2012 CFIB small business roundup: Who was naughty? Who was nice?

TORONTO, Dec. 20, 2012 /CNW/ - With 2012 coming to a close and Santa loading up his sleigh, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is sharing its list of the best and worst developments affecting small business. This year, the federal government, as well as Quebec and New Brunswick, got on the nice list for taking action on red tape. Meanwhile, Alberta, Manitoba and Newfoundland and Labrador found themselves on the naughty list for introducing policies that hurt small business and the economy.

"Federally, we saw a number of big wins this year," said CFIB president and CEO Dan Kelly. "2012 highlights include a revolutionary commitment to accountability at CRA, some good first steps in getting regulatory burden and public sector pensions under control, as well as the very promising legislation on pooled registered pension plans for small business."

"Unfortunately, one of the most worrisome developments for small business in 2012 happened earlier this week when finance ministers put plans to expand the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) on the front burner," Kelly added.  "While the US tries to block an automatic payroll tax hike as part of measures to avoid the fiscal cliff, most Canadian finance ministers appear willing to flirt with a fiscal cliff of our own by signing on for multi-year CPP payroll tax hikes.  Small firms should not be asked to pay one more cent in payroll taxes until all governments address their looming public sector pension liabilities."

Several provinces, including Ontario and BC, as well as the federal government, landed on both lists.  The BC government, for example, was praised for adopting a municipal auditor general to help enhance local government accountability.

The only non-government body on the naughty list? Visa Canada.  With a fragile economy, Visa has announced plans for across-the-board fee hikes as well as an "uber-premium" card that will take even more money out of the pockets of hard-working entrepreneurs and consumers.

"Small businesses in Canada are affected by decisions of three levels of government as well as other influential parties like credit card companies and the banks," said Kelly.  "CFIB will be keeping a close watch on governments in the year ahead and will continue to advocate for policies to help, not hurt, Canada's job creators."

As Canada's largest association of small- and medium-sized businesses, CFIB is Powered by Entrepreneurs™. Established in 1971, CFIB takes direction from more than 109,000 members in every sector nationwide, giving independent business a strong and influential voice at all levels of government and helping to grow the economy.

The Best and Worst for Small Business in 2012:
Worst of 2012       Best of 2012
1. Plan to raise CPP premiums (Most provinces):
Led by Ontario, provincial finance ministers recently met and are pushing a plan to expand the Canada Pension Plan.  Leadership to push back is needed by Ottawa
      1. Red tape action (Fed., ON, QC, NB gov'ts):
Federal plans include assessing new regulations through a small business lens, a 1-for-1 rule, and service improvement goals. Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick also made major red tape announcements.
2. Credit card fee hikes (Visa Canada):
In October, Visa Canada announced major fee hikes and a plan for a new "uber-premium" card with even higher rates.
      2. Improving tax administration (Fed. gov't)
The Canada Revenue Agency now accepts online questions via My Business Account and will honour written responses even if advice is wrong.
3. Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) expansion (ON gov't):
Despite CFIB's strong objections, the Ontario government moved ahead with implementing Bill 119, expanding mandatory WSIB coverage to previously-exempt employers in construction.
      3. Municipal Accountability (BC gov't):
BC appointed a municipal Auditor General to oversee local government spending.
4. More municipal taxes? (AB gov't):
The province has committed to negotiating new municipal charters with city governments in Calgary and Edmonton. This could significantly expand municipal taxation powers.
      4. Labour law changes (SK gov't):
The Saskatchewan Employment Act modernizes, simplifies and amalgamates labour legislation and adds flexibility to the traditional 40-hour work week.
5. Eliminating secret ballots (NL gov't):
The provincial government eliminated secret ballot voting for union certification with no consultation.
      5. Public Sector Pensions (Fed. gov't):
The federal government started to get MP and civil service pensions in line with the private sector. This included raising employee contributions to 50 per cent and requiring new hires to work until 65.
6. Minimum wage increases (Most provinces and territories):
All provinces and territories except Ontario, Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Newfoundland & Labrador increased their minimum wages in 2012.
      6. Pooled Registered Pension Plans (Fed. gov't):
The federal government passed legislation that paves the way for small business owners to provide employees with access to simple, low-cost pensions. Provincial legislation is now needed.
7. PST expansion (MB gov't):
In addition to breaking its balanced budget legislation, the Manitoba government announced a significant expansion to the province's sales tax.
      7. Immigration Changes for Trades (Fed. gov't):
With a growing labour shortage, the government announced important changes to make it easier to bring permanent skilled tradespeople into Canada.
8. Canada Small Business Financing Program (Fed. gov't):
The federal government announced changes to its main small business financing program which could require up to 100 per cent personal guarantees and higher interest rates.
      8. WCB rate cuts (AB, SK, QC, NB, PEI, YK gov'ts):
Average rates in these provinces and territories will come down in 2013, helping small businesses manage costs and encouraging job creation.




For further information:

For more information, please contact Gisele Lumsden at 416 222-8022 or cell: 647 808-5769 or by email at public.affairs@cfib.ca.

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