On Wednesday, November 6th Ontario's Finance Minister Rod Phillips presented Ontario's 2019 Fall Economic Statement. In his first budget as Finance Minister, Phillips stated that “this is a government that has listened and is going to continue to listen.” Titled ”A Plan to Build Ontario Together,” the update seeks to change the tone of the PC Government. While fiscal responsibility is still central, the document presents a more collaborative approach to governing – seeking to build a more efficient Ontario.
The update projected Ontario's deficit to be $9 billion, which is $1.3 billion less than the $10.3 billion presented in the 2019 budget owing to increased revenue from corporate and personal taxes.
- Cutting the Small Business Tax Rate: The government is reducing Ontario’s small business tax rate from 3.5% to 3.2% starting January 2020.
- Premier’s Council on Competitiveness: The government will form a Premier’s Council on Competitiveness to consult with Ontario’s business leaders, workers and peer jurisdictions, and advise on measures to increase Ontario’s long-term economic prosperity.
- Transportation: The government is moving away from uploading Toronto transit infrastructure, instead moving back into their traditional role of a funding partner. The Government of Ontario will make contributions towards transit projects totaling approximately $7 billion.
- Centralizing Procurement: The government introduced the new Supply Chain Management Act enabling legislation that will create a legal framework for centralized procurement across the OPS and Broader Public Sector. The procurement reform process will be lengthy, and this should be viewed as a first step.
- Cannabis Retail: The government indicated that it will amend legislation to enable cannabis retailers to sell or take in-store orders online. Licensed producers will also be allowed to operate retail outlets at points of production. No timing is provided for these reforms.
- Cyber Security: Ontario is establishing a Cyber Security Centre of Excellence that will provide support for ministries and the broader public sector service delivery partners to improve resilience. The Centre will work with a new BPS cybersecurity taskforce to implement Ontario’s new Cyber Security Strategy.
- Modernizing Business Support Programs: Business support programs will be transformed based on four key principles under the Open for Jobs Blueprint, accessibility, fiscal responsibility, coordination and scalability; and effectiveness.
Darcy Walsh is Senior Vice President & General Manager in Ottawa.
David Messer is Vice President in Public Affairs.
Tom Blackmore is Account Director in Public Affairs.