Local businesses protest “˜unfair”™ tax, holiday pay changes

Local business officials are calling on the province to reverse course on two recent initiatives they say hurt small businesses.

The Centre Wellington Chamber of Commerce is joining the Ontario Chamber of Commerce to ask the government to remove from the 2018 budget two proposed tax reforms that will cost employers nearly half a billion dollars in new taxes. And a group of local businesses is asking the province to eliminate changes to holiday pay they say make little sense and are not fair to employees working longer hours.

Recently, the government announced it will harmonize eligibility criteria with the federal government.

Government officials say the move will result in a streamlined process for businesses. But opponents say it will leave over 20,000 employers paying $100 million more in Employment Health Tax over the next three years.

In addition, businesses will be phased out of the small business deduction if they earn between $50,000 and $150,000 in “passive investment income” in the taxation year, resulting in additional $350 million in new taxes for businesses over the next three years.

“At a time when industry in Ontario is feeling the impact of the rising minimum wage, significant labour reforms, increasing global and U.S. competition, and rising input costs, we need government to reduce the cumulative burden, not add to it,” said Roberta Scarrow, executive director of the Centre Wellington Chamber of Commerce.

Evelyn Gould, co-owner of Jester’s Fun Factory, said changes in holiday pay eligibility are a huge burden to small businesses.

 “I feel blind-sided …  The new calculations don’t even make sense to myself or my employees,” said Gould in a press release.

She explained Jester’s, which had five part-time employees, saw a 70% increase in Family Day holiday pay this year.

Ministry of Labour officials have stated the previous formula was “complex and confusing” and the change offers relief to part-time employees without benefits and provides “flexibility” for employers.

Yet businesses counter the change amounts to more pay for less work.

“The person that works one eight-hour day a week is now entitled to the same [holiday pay] as a person who works five full days per week,” said Gould.

Gould has created a petition to abolish the current calculation and reinstate previous holiday pay calculation. The petition is available to view and/sign at Jesters and the local chamber office.