November 22, Ottawa – The Minister of Finance delivered his economic update on November 21, that included announcements that are of interest to the co-operative and mutual sector (the sector) and to members of Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada.
The announcement of a $775 million Social Finance Fund by the Minister of Finance is welcomed by the sector. The Social Innovation and Social Finance Co-creation Steering Group reported their 12 recommendations to the government in August and the Fall Economic Update was the first opportunity for those recommendations to be acted upon.
CMC has supported the 12 recommendations and is encouraged by the announcement that “the Government proposes to make available up to $755 million on a cash basis over the next 10 years to establish a Social Finance Fund. Additionally, the Government proposes to invest $50 million over two years in an Investment and Readiness stream, for social purpose organizations to improve their ability to successfully participate in the social finance market.” Many details and conditions are yet to be made public, but CMC is optimistic that the “fund of funds” approach recommended would be accessible to the Canadian Co-operative Investment Fund (CCIF), which would significantly improve the capacity of the fund to invest in new and expanding co-operative enterprises.
The announcement of additional funds for the Strategic Innovation Fund, originally launched in 2016, includes targeted support for the forest sector “the Government is proposing to provide a further $800 million over five years to the Strategic Innovation Fund, which will continue to be available to support innovative investments across the country and in all economic sectors. Of this amount, $100 million will focus on providing support to the forest sector. Nearly 210,000 workers across Canada directly rely on the forest sector to provide quality employment and long-term prosperity. This funding will help support the ongoing transformation of the sector, through the commercialization of innovative processes and products from Canada’s sustainable and significant forest resources.” CMC will report on the appropriateness of the targeted forest sector funding after consulting with the Fédération des cooperatives forestières du Québec.
Budget 2016 called for an expansion of the Nutrition North program by extending it to all northern communities and also making the necessary investment to support it. The update announces: “the Government proposes to invest $62.6 million over five years starting in 2019–20, with $10.4 million ongoing, in the Nutrition North Canada program. This investment would help to support several program changes, informed by consultations with northerners, and to introduce a Harvesters Support Grant to help lower the high costs associated with traditional hunting and harvesting activities.” CMC will track developments and report feedback from FCNQ and Arctic Co-operatives Ltd on the appropriateness of this funding.
As an update to the Government’s National Housing Strategy which may be of interest to CMC members, “the Government announced $600 million over 3 years to support housing on reserve as part of a 10-year First Nations Housing Strategy, $400 million over 10 years to support an Inuit-led housing plan in the Inuit regions of Nunavik, Nunatsiavut and Inuvialuit, and $500 million over 10 years to support the Métis Nation’s housing strategy. These investments will support Indigenous communities in meeting immediate housing needs and give them the tools they need to create, control and manage their own housing.” CMC believes the co-operative housing model is well suited to address Indigenous housing challenges. CMC will work with its members to monitor developments on this file and assure that co-operative solutions are well understood.
Also of interest to CMC members, the federal government will allow businesses to immediately write off the total cost of machinery and equipment used to manufacture or process goods, as well as the total cost of specified clean energy equipment.
The announcements made in the Fall Economic update are significant and signal the government accelerating its efforts in preparation for the 2019 election.
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