Yesterday, the Ontario government released the 2017 budget. Here are some of the highlights that could affect you as a business owner.
A Balanced Budget, but Increased Debt
For the first time in eight years, the Ontario government balanced the budget – a long-time CFIB recommendation. With balanced budgets planned for the next three years, we will be asking the government to make good on its promise to reduce the corporate tax rate and the small business tax rate along with it.
Despite balancing the books, Ontario’s debt actually increased, reaching $311 billion. Interest payments on debt cost the province $11.6 billion per year – the third highest expenditure after healthcare and education. We know this issue is important to your business and we will continue to fight to get the government's debt under control.
The Big Budget Surprise: Pharmacare for Youth
While most of the budget was based on already-announced measures such as the government’s hydro relief plan, there was one big surprise: the government announced free pharmacare for Ontarians aged 24 and under, effective January 1, 2018. We are seeking answers on if and how this will result in savings/lower premiums for small businesses.
New Pension Option Finally Available
CFIB has long advocated for the introduction of voluntary, low-cost Pooled Registered Pension Plans (PRPP) as an effective retirement savings option for business owners and their employees. Now that Ontario has signed an agreement with the federal government, PRPPs are finally available in the province.
Tax Relief Coming for Agri-Businesses Selling on the Farm
Farmers who run small-scale commercial operations or sell their products on the farm will be getting some much-needed property tax relief. New legislation will be introduced to allow their commercial operations to be taxed at a reduced rate, instead of the higher commercial or industrial rates currently charged.
The Changing Workplaces Review
The budget noted that the government intends to “strengthen Ontario’s income security and labour laws,” and that the government “will be carefully considering the recommendations made by the Special Advisors” under the Changing Workplaces Review, which are expected to be made public mid-May. We have been actively pushing the government to consult broadly and extensively on the final recommendations, before making any changes to labour and employment standards laws affecting your business.
Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB)
The government is proposing to make several changes to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, including an amendment to entitle employees to benefits under the insurance plan for chronic or mental stress under certain conditions. We are looking into the details of these proposed changes.
Have budget questions? Contact our business resources unit at 1-888-234-2232, or [email protected].