PRESS RELEASE - March 2012

In its 2007 Budget, the McGuinty Government promised to level the Business Education Tax across Ontario. It undertook to implement a gradual reduction to achieve a provincially uniform tax rate of 1.6% of assessed value by 2014. The 2012 Budget freezes that program, leaving Toronto business paying a rate well in excess of that imposed on surrounding municipalities.

"This will do nothing to retard the flight of business from Toronto, and, combined with the corporate tax rate freeze, will do nothing to encourage businesses to come to or to stay in Ontario" says Lionel Miskin, Vice-President of the Toronto Association of Business Improvements Areas (TABIA). "Just when Toronto business was beginning to see some benefit from the gradual reduction of the Business Education tax, the program gets locked up. This will be particularly damaging to small business."

"The Provincial Government taxes Toronto's commercial property with education levies that it uses elsewhere in the Province. This overloads our membership, most of which is comprised of small retailers, with tens of millions of dollars in property taxes. Ever since the Provincial Government introduced Current Value Assessment, most of these retailers have seen their property taxes increasing annually at rates which are double and triple the inflation rate. Between the annual assessment increases and the increasing tax rates, many of these retailers are struggling to stay afloat."

"The provincial levy is hurting Toronto very badly," adds Mr. Comstock, TABIA President."It is contributing to the erosion of the City's commercial base, making it more and more difficult for the City to raise the revenues it needs. The Province's insistence on taxing Toronto businesses at rates well in excess of those in other parts of the GTA is most counter-productive. It makes it harder for Toronto business to be competitive, forcing a lot of commercial enterprise to leave the City. Those who can't leave are called on to shoulder a rapidly increasing burden. This cannot continue for much longer. All across the City, prime commercial neighbourhoods are being replaced by street townhouses and high-rise condominiums.

"A healthy shopping neighbourhood provides vital amenities to the surrounding residential neighbourhood, enhances its value and enables people to shop with a minimum of driving. And many of these neighbourhoods make a substantial contribution to the quality of life in Toronto in other ways, with their street festivals and special events. It is a narrow view to ignore this sector of Toronto's economy."

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John Kiru,
Executive Director, TABIA
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TABIA is a non-profit umbrella organization representing the City of Toronto's 72 Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) who in turn represent over 30,000 small businesses and property owners. BIAs are responsible for the development of their commercial neighbourhoods and are a diverse and vibrant collection of ethnic, historic and business locations, combining to make Toronto a veritable City of Neighbourhoods.

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