grant will be implemented on April 1, 2014. In provinces and territories that have not signed renewed Labour Market Agreements with the federal government, the program will be delivered directly by Service Canada and the federal regional development agencies. (p.60)
- Regulations for credit unions that wish to operate federally will be clarified, leading to a “streamlined process for amalgamating two or more provincial credit unions into one federal credit union.” (p.132)
- The government will carry out a public consultation on the income tax framework for non-profit organizations (NPOs) to ensure that the tax exemption for NPOs is appropriately targeted and not subject to abuse by organizations that claim the exemption but are not operating in the manner intended, and to ensure that reporting requirements for legitimate NPOs provide the public and the Canada Revenue Agency with sufficient information to evaluate their activities. (p.343)
- Administrative burdens faced by charities will be reduced by modernizing the Canada Revenue Agency to enable charities to file their annual returns online. (p.213)
- A $5 million per year increase in funding for New Horizons for Seniors program, which can "support municipalities, not-for-profits, social enterprises and other community partners to address the needs of seniors." (p.206) The Targeted Initiative for Older Workers is also renewed for three years with a $75 million investment for unemployed older workers in smaller, vulnerable communities affected by closures or high unemployment. (p.78)
- A proposal to introduce legislative and regulatory changes for a Property and Causality demutualization framework. (p.128) Many mutuals are locally owned and controlled in Canada, and can be important supporters of CED initiatives. Opening the door for demutualization may contribute to the loss of this connection with their communities.
CCEDNet would have liked to see specific measures supporting community economic development, such as a neighbourhood revitalization fund and a CED lens, which were part of the Alternative Federal Budget released last week.
The Canadian Community Economic Development Network looks forward to continuing our work with the federal government to implement enabling policy for organizations building resilient, inclusive community economies.