2018 is coming to an end!
Let's look back at what we accomplished
together for businesses from coast to coast this year.
Every year starts strong at CFIB with Red Tape Awareness Week: a week in which we denounce the worst of red tape, and celebrate those who are cutting it! For the 9th edition, Manitoba took top honors for its "2-for-1" rule, which requires the government to eliminate at least two regulatory requirements each time it creates a new one! We’re looking forward to seeing other provinces match Manitoba’s commitment!
In Saskatchewan, we've been pushing for two years for the Provincial Sales Tax to be removed from insurance premiums. We were pleased when the premier listened to our concerns and announced the provincial government would reinstate the PST exemption for agriculture, life and health insurance which will provide much-needed relief: $65 million in 2018 and $129 million per year going forward! (pictured)
In British Columbia, the government promised to eliminate Medical Service Premiums – but replaced it with a $1.9-billion Employer Health Tax (EHT) that will impact over 60,000 business owners starting in 2019. Thankfully, CFIB was able to secure an exemption for businesses with payrolls under $500,000. However, the fight is far from over and the EHT is shaping up to be a big battle in 2019!
In many provinces, March is budget month. In Quebec, small businesses were pleased to learn that their tax rate will drop from 8% to 4% in the coming years – a huge cut that CFIB has long been demanding!
In Nova Scotia, thanks to CFIB's pressure, the government pledged to reduce the cost of red tape on small businesses by $25M by the end of 2018 – and they hit that goal! (pictured) Next, we are pushing for a measurable, multi-year target that will further reduce your overall red tape burden.
It was also in March that we came up with a new, exclusive deal for CFIB members. Thanks to the strength of our 110,000 members, we negotiated exceptional rates for accepting American Express cards for almost half of what small firms have traditionally paid. Now, CFIB members can easily welcome higher-spending customers, for less!
Small businesses in Prince Edward Island received good news in the provincial budget! Thanks in large part to CFIB’s efforts, the government announced a tax reduction of 0.5%, retroactive to January 1. Later in the year, it announced another drop to 3.5%, which small firms will benefit from starting in January 2019.
With spring comes construction! In a groundbreaking report, we found that over the past five years, 65,000 small and medium-sized businesses were heavily affected by road work. Of those businesses, nearly 50% saw their sales decline, with dire consequences: relocation, layoffs and sometimes even shutting down entirely. We used our report to challenge municipalities to support the local businesses who have been hurt by road works. Montreal became the first Canadian city to commit to compensate businesses affected by construction. Which city will follow their example? Maybe St. John's and Mount Pearl, Newfoundland, where we've fought hard for local businesses affected by two big infrastructure projects.
Many provinces enacted a long list of changes to their labour laws and employment standards in 2018, including Ontario, Quebec and Alberta. On top of the overhaul, Alberta later became the first province to face a minimum wage of $15/hour – a big blow for small business owners. CFIB is still fighting for mitigation measures to help businesses who have had to absorb these new costs!
A year passed since the federal government quietly announced the worst tax proposals for small businesses in decades. CFIB and our members fought relentlessly to push back against the measures, which would have hurt small business owners with more taxes and red tape. Fortunately, our collective efforts have led the government to drop many of the changes. However, those that remain – including restrictions on passive income – are confusing and could lead to higher tax bills. That is why we continue our fight against these unfair tax changes!
The labour shortage shatters records: nearly 400,000 positions are vacant across the country! Employers are finding it harder and harder to find qualified employees; Quebec, British Columbia and Ontario have the greatest needs. Our reports on the labour shortage have sparked lots of attention and many governments are starting to recognize the problem. This fall, the record was broken again: we’re finishing 2018 with approximately 430,000 vacancies.
Good news! The government announced a drop in EI premiums – a payroll tax cut that we have been demanding for a long time!
However, the reduction won't be enough to cover the five straight years of CPP/QPP premium increases, starting January 2019! We continue to seek additional measures to help you deal with these costs.
Cannabis has become legal in Canada: between the impact on the workplace and your rights as an employer, there was much cause for confusion. We have tools to help our members deal with the situation – including a drug and alcohol policy that is very easy to adapt to their business.
The federal carbon tax will soon come into effect in a number of provinces, and our members have been clear on its impact: they're concerned about the environment, but there are other ways to protect it that do not increase taxes on their business. We were pleased to see Manitoba has heard us and dropped the province's carbon tax plan in October. We continue to work hard in pushing back against the federal plan.
And, for Small Business Saturday, we ran an advertising campaign in partnership with Interac to encourage consumers to visit their local small businesses! Over 16,000 small businesses are promoting themselves for free on CFIB’s Shop Small Biz directory.
It was a tough year for Ontario's businesses thanks to Bill 148, which overhauled employment standards and implemented a 22% increase in the minimum wage. After a long fight against the changes, the new government finally introduced Bill 47 in November. The bill reverses many of the old plans, and means a freeze in the minimum wage, less red tape and better access to skilled labour! Ontario also chose not to follow the new harmful passive investment rules for corporate taxes, a terrific move the New Brunswick government has pledged to copy. CFIB continues to push all provinces to follow their example.
Also, after years of CFIB lobbying, the federal government introduced incentives to help you invest in your business, including accelerated write-offs for manufacturing and clean energy equipment.
In a year full of milestones, we marked a big one at CFIB: over the past 12 months, our business counsellors answered more than 35,000 calls and emails from members. Provincial labour law changes and cannabis rules were among the most frequent calls.
This number of calls is a record, and shows that our members recognize us as an ally for their business and see the value our expert counsellors offer them.
2019 promises to bring important battles for independent businesses. While the federal small business corporate tax rate will fall to 9%, CPP/QPP premiums rise on January 1, and will go up again each year until 2025. New passive investment rules will go into effect, making it harder for small firms to save for the future. Several provinces face new and rising carbon taxes, including the federal plan in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick – not to mention, many provinces will make further changes to their labour laws.
With so much on the horizon, we’re committed to making sure small businesses have all the support they need from CFIB. We’re going to defend their interests in front of governments and provide our members with expert advice and exclusive savings on business services.
"On behalf of the entire CFIB team from coast to coast, we wish you a very happy holiday season! May 2019 be a year of great success, health and happiness.
If you’re not already a member of CFIB, I invite you to join 110,000 of your fellow business owners who have invested in their success. More businesses have joined CFIB this year than at any time in the past two decades, and we want you to be part of it in 2019. It’s a New Year’s resolution you won’t regret!"
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