Shortly after Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland released the federal government’s 2022 Fall Economic Statement, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) and Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) offered criticism, but in different directions.
CFIB said it was disappointing the fed’s 2022 Fall Economic Statement did not include immediate measures to support small businesses on their long road to economic recovery.
“Small firms need help right now in dealing with the crippling labour shortage and rapidly rising costs,” said CFIB president Dan Kelly in a media release Thursday. “Unfortunately, Ottawa is making their problem even bigger with significant hikes in Employment Insurance and Canada Pension Plan premiums on January 1, and carbon and excise tax hikes in the spring of 2023. There are zero measures in this document that will lower the tax pressures facing Canada’s small firms.”
CFIB was also critical that the fall statement offered no progress on debt incurred by small businesses during the pandemic.
“The average small business has taken on $144,000 in COVID-related debt, with most carrying a government-backed Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loan,” Kelly said. “CFIB will continue its call to increase the forgivable portion of all CEBA loans to at least 50%, provide an additional year to repay the loan in full and allow the 50,000 businesses recently deemed ineligible to appeal the decision.”
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation accused Minister Freeland of budget overspending that “burns through extra cash from taxpayers.”
“Freeland is somehow managing to spend $20 billion over budget,” said CTF Federal Director Franko Terrazzano. “The government received a boat-load of extra cash from taxpayers, and the government is still racking up more credit card bills.
“Freeland is pinky promising a balanced budget eventually, but even that relies on taking an extra $129 billion from taxpayers.”
CTF says the fall update indicates spending $20.2 billion over April’s budget.
“Freeland needs to stop borrowing so much money before interest charges tear a bigger whole [sic] in the budget,” Terrazzano said. “Interest charges on the government credit card will cost taxpayers $35 billion this year. That’s billions that can’t be used to improve services or lower taxes because it’s going to the bond fund managers on Bay Street.”
For CFIB, there was some positive news in the announcement, including movement on credit card processing fees and a balanced budget by the 2027-2028 fiscal year.
“It is good news that the federal government is finally getting serious about delivering on its many earlier promises to lower credit card merchant fees,” Kelly said. Over three-quarters (78%) of business owners report credit card processing fees are unaffordable for their business, a situation that has been made worse by consumers shifting to digital payment methods and away from cash during the pandemic.”