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Canada's CFOs Call for Transparency With Canadians on Budget Surplus

TORONTO, ONTARIO -- (Marketwired) -- 02/11/14 -- Financial Executives International Canada (FEI Canada), the country's leading association for senior financial executives, is encouraged that the federal government is getting closer to balancing the budget and called on the Minister of Finance to be transparent with Canadians on how it plans to invest the surplus projected in 2015-2016 and subsequent years.

"We are pleased that the government will finally achieve a balanced budget in fiscal 2016. With its surplus projections, we call on the government to outline its future investment strategy and management of our debt levels," said Michael Conway, President and CEO of FEI Canada.

"This includes decisions on allocation in areas including investing in economic growth and employment, funding of pension and other post-retirement programs for public sector plans, and making inroads into reducing the national debt. Once the Minister of Finance has explained his strategies and plans, we will be in a position to analyze the proposals and recommendations and provide feedback," Mr. Conway said.

"We believe that our governments at all levels need to continue investing in our economy and prepare for, and have the necessary fiscal tools available to deal with, the eventual next downturn in the economic cycle," said Tim Zahavich, chair of FEI Canada's Policy Forum.

FEI Canada today outlined its top issues of importance for 2014, which include:


--  Create a positive business environment through fiscal prudence and
    transparency
--  Corporate income tax simplification
--  Adequate and sustainable retirement programs for Canadians
--  Removal of interprovincial barriers regarding trade and labour mobility
--  Cyber security
--  Accountability, independence and diversity on boards of directors

Financial Executives International Canada (FEI Canada) is the all industry professional membership association for senior financial executives. With eleven chapters across Canada and 1,700 members, FEI Canada provides professional development, thought leadership and advocacy services to its members. The association membership, which includes Chief Financial Officers, Audit Committee Directors and senior executives in the Finance, Controller, Treasury and Taxation functions, represents a significant number of Canada's leading and most influential corporations. www.feicanada.org

FEI Canada's top advocacy issues for 2014


1.  Create a positive business environment through fiscal prudence and
    transparency: Significant progress has been achieved in reducing
    deficits over the past several years, to the point where the government
    is forecasting a surplus position in fiscal 2015. We strongly support
    this outcome, in part because we believe that our governments at all
    levels need to prepare for, and have the necessary fiscal tools
    available to deal with the eventual next downturn in the economic cycle.
    With surplus projections, we request the federal government explain
    publicly its strategy and plans for deployment, including possible
    difficult decisions on allocation in areas including investing in
    economic growth and employment, funding of pension and other post-
    retirement programs for public sector plans, and making inroads into
    reducing the national debt by establishing specific debt targets and a
    strategy to achieve them. This public exposure of strategy should begin
    immediately.

2.  Income tax simplification: FEI Canada was an early advocate for making
    tax simplification a priority. The current Income Tax Act is the largest
    piece of legislation in Canada. It is overly complicated and inefficient
    to administer with many sections that are irrelevant in today's economy.
    In addition, reporting for income tax purposes is overly complex and
    inefficient since it is based on individual legal entities. Corporations
    should be allowed to report their economic entities on a consolidated
    basis since that is how many businesses are managed.

3.  Adequate and sustainable retirement programs for Canadians:  FEI Canada
    continues to encourage the Government to examine options in the
    development of a national framework on adequate and sustainable
    retirement programs for Canadians. One recommended option within the
    framework is a modest expansion of the Canada and Quebec Pension Plans,
    professionally managed and cost effective, gradually becoming a "fully-
    funded" model over time. Included in this sustainability framework
    should be a plan to effectively manage the unfunded shortfall of public
    sector pension plans estimated to be approx. $300B (federal, provincial
    and municipal). Innovative solutions to the framework and model would
    ensure long term solvency of retirement programs while maintaining
    stable contribution rates and preserving a fair standard of living for
    Canadians.

4.  Removal of interprovincial barriers regarding trade and labour mobility:
    Canada is a large country that will continue to have high economic
    growth is certain areas and minimal growth in others. In order to meet
    labour force needs, barriers that prevent easy access to available jobs
    should be removed so that overall Canadian competitiveness remains at a
    high level.

5.  Cyber security: The majority of all business communication and
    transactions are done via the internet and there are no comprehensive,
    unified security standards over these items. Any sort of security
    breakdown or cyber-attack on this communication medium could have
    catastrophic effects on the Canadian economy. There should be a national
    framework involving government and business to protect this critical
    medium.

6.  Accountability, independence and diversity on boards of directors: FEI
    Canada supports the renewed focus on the corporate governance practices
    of modern corporations, particularly in relation to diversity. There is
    an inherent need for Board oversight as it pertains to the various
    policies, practices and processes within the organization in general. It
    has been identified that independence and diversity are important policy
    areas in corporate governance on a number of fronts, and the need to
    reflect diversity within the Board of Directors is crucial moving
    forward. There should be timetables for diversity actions put in place
    by regulators to monitor these activities.

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