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Ontario Votes 2018

PARTY LEADERS SURVEY

All parties have responded to CFIB's 2018 party leaders survey on the election topics that matter to you. Click on the questions at the bottom of this page to view and compare their answers or, see each party's individual response:

Green Party of Ontario
Ontario Liberal Party
Ontario New Democratic Party
Ontario Progressive Conservative Party

SMALL BUSINESS PLATFORM

It’s not enough that parties just recognize small business as Ontario’s economic engine: their words have to be backed up by action. 
On behalf of our 42,000 members, CFIB’s small business platform, Turning Small Business Talk into Action, makes 46 recommendations to the next government including:

  • Delivering a clear plan to balance the budget and reduce Ontario’s ballooning debt.
  • Eliminating time-of-use (Smart Meter) electricity pricing for small businesses.
  • Reducing the small business tax rate from 3.5 per cent to 0 per cent.
  • Reversing the decision to parallel the federal tax measures on income-splitting and passive investment income.
  • Introducing a full course, mandatory financial literacy course into the high school curriculum.

Read our full platform: Turning Small Business Talk into Action.

If elected, what is your government's plan to ensure Ontario's small business owners are competitive?

 

Green Party of Ontario
(Greens)
Ontario Liberal Party
(Liberals)
Ontario New Democratic Party (NDP)Ontario Progressive Conservative Party
(PCs)

The Green Party has a plan for supporting small businesses and Ontario’s workers through fair tax reform. This plan will result in an additional $1 billion
remaining in communities each year to help businesses pay a living wage.

Small businesses are the engine of our economy and account for over 87 per
cent of new private-sector jobs in the past decade.

The Green Party of Ontario believes that to sustain vibrant communities we must
open up more opportunities for small business to thrive.

We will do this by making it easier for small businesses to pay a living wage and
create jobs by increasing the exemption level for the Employer Health Tax from
$450,000 to $1 million in payroll for businesses and organizations with payrolls
under $5 million.

Our plan will provide immediate cash flow relief that will help local, independent
businesses to continue thriving in this transition to better wages.

We will also support local food and farmers and expanding local markets for
products such as the craft beer industry, which right now faces restrictions on
where they can bring their products - which are in high demand - to market.

And we will create smart regulations that understand the needs of small
businesses are different from those of big business.

Small businesses are key to vibrant communities, providing good jobs and new opportunities for Ontario families, which is why the Ontario Liberals are committed to their success and growth.

With more than 400,000 small businesses with employees in communities across the province, we know that when they succeed, we all succeed.

Our plan is to invest an additional $500 million to help small businesses lower
costs, take advantage of new opportunities, and save time when dealing with government, including a suite of small business supports were announced in Ontario’s recent Fall Economic Statement and reiterated in the 2018 budget,
including:

  • A 22 per cent cut in the Corporate Income Tax rate for small businesses— from 4.5 per cent to 3.5 per cent, effective January 1, 2018.
     
  • Designating 33 per cent of procurement spending to small and medium-sized businesses by 2020, which will be supported by initiatives to improve the process by making it easier for businesses to submit bids.
     
  • Investing $40 million in small businesses in downtown and main street areas under the Main Street Enhancement Fund.
     
  • Launching a new program called Small Business Access, which will provide resources online and over the phone to make it easier for small businesses to interact with the government and get the supports they need.

The Liberals are also making investments that make business operations more
competitive and efficient in a rapidly changing economy. These investments
include:

  • The Southwestern Ontario Development Fund (SWODF) and the Eastern Ontario Development Fund (EODF), which supports regional economic development by creating jobs, attracting private sector investment and promoting innovation, collaboration and cluster development in Southwestern and Eastern Ontario.
     
  • The creation of a new Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area Fund (GTHAF), as part of the Good Jobs and Growth Plan, to complement the SWODF and EODF and fill a critical gap in regional development throughout the GTHA. As announced in the 2018 Budget, Ontario will be investing an additional $100 million in the EODF, SWODF and GTHAF over the next ten years.

Beyond these important funds, Ontario will also be investing $50 million over the
next ten years in a new Transformative Technology Partnership Fund to
accelerate the development and commercialization of transformative
technologies by bringing together SMEs, technology developers and adopters,
and academic institutions.

