Study: City of Toronto Act powers to tax and regulate a disservice to small business and Torontonians



    TORONTO, Aug. 19 /CNW/ - According to the latest findings from Toronto's
small business community, "The Stronger City of Toronto for a Stronger Ontario
Act" has not lived up to its 2007 billing. The Canadian Federation of
Independent Business (CFIB) has released a report today indicating that the
City of Toronto Act, which granted Toronto broad powers to tax and regulate,
has been a disservice to Torontonians by hurting its job-creating sector:
small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
    CFIB vice president legislative affairs, Judith Andrew says that the
unprecedented amount of autonomy this Act has afforded City of Toronto,
resulted quickly in the implementation of two of eight proposed taxes
(municipal land transfer tax and municipal personal vehicle tax), additional
users fees (e.g. garbage collection) and new regulations (e.g. emissions
reporting, plastic bags). "Rather than making Toronto a better place to do
business, the legislation leaves businesses cold," she noted.
    CFIB's study gives a disturbing appraisal of the actual impact of the
legislation. In terms of economic growth, 74 per cent of respondents feel that
the City of Toronto Act has not transformed Toronto into a better place to do
business, while 83 per cent believe that the Act has not encouraged job
creation nor helped attract investment to the city. As far as political
accountability is concerned, 82 per cent of respondents feel that the Act has
not made the mayor and city councillors more responsible to the public. 85 per
cent disagree that the delivery and quality of services has improved. 79 per
cent say that city hall is not doing a better job controlling spending.
Taxation and regulation are believed to have worsened according to 86 per cent
and 77 per cent of respondents, respectively. These findings pre-date the
recent civic strike that understandably has left most Torontonians with an
even more jaundiced view of Toronto's effectiveness.
    "Clearly the small business community has been adversely affected by the
implementation of the City of Toronto Act and there's no end of the grief in
sight," said Plamen Petkov, a senior policy analyst with CFIB, adding that
"with over 90 per cent of the businesses surveyed anticipating further tax and
compliance constraints as a result of this Act, many are seriously considering
relocating their business to surrounding, more business-friendly areas."
    The study follows up a 2006 CFIB report, No City of Toronto Style Act for
Us," Say Municipal Leaders and CFIB's Members, which showed Ontario's mayors
were sceptical about the Toronto Act experiment, being overwhelmingly against
new municipal revenue-raising and regulatory powers. The present analysis is
also consistent with a 2007 CFIB report, Toronto Taxes: "Not a Penny More!"
which showed the opinions of Toronto small business owners and the general
public lined up in opposition to new City Taxes, in their lack of confidence
in City Hall, and in their negative predictions for the legislation.
    Citing its new report as a call to action, CFIB would like to see this
experimental legislation given serious second thought in the mandatory review,
now underway. "As it stands, this review is nothing more than a politically
expedient formality," charged Andrew.
    To view the full report, An Experiment Gone Wrong: Results of CFIB Member
Survey on the City of Toronto Act, go to www.cfib.ca/legis/ontario/.





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