Provincial governments across the country make frequent reference to the importance of the small business sector and their initiatives to support it – but a new survey by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) reveals substantial differences in how provincial governments are perceived in their vision for and understanding of small business.
In terms of understanding the realities of running a small business, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall received top marks from the small business owners in his province; Premier Wall was also the only provincial leader to receive a positive ranking from more than half of Saskatchewan small business owners.
The Ontario government is trailing in the provincial ranking, with only 15 per cent of small business owners feeling confident in their government’s small business vision.
“Small business owners in Ontario are already facing significant payroll tax increases in the form of the recently announced minimum wage hike and the proposed Ontario Pension Plan,” said Nicole Troster, CFIB’s senior policy analyst for Ontario. “These survey results show that the province’s job creators have very little confidence in the direction the government is taking to stimulate economic growth.”
Sixty-three per cent of small business owners indicate the current level of provincial taxes discourage them from growing their business, while only three per cent think the Ontario Premier understands the realities of running a small business.
“Small businesses want the government to work with them, not against them”, Troster said. “Hiking taxes or adding a whole suite of new taxes and fees will not improve business confidence or make it easier for the province’s small businesses to create jobs.”
CFIB’s key recommendations focus on keeping taxes reasonable, controlling government spending, reducing red tape, balancing labor laws and balancing budgets.
“Small business owners are nearly unanimous in agreeing that their Premiers must focus on creating a better climate for small business,” the report concluded. “To truly create a provincial climate that supports and values entrepreneurs and grows small business – and the significant contributions they make to their communities and provincial economies – premiers must live up to the commitments they have made. They can achieve this by heeding the advice of the small business owners who drive their provincial economies, and by observing the examples of their colleagues across Canada, for better and for worse.”