We’re also taking further steps to support Ontario’s small and medium sized
producers of locally grown fruits and vegetables and other edible horticulture
products with $60 million in support over two years, ensuring they continue to
grow and remain competitive.

Finally, we are modernizing and making changes to the microbrewer definition
and the Small Beer Manufacturer’s Tax Credit. These changes will ensure that
small beer manufacturers and microbrewers continue to have incentives to grow
and fuel economic development in local communities.

Small businesses are the backbone of the Ontario economy. When small businesses grow and prosper, so does our province. However, with fewer resources and personnel and smaller budgets, small businesses face unique challenges on their path to prosperity. 

In Ontario high hydro rates are hurting our small businesses and undermining our competitiveness. Small businesses are finding it increasingly difficult to hire qualified, experienced people - and small businesses have not been getting their fair share of provincial businesses supports and procurement opportunities. 

Only New Democrats will lower hydro bills by 30 per cent – and keep them down over the long-term. We will end mandatory time of use pricing that penalizes businesses for being open during business time. We will put an end to the government’s disastrous Fair Hydro borrowing scheme that will add $40 billion of unnecessary debt while causing bills to rise again by 70 per cent shortly after the election. 

An NDP government will make historic investments in workforce development and training including creating 27,000 new work-integrated learning experiences for post-secondary students. We will partner with small businesses and organizations like CFIB to ensure small businesses are able to access Ontario’s world-class post-secondary talent. We will invest in and reform Ontario’s apprenticeship system to begin closing the skills gap in the skilled trades.  

An NDP government will make sure provincial business supports reflect the needs and realities of small businesses: we will make sure business support programs are accessible, simplified and transparent. 

New Democrats also believe that governments should be reinvesting tax dollars back into Ontario communities by procuring made-in-Ontario products and services when possible. We will set a target of procuring 33 per cent of government contracts from small and scaling businesses. We will make greater use of Community Benefit Agreements in infrastructure projects. 

We will maintain the one-third reduction to the effective small business tax rate and we will maintain the small business exemption in the Employer Health Tax while limiting it to small businesses. 
 

The Progressive Conservative Party opted to respond via letter. Please see the attached document.

 

 

If elected, what is your government's plan to balance the budget and pay down the debt?
Green Party of Ontario
(Greens)
Ontario Liberal Party
(Liberals)
Ontario New Democratic Party
(NDP)
Ontario Progressive Conservative Party
(PCs)

We believe in strong public services, and also believe that we need to be honest about how we are going to pay for these programs. We have costed our platform priorities and have a plan to reduce the deficit gradually over a 4-year period.

Even with a better range of public services, our projected deficit will be almost one third of the deficit projected by the Financial Accountability Office for the 2018
Ontario Provincial Budget. No other party has accounted for these higher budget
deficits.

Read more at www.gpo.ca/platform

Since 2014, the Ontario Liberals have been implementing a plan that is about investing in people, creating jobs and growing the economy. At the same time,
we worked toward balancing the budget.

This year we delivered on that promise. We balanced the budget and expect to post a $600 million surplus for the 2017–2018 year.

We did it without cutting services and jobs. We did it by investing in people, creating economic growth and carefully managing spending.

As a result, Ontario’s economy has been growing faster than Canada and is leading the world’s strongest economic powers, including the US and Europe.
We created over 800,000 net new jobs since the recession, and our
unemployment rate is at a 17-year low.

But while our economy is doing well, not everyone is feeling the benefits of it equally. It’s getting harder and harder for people in our province to get ahead.

That’s why Ontario Liberals have made the deliberate choice to invest in the services and supports families in Ontario need right now. The deliberate choice
to invest in mental health care, health care, home care, child care and more. As a result, we have chosen to run a small deficit of less than one per cent of GDP
and have charted a responsible path back to balance.

Ontario continues to be the leanest government in Canada; our per-capita
program spending the lowest in the country. Our interest-paid-on-debt expense is
now eight cents on every dollar of revenue — almost half of what it was in 2000, meaning we’re able to borrow at the lowest rates in 25 years.

