Jobs, growth will be focus of Ontario fall economic update: Sousa

Changes to dividend tax credits will save low, moderate-income investors about $145 a year.

November 7, 2013   by CANADIAN PRESS

TORONTO — The Canadian Press has learned Ontario’s Liberal government will announce changes today to lower taxes for one million low- and moderate-income investors who hold stocks that pay dividends.

Sources say Finance Minister Charles Sousa will unveil changes to the way dividend tax credits are calculated that will save shareholders an average of $145 a year.

The initiative will be revenue neutral because about 100,000 higher income investors will pay more to offset the increased tax credits for others, including about 300,000 seniors.
Investors who don’t pay Ontario’s income surtax, which kicks in at $70,000 income, will get higher dividend tax credits.

The sources say the dividend tax credit is an example of the type of changes the Liberals are looking to make in next spring’s provincial budget.

Meanwhile, Sousa will outline how the province plans to stay on track to eliminate an $11.7 billion deficit by 2017-18 in his fall economic update, which he says will focus on jobs and growth.

Economic growth projections have been falling, and Sousa says he will detail how Ontario plans to deal with the global challenges facing the economy.

Progressive Conservative finance critic Vic Fedeli is not convinced the government can balance the books in four years, and says the Liberals “are in la-la land” and won’t admit it’s their fault Ontario is in poor economic shape.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath wants Sousa to annouce plans to create jobs and make life more affordable, and says she doesn’t want to see anything that increases taxes, tolls or fees.

“The government has said that they’re going to do that, so if we see those in the economic statement, I guess for once we’ll see the Liberals keeping one of their promises,” said Horwath. “But I don’t think it’s the right direction for Ontario. There are too many folks that are still struggling.”

Sousa wouldn’t say if he’ll provide an updated figure for the deficit, which came in at $9.2 billion last year but was projected to rise to about $11.7 billion this year. He said the Liberals would not slash programs and services or impose big tax hikes.

“We can ascribe to greater, massive across-the-board cuts, but that would hinder our recovery,” said Sousa. “At the same time, we can’t do reckless taxes that are going to deter business from investing, so we’ve got to find that balance, continue creating jobs and promote growth.”

The Conservatives, who keep trying to force an election to defeat the minority Liberal government, said the governing party is dreaming if it thinks it can eliminate the deficit simply through growth.

“The Bank of Canada only two weeks ago told us growth was not going to happen in 2013 or 2014, so they just will not admit that we’re in trouble in Ontario and that it’s their own doing,” said Fedeli. “We want to hear a jobs plan, and we just do not see it from this government.”

© 2013 The Canadian Press

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