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Federal budget missed opportunity for Peace Country: expert

He calls it “a pre-election” budget; a safe budget with a bit of something for everyone. Brad Berry with BDO Canada says despite all that, and with the Peace Country in a state of growth, a key component is still missing to make it sustainable.

“From a labour perspective, people think we’ve got lots of labour, but when things went down a lot of labour left, Now that things are turning around a little bit and there is more activity in the oil sector a lot of skilled labour is gone, so we still have to attract new people back.”

BDO Canada provides assurance, accounting, tax, and advisory services. Personal income tax still represents the largest source of funds for the federal government, but Berry feels its time to finally take a bigger chunk from much bigger pieces of the pie.

“Our corporate tax is only 15 per cent of our revenue. It’s something where the talk is we aren’t competitive; the rest of the world is leaving us behind and we’ve got an opportunity to do something which doesn’t cost a lot.”

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Berry believes one of the biggest problems facing Grande Prairie businesses and potential start-ups is what types of employment they offer.

“We are under-managed, we are a small business. We don’t have a vast number of government employees like some of the big cities do. The demographics are very different here.”

At the end of it all, he believes that underutilization of what makes Alberta so different which will continue to potentially stall the local economy.

Grande Prairie – Mackenzie MP Chris Warkentin has been scathing in his criticism of the federal numbers. He argues this region has been neglected.

“The budget that has been put forward does nothing for the Peace Country,” Warkentin says. “Like communities across Canada that rely on the agriculture, forestry, and energy industries, our communities in the Peace Country have been forgotten by Justin Trudeau.”

In all, the 2019 budget set out $22.9 billion in spending.

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