Rocco Rossi, President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) released the following statement in response to the Government of Ontario’s 2020 Budget “Ontario’s Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover”.
“Ontario’s business community welcomes today’s Budget. It is an impactful response to the current crisis, and demonstrates the beginning of a long-term plan for economic growth,” said Rocco Rossi, President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “This Budget addresses many of the actions we, on behalf of Ontario’s business community, have been asking for. We believe that when business prospers, communities prosper.”
The OCC has long advocated for greater investment in broadband and cellular infrastructure, reforming taxes to enhance business competitiveness, developing new skills training opportunities, and lowering the cost of electricity for industry, all of which are priorities in Budget 2020.
“We are particularly pleased to hear the government talk about addressing ‘profit insensitive’ costs to business; those expenses that remain the same regardless of if a company is bringing in revenue,” noted Rossi. “Outlays such as property taxes and electricity rates have imposed considerable stress on business, especially small business, throughout the pandemic.”
Some key measures in Budget 2020 supported by the Ontario business community include:
• Reducing commercial and industrial electricity rates will make Ontario businesses more competitive and enable them to invest in recovery and growth. For years, Ontario businesses have paid more for electricity than most other jurisdictions in North America, and the pandemic has only increased electricity system costs.
• Business Education Tax rates vary throughout Ontario; as a result, businesses in London, Waterloo, Hamilton, Toronto, Windsor/Middlesex, and Kingston are paying higher taxes than those in other regions. The government has announced it will both reduce the BET rate and address regional variance within that rate, both of which the OCC has advocated for in the past.
• The decision to make the higher Employer Health Tax threshold permanent is a welcome one that will free thousands of businesses from having to pay this tax.
• The move to allow municipalities to target property tax relief specifically to small business is a creative and important tool to grant communities, given that small business has been hardest hit by the pandemic.
• Broadband is a basic infrastructure requirement in today’s economy, but the ongoing pandemic has made it even more essential to public health and economic resilience. We are very pleased to see the government take this seriously with an additional investment of $680 million (for a total of nearly $1 billion) over six years.
The OCC’s pre-budget submission focused on four areas: fiscal policy; regulation; the future of employment; and innovation and entrepreneurship. The recommendations were developed together with businesses, chambers of commerce, and boards of trade across the province, with the shared interest of making Ontario a more attractive place to live, work and invest. Read the full pre-budget submission here.
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