Quebec and Ontario budgets bring promise of business for consulting engineers
The provinces of Ontario and Quebec both released their 2009 budgets in March. Intended partly to counteract the ef...
The provinces of Ontario and Quebec both released their 2009 budgets in March. Intended partly to counteract the effects of the global economic downturn, the budgets both had provisions for spending on buildings and transportation, as well as incentives to boost the green energy sector.
Highlights from the Quebec budget in terms of business prospects for engineering companies include: $500 million for bio-energy production; tougher energy efficiency standards for new and renovated buildings; and funding for public transit infrastructure via a portion of gas tax revenues. Quebec is also investing in the hydrocarbon sector, with its eye on potential gas shales in the St. Lawrence Lowlands. It is proposing a five-year tax holiday of up to $800,000 for any well in production by the end of 2010.
The Ontario budget began by noting that world gross domestic product is projected to decline 1.6 per cent in 2009.
On that happy note, Finance Minister Dwight Duncan went on to outline “immediate measures to preserve jobs and support Ontarians through these challenging times.”
In infrastructure spending, the government allocated $32.5 billion over the next two years.
Transportation projects won the lion’s share. For the year 2009-2010, this sector will have approximately $4 billion, of which transit and highway construction will receive approximately $1.7 billion each.
The other biggest ticket infrastructure items included the health care sector, which will receive $3.17 billion in the next year, with hospital construction getting $2.5 billion.
Social housing infrastructure will be an area of investment. Together with the federal government, Ontario plans to invest more than $700 million over the next two years on making social housing more energy efficient, and in building new affordable housing for seniors and people with disabilities.
Approximately $789 million in new funds is being provided for municipal projects such as arenas, libraries and local transportation. Water projects have only been allocated $259 million in this budget.
In terms of help for consulting engineers running their own business, there were some helpful measures. For example, the government will give tax relief for eligible computers and software acquired after January 27, 2009 and before February 2011.
The government will also give tax relief for small and medium-sized corporations that do scientific research and experimental development (SR&ED) in Ontario.
The budget reiterated details about Ontario’s proposed Green Energy and Green Economy Act. Under this legislation the government is hoping to establish a smart electricity grid, Ontario is currently undertaking 6,300 MW of electricity supply projects and wants to replace all coal-fired generation by 2014.