The release of the province’s Budget 2020 Ontario’s Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover has gained the support of the Chamber of Commerce network and business community.
The recent budget lays out $187 billion in expenditures this year to help the province recover from the impact of COVID-19, earmarking cash for healthcare and subsidizing electricity rates for businesses.
“These are extremely difficult times for businesses, and we understand that there is only so far a provincial government can go,” said Cambridge Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Greg Durocher. “I was particularly please with the reduction in electricity, education tax and the increase in the exemption to the employer’s health tax.”
Many of these items were called for in a pre-budget submission released last week by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, which Cambridge Chamber of Commerce Board Chair Darren Drouillard says the board supported.
“Focusing intently on reducing overhead for SMEs through lower utility costs and tax reductions to business and improving IT infrastructure throughout the province, it is evident that the OCC is in touch with the needs of business and has a well thought-out set of recommendations to guide us through the next stage of the pandemic and economic recovery,” he said.
The OCC and Cambridge Chamber have long advocated for greater investment in broadband and cellular infrastructure, reforming taxes to enhance business competitiveness, developing new skills training opportunities, and lowering the cost of electricity for industry, all of which are priorities in Budget 2020.
“I certainly welcome a reduction for small businesses in the property tax, however, we will need to see how that comes off the page,” said Greg. “Municipalities cannot hold the burden of these reductions when they are unable to run deficits or borrow money for operational losses.”
The province is looking at spending $45 billion over the next three years on the crisis, taking into account the $30 billion already announced earlier this year, plus $15 million in new funding over the next two years. The plan also shows a record deficit of $38.5 billion for this year, which is in line with the government’s projections in the summer. A plan to balance the budget is expected in next year’s budget.
“Now is the time to explore innovative partnerships – such as pubic/private partnerships to build our needed rail infrastructure, commissioning, alternative financing, and community and social impact bonds – to share risk and make the most of every dollar spent,” said Greg, noting small businesses are the heart of the community.
“We, as a business community and network of Chambers and Boards of Trade, will continue to overcome through collaboration, innovation and resilience,” he said.
Some key measures in Budget 2020 supported by the Ontario business community include:
For a look at the budget, visit: occ.ca/rapidpolicy/2020-provincial-budget
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