With Ontario back on a solid fiscal track and families still struggling to make ends meet, we cannot afford to pull back. We have to decide if government is going to
help people with the challenges they are facing — or look only at its own balance sheet as the marker of how people are doing.

Ontario Liberals have chosen a clear path back to balance. Our fiscal plan will make sure people can continue to give and receive care, get an education, a good job and have every opportunity to get ahead.

The NDP platform includes a fully-costed fiscal plan projected over the next five years that has been independently verified and deemed reasonable by the Former Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page. 

Our plan includes significant spending commitments to begin undoing the damage of decades of cuts and underfunding of the programs and services Ontarians rely on. Our investments will mean better health, more opportunity and a more affordable province for Ontario families. 

In order to fund these much needed investments, our plan makes the responsible choice of increasing taxes for those most able to pay. As a result, our fiscal plan projects moderate deficits over the forecast period – deficits that are billions of dollars lower than currently projected in the 2018 Ontario Budget. By our third year our fiscal plan shows a clear path towards balance.  

In addition, the NDP is the only party who will not continue with the government’s Fair Hydro Plan which will add $40 billion of unnecessary debt while causing bills to rise again by 70 per cent shortly after the election - and we will bring millions of dollars back into provincial revenues by buying back Hydro One which should never have been sold off in the first place.
 

The Progressive Conservative Party opted to respond via letter. Please see the attached document.

 

 

If elected, what measures will your government put in place to help reduce the tax burden on small businesses?
Ontario Green Party
(Greens)
Ontario Liberal Party
(Liberals)
Ontario New Democratic Party
(NDP)
Ontario Progressive Conservative Party
(PCs)

The Green Party supports lowering taxes on small local businesses and
implementing other tools to help businesses adapt to increased wages.

We will:

  • Increase the exemption level for the Employer Health Tax, providing small businesses and nonprofits with immediate cash flow savings.
     
  • Support the current small business income tax reduction.
     
  • Implement smart regulations that create a level playing field for all businesses, ensuring safety while taking into account the size and scale of operations, allowing local businesses to compete fairly.
     
  • Reform business development support programs to create more dedicated funding opportunities for small businesses and to streamline the application process for small businesses.
     
  • Work with the federal government to lower payroll taxes for small businesses.

A suite of small business supports were announced in Ontario’s recent Fall Economic Statement and reiterated in the 2018 budget. To provide increased support to small businesses and enhance their overall competitiveness, the province has cut the small business corporate income tax (CIT) rate to 3.5 per cent for the first $500,000 of active business income, effective January 1, 2018. This represents a 22 per cent reduction in the CIT rate for small businesses.

The NDP will maintain the recent reduction in the effective small business tax rate. 

Our Pharmacare for Everyone plan will move prescription drug costs currently shouldered by businesses on the provincial government, saving businesses a minimum of $800 million a year and as much as $1.9 billion. 

Lastly, depending on where a business is located in Ontario, they may pay businesses education property taxes as much as 15 times higher as a business located somewhere else in the province. We will bring in a uniform Business Education Tax rate, and continue the Education Tax Reduction Plan, adjusted to equalize rates.
 

The Progressive Conservative Party opted to respond via letter. Please see the attached document.

 

If elected, how will your government address the regulatory burden on small businesses?
Ontario Green Party
(Greens)
Ontario Liberal Party
(Liberals)
Ontario new Democratic Party
(NDP)
Ontario Progressive Conservative Party
(PCs)

The Green Party of Ontario will reduce red tape for small and medium size businesses.
We will introduce Smart Regulations that take into account the size and scale of
operations instead of a one-size-fits-all model that makes it hard for small and medium
size businesses to succeed.

 

Ontario Liberals have made significant progress in reducing the regulatory burden for business and will continue to do so. Open for Business is the
provincial government’s initiative to improve Ontario’s business climate by reducing burdens, lowering business costs, modernizing regulations and
strengthening connections with business.

We are committed to developing modern, outcomes-focused and evidencebased
regulations, helping to foster an innovative and supportive business environment while protecting environmental and health standards and enhancing
worker safety. This includes identifying and fixing unclear, outdated, redundant, or unnecessarily costly regulatory requirements.

