Zimmer says the country is nearing balance financially with the latest budget, and the budget will see some infrastructure dollars trickle into the region.
“A big thing for us up here definitely is the infrastructure dollars that were announced last week. Some of that money will come into the Peace that will take care of some of our infrastructure needs,” he says. “The big one for me is getting back to balance and we’re on track with that and we’re pretty close to even now. I think most Canadians see that as a pretty good place to be especially with such tough times financially across the world and we’re just about balanced.”
Zimmer was also recognized by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty for his work in creating a tax credit for search and rescue volunteers. He says the credit is eligible to those who have volunteered over 200 hours of their time.
“What it works as is a $3,000 maximum amount and it’s 15 per cent of that $3,000 so it’s about $450 maximum of a credit that you can get. It’s based on hours so you have to have a minimum of 200 hours served in order to get that.” he states.
Going forward, one of the concerns expressed lately surrounds pressure being put on the Canadian Pension Plan by the retirement of baby boomers. Despite the worry, Zimmer says he doesn’t see a situation where a hike in the retirement age would be implemented.
“We’re trying to do everything in our power to keep things the way they are because people have had that expectation that it’s going to be there and we don’t want to change that for them. We don’t see that as needing to happen, and hopefully we won’t have to do anything there.”
Another concern addressed by Zimmer is whether the country is nearing a point where public funded schooling should include two years of post secondary training given some of the shortfalls with just a high school education. Zimmer says that while we wishes that’ something that could be done immediately, he does believe sooner or later demand will dictate a portion of post secondary training be publicly funded.
“If I could wave my wand and make things happen a certain way, I sat within the system, I would wish that kids could come out of high school with full accreditation and skills in a particular skill. Certainly the work experience part of it, they may not have their hours but to me, to have that training done essentially and they come out and their ready to go, I would support that. I supported that back when I was in the system. I think it’s coming; I think demand is going to demand that it happens, I just hope the provinces really take that on and deal with the shortages we have.”
In the mean time Zimmer points to the jobs grant so the appropriate skills will go to the appropriate industries. He says that while the job grant has been criticized, the grant attempts to help the concerns from industry that the skills that individuals are coming out of high school with are not sufficient. The grant is aimed at helping groups that will provide skills training to people that will make them adequate for industry.