Federal budget includes good news for industry

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By Leah Den Hartogh

The 2019 Federal Budget contained some good news for the HVAC/R industry. Labelled “Investing in the Middle Class” and released March 19, these included investments in energy efficiency and skills training, support for regulatory harmonization, and prompt payment.

The Federal government plans to invest $1.01 billion to boost energy efficiency in residential, commercial and multi-unit buildings. Funds for this will be delivered via the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) through their Green Municipal Fund.

Community focused retrofit supports will receive $350 million, another $300 million will go to “Community EcoEfficiency Acceleration,” which supports municipal initiatives to support home energy retrofits, and $300 million is allotted to the “Sustainable Affordable Housing Innovation,” to provide financing and support to affordable housing developments to improve energy efficiency in new and existing housing.

The commitment to energy efficiency programs was more than the industry expected, reported Martin Luymes, vice president of government and stakeholder relations for the Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI), at the annual Ontario Geothermal Association conference at the Hilton Mississauga on April 4. The new initiatives give more power to municipalities in rolling out energy efficiency programs.

HRAI states that its member should expect to see some stimulus to encourage energy efficiency retrofits. FCM will also be getting a $2.2 billion infrastructure infusion this year based on the Gas Tax.

Skilled trades boost

A new “Canada Training Benefit” will be launched per the budget. It is intended to help people plan for and get the training they need in a changing marketplace. More than $1.7 billion will be invested by the federal government over five years, and $586.5 million per year ongoing. This will include programs such as:

Canada Training Credit: a new, non-taxable credit to help Canadians with the cost of training fees. Workers between the ages of 25 and 64 can accumulate a balance at a rate of $250 per year up to a lifetime limit of $5,000. This can be used in training programs at colleges, universities and eligible institutions providing occupational skills training starting in 2020.

The budget also included an “E.I. Small Business Premium Rebate” for businesses paying employment premiums equal to or less than $20,000 per year. It is expected to start in 2020 to alleviate the impact on the E.I. training support benefit for small businesses.

Skills Canada can expect $40 million over four years, starting in 2020-2021, and $10 million per year ongoing, to encourage more young people to consider training and work in the skilled trades.

Finally, prompt payment

The long battle to get prompt payment at the federal level seems to be in the final rounds. The planned government legislation will include an adjudication mechanism and ensure that payments flow down the construction supply chain promptly for federal construction projects on federal property.

Though no promises were made as part of the budget, it did include support for regulatory harmonization among provinces. Per the budget, “The government is working with provinces and territories to better harmonize regulations across provincial and territorial boundaries, opening up the door to more seamless internal trade.”

But the goal isn’t just to end there. There are hopes to further harmonize regulations with international trading partners as well. This is done through a number of regulatory cooperation bodies such as the Canadian Free Trade Agreement Regulatory Reconciliation and Cooperation Table, the Canada-U.S. Regulatory Cooperation Council and the Regulatory Cooperation Forum of the Canada- European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.

As part of the budget, $3.1 million per year in ongoing funding to the Treasury Board Secretariat, starting in 2020-2021, will be provided to support its leadership of the government’s regulatory cooperation priorities.

For more details about the 2019 Federal Budget, please visit www.budget.gc.ca.

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