In 2017, we established a commitment to introduce annual burden reduction legislation and on March 22, 2017 the first annual bill received Royal Assent. The Burden Reduction Act, 2017 made changes to 50 different statutes across 11 ministries to reduce regulatory burdens and practices that cost businesses time and money while protecting environmental and health standards and enhancing worker safety.

We built on this commitment by introducing Bill 154, the Cutting Unnecessary Red Tape Act, 2017, which received Royal Assent on November 14, 2017.
Included in Bill 154 is the Reducing Regulatory Costs for Business Act, 2017, which includes several burden reduction initiatives that came into force on
January 1, 2018:

 

  • Reducing regulatory costs: Requiring all ministries to offset $1.25 for every dollar of new administrative costs to business by removing old and unnecessary costs.
     
  • Streamlining compliance for small business: Ensuring that unnecessary burdens aren’t placed on small businesses when new or amended regulations are introduced, while maintaining robust environmental, health and safety requirements and other public interest protections.
     
  • International or national standards alignment: Increasing harmonization with other jurisdictions and adopting international or national standards, where appropriate, when developing or reviewing regulations.
     
  • Rewarding good actors: Recognizing businesses that have a good compliance record.
     
  • Electronic transmission guarantee: Providing businesses the option to electronically submit any required documentation to the Government of Ontario to comply with regulations instead of more costly paper submissions.

The latest annual report, released on April 19, 2018, features an estimated savings of $195 million and 7.9 million hours to business since 2011.

Andrea Horwath and the NDP are committed to helping small businesses grow and thrive. An NDP government will work closely with small businesses and local chambers of commerce to identify ways in which the province can better support businesses, and ensure their success.

 

The Progressive Conservative Party opted to respond via letter. Please see the attached document.

 

If elected, how will your government reduce energy costs across the province?
Ontario Green Party
(Greens)
Ontario Liberal Party
(Liberals)
Ontario new Democratic Party
(NDP)
Ontario Progressive Conservative Party
(PCs)

Ontario’s current electricity system is unsustainable. Yet instead of real change, the
only solution offered by the status quo parties is to borrow billions of dollars – billions
that we and our children will have to pay back – to maintain the crumbling system we
have.

A better plan is to purchase low cost water power instead of high cost nuclear
power. We can reduce demand for new power sources by helping people save energy and money. And we can tap into the clean energy technology to modernize and economize our system.

Ontario can win big by becoming a leader in the clean energy economy. We can
create jobs and make our energy system work for people, not big energy.
By being energy efficient, we can keep Ontario businesses competitive. Lower costs
= higher profits.

Our plan calls for a $4.18 billion 4-year Green Building and Business Program to
provide grants and interest free loans to help homeowners, renters and businesses invest in energy efficiency and conservation.

This includes incentives to help businesses convert natural gas, electric, oil, and
propane heating systems to more efficient, affordable and low carbon sources such
as heat pumps and geothermal.

 

The Ontario Liberals introduced the Fair Hydro Plan, which reduced hydro bills by 25% for small businesses across the province at all times of day. Hydro rates will be held to inflation for four years and rise gradually after that. Ontario Liberals
are committed to helping small businesses conserve electricity through GreenON and SaveOn Energy programs, as well as our industrial electricity programs like
the Industrial Conservation Initiative and Northern Industrial Electricity Rate Program which provide significant savings to large industrial consumers.

Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals let Ontarians down badly - they didn’t run in the last election on a plan to sell off Hydro One, privatize the electrical grid and sell off a valuable public asset. But that’s exactly what Kathleen Wynne did as soon as she was elected, ignoring warnings from independent experts and protests from Ontarians. 

Andrea Horwath and the NDP have released a detailed plan to cut Hydro bills by 30%. We will: 

  • Return Hydro One to public hands 
     
  • Reduce bills immediately
     
  • End mandatory time-of-day pricing 
     
  • Make permanent fixes to the system for the long term Returning Hydro One to public ownership will help it serve the public interest again. 

Re- establishing independent, transparent public oversight will make sure of it. Our plan for immediate cost reduction includes steps like getting rid of mandatory time-of-use charges (that do nothing for conservation) capping private profit margins, and ensuring rural users pay the same delivery costs as urban users.

