“At a time when industry in Ontario is feeling the impact of the rising minimum wage, significant labour reforms, increasing global and US competition and rising input costs, we need Government to reduce the cumulative burden not add to it.”

That was the conclusion of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) after it took a careful look at the 2018 provincial Budget recently presented by Premier Kathleen Wynne and Finance Minister Charles Sousa. As a consequence, the Ontario Chamber Network – which includes the Flamborough Chamber of Commerce (FCC) – is rallying to call on the Ontario Government to remove two proposed tax reforms that will cost employers nearly half a billion dollars in new taxes from the 2018 budget.

The province has chosen to follow the federal government’s lead on changes to the tax code that will result in nearly half a billion dollars in new taxes to be paid by employers over the next three years.

The Ontario Government is harmonizing the federal government’s eligibility criteria leaving over 20,000 employers paying $100 million more in Employment Health Tax over the next three years.

In addition, businesses will be phased out of the small business deduction if they earn between $50,000 and $150,000 of passive investment income in the taxation year, resulting in an additional $350 million in new taxes for Ontario businesses over the next three years.

The OCC does support smart investments announced in the Budget such as regional economic development funding, new dollars for public transit, $500 million for broadband infrastructure, and additional resources for apprenticeship and skills development.

The impetus for much of the new social spending proposed by the Ontario Government is to address the notion that prosperity is not being shared. Budget 2018 demonstrates that there is no rise in precarious work. As the Budget notes, of the more than 800,000 net new jobs created since the recession, the majority were created in industries that pay above-average wages, in the private sector, and as full-time positions.

As the government and opposition parties turn their attention to the upcoming election, the OCC again call on them to adopt the Vote Prosperity recommendations that will strengthen business competitiveness, foster job creation, build healthy communities, and improve government accountability. The Vote Prosperity document can be found at www.occ.ca.

Arend Kersten, Director, Policy & Advocacy