1. Red tape action (Fed., ON, QC, NB gov’ts):
Federal plans include assessing new regulations through a small business lens, a 1-for-1 rule, and service improvement goals. Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick also made major red tape announcements.
2. Improving tax administration (Fed. gov’t)
The Canada Revenue Agency now accepts online questions via My Business Account and will honour written responses even if advice is wrong.
3. Municipal Accountability (BC gov’t):
BC appointed a municipal Auditor General to oversee local government spending.
4. Labour law changes (SK gov’t):
The Saskatchewan Employment Act modernizes, simplifies and amalgamates labour legislation and adds flexibility to the traditional 40-hour work week.
5. Public Sector Pensions (Fed. gov’t):
The federal government started to get MP and civil service pensions in line with the private sector. This included raising employee contributions to 50 per cent and requiring new hires to work until 65.
6. Pooled Registered Pension Plans (Fed. gov’t):
The federal government passed legislation that paves the way for small business owners to provide employees with access to simple, low-cost pensions. Provincial legislation is now needed.
7. Immigration Changes for Trades (Fed. gov’t):
With a growing labour shortage, the government announced important changes to make it easier to bring permanent skilled tradespeople into Canada.
8. WCB rate cuts (AB, SK, QC, NB, PEI, YK gov’ts):
Average rates in these provinces and territories will come down in 2013, helping small businesses manage costs and encouraging job creation.
1. Plan to raise CPP premiums (Most provinces):
Led by Ontario, provincial finance ministers recently met and are pushing a plan to expand the Canada Pension Plan. Leadership to push back is needed by Ottawa.
2. Credit card fee hikes (Visa Canada):
In October, Visa Canada announced major fee hikes and a plan for a new “uber-premium” card with even higher rates.
3. Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) expansion (ON gov’t):
Despite CFIB’s strong objections, the Ontario government moved ahead with implementing Bill 119, expanding mandatory WSIB coverage to previously-exempt employers in construction.
4. More municipal taxes? (AB gov’t):
The province has committed to negotiating new municipal charters with city governments in Calgary and Edmonton. This could significantly expand municipal taxation powers.
5. Eliminating secret ballots (NL gov’t):
The provincial government eliminated secret ballot voting for union certification with no consultation.
6. Minimum wage increases (Most provinces and territories):
All provinces and territories except Ontario, Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Newfoundland & Labrador increased their minimum wages in 2012.
7. PST expansion (MB gov’t):
In addition to breaking its balanced budget legislation, the Manitoba government announced a significant expansion to the province’s sales tax.
8. Canada Small Business Financing Program (Fed. gov’t):
The federal government announced changes to its main small business financing program which could require up to 100 per cent personal guarantees and higher interest rates.