Our long-term fix includes ending oversupply, and cancelling or renegotiating bad private contracts, or letting them expire. We will cancel the Liberals’ borrowing scheme that adds billions in new debt to finance short-term bill reductions.
 

The Progressive Conservative Party opted to respond via letter. Please see the attached document.

If elected, what will your government do to reduce apprenticeship ratios and the costs associated with on-the-job training?
Ontario Green Party
(Greens)
Ontario Liberal Party
(Liberals)
Ontario new Democratic Party
(NDP)
Ontario Progressive Conservative Party
(PCs)

The Green Party of Ontario will seek to expand and invest in apprenticeship and
training programs, including incentives for businesses to participate in apprenticeship,
mentoring and co-op programs. We plan to reduce the ratio of journey people to
apprentices to one to one in order to open more jobs and training opportunities for our
youth and workers seeking new career options.

We want to encourage more young people to join skilled trades. We will modernize
the apprenticeship application process by leveraging the Ontario College Application
Service to provide candidates with an electronic, single-entry access to the
apprenticeship application and registration process.

Apprenticeships offer opportunities to receive on-the-job training that lead to
secure jobs in skilled trades.

Ontario’s apprenticeship system has trained over 68,000 people and certified 9,800 trade professionals annually over the past three years. Apprenticeship is the original experiential learning model, providing apprentices with the ability to
“earn while they learn,” leading to industry recognized certification, and is a critical pillar of Ontario’s post secondary education system. Ontario’s apprentices
receive 85 to 90 per cent of their training in paid, on-the-job settings with the remaining portions done through in-class learning in colleges and union-based training centres.

Ontario’s skilled trades create careers leading to secure jobs and a good quality
of life, and are also vital to the health and growth of the economy. Building on
consultations across the province, the Ontario Liberals are investing $170 million over three years in the new Ontario Apprenticeship Strategy.

This investment will include:

  • Expanding the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP), providing more high school students with trades-related hands-on learning opportunities;
     
  • Improved guidance counselling resources and local labour market information for students, parents and educators;
     
  • A new grant to promote pooled group sponsorship models for apprentices;
     
  • A Local Apprenticeship Innovation Fund to increase opportunities for apprentices and encourage engagement within the apprenticeship system across Ontario, as well as support regional, local or sector-specific pilots where there is demonstrated market need; and
     
  • Continuing education opportunities for trade professionals.

Andrea Horwath and the NDP will invest $57 million annually from the Jobs and Prosperity Fund to improve apprenticeship pathways and create opportunities in the trades. We will bring together labour unions, employers, the Ontario College of Trades, and individual tradespeople to ensure that college programs are funded; to identify and develop new opportunities for apprenticeship; and to ensure young people know the opportunities that can come from a skilled trade. We will put a particular focus on bringing more women into the skilled trades.

An NDP government will make historic investments in workforce development and training including creating 27,000 new work-integrated learning experiences for post-secondary students. We will partner with small businesses and organizations like CFIB to ensure small businesses are able to access Ontario’s world-class post-secondary talent.
 

The Progressive Conservative Party opted to respond via letter. Please see the attached document.

 

If elected, how will your government ensure that employers are educated and prepared for recreational cannabis legalization, and will your government develop a plan to include the private sector in the recreational cannabis market?
Ontario Green Party
(Greens)
Ontario Liberal Party
(Liberals)
Ontario new Democratic Party
(NDP)
Ontario Progressive Conservative Party
(PCs)

The current government missed a big opportunity to help build local businesses and create jobs. We should be following the craft brewery model in Ontario – regulating
small businesses and dispensaries to sell cannabis in a safe and controlled way.
The Green Party supports licensing local businesses to open their own retail cannabis
stores, creating local jobs and contributing tax dollars to their communities. These
independent cannabis retailers would be highly regulated and would have similar safeguards in place as there are currently for the sale of alcohol and cigarettes.

Overall, we support the legalization of recreational cannabis, and support efforts to work closely with the federal government to ensure the legalization process be
implemented as smoothly as possible.

