March 23, 2017 6:54 am

London leaders in technology and homelessness prevention sound off on federal budget 2017

The Trudeau government unveiled its second federal budget on Wednesday. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, speaks with Minister of Finance Bill Morneau as he arrives to table the budget in Ottawa in a March 22, 2016, file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang


Local leaders in technology and homelessness prevention are eager to see exactly how much money may be directed to London following Wednesday’s federal budget announcement.

The Trudeau Liberals made commitments to invest in innovation and affordable housing, though the document contained little new spending.

READ MORE: Federal budget 2017: Trudeau government projects $28.5 billion deficit in 2017-2018

Nearly $3 billion is being committed over the next five years to spur innovation and support Canadian entrepreneurs.

The budget proposes establishing Innovation Canada, which will help co-ordinate and streamline support available for entrepreneurs. The government will invest $950 million to build hubs for innovation that will be called “super clusters.”

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David Billson, president and CEO of Ellipsis Digital, is excited by what he’s seeing.

“It’s great to see the federal government investing in the areas we know that there’s a lot of growth in the sector and it’s a big part of any western economy going forward,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of research that Canadian investment in ICT and technology in general is actually lagging behind other countries so getting some support in that area is sure to help.”

Though it remains to be seen exactly how munch funding London may be able to access, Billson hopes local companies will receive support to help recruit and train new talent.

“I’m really hoping that a lot of that comes together to help companies like mine and the other digital media companies in the London region to either have better access to properly trained talent for retraining purposes or to help with programs,” he said.

READ MORE: How the budget will affect your pocketbook

Meantime, $11.2 billion will be invested over 11 years in affordable housing with $5 billion being committed to a new national housing fund, and just over $2 billion aimed at reducing homelessness.

READ MORE: Big investment in affordable housing, nothing to cool red-hot markets

Abe Oudshoorn, anti-poverty advocate and professor at the school of nursing at Western University, hopes London can tap into the new housing fund.

“It’s a moderate increase, but if we can get some access to that priority fund, if we can come up with some good projects, I do think that is where the potential is for us to see some significant increases in terms of opportunities for London,” he said.

Federal government to invest $11 billion in affordable housing

Oudshoorn doubts, however, that it will be enough to make a significant impact on things like social housing wait lists.

“To see these steady increases over time is definitely a positive change, but the issue is it’s still not near where we need to be,” he said. “We do have backlogs with the wait lists. Depending on your priority status, you could be looking at easily anywhere from months to years in terms of your wait for affordable housing.”

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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