Status quo Budget short on details: Ontario Chamber

TORONTO, March 25 /CNW/ - The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) gives the 2010 Provincial Budget high marks for holding firm on tax reforms announced a year ago, but low marks for failing to adequately address the mid to long-term affordability of government, leading to continuing economic uncertainty.

"This government showed great vision last year by taking large steps towards modernizing our tax system and we're pleased that they are holding the line on those reforms, however, today's budget targets lack the same level of rigour," says Len Crispino, President & CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. "Today's 'status quo' budget fails to provide sufficient detail as to how the government will increase its affordability and fiscal efficiency, leaving our members wondering what lies ahead which could discourage business investment and job creation when it is most needed."

The plan to keep average annual expenditure growth to lower than the growth of revenues is an important step forward, but one of the fundamental issues is the continuing magnitude of healthcare costs. In the absence of substantial reforms, these costs will continue to crowd out other vital program priorities, and will put into question the ability to meet expenditure targets.

One positive development in today's budget is the detailed commitment to improving Ontario's Northern economy which is welcomed by OCC members operating in the North.

The Budget has not identified the ongoing regulatory burden and mounting red tape facing business. "Open for Business, a laudable program when first announced, did not receive the warranted attention in today's budget. Every dollar spent on dealing with less red tape is a dollar less spent on creating jobs and investment," adds Crispino.

In advance of the budget, the OCC had advocated for prudent spending by the government, as well as measures that would create the right climate for business investment in order to stimulate job growth. Specifically, the OCC urged the government to:

    
    -   Create a more competitive business climate through smarter regulation
        and less red tape.
    -   Keep spending growth at or below the same rate as the economy.
    -   Conduct an actuarial analysis of healthcare expenditures in order to
        facilitate long term planning and provide much needed predictability,
        transparency and accountability.
    -   Develop a 30 year long-term transportation plan in order to plan
        ahead for a generation, not just five years.
    -   Apply smarter and more efficient spending to all programs across the
        broader public sector with a mandated competitive bidding process
        which allows bids from both the public and private sectors.
    

Further information can be found at www.occ.on.ca.

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) is a federation of 160 local chambers of commerce and boards of trade in the Province of Ontario, representing 60,000 businesses of all sizes, in all economic sectors and from every area of the province. In its mandate to advocate strong policies on issues affecting its members, the OCC is currently focused on economic renewal and business competitiveness. Its over-arching goal is to make Ontario the most competitive jurisdiction in North America.

SOURCE Ontario Chamber of Commerce

For further information: For further information: Amy Terrill, Ontario Chamber of Commerce, W: (416) 482-5222, ext. 241; C: (416) 605-8205, amyterrill@occ.on.ca; Erin Riach, Ontario Chamber of Commerce, W: (416) 482-5222, ext. 248; erinriach@occ.on.ca


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