Column – Ontario Can Lead Again

February 3, 2014

By Jim McDonell

Over the past few months, we seem to be seeing an increasing number of companies closing up shop and relocating to another province or state, taking their jobs with them.  The list is long and includes companies that have been doing business in our province for generations, such as Heinz and Kellogg’s.   Their message is always the same; the excessive regulation and expensive cost of doing business is no longer allowing them to be competitive.

It doesn’t have to be this way, as Ontario has a hard-working and well trained workforce, and an abundance of natural resources.  We need a clear plan of action that addresses the problems entrepreneurs face today.  It’s hard to imagine that business can be competitive when they must pay the highest energy prices, property taxes and workplace insurances rates (WSIB) on the continent.  In addition the Canadian Federation of Independent Business estimates that the cost of complying with Ontario’s regulatory requirements cost businesses approximately $11 billion per year.  It is little wonder that Ontario has lost 300,000 good paying manufacturing jobs and doubled the number of people earning minimum wage since this Liberal government came to power ten years ago.

This province needs a change in direction, and we need it soon.  It’s been more than a year since Kathleen Wynne became Premier, and we have not seen any legislation to get Ontarians the good paying jobs they deserve.  Instead she has created 37 panels to study the problems we are facing.  After spending ten years in cabinet and deciding to lead this province, one would expect that the new Premier would have some ideas around getting our economy going.  So far, all we have seen is a new ten cent tax on gasoline, an increase in minimum wage and corporate taxes, cuts in funding to our municipalities, and a new pension plan that will be paid for by our already  cash strapped workers and businesses.  After increasing its revenues by more than 75% over the past ten years, one would think that the action plan would not be based on raising further taxes and off-loading more spending onto working Ontarians.

Earlier this month, Tim Hudak released his five point plan to turn our province around.  It deals with getting our spending under control, making energy prices affordable again, and implementing a training program to meet the huge skilled trades shortage that is already impacting us.  It will also increase trade with our neighbours and end the expensive bureaucratic runaround that inhibits job creation.   Clearly, our province needs a change in direction so that Ontario can lead this country again.