CFIB: Ontario Budget speaks to small business priorities

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The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) applauds the Ontario government for delivering an ambitious, yet fiscally prudent provincial budget that directly addresses some of the most pressing concerns of small business owners across the province.

Debt & Deficit

With a deficit of $11.7 billion, the province has committed to balance the budget by fiscal year 2023-24 and has proposed legislation to outline a debt burden reduction strategy and report on its progress annually. “Establishing a reasonable deficit reduction timeframe and a debt management plan were small business owners’ top two priorities during the 2018 provincial election,” said Plamen Petkov, Ontario Vice-President. “CFIB is very pleased that the government has followed our recommendation to get the provincial books back in the black in five years. We will hold them accountable to ensure the timeline is met.”

Red Tape

The Ontario government remains committed to reduce red tape by 25 per cent by 2020. “CFIB has long advocated that red tape reduction efforts should go beyond ministries to also include arms-length agencies,” said Julie Kwiecinski, Director of Provincial Affairs, Ontario. “We are encouraged that the government has already completed a review of 60 of over 190 agencies. To achieve further progress on this file, CFIB continues to urge the provincial government to update its 2012 regulatory count, and to keep leading interprovincial efforts for reducing internal trade barriers.”

Tax Competitiveness

Ontario will parallel the capital cost allowance enhancements for businesses that were announced earlier by the federal government. This will provide $3.8 billion in tax relief over six years. In addition, the budget reaffirms the provincial government’s commitment to reduce the small business corporate income tax rate from 3.5 to 3.2 per cent in the near future, as initially promised in the 2018 election.

Alcohol Sales

The province will expand the sale of beer and wine to corner stores and more grocery stores, and will provide flexibility for wineries, breweries and distilleries to promote their products. Moreover, the previously scheduled wine tax increase has been paused. “It’s about time small businesses are included in the beer and wine retail market,” said Petkov. “This move will offer more business opportunities to smaller retailers, while giving consumers more choice and convenience.”

Skilled Trades and Apprenticeship

Ontario will encourage higher employer participation in the apprenticeship system through a new financial incentive and will start promoting skilled trades to students from kindergarten to Grade 12. A pilot will also be launched to bring skilled immigrants to smaller communities. In addition, the government will legislate a framework to replace the Ontario College of Trades, and small businesses expect this to be done as soon as possible.