The Ontario Government tabled the 2018 Ontario Budget on Wednesday, March 28.
Thunder Bay Chamber President Charla Robinson had the following comments following the release:
“The budget includes a significant increase in spending and return to deficit for a number of years which is of concern due to our already high debt load and projections of slower economic growth. Of the increased spending there are some areas that will particularly assist Northern Ontario including the increase to Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) by 2020-21 to $150 million per year. NOHFC is a significant support for the local economy and business growth so this increase will be welcomed.
“The continuation of supports through the Forestry Growth Fund and the Northern Industrial Electricity Rate program are also positive for many regional businesses and the new funding for broadband expansion will also be well received.
“I am quite disappointed that the Premier has not made good on her promise to exempt Northern Ontario’s fly in communities from the 2014 increase to aviation fuel taxes. It is patently unfair for air passengers and cargo to First Nations communities to continue to pay these taxes to support transit expansion in the GTA.”
Ontario Chamber of Commerce’ Rapid Policy Update:
Budget fails to tackle high input costs, low business confidence
The Ontario Chamber has released an analysis of this year’s budget, “Budget fails to tackle high input costs, low business confidence.” Click here to download the analysis document.
(Toronto, Wednesday, March 28, 2018) – The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) today cautioned that while the Budget proposes new spending for economic development, it does nothing to alleviate rising input costs or tangibly address low business confidence. In fact, the Ontario Government has chosen to follow the federal government’s lead on changes to the tax code that will result in significant new taxes on Ontario’s employer community.
The Ontario Government is harmonizing with 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. (read more on the OCC website)
Key Points of the Chamber Position:
- The OCC cautions that while the Budget proposes new spending for economic development, it does nothing to alleviate rising input costs or tangibly address low business confidence.
- In fact, 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.
- While the near-term deficit is projected to be less than one percent of the GDP, this comes at a time when the economy is relatively strong. The budget also projects slower GDP growth on the horizon due to global factors.
- Despite this caution, we 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.
- Ontario’s businesses are doing their part to create a fairer society, and the best way to ensure that continues is to consult with businesses and reduce their cumulative burden
- As the government and opposition parties turn their attention to the upcoming election, we again call on them to adopt our Vote Prosperity recommendations that will strengthen business competitiveness, foster job creation, build healthy communities, and improve government accountability.
- Reducing wait times for health care by significantly increasing hospital operating budgets
- Expanding home care to provide more services for seniors choosing to stay at home, and to provide financial relief for families who are caring for aging loved ones
- Making historic investments in mental health and addictions services so people of all ages across the province can get the care they need
- Ensuring more people without a drug and dental benefits plan will have access to more affordable prescription drugs and dental care
- Providing more college and university students with free tuition through the new OSAP
- Making investments to train more apprentices for the workforce, including in emerging fields
- Focusing on regions that are struggling to achieve economic growth by investing in workers and businesses
- Continuing to make record-breaking investments across Ontario in public infrastructure such as schools, hospitals, roads, bridges and transit systems.
The Throne Speech outlines the next steps to build on the government’s plan for fairness, and providing care and opportunity during this period of rapid economic change. The plan includes a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, easier access to affordable child care, and free prescription drugs for everyone under 25 through the biggest expansion of medicare in a generation.”
Resources for the 2018 Ontario Budget:
- 2018 Budget Document – Ontario.ca website
- Ontario Chamber: Rapid Policy Update – Budget Analysis
- Press Release OCC: Budget fails to tackle high input costs, low business confidence
- Press Release: Speech from the Throne
- Speech from the Throne
- February Prebudget Submission to Minister Sousa
- January Prebudget Presentation to Committee