Brome-Missisquoi MNA Pascale Saint-Onge, minister of sport and minister responsible for the Canadian Economic Development Agency for the regions of Quebec, had many years of consultation and negotiation under her belt as president of the Fédération nationale de culture et de communications before entering electoral politics.
Earlier this month, Saint-Onge, an Orford resident who won her seat in last fall’s election, had a front-row seat to the complex processes that go into the creation of the annual federal budget, and to its effects on small businesses.
“It was an interesting process. You know, this is my first budget and as I spoke with my constituents and entrepreneurs, I learned about their challenges and their needs,” she said. “The budget addressed their needs, such as innovation, affordable housing, ecological transition and improving people’s lives. As we emerge from the pandemic, our small and medium businesses need support to stay competitive, grow and create jobs.”
In the week following the release of the budget on April 7, Saint-Onge says she “had the opportunity to be on the ground and talk to entrepreneurs from my riding and across Quebec. We discussed the many measures included in our 2022 budget that meet their needs, such as cutting taxes for growth businesses and building more efficient supply chains.”
She referred to the budget as a “transition budget” which rolls back certain support measures that were made available to businesses at the height of pandemic lockdowns while keeping other measures in place.
She noted that 90 per cent of businesses in Canada fall under the umbrella of small- and medium-sized businesses. “For the first pandemic budget, the government had to be there to support small businesses…at this point, our economy is doing really well, so we are focusing on challenges faced by small businesses, such as the labour shortage and [difficulties with] supply chains.” Among measures aimed at resolving the labour shortage, she mentioned the streamlining of the Temporary Foreign Worker program, which would facilitate the recruitment and work visa processes for some employers who depend on foreign workers.
“We’ve also reduced taxes for small businesses and eliminated one tax bracket in order to make it easier for smaller businesses to invest in themselves, and made it easier for businesses to invest in artificial intelligence solutions, which improve productivity and improve quality of work.”
Saint-Onge also sought to reassure her constituents about the implications of proposed reforms to the Official Languages Act (contained in Bill C-13, which is currently in second reading before the House of Commons). “The idea of the bill is to protect all official language minority communities, including English-speaking Quebecers, make sure that all federal services are available in both official languages and reinforce French services across Canada. I know communities in my riding are counting on us to maintain and enhance services…and live up to our promise to support official language minorities.”
Saint-Onge invited any constituents with questions or concerns about the budget to contact her office by phone (450-263-5026) or by email (email@example.com).