Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this consultation process.
I'm Brendan Marshall, vice-president, economic and northern affairs at the Mining Association of Canada. MAC is the national voice of Canada's mining and mineral-processing industry, representing more than 40 members engaged in exploration, mining, smelting and semi-fabrication across a host of commodities.
Mining contributes 3.4% of Canada's GDP annually, employs just under 600,000 workers, and accounted for 19% of Canada's total overall export value in 2016. Proportionally, mining is the leading heavy-industry employer of indigenous peoples. Canada leads global mining finance with the majority of the world's public mining companies listed on the TSX.
In some respects, the government has contributed positively in recent years with policy developments and investments supporting the growth of Canada's mining sector, including in exploration, via the extension of the mineral exploration tax credit, though we support PDAC in advocating that this be renewed on a three-year rolling basis, and in northern infrastructure through road investments in the Yukon and the NWT.
In other respects, however, domestic legislative and regulatory processes with implications for project permitting and costs persist, while recent supply chain failures have damaged Canada' s reputation as a reliable trade partner. Internationally, these challenges are amplified by an increasingly unpredictable trade relationship with the U.S., whose comprehensive tax reform has significantly enhanced that jurisdiction's investment competitiveness over Canada's.
Since 2014, according to NRCan, total projected investment into Canada's mining industry has dropped more than 50% from $160 billion to $72 billion. Immediate action by government to quell increasing investment leakage and minimize the impacts of projected low-growth scenarios is needed.
Canada's mining tax regime has been falling behind international competitors for years. Budgets 2012 and 2013 reduced or eliminated several direct and indirect mining-related tax credits in areas such as dividend withholding tax and corporate restructuring rules. Other jurisdictions have amended their fiscal regimes to better attract foreign direct investment, while Canada has not. Most recently, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act reforms have significantly reduced Canada's mining tax competitiveness vis-à-vis the U.S. As a result, the same mine in the United States now has an approximate 40% to 50% reduction in the effective tax rate compared to Canada.
Action is required to reduce Canada's waning international mining tax competitiveness. Specifically, government should consider the following:
One, it should consider reversing, reinstating and enhancing mining tax reforms from budgets 2012 and 2013, including augmenting the ACCA to include zero declining balance to match the U.S.
Two, it should consider phasing out dividend withholding tax. Canada stands out as the only rich country that taxes all dividends paid to foreigners. Other countries' rates are 0%, such as in the U.K., or they have rules that relax or exempt from this tax, such as in Australia, Canada's primary competitor for mineral investment.
Three, it should consider enabling corporate reorganization performed by Canadian or foreign groups to be tax-free. Canada taxes 50% of capital gains realized by corporations reorganizing their businesses to concentrate on value generation, while in the U.K., for example, capital gains tax is 0% if basic criteria are met.
Four, it should consider modernizing the tax treatment of QETs, qualified environmental trusts, by extending the carry-back period from three to seven years, allowing reclamation to be deducted at the consolidated level when incurred, regardless of which mine is being reclaimed, and by making QETs tax exempt until the distribution of funds.
Five, it should consider ensuring the deductibility of mining tax payable regardless of the year in which it is paid. MAC has worked constructively with Finance and CRA officials on a solution to our challenge, which they accepted, but we continue to wait for its implementation after almost three years of engagement, and are still without a firm commitment on a timeline.
These policies and the inability to implement solutions in a timely manner are reducing the attractiveness of Canadian investment projects, increasing financing costs and administrative burdens and putting Canadian firms at a disadvantage relative to their competitors.
Infrastructure investment decisions that recognize northern challenges and opportunities through the trade and transportation corridors initiative and the investing in Canada plan have been welcomed, though the need is greater than the funds allocated. MAC is aware the northern allocation of $400 million under the TTCI was oversubscribed by greater than five times. Also concerning is that the Canada Infrastructure Bank may not recognize remote and northern challenges, potentially limiting the utility of this institution to address northern priorities.
Enabling additional mining development in remote and northern Canada is inextricably linked to the government's indigenous reconciliation and climate change agendas. The government should renew the TTCI, including the $400-million allocation to northern Canada, and recognize the unique challenges of remote and northern regions through a dedicated northern fund in the Canada Infrastructure Bank.
My final point is with respect to accelerating indigenous inclusion in mining.
The mining industry is the largest employer of indigenous Canadians on a proportional basis. Since 1974, more than 375 voluntary company-community agreements have been signed detailing shared benefits in resource development, including direct and indirect benefits such as procurement. For example, the oil sands spend with 399 indigenous businesses exceeded $3.3 billion in 2016 alone.
To strengthen and enhance indigenous participation in mining, governments should increase funding for skills training and entrepreneurship to assist indigenous peoples in securing opportunities generated by the industry. They should establish and improve mechanisms through which governments share a portion of the revenues generated from royalties, mining taxes, and/or fees in their jurisdiction. Finally, they should strategically deploy government procurement as a tool to drive indigenous economic reconciliation.
Thank you for your consideration. I would be happy to take any questions.