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Finance Minister Bill Morneau speaks to a reporter after delivering the budget on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, March 22, 2017. (PATRICK DOYLE/REUTERS)
Finance Minister Bill Morneau speaks to a reporter after delivering the budget on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, March 22, 2017. (PATRICK DOYLE/REUTERS)

Report on Small Business newsletter

Federal budget offers a boost for startups; other small businesses face worries on EI and taxes Add to ...

There were no real shockers in yesterday’s federal budget, but even so, the Liberal government’s intense focus on innovation is certainly welcome news to Canada’s startup sector. The government will focus on building “superclusters” of innovative industries, where private-sector companies can compete for some of the (mostly previously announced) $950 million in funding. The sectors mentioned are advanced manufacturing, agri-food, clean technology, digital technology, health/bio-sciences and clean resources, as well as infrastructure and transportation.

The Liberals have decided to continue the previous government’s venture capital strategy by giving BDC $400 million over the next three years with a focus on late-stage funding. The budget also proposed to provide up to $50 million for a procurement program, Innovative Solutions Canada, to allow the government to make purchases from Canadian startups. 

Canada’s numerous and confusing business innovation programs will be reviewed with an eye of simplifying them and unifying them. One program under the microscope is the widely used Scientific Research and Experimental Development tax incentive program. A new platform called Innovation Canada will help entrepreneurs navigate the streamlined innovation offerings.

While this budget didn’t bring in major tax changes, such as a feared increase in the capital gains inclusion rate, small businesses may be under the microscope in the years to come. The budget announced a review of tax planning strategies used by private corporations, which “can result in high income individuals gaining unfair tax advantages.”

In terms of workers, the government is making it easier to access foreign visas and offering more money for training programs, although changes to EI may be of concern to some small business owners. The expansion of various EI programs means a small hike in EI payments; a rule change allowing parents to take 18-month leaves is something that some business owners have previously expressed concerns about.

For a full overview of the budget’s impact on small business, read  Six things small businesses need to know about the 2017 federal budget by EY’s Sandy Maag. -Sarah Efron

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Canada’s top entrepreneurs to gather at the 2017 Globe and Mail Small Business Summit

Many of the top entrepreneurs in the country will gather at The 2017 Globe and Mail Small Business Summit on May 9th in Toronto. The annual event brings together hundreds of entrepreneurs to talk about growing their businesses. The keynote speakers are Michael Serbinis, founder of book technology company Kobo and benefits platform League, and Matthew Corrin, founder of the healthy restaurant chain Freshii. Full story.

Blueberries please, but hold the chemical solvents

Buying blueberries can be a leap of faith. You can only hope they come from a reasonably environmentally friendly farm. But people further enticed by the so-called super-ingredients in blueberries – anthocyanins – need to take an even bigger leap of faith. The label on the supplement bottle may be bright and clinical-looking, but there’s little that says how the ingredient is extracted from the fruit. It may be produced using clean technology or with chemical solvents. Full story.

Why Wendy’s is making fun of Burger King

When Wendy’s posted a tweet boasting about its super value meal, long-time rival Burger King was quick to respond with a tweet showcasing its better value meal deal. Wendy’s wasted no time and, after being prompted by a Twitter fan, shot back at Burger King, stating their food was at least edible. This was just one of many tweets from Wendy’s lately, part of what people are calling the “Wendy’s Roast.” Wendy’s has also been burning brands like McDonald’s, while also just ripping on the Twittersphere in general. Full story.

Music community left in the lurch after sudden shutdown of record plant

Vinyl records are a shining light in the otherwise dim recorded-music industry – a tangible, surprisingly growing way to consume music that is fuelling new record-pressing companies around the world. Canada Boy opened in 2015 and was widely touted as a made-at-home chance to jump aboard the zeitgeist. But it is on the verge of shutting down for good, with many people wondering if they will get their money back. Full story.

Self-employed? Get into the habit of putting cash away

When Corinne Contant began her professional career as a dentist 20 years ago she, like many self-employed individuals, found that there were certain years when investing in the growth of her practice needed to take precedence over socking away retirement funds. But Dr. Contant, who established a registered retirement savings plan at age 26, never lost sight of her retirement needs, and she continued to make regular payments earmarked for her RRSP, as well as to non-registered accounts for retirement purposes, whenever it was feasible to do so. Full story.

More small business news from around the web

Alberta Budget 2017: Craft distillers get a boost with new grant program

A new government grant program aimed at giving Alberta’s small distillers a boost is being cheered by the province's fledgling craft spirits industry, even though it will be modeled on an existing craft beer program that has sparked lawsuits from out-of-province brewers. Full story.

The MEC way to expand a customer base

Part of creating what CEO David Labistour calls a “bigger tent” was making sure that MEC’s marketing campaigns were pitch-perfect. “If you look at our brand campaign that’s out now, our imagery is of people having fun, instead of those really gnarly moments when they’re struggling up a mountain,” he notes. He’s also quick to point out that the company has done away with images of single people, opting instead for groups of friends having fun together outside. “We know that young people are very social, and the old imagery of people by themselves, while very inspiring, it doesn’t really speak to how people live their lives,” he explains. Full story.

A soaring stock market debut for Canada Goose

For the past few years, its jackets have surged in popularity among fashionistas and celebrities, once worn by model Kate Upton on the cover of Sports Illustrated. They’ve also been favoured by actor Daniel Craig, best known for his role as James Bond. Its most popular winter coats start at about $900. Full story.

Keep it in the family: running a business with mum

When Safia Hothi-Bellamy found herself without a job in 2013 after working as an international conference producer in London, her mother Surinder Bellamy offered her two products and £5,000 to see what she could do with them. Full story.

Activism may be fashionable, but is it good for business?

Against the backdrop of divisive politics in Europe and the US, it is becoming more common for big business to stand up against social injustices, including policies that can be bad for business such as cutting off the talent supply. Full story.

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