RCC Press Release English

N.B. Given the sheer volume of budget coverage in a 24/7 news environment, RCC has decided to stop issuing same-day budget analyses and will instead take the time to carefully review the documents for issues specific to or important to retail and issue member notices on the day following a budget.

It has become commonplace to pre-release key budget policies in order to give each one a more focused launch. Ontario’s 2015 budget has taken this approach to new lengths, the government having previously announced its pension, asset divestment, cap-and-trade and infrastructure policies. The consequence is that there is very little in the budget that was being announced for the first time yesterday.

Infrastructure Funding

The budget focuses primarily on public infrastructure initiatives while avoiding tax increases to fund the 10-year, $130 Billion plan. Revenue will be flowed from asset sales and the proposed cap-and- trade system via a carbon-pricing mechanism. The government plans to release a comprehensive strategy to address climate change in the fall of 2015.

Retail Council of Canada strongly supports the government’s approach of not raising retailers’ taxes to provide funding for infrastructure initiatives. RCC campaigned against the recommendations of the Toronto Regional Board of Trade (TRBOT) and Metrolinx, which would have led to a tax on parking spaces and, potentially, to a regional sales tax within the GTHA.

Pension Plan Proposal

The budget does not address any of the retailers’ outstanding questions related to the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP), whether on the substitutability of existing workplace pension plans, on the income threshold, or if the plan will apply to students, youth and retirees. The government is reviewing feedback from its recent consultation and says that it will determine key design questions in the “near future”. Timing is itself becoming a problem, as we are now less than 20 months out from the ORPP’s expected start-date of January 1, 2017, without many of the design issues having been settled.

RCC will continue its advocacy campaign and lobbying efforts to mitigate the impact of the ORPP on the retail sector.

Other Budget Measures

The government plans to introduce legislation that supports the Premier’s Council on Asset Review recommendation to allow the sale of beer in grocery stores. Over the summer months, the council will consult with stakeholders on potential reforms in the wine and spirits area.

The budget also confirms the Ministry of Labour review on the Labour Relations Act and the Employment Standards Act to reflect the changing landscape for employment. RCC has already been actively involved in preliminary consultations with the Special Advisors in the review. The review is expected to last about two years before reporting back to the government and business will have opportunities to participate in the consultation process.

The government is pursuing options to address the Underground Economy. One of the areas identified is electronic sales suppression. The Province is proposing to ban the manufacture and use of “zapper” technologies and will consult more generally on options to stop sales suppression at point-of-sale. RCC will participate in the consultations over the next several months.

As a follow up to the recent federal budget, businesses that invest in manufacturing and processing equipment will benefit from the Ontario government’s commitment to extend the provincial Accelerated Capital Cost Allowance program.

Retailers selling and installing winter tires and rims may experience an increase in sales, as the government is requiring that all insurers offer a discount for the use of winter tires.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact: Gary Rygus, Director, Government Relations (Ontario) at: [email protected] or 416-467-3744