Ontario Liberals will promise over $500 million in financial relief to small businesses, including a two-year corporate tax holiday for those hurt most by the pandemic, the Toronto Sun has learned.
The election commitment will be released publicly this weekend when Ontario Liberals hold their first in-person gathering for candidates and volunteers since the 2020 leadership convention.
Leader Steven Del Duca will deliver the keynote address Saturday afternoon.
The Economic Dignity Package for Small Businesses plank that he’s announcing would offer measures for both new and existing companies.
“Small business owners have always been Ontario’s greatest economic strength. An Ontario Liberal government will have their back and end Doug Ford’s Big-Box bias,” Del Duca said in a statement provided to the Toronto Sun. “A Liberal government will eliminate corporate taxes for two years on small businesses hit hard by the pandemic and remove the punitive business start-up fees and make Ontario the easiest place to be an entrepreneur.”
The commitment to lower or eliminate entirely small corporate taxes for 2022 and 2023 comes with a costing of approximately $500 million over that time period, the Liberals say.
The relief would be scaled to losses in revenue, and those businesses that saw a drop of more than 50% would pay no taxes, the party says.
Ontario Liberals are also promising that they would work with federal partners to cap credit card and delivery fees for small businesses.
A $30 million promise to help businesses go digital with dedicated programs — such as special streams for rural and agri-businesses as well as the promotion of low-cost cybersecurity options — is included in the election plank.
A Liberal government would partner with financial institutions to backstop loans for tens of thousands of small businesses with start-up costs like equipment and real estate at an estimated price tag of $8 million, the statement says.
In further moves aimed at fledgling businesses, Liberals would, if elected to govern, end incorporation fees for new start-ups, launch a one-stop 311-type service to navigate government supports and introduce a self-employment option to the high school careers curriculum.
“For many, the pandemic has fueled an entrepreneurial spirit where people are more eager to be their own boss and have control over where, when and how they work,” the Liberal statement says. “We want to encourage these entrepreneurs and help them succeed by eliminating incorporation fees for new business start-ups (at a cost of about $14 million annually).”
Ontario will hold its next general election on June 2.