Ontario Budget Analysis 2019

· by b.caramento@hamiltonchamber.ca

April 11, 2019 – Hamilton, ON: Today, the Government of Ontario released its 2019 Budget, Protecting What Matters Most, President and CEO of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, Keanin Loomis, released the following statement in response to the Government of Ontario’s 2019 Provincial Budget.

“The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce is pleased to see numerous suggestions from our Pre-Budget Submission included in the Provincial Budget announced this afternoon. The Province’s commitment to fund $1 billion for B-line LRT leaves no room for further questions; we are moving forward with the project.”

While the Budget delivered on some of the Hamilton Chamber’s specific policy proposals outlined in its Pre-Budget Submission and policy resolutions, others remain unaddressed. The following is a summary of key highlights from the perspective of Hamilton’s business community.

Hamilton LRT

The provincial government announced plans to:

  • Stand by its commitment to Hamilton’s light rail transit project
  • The province will commit $1 billion towards 14 kilometres of new light rail from McMaster University through downtown Hamilton to Eastgate Square, including 17 stops

Hamilton Chamber of Commerce Response

  • The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce applauds the provincial government’s decision. For several years, the Chamber, empowered by its 1,000 members, has rallied the community, including Hamilton’s Anchor Institutions and other business associations in support of a project that is integral to the future prosperity of Hamilton.
  • The provincial government’s decision to resume the RFP process, lift the freeze on land acquisitions, and confirm $1 billion in funding for the B-Line LRT is welcome and appreciated. The HCC awaits construction consortia selection and shovels in the ground.

Climate Change and the Economy

The provincial government announced plans to:

  • Encourage private investments in clean technologies through the Ontario Job Creation Investment Incentive,
  • The Province is paralleling the federal government in allowing businesses to immediately write off investments made in specified clean energy equipment. This incentive will make investments in clean energy generation and energy conservation equipment more attractive.
  • The government is providing $3.8 billion in Ontario income tax relief over six years through the Ontario Job Creation Investment Incentive

Hamilton Chamber of Commerce Response

  • The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce is currently leading a Waste Heat Recovery Project among industry in Hamilton’s Bayfront Area
  • The HCC welcomes the incentive for businesses to invest in clean energy generation and energy conservation equipment, as it allows businesses to address their environmental impact in a cost-effective manner

Broadband Infrastructure

The provincial government announced plans to:

  • Invest $315 million over the next five years in regional and shovel‐ready projects, to expand broadband and cellular infrastructure across Ontario. The Province will provide more details as part of its Broadband and Cellular Strategy, which will be released later this year.

Hamilton Chamber of Commerce Response

  • In this digital age, we know businesses rely on high speed, dependable, low cost internet connectivity to operate and remain competitive.
  • The HCC released our Digital Infrastructure Report last week, which assesses the state of digital infrastructure & broadband in Hamilton.
  • We look forward to hearing more about the government’s impending Broadband and Cellular Strategy.

Workforce Participation

The provincial government announced plans to:

  • Introduce a new refundable Ontario Childcare Access and Relief from Expenses (CARE) Personal Income Tax credit, starting with the 2019 tax year
  • The new tax credit would provide up to 75 per cent of eligible child care expenses so that families can go to work, run a business, or study to acquire new skills.
  • The CARE tax credit with an estimated annual cost of $390 million.

Hamilton Chamber of Commerce Response

  • In our 2019 Pre-Budget Submission, the HCC recommended that the province implement rebates for childcare.
  • The mismatch between labour supply and demand is a significant barrier to economic growth. Providing access to childcare increases the participation of women in the workforce, which in turn increases family earnings, fills job openings, and contributes to the growing Ontario economy.
  • By implementing the childcare rebate, the province is taking steps to increase workforce participation, address labour supply issues, and make life less expensive for Ontarians.
  • The HCC supports this decision and commends the Ford government for listening to the needs of business.

Regulatory Burden

The provincial government announced plans to:

  • Create a tailgating permit for eligible sporting events.
  • Introduce legislation permitting municipalities to designate public areas, such as parks, for the consumption of alcohol.
  • Providing flexibility for wineries, cideries, breweries and distilleries to promote their products at manufacturing sites by removing the prescribed serving sizes for “by the glass” licences.  
  • Extending hours of alcohol service at licensed establishments — including bars, restaurants and golf courses — to a 9:00 a.m. start, seven days per week.  
  • Introduce legislation to pause the previous government’s changes to the Wine Tax, which was scheduled to increase on April 1.

Hamilton Chamber of Commerce Response

 

  • The HCC is proud to represent several craft alcohol producers in Hamilton. The Chamber has long advocated for reducing the regulatory burden on Ontario’s alcoholic beverage industry.
  • In the past, we have supported recommendations to increase market access across Canada by breaking down internal trade barriers and allowing e-commerce of any locally produced alcoholic beverage across interprovincial borders.  
  • Currently, the HCC is contributing to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s Beverage Alcohol Working Group, where we will release a joint policy report focusing on how the Government of Ontario can support the beverage alcohol industry by modernizing the sale of alcohol in Ontario and reducing relevant regulatory burdens.
  • The measures signify progress towards an overall goal to ensure Ontario’s alcoholic beverage industry is not unnecessarily regulated, to the detriment of both businesses and consumers.

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Media contact: Marie Nash, Director, Communications and Strategic Initiatives
m.nash@hamiltonchamber.ca | 905-522-1151 ext. 245, C: 905-741-7164