Speech: Statement to the legislature

STATEMENT TO THE LEGISLATURE

BY
THE HONOURABLE GREG SORBARA
MINISTER OF FINANCE
ON

INTRODUCTION OF

THE STRENGTHENING BUSINESS
THROUGH A SIMPLER TAX SYSTEM ACT, 2006

DECEMBER 13, 2006

Check against delivery

 


On October 6 of this year, I joined my federal counterpart, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, to announce the first step in our plan to harmonize corporate tax collection.

Today, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to share with you – and with my colleagues in this House – the next step in that plan.

I have today introduced a bill that will implement key elements of the Memorandum of Agreement that Minister Flaherty and I announced back in October.

If passed, the ‘Strengthening Business through a Simpler Tax System Act, 2006’ will accomplish three important goals:

  • First, it will deliver clear benefits to businesses of all sizes – they’ll spend less time on paper work, and save up to $100 million annually from one set of tax forms, one audit and one set of rules.
  • Second, it will reduce the amount corporations in Ontario will have to pay in taxes by a modest $90 million a year.
  • And third, it will reduce red tape by cutting the combined personal and corporate tax legislation and regulations currently in existence by more than half.

This bill also demonstrates what can be accomplished when governments work together, and how it is always in our mutual interest – and our constituents’ interest – to do so.

To accomplish those goals, Mr. Speaker, the bill combines two existing statutes – the Corporations Tax Act and the Income Tax Act – into a single new piece of legislation.

In doing so, this legislation proposes to simplify and streamline tax administration in this province.

Mr. Speaker, let me assure you – as is abundantly clear to anyone who has ever filed a corporate tax return, or tried to meet a payroll – that it is vital to our collective economic well-being.

Any time businesses spend on paper work is time away from what they should be doing – creating jobs, investing and contributing to a strong and prosperous economy.

Businesses have been asking us for some time to simplify our corporate tax structure.

We have listened to their concerns, and drafted a bill that goes some distance to meeting their needs.

As I said in October, Mr. Speaker, this will be a period of transition not just for business but for some of our staff.

There are still some steps to be taken before we conclude a full Tax Collection Agreement.

But we know that, at the end of this process, some people who now work for us will be working for the federal government.

To these people, I say: We know that change is never easy.

We will continue to work with you, and with your bargaining agents, to help ensure this process is both fair and transparent.

We now have a timetable for this process. We have committed publicly – and I do so again today – to having a single tax form in place for businesses beginning with the 2009 tax year.

Mr. Speaker, as I have said before, Ontarians are proud Canadians.

We are proud of our role in Confederation.

And we are proud contributors to the strength and wealth of this great land.

The Memorandum of Agreement signed in October, and the Tax Collection Agreement that will follow, represent important, and positive, steps in building a more productive working relationship with the government of Canada.

These accords will serve, I hope, as a bellwether for future agreements – of finding and developing common ways in which we can work together, going forward, for the betterment of all Canadians.

But as I have also said before, Mr. Speaker, now, more than ever, we need the federal government to own up to the rest of its responsibilities to this province.

We have recently seen some good news in this regard.  And we hope that this is a sign of many good things to come.

So today, Mr. Speaker, I ask members of this Legislature – as they consider this bill – to join me in engaging the federal government in this crucial undertaking.

Ontario’s economy is fundamentally strong.
 
Our people are creative, diverse and hard-working.

When they look to us in government for leadership, as they should, we must respond with reassurance that we recognize the priorities that propel our agenda.

Leadership, as our Premier has said so often – and so well – is about making choices.

I ask Mr. Flaherty and Mr. Harper to make the right choice – to join us in investing in a strong, prosperous Ontario for a strong, prosperous Canada.

This bill demonstrates that we can do that.

Let’s show Ontarians – and Canadians – that we can build on this success and co-operate in other areas as well.

I look forward to the discussion that this legislation will generate, and I genuinely appreciate the attention that I know members will give it.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

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