Good things used to grow in Ontario when we were the economic engine, but now we are nine spots behind the pace car.
A new report released by the Fraser Institute shows that, over the past 20 years, Ontario has suffered from a lack of money being injected into businesses, and that has stalled our economic growth.
The report states that between the years 2000 and 2019, our per-capita economic growth has puttered behind every other province in the nation.
Ontario also came in near the back of the pack on business investment, and we fell behind five other provinces in private-sector job creation.
Clearly, the Ontario economy needs a boost. The largest province in the nation should not have the most anemic economic growth rate.
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And dumping another truckload of taxpayers’ money on the problem isn’t going to fix it.
We need common-sense action, and we need to get back to basics.
We need lower taxes and less red tape. More yes and less no.
During the 2018 Ontario provincial election campaign, Ford promised to slash taxes on job-creating businesses, both large and small; restrain government spending to get Ontario’s fiscal house in order; and reduce red tape preventing businesses from realizing their full potential.
But the Ford government has fallen short on its promises. Only the Progressive Conservatives’ pledge to reduce taxes on small businesses has been fulfilled.
It’s time for the Ford government to keep its promises and get Ontario’s economic engine out of neutral.
There are three key changes the Ford government can make to push-start the Ontario economy, and they’re in the 2018 election platform.
First, cut corporate taxes.
Back in 2018, Ford argued that cutting corporate taxes was a crucial tool in promoting economic growth. He was right. Ford promised to cut corporate taxes from 11.5 per cent to 10.5 per cent, and it’s past time for him to make good on his promise.
Second, get the province’s finances in order.
During the last provincial election, Ford promised to restore sanity to Ontario’s fiscal policy. While dealing with the pandemic has forced the government to spend more money than planned, Ontario desperately needs a blueprint to get the province out of the red and back into the black.
Years of financial mismanagement have discouraged business investment in Ontario. A clear plan to balance the budget will send a positive signal.
Third, cut red tape.
The Ford Progressive Conservatives promised to cut red tape in their 2018 election platform, and they were right to do so.
According to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Ontario has nearly 143,000 provincial regulations that place restrictions on businesses. Conversely, both British Columbia and Alberta have fewer than 71,000.
That’s double the number of rolls of red tape tying both hands behind our backs. Businesses don’t have a fighting chance with these restrictions.
The simple reality is that more regulations mean less business investment. Ontario remains the most burdensome province in the nation on that front.
While the CFIB has commended the Ford government for the good start they’ve made in reducing red tape, there’s still a lot more work to do.
As Ontario begins to think about a post-pandemic future, the province is facing a $30 billion deficit.
Cutting taxes and red tape can help encourage economic growth, which will bring in higher tax revenue without hiking taxes, and that will shrink the deficit even further.
The Ford government should know how to kickstart the provincial economy since the party had some sound solutions in its 2018 election platform.
Now, it’s time for Ford’s government to deliver.
Jay Goldberg is the Interim Ontario Director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
Jay is a Troy Media Thought Leader. For interview requests, click here.
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