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Faye discusses the Ontario Budget 2020

th the Ontario Government released its first budget since the pandemic was declared.  It was a response to the current crisis and demonstrates the beginning of a long-term plan for economic growth.   The business community welcomes many priorities outlined in Ontario’s 2020 Budget “Ontario’s Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover”.  In fact, 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 were all policy areas identified by the Chamber network in the pre-budget consultation.   Some key measures supported by the Ontario business community include reducing commercial and industrial electricity rates that will make Ontario businesses more competitive and enable them to invest in recovery and growth. For years, Ontario businesses have paid more for electricity than most other jurisdictions in North America, and the pandemic has only increased electricity system costs.   Budget 2020 also includes a number of tax reforms aimed at reducing the tax burden on businesses, including reducing payroll taxes for private-sector employees by making the previous increase to the Employer Health Tax (EHT) exemption (from $490,000 to $1,000,000) permanent.   The government is also addressing property taxes for business by standardizing and reducing all Business Education Tax (BET) rates at 0.88 percent. Furthermore, municipalities will be granted the option to target property tax relief to small businesses through the introduction of a new optional small business property subclass.  This measure will provide municipalities with the tools to assist small businesses that have been the hardest hit by the pandemic.   Investment to improve and expand broadband and cellular access across the province is a requirement in today’s economy, but the ongoing pandemic has made it even more essential to public health and economic resilience.  To that end, the government has committed to $680 million over the next four years in broadband infrastructure.   Finally, Oakville Chamber members have cited transportation infrastructure and congestion as critical to business competitiveness.  We welcome the allocation of $2.6 billion in 2020–21 for the rehabilitation and expansion of highways and bridges across the province.   Moving forward we will continue to work with the Provincial Government on behalf of our Chamber members on the four areas outlined in the Ontario Chamber’s pre-budget submission: fiscal policy; regulation; the future of employment; and innovation and entrepreneurship.     – Faye Lyons, Vice President of Government Relations & Advocacy