We understand that small businesses are concerned about the effect of legalization
on their day-to-day workplaces. Plans to work with local and provincial police,
advocacy groups and other stakeholders to combat impaired driving and other
illegality stemming from cannabis legalization is important.

The federal government’s Cannabis Act, if passed, would permit the legal production, sale and possession of recreational cannabis across Canada later in 2018.

In response to the federal decision to legalize recreational cannabis, the Ontario Liberal government passed legislation to establish a safe and sensible framework within the province that protects youth and reduces harm.

Ontario’s framework covers the sale, distribution, purchase, possession and consumption of cannabis in the province. Established as a Crown corporation and subsidiary of the LCBO, the Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation, operating
as the Ontario Cannabis Store, will be responsible for new stand-alone cannabis storefronts and an online distribution channel.

In support of a safe and sensible framework, and to protect the health and wellbeing
of everyone in Ontario, we undertook initiatives in public health, road safety, education and law enforcement, such as:

  • Increasing the capacity of local law enforcement, including the Ontario Provincial Police, by funding sobriety field test training for police officers to help detect impaired drivers;
     
  • Creating a specialized legal team to support drug-impaired driving prosecutions;
     
  • Increasing capacity at the province’s Centre of Forensic Sciences to support toxicological testing and expert testimony;
     
  • Developing a program to divert youth involved in minor cannabis-related offences away from the criminal justice system;
     
  • Creating a Cannabis Intelligence Coordination Centre to shut down illegal storefronts and help fight the unsafe and illegal supply of cannabis products;
     
  • Providing public health units with support and resources to help address local needs related to cannabis legalization;
     
  • Raising awareness of the new Provincial rules that will take effect when cannabis is legalized federally; and
     
  • Making information and resources on cannabis available to educators, parents, guardians and students.

New Democrats support a regulatory framework for cannabis sales, distribution and consumption that ‎puts health, safety and the public interest first. We are concerned that the 40 stores planned by the Liberals won't eliminate illegal cannabis. Our focus will be on a system that ensures safe, responsible and equitable access to legal cannabis that supports good jobs for the workers in Ontario's cannabis industry.
 
The NDP would not support any attempt by the government retailer to unfairly undercut existing legal businesses that sell cannabis accessories. 
 

The Progressive Conservative Party opted to respond via letter. Please see the attached document.
If elected, what will your government do to enhance the financial literacy education of young Ontarians
Ontario Green Party
(Greens)
Ontario Liberal Party
(Liberals)
Ontario New Democratic Party
(NDP)
Ontario Progressive Conservative Party
(PCs)

The Green Party of Ontario understands the importance in teaching our young people
hands-on skills to succeed in life. Financial literacy is the key to making sound
purchasing and investment choices and should be a key part of our young people’s
education. We support the introduction of a mandatory, full-course financial literacy
class in Ontario high schools to educate young Ontarians on how to manage their
finances.

Ontario Liberals know how important it is that our young people are equipped with the financial literacy skills they need to succeed in today’s economy. That is why we have taken concrete steps to expand financial literacy education and will continue to do so.

We have embedded financial literacy into subjects across the curriculum from
Grade 4 to 12. Students are given opportunities to learn about saving, spending and investing money, as well as how to be responsible consumers, how to
protect their personal information online, and how to understand their role in an increasingly complex global economy.

We have provided matching funding to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce to
support Funny Money, an innovative program for high school students that
complements the government's approach to financial literacy education in the school curriculum.

And we are enhancing the Grade 10 career studies course, bringing in
mandatory learning on financial and digital literacy, as well as expanding handson
learning opportunities that will better prepare students to succeed in a rapidly changing economy.

The new course will include mandatory learning on financial literacy, such as
budgeting and financial management. Students taking the career studies course will also explore:

  • Career pathway planning
     
  • Innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship
     
  • Digital literacy

We have also made new investments in hands-on learning. Every school board
across the province will hire a new and dedicated coordinator, whose key role will be to expand learning opportunities with community partners, for all grades,
courses and programs - from kindergarten to adult learners.

The NDP will continue the long-overdue curriculum update currently underway, and pay particular attention to career counselling for a changing workplace, as well as financial literacy and mathematics.

The Progressive Conservative Party opted to respond via letter. Please see the attached document.