Small Firms Dismiss Ontario Tax Help Pledge

Some small business owners are calling Ontario's plan to lower corporate taxes an empty gesture that will do little to offset the ballooning cost of doing business in the province.

In the province's fall economic statement, released Tuesday, Finance Minister Charles Sousa announced that the corporate tax rate for businesses with 100 and fewer employees will drop from 4.5% to 3.5% on the first $500,000 of profits beginning Jan. 1, 2018.

The changes will begin the same day the minimum wage will jump from $11.40 to $14.00 an hour, before reaching $15.00 an hour in 2019.

One restaurateur says the impending minimum-wage increase coupled with high taxes on alcohol and hydro bills are threatening his restaurants in a way he's not seen in 29 years of business.

Another entrepreneur, in the hair styling business, admitted the tax cut "may do a little bit" to help his books, but expressed frustration that red tape added by the province to training programs, hydro rates and weak provincial rental protection have made for an arduous first 18 months in business.

The business owners called on the province to improve incentives and support rather than lower taxes.

In his statement, Sousa announced a new program that will give small businesses $1,000 for hiring a young person aged 15 to 29 and another $1,000 if they keep the employee for six months.