On Monday, Chrystia Freeland presented her first budget as Minister of Finance for the Liberal government. The document, which was tabled in the context of the global pandemic, promises a wide range of measures to foster a strong economic recovery in Canada. When it comes to information technology, which is what affects Libéo the most, the digital transformation of companies remains a priority initiative. In its overview of the 2021 federal budget, the Trudeau government announced that it would accelerate investments in digital transformation for small and medium-sized businesses. To achieve this, the government is implementing the Canada Digital Adoption Program, which has the dual objective of creating jobs and, above all, helping SMEs move into the digital age. In more concrete terms, its support measures will consist of micro-grants and strategic support. The outline of the two-part program can be found on the government’s official website.
Work with organizations across Canada to provide access to skills, training and advisory services for all businesses accessing this program. An investment of $1.4 billion over four years, starting in 2021–2022 in order to:
- Provide micro-grants to smaller, main street businesses to support costs associated with technology adoption
- Create training and work opportunities for 28,000 young people to help small and medium-sized businesses across Canada adopt technology
Budget 2021 also proposes to provide $2.6 billion over four years, on a cash basis, starting in 2021–2022, to the Business Development Bank of Canada to help small and medium-sized businesses finance technology adoption. At the same time, the 2021 federal budget intends to improve financing for small businesses in Canada. That way they’ll be more competitive in the market and will be able to grow more and invest in innovation. Credit card fees, which are often a significant burden for online businesses, are also on the Liberal government’s radar. The objective is to reduce these fees as much as possible, level out the price paid (by SMEs vs. large companies) and protect the consumers’ interests.
Our point of view
We’re pleased about the IT initiatives in the 2021 federal budget. The planned investments show a sincere desire to help small and medium-sized businesses undergo a quick and effective digital transformation of their economic activities. However, some of the promises seem a little difficult to keep, such as lowering credit card fees, which aren’t under government control. In addition, the issue of skilled labour remains a concern, despite the fact that barriers to trade across Canada are breaking down. Although immigration could help with the skilled labour shortage, it still comes with many headaches. At least $420 million has been proposed to upgrade the government’s technology infrastructure in this respect. The federal budget also proposes to accelerate access to permanent residency, which should help workers who choose to live in Canada.