Federal Budget 2019

March 19, 2019

Today, the Federal Liberal Government released its 2019 budget, centered on a theme of broad-based economic development. Major news items this year include the announcement of a new federal department to manage national pharmacare, and a new housing affordability measure for first-time homebuyers. While housing, pharma, or supports for seniors may get the headlines, it’s worth focusing on what the 2019 budget will mean for tech innovators in BC.

Of special interest to the tech community this year were the announcement of a permanent Global Talent Stream, the popular program which empowers firms to hire global talent on greatly accelerated timelines, and the change to the Scientific Research & Experimental Development (SR&ED) tax incentives to benefit companies by removing the SR&ED earnings cap.

BC Tech is pleased to see the Global Talent Stream extended, as we had called for in our policy recommendations earlier this year. This measure will go a meaningful way to unlocking more global tech talent supply to grow and scale Canadian companies, though more home-grown supply is still needed.

It’s also hard to underestimate the positive impact to growing and scaling companies that will come from removing the income threshold for accessing the enhanced SR&ED credit. BC Tech and others—notably the Canadian Council of Innovators—have recommended this change for several budget cycles and we are delighted the voice of the industry was heard and answered in this budget.

Other highlights for the Tech sector included:

  • The Canada Training Benefit: an annual $250 tax credit (capped at $5,000) for courses at universities, colleges, and skills-training institutes, that will help workers transition to new careers, including tech.
  • Expanding the Student Work Placement Program over the next five years to add 84,000 new internships and work-integrated positions a year for students— this is intended to develop more job-ready graduates.
  • The creation of a Universal Broadband Fund to provide access for all Canadians at 50/10 Mbps by 2030, and 95% of Canadians by 2026, expanding participation in the digital economy for underserved communities.

In this context, BC Tech is keen to highlight our new policy recommendations, released earlier this year. Our 11 recommendations amount to a transformation agenda to unlock a $25B economic opportunity for BC through targeted investments in talent and scale, but we also look forward to working with the federal government on key innovation initiatives and policies.

—Jill Tipping, President & CEO of BC Tech

(top photo: Flickr user Prayitno)