No Surprises for Retailers in Ontario's Infrastructure Budget

TORONTO, April 23, 2015 /CNW/ - Retail Council of Canada (RCC) sees several positive developments in today's Ontario budget, accompanied by unanswered questions on at least one of the government's major policy initiatives.

The budget can be characterized as an "infrastructure budget" with an additional $2.6 billion commitment to the Moving Ontario Forward plan.  "Transit and transportation investments are important ones from a retail perspective, moving our customers, employees and goods, and generally improving the economic picture in Ontario," said Retail Council of Canada President & CEO, Diane J. Brisebois.  

"We are appreciative that the government is funding these infrastructure investments from general revenues and from proceeds of the proposed cap-and-trade system, rather than by measures that would have discriminated against retailers, like regional sales taxes and parking stall levies," Ms. Brisebois added.

Retailers welcome Ontario's ongoing progress toward budget balance, without the imposition of any new taxes, either on individuals or businesses. 

Retail Council of Canada also applauds the budget's acceptance of the recent recommendations of the Premier's Advisory Council on Government Assets, notably its proposal to improve customer convenience by permitting beer sales in grocery stores and promising future discussions on the sale of wines and spirits.  Retailers look forward to working with the government to overcome barriers to effective implementation of the policy in a retail setting.

Despite Budget 2015's language on the importance of pension income adequacy, retailers have serious concerns with a pension policy that will cost our workers and employers several hundred million dollars a year.  As Ontario's largest employer, the retail sector takes issue with key aspects of the proposed Ontario Retirement Pension Plan and with the lead times for implementation. 

"Less than 20 months from the stated implementation date of January 1, 2017, we would have hoped for a better-defined policy and one that addresses the major points that we have raised on threshold levels and substitutability of existing workplace pension plans," said Ms. Brisebois.  

Retail Council of Canada (RCC) is the Voice of Retail in Canada representing more than 45,000 store fronts of all retail formats, including department, specialty, discount, and independent stores, and online merchants in general merchandise, grocery and drugs.  Its membership represents over 75% of all retail sales in Canada.  RCC is a strong advocate for retailing in Canada and works with all levels of government and other stakeholders to support employment growth and career opportunities in retail, to promote and sustain retail investments in communities from coast-to-coast, and to enhance consumer choice and industry competitiveness. RCC also provides its members with a full range of services and programs including education and training, benchmarking and best practices, networking, advocacy, and industry information. RetailCouncil.org    @RetailCouncil    @RCCMySTORE

SOURCE Retail Council of Canada

For further information: Colin Asuncion, Retail Council of Canada, casuncion@retailcouncil.org, 416.467.3782

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http://www.retailcouncil.org

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