The Ontario government released its first pandemic era budget. It is primarily focused on safety and health of people in COVID -19 times. The budget has proposed to provide support and economic recovery to workers, employers, and small businesses. Premier Ford mentioned that “small businesses are the backbone of Ontario’s economy, but many have been suffering through the pandemic and struggling to stay on their feet”. He also said that the government was “levelling the playing field and supporting the small business community for economic renewal.” Here are some of the budget highlights that can help small business owners:
- Tax relief and grants: The Ontario government has proposed to give municipalities flexibility to target property tax relief to small businesses. Also, the Business Education Tax Rate (BET) will also be reduced for over 200,000 employers which is 94 per cent of all business properties in Ontario. This will approximately reduce 30 per cent for many businesses who currently are subjected to the highest BET rate in the province.
The government is also acting to reduce taxes on job which helped the employers to keep their workers on the job during the pandemic.
The Action plan also incurs Main Street Relief Grant which will help the street businesses to stay open and safe by offering a one-time grant of up to $1000 for the costs of personal protective equipment (PPE). This includes small enterprises with two to nine employees in retail, accommodations and food services, repair and maintenance, and personal and laundry services sectors.
- Wine and Beer Tax Freeze: Offering much respite to the hospitality sector which has been hard hit by the pandemic, the government is freezing the scheduled tax increase on beer and wine until 2022. This news comes as relief to many restaurants, bars, pubs, and breweries which have been most effected in COVID-19 times.
- Hydro: The commercial and industrial business players in the market have been promised a reduction in the hydro bill, beginning January 2021. The Ontario electricity prices are expected to drop approximately by 11 per cent for heavy industries and 16 per cent for the automotive industry in the province.
While there has been effort by the government to help small businesspersons recover from the outbursts of the pandemic, many business owners claim that the government is simply “shifting costs” instead of reducing them. However, it remains to be seen how this cost reduction will help to put things back into perspective and help the entrepreneurs recover from the aftermath of COVID-19.