On April 11, the Ontario government release its first budget, outlining a five-year plan to return the provincial books to balance, red tape audits of government agencies and expanded alcohol retail.
Here are some of the announcements that could have a big impact on your business:
A path back to balanced budgets
With the deficit at $11.7-billion, the province is committed to balancing the budget by 2023-24. In addition to a reasonable, five-year time frame, the province will also introduce accountability legislation to outline a debt burden reduction strategy and will report on its progress annually.
We know that today's deficits are tomorrow's taxes and will continue to hold government accountable to make sure the timeline is met!
Red tape: looking at the agencies
The government reaffirmed their commitment to reduce the overall red tape burden on businesses by 25 per cent by 2020. In addition to looking at the red tape in ministries, the government is also reviewing over 190 agencies (and has competed 60), including the TSSA and WSIB for red tape efficiencies.
We are continuing to push the government to release the full regulatory count, and to introduce a "one-for-one" rule as soon as they meet their 25 per cent reduction target.
Ontario will parallel the capital cost allowance enhancements for business that were announced by the federal government last fall. This will amount to $3.8-billion in tax relief over the next six years.
The government reaffirmed their commitment to reduce the provincial small business tax rate from 3.5 per cent to 3.2 per cent, though no timeline was given.
We will be watching closely to ensure these commitments are met, and we continue to urge the government to increase the small business corporate income tax rate threshold from $500,000 to $750,000 and index it to inflation thereafter; as well as increase the Employer Health Tax (EHT) threshold to $1 million and index it to inflation.
Expanding alcohol sales
The province will expand wine and beer sales to corner stores and more grocery stores, as well as provide greater flexibility for brewers, vintners and distillers to promote their products.
Addressing the shortage of qualified labour
The government will introduce a new financial incentive to encourage more employer participation in the apprenticeship system, will will start promoting the skilled trades to students from kindergarten to Grade 12. The government will also launch a pilot program aimed at bringing skilled immigrants to smaller communities.
For more on what we were looking for in the budget, check out our full pre-budget submission here.