TORONTO, ON, MAY 1, 2014: Concern is growing among Ontario’s business community about the state of Ontario’s finances, according to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. Today’s provincial budget revealed that government spending will increase by $3 billion in 2014-15 over the previous year. Meanwhile, the deficit will increase to $12.5 billion and the aggregate debt will grow to $289.3 billion.
“Businesses consistently tell us that above all else, they want the provincial government to get its fiscal house in order,” says Allan O’Dette, President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “It’s disappointing to see today’s deficit number and to see that spending will actually increase this year.”
Today’s budget also unveils the government’s plan to move forward with an Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP), a decision that worries the province’s employers. A unique ORPP requires a separate provincial pension bureaucracy. It also contributes to the fragmentation of Canada’s pension landscape, adding complexity and cost for companies with employees across Canada. A recent Ontario Chamber of Commerce report shows that only 23 percent of employers can afford the costs associated with increased employer pension contributions.
At the same time, 86 percent of employers endorse the government’s commitment to introduce legislation for Pooled Registered Pension Plans, a commitment reiterated in today’s budget.
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce is pleased to see strategic investments in the Ring of Fire and in transit and transportation infrastructure. “We see these as strategic investments that will grow the economy,” notes O’Dette. According to the Toronto Region Board of Trade, congestion costs the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area $6 billion dollars a year in lost productivity. A recent Ontario Chamber of Commerce report reveals that the Ring of Fire will generate up to $25 billion in economic activity for the province, including $6.7 billion in government revenue.
“Business expects government to be strategic and focus on the overall business climate so that they can continue to create jobs and generate wealth,” O’Dette adds. “In some key areas, this budget falls short.”
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For more information, contact:
Manager of Policy & Government Relations, Ontario Chamber of Commerce