Fuel and business tax reductions, lower energy costs, and health care investment among top election priorities
A dismal 13% of Ontario’s small business owners are confident their concerns and priorities will receive attention during the campaign leading up to the June 2nd election, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)’s Ontario pre-election survey.
The survey also reveals that 93% of small business owners will vote, 99% are concerned about the current state of Ontario’s economy, and 90% believe the cost of doing business in Ontario is too high.
“Affordability is the key theme for small businesses during this campaign,” said Ryan Mallough, CFIB’s senior director of provincial affairs for Ontario. “Just as people are struggling with the increased cost of living, small businesses are struggling with the increased costs of doing business. That’s why we’re asking all parties to take a “do no harm” approach to their platforms and not introduce any more costs on small businesses, like tax increases or new fees.”
According to the survey, reducing fuel taxes is the top small business priority at 65%, followed by lowering small business taxes (60%), reducing energy costs – i.e., electricity and heating (57%), investing in health care (56%), and addressing labour shortages (55%). More than seven in 10 businesses said the rising cost of living is affecting their ability to attract employees.
“The next provincial government will be the steward of Ontario’s small business recovery,” said Julie Kwiecinski, CFIB’s director of provincial affairs for Ontario. “High inflation, rising costs already in the works by governments, skyrocketing commercial insurance rates, and massive COVID debt levels all form the backdrop against which the next government’s decisions must be weighed.”
Among other recommendations detailed in CFIB’s Ontario small business priorities document Do No Harm: Small Business Election Priorities, CFIB is calling on the next government to:
- Reduce fuel taxes immediately.
- Index the Small Business Tax Rate and Employer Health Tax thresholds to inflation annually.
- Invest in the healthcare system to ensure province-wide lockdowns are never again needed or used.
- Avoid imposing the cost on employers of any paid sick days program.
- Adopt policies to address Ontario’s labour shortages.
- Review municipal building permit processes, and adopt a comprehensive construction mitigation package as part of all significant provincial construction projects.
- Focus on red tape accountability and reduction measures, including eliminating internal trade barriers.
- Increase the existing 750 kWh threshold for the tiered rate electricity system to 3,000 kWh.
- Expand the sale of beverage alcohol to Ontario’s convenience stores.
CFIB also started a petition calling for the next Premier to “make Ontario more affordable for small businesses”.