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Policy Fast 5: December 2021 Update

December 16, 2021

4.5 Minute Read

The Winnipeg Chamber’s Director of Policy, Colin Fast, highlights five things Winnipeg businesses should be aware of this week.

City budget is passed

Yesterday, Winnipeg City Council approved its 2022 update to the 2020-23 multi-year budget plan. Loren Remillard, President & CEO of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, spoke in delegation at the council meeting and noted the budget update includes several initiatives that have been recommended by the Chamber, including: holding the line on business taxes, expanding servicing to the Airport Area West, spending on determining the service capacity of potential infill areas, and investing in projects to support the economic recovery of downtown and other neighbourhoods. However, Remillard acknowledged that the city is facing significant revenue challenges and cautioned future councils against making significant increases to property and business taxes to cover that shortfall as that would slow recovery from the pandemic. Read More. 

Pandemic Sick Leave Program is extended until March

The Manitoba Pandemic Paid Sick Leave Program, established to help cover the costs of employee sick leave related to COVID-19, is being extended until March 31, 2022. Announced in May, the voluntary program provides eligible employers with up to $600 per employee for a maximum of five full days (40 hours) of COVID-19 related sick leave. Eligible sick leave for the program related to COVID-19 includes testing, vaccinations and side effects, self-isolation due to COVID-19 symptoms or care for a loved one in any of these circumstances. Read More.

Federal Economic and Fiscal Update Released

The federal government released its Economic and Fiscal Update earlier this week. Of particular note for businesses is a new $60 million fund to support the live event sector, the extension of the home office expense deduction, and increased funding for rapid test kits. The government also announced a new program to return a portion of the proceeds from the carbon price to small- and medium-sized businesses in provinces without their own carbon price programs, such as Manitoba. While those measures are welcomed, Canadian Chamber President & CEO Perrin Beatty expressed concern about the lack of a clear economic growth plan. “Today’s Fall Economic Statement was the right time for the government to lay out a blueprint for how we transition our economy from recovery into strong and sustainable economic growth that will attract investment. Unfortunately, the government has decided to wait until Budget 2022,” he said. Read More.

Feds propose Small Businesses Air Quality Improvement Tax Credit

One of the new measures announced in the Economic and Fiscal Update is a proposed federal tax credit that would provide a rebate on air filtration improvements for qualifying small businesses making investments between September 1, 2021 and December 31, 2022. The 25% rebate would provide businesses with a maximum of $10,000 per location or $50,000 in total. The refundable tax credit would apply on stand-alone equipment that employs high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters to improve air quality, or for specified HVAC investments. Read More.

Inflation remains at 18-year high

New inflation data released yesterday by Statistics Canada shows the national inflation rate remained at an 18-year high of 4.7% in November, matching the number from October. What is changing, according to RBC Economics, is that inflation pressure has been broadening, with more goods and services seeing above-target levels of price growth. RBC also notes that wage expectations are building for employers, though that pressure is distributed unevenly across industries. Read More.

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