It looks like the provincial Liberals are gearing up for a spring election if today's economic update is any indication.
Tax cuts for small businesses and incentives to companies to hire apprentices highlight the document delivered by Finance Minister Charles Sousa.
Ontario PC's called it "a trend of reckless, pre-election ploys rolled out by the Wynne Liberals who cannot be trusted to improve the lives of Ontario families."
"The Fall Economic Statement is proof that the Liberals did not do their homework," added Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli. "Rather than slow down their minimum wage hike, they are just trying to throw more money at the problem. This band-aid will do nothing for a business with no income or employees left."
The fall economic update today included a tax cut for small businesses as an offset for a minimum wage that will rise to $14 an hour on Jan. 1, and $15 an hour the following year. Here are some highlights:
— The corporate income tax rate for small businesses will be lowered from 4.5 per cent to 3.5 per cent on Jan. 1.
— Small businesses with fewer than 100 employees that hire young workers (aged 15 to 29) will get incentives of $1,000 and another $1,000 for retaining that worker for six months.
— Producers of locally grown fruits and vegetables will get $60 million in support.
— An apprenticeship training tax credit will be turned into a grant, giving employers $2,500 upon an apprentice's completion of both level one and level two, $3,500 for completion of levels three and four, and $4,700 when the apprentice gets certification.
— The apprenticeship grant would be available to all trades eligible for the current tax credit, as well as in five additional trades: hairstylist, cook, horticultural/landscape technician, baker and appliance service technician.
— The government will put $85 million toward mercury remediation in the English-Wabigoon River system, which has affected the Grassy Narrows community for decades, through a trust that will be set up in collaboration with First Nation communities.
— Real GDP growth is forecasted to be 2.8 per cent this year, up from the 2.3 per cent projected in the spring budget.
— Net-debt-to-GDP ratio is projected to fall to 37.3 per cent this fiscal year
— Interest on debt, which is currently about $312 billion, is projected to grow from about $12 billion now to $13.3 billion in 2019-20.
— A moderating housing market has left the government with about $300 million less in land transfer tax revenues since projections in the spring budget.
With files from The Canadian Press