A Room full of Business Owners Can’t all Be Wrong

By: Laura Steiner

Milton’s Member of Parliament (M.P.) is Lisa Raitt.  Early last month, she held a town hall about the proposed tax changes early last month where she simply listened to business-owners, the majority of which were constituents.

In the three weeks since, there’s been plenty said about it.  In the battle of rhetoric two possibilities have emerged.  Either this is bad policy, which given the level of response to it isn’t out of the question.  The owner of several local Tim Hortons said these changes would force them to ask employees to pay for their uniforms.  That might turn job-seekers off the jobs.  A local accountant worried over how the new rules would be enforced.

Or it’s a communications problem.  There is a lack of a clear, concise explanation of a) how these changes will affect small business (also known as numbers), and b) why the sudden rush to close the loopholes.  There’s a general impression out there that small business owners are tax cheats.  Recalling that room full of owners, nothing could be further from the truth.  The previously mentioned accountant employs 12 people, and went to some lengths to state they are not a tax cheat.  There has been nothing said to dispel the tax cheat impression.

The reality is somewhere in the messy middle.   Ontario has to deal with proposed labour changes including an increase in minimum wage, and paid sick time for all workers; and the proposed tax changes federally at the same time without knowing the cumulative cost.   With Ontario’s status as the so-called “economic engine of Canada”, this should be evidence that more study, and consultation is necessary.  The “tax cheat” impression could be the point of no return for business owners.  This is a Christmas gift for Conservative leader Andrew Scheer.

Whichever possibility it is, a room full of business owners can’t all be mistaken.  The passion, and anger caused by this issue is rarely seen in Canadian politics.  Now all the Trudeau government has to do is listen.