Toronto, ON—To mitigate the costs of an increased minimum wage and high energy prices faced by Ontario business, Toronto Region Board of Trade (the Board) is calling on the campaigning parties to harmonize and cut provincial property taxes on businesses.
In its Competitiveness playbook, the Board reveals while Ontario’s diverse and highly-skilled labour force makes Ontario an economic powerhouse, recent political decisions make the province less competitive than its North American peers.
The Competitiveness playbook is based on a joint study conducted by the Board, the Conference Board of Canada and the Council of the Great Lakes Region. Ontario’s relative attractiveness in relation to 14 other competing jurisdictions—including Quebec and 13 U.S. states—were selected due to the importance of cross-border activity in the Great Lakes region and the growing importance of the Toronto-Waterloo Corridor as an Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster.
“While Ontario has all the right ingredients to succeed, we’re falling behind in key areas where the government makes, or influences policy, notably labour costs, housing affordability and energy prices,” said Jan De Silva, President & CEO, Toronto Region Board of Trade. “Our government must build a foundation for our businesses to grow and for Ontario to be one of the most competitive and sought after business regions in the world.”
Overall, Ontario received a middling ‘C’ grade across 18 indicators businesses consider when determining their capacity to expand within and outside our borders. While the ranking reflects Ontario’s strengths, such as a skilled workforce with high general and female participation rates, it also reveals areas requiring improvement to increase jobs, boost wages, foster greater innovation and generate economic growth.
“With Ontario businesses feeling the impact of the rising minimum wage, significant labour reforms, recent corporate tax cuts in the US, and rising input costs, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce has been advocating that the next provincial government reduce the overall tax burden on business,” said Rocco Rossi, President & CEO, Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “The Board’s call for a return to provincial business property tax reduction and harmonization is a smart way for Ontario to strengthen its competitive advantage.”
The Board recommends the next provincial government harmonize and cut provincial property taxes on businesses to:
Reduce the overall tax burden on business to free up more funds for employment and investment;
Provide a response to U.S. corporate tax cuts to increase investor confidence in Ontario;
Benefit all businesses, particularly small businesses most affected by high energy and wage costs; and,
Promote fairness by eliminating different rates in municipalities across Ontario.
“The binational Great Lakes region, shared by eight U.S. states and the provinces of Ontario and Quebec, is North America’s economic engine. While Ontario remains a key feature of the regional economy, data shows the province runs the risk of becoming less competitive than many of its peer jurisdictions in today’s borderless global economy,” said Mark Fisher, Chief Executive Officer, Council of the Great Lakes Region. “The softening of Ontario’s competitive position has shorter and long-term impacts, including the ability to sustain and invest in the province’s social and broader economic programs, such as health care, public education and infrastructure renewal.”