Re: Ontario's Economy

    TORONTO, Jan. 11 /CNW/ -

    Hon. Dalton McGuinty
    Main Legislative Building
    Room 281, Queen's Park
    Toronto, ON M7A 1A1

                            Re: Ontario's Economy

    Dear Premier McGuinty,

    On the eve of your meeting with the First Ministers I wanted to write to
you about the state of Ontario's economy.

    For several months now it's been clear that our economy is struggling.
Just this morning, the front page of the Toronto Star reported that "there is
growing concern among economists that Ontario is teetering on the brink of a
recession." Over the last two years Ontario has lost more than 150,000
manufacturing jobs. Tens of thousands of people have been leaving Ontario in
search of brighter opportunities elsewhere in Canada. Our economic growth is
expected to be well below the national average in 2008.

    Urgent action is required.

    Unfortunately the current approach is not working.

    Your government's strategy, if it can be called that, has consisted of
various different funds you have created (which, on their own have been
virtually ineffective as measured by the significant job losses we have
suffered) combined with almost continuous complaining about the federal
government's reluctance to follow your approach. Meanwhile, Ontario has the
highest taxes in Canada on new business investment. This is a strong incentive
for Canadian and foreign businesses to look elsewhere in Canada or even
outside our country for places to invest.

    We believe it is time to try some different approaches.

    To that end, I wanted to offer some suggestions of different approaches
your government could take to improve the investment climate in Ontario and
spur economic growth.

    -   Reduce the tax burden on business and new business investment
    -   Fully eliminate capital taxes in Ontario now. Your government has
        made several announcements about this and taken some small steps
        toward this goal but it is clear more must be done right away. We
        can't afford to wait two more years.
    -   Reduce taxes on small business
    -   Begin serious negotiations with the federal government on tax reform.
        To simply complain about the challenges involved in this undertaking
        is to do a disservice to Ontario. Other provinces have begun
        discussions. It's time Ontario did the same.
    -   Start a serious push to address the very real concerns about the
        energy supply in Ontario. High energy prices and uncertainty about
        the availability of electricity in Ontario are major reasons
        businesses are choosing other jurisdictions for their investment
    -   Get serious about reducing interprovincial trade barriers. Recently,
        you announced the latest in an endless series of studies on this
        issue with Quebec. Let's move to get some quick wins now with Quebec
        and the other provinces.

    Ontario needs to regain its leadership role in Confederation - to once
again become the economic engine of Canada. That will happen when Ontario
itself starts taking bold steps to improve our attractiveness as a place to do
business and create jobs.

    I believe this means you must attend this meeting with more than just a
cap-in-hand and complaints about the federal government. You should arrive at
the meeting having made a solid commitment to immediately implement the above
proposals with the proper sense of urgency. You'll then be in a much stronger
position to say that Ontario has done everything it can and now it needs the
help of the federal government to do even more.


    John Tory
    Leader of the Ontario PC Party

    cc:  Hon. Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance
         Howard Hampton, Leader of the NDP

For further information:

For further information: Michelle Pennell, (416) 325-9109

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