|Brandon Wright, a first-year heavy duty mechanic student at Okanagan College, works on a front-end loader on Thursday afternoon. Thursday's federal budget focused on training and education.|
"The budget is really targeting dollars in the right areas and matching the training with what industry is demanding," said Randy Werger, associate dean of trades and apprenticeships.
"Right now, a lot of students are getting their training here in the Okanagan and living here, but going off to jobs in mining and oil and gas up north. But when construction on the prison in the South Okanagan starts, there will be need for 500 workers and the Valley's residential construction will come back too."
The eighth budget from Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative government has been billed a pragmatic document that reduces the deficit and spends money only where needed.
"The Conservatives are in the middle of their term, so they are focused on balancing the budget and they don't need to offer tax cuts to appease voters as if they were going into an election," said Kelly Watson, a tax partner at accounting firm KPMG in Kelowna.
Even though Canada's economy is still sluggish, the budget recognizes a labour shortage looms as baby boomers retire from their jobs and fewer young people are available to take their place. Education and training is therefore paramount.
"The budget doesn't give a lot of details on how the money will actually flow, but I hope it puts money in students' hands so they can get the relevant training," said Okanagan College president Jim Hamilton.
"I hope colleges also get help for research, commercialization and infrastructure."
Training dollars are targeted to help youth, women, new immigrants, aboriginals and the disabled.
"From a tax point of view, not much changes with this budget for the average Canadian," said accountant Watson.
"But there are some changes for business
For instance, company owners who take dividend payments from their corporation will now pay extra tax.
On average, the rate will increase from 19.6 per cent to 21.2 per cent.
However, business owners could benefit if they sell their business with the tax exemption ceiling on capital gains going from $750,000 to $850,000.
There's also a crackdown on foreign investment, be it a condominium in Arizona, an investment in Europe or cash in the bank in the Caribbean.
"The government wants to make sure you report it and pay tax on it," said Watson.
"If they are going to balance the budget by 2015-16, they need to cut some spending and increase the tax base. After that they can consider some tax cuts."
Kelowna-Lake Country Conservative MP Ron Cannan likes the budget for staying on course to be balanced, yet still providing money for skills training, infrastructure programs (highways, drinking water, public transit, recreation, tourism and higher education) and tax relief for manufacturers.