Last week, I joined fellow Ottawa Liberal candidates to call Doug Ford and his PC candidates to task over his party’s position on business support programs that have created or retained 39,500 highly skilled jobs in Ontario.
One of the keys to success has been our Liberal government’s support of the Ottawa tech sector. Since its launch in January 2015, the Jobs and Prosperity Fund has invested $950 million in 38 That support has leveraged other investments of approximately $12 billion which has helped create over 55,000 highly skilled jobs across Ontario.
Doug Ford and the Ontario PCs have said they would scrap these programs and replace them with a cut in the corporate tax rate and create tailored tax-incentive packages. Neither Doug Ford nor the Ottawa PC candidates can say how these tailored incentive plans will foster investment in research and development in the ICT sector, how projects will be assessed, or how they will create the well-paying jobs that will generate further economic development in Ottawa like the Jobs and Prosperity Fund and Eastern Ontario Development Fund do.
Today, Doug Ford announced that he would reduce the corporate tax rate at Stanpac Inc. in Smithville, ON. In 2016, Stanpac Inc. was the recipient of $4.5 million in government funding to expand their manufacturing capacity, creating up to 50 full-time jobs. A Stanpac Inc. employee said "FedDev Ontario is extremely important funding... You know, the funding goes a very, very long way toward expanding and growing... one of our big challenges is getting enough capital to continue to grow, and the FedDev program has kind of filled in that gap which is just of tremendous help." These programs are helping Ontario businesses grow, strengthening our economy and creating jobs.
Doug Ford said “…I am dead against corporate welfare…” (CBC ) . Conservative candidates like Jim McDonell (Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry), Bob Bailey (Sarnia-Lambton), and their economic development critic, Monte McNaughton (Lambton-Kent-Middlesex) have referred to programs like the Jobs and Prosperity Fund and the Eastern Ontario Development Fund as “corporate welfare”. They have consistently voted against the creation of these funds, including voting against The Ontario Liberal government’s 2018 Budget, A Plan for Care and Opportunity which invested an additional $100 million over 10 years in the Eastern Ontario Development Fund and the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund to help create and retain approximately 19,000 jobs and attract more than $800 million in investments. Finally, Doug Ford’s “plan” makes no mention of innovation or technology – and his only Ottawa caucus member, Lisa MacLeod, has not made a single mention of Ottawa’s technology sector since 2008.
Ottawa’s technology sector employs over 70,000 people across 1,700 companies large and small across the City. Ottawa also has one of the lowest unemployment rates in Canada at 4.2 per cent in April 2018.
These investments coupled with Ontario’s 11.5 per cent corporate tax rate (the lowest corporate tax rate in Canada) have led to a boom in our economy.
The NDP think that corporate Ontario is a bottomless piggybank and their proposal to raise the corporate tax rate will have a disastrous effect on Ontario’s economy. The NDP’s proposed 13 per cent corporate tax rate will give Ontario one of the highest corporate tax rates in Canada and make Ontario uncompetitive with our neighbours in the US. Higher tax rates combined with the slashing of the Jobs and Prosperity Fund and the Eastern Ontario Development Fund that they do not support will result in the loss of thousands of jobs in Ottawa.
Attracting foreign direct investment is key to continuing to grow Ottawa’s booming economy. Experts agree that there are many others factors at play which may make Ontario an attractive environment for investment. A skilled and educated workforce, high quality public services and access to research and development funding. Without support from our Liberal government these investments would have gone elsewhere.
Our plan strikes the right balance. Ontario Liberals are maintaining a competitive tax rate while also investing in the technology sector in Ottawa and across the province.