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Ontario’s Fall Economic Statement: Part COVID Recovery, Part Re-Election Strategy

Ontario is emerging from the pandemic and Ontarians will head to the polls to elect their next premier on June 2, 2022 – a short 7 months away. Thus, this year’s Fall Economic Statement, released on November 4th, took on special importance for two reasons: it fleshed out the government's roadmap for Ontario's post-pandemic recovery and previewed the Progressive Conservative Party’s 2022 election platform.

Three key themes made up the economic statement: health and COVID-19; working for workers; and recovery and infrastructure.

Previously announced, a key highlight is the proposed 4.5% increase to the minimum wage for all workers from $14.35/hour to $15.00/hour, effective January 1, 2022.

Other notable announcements relevant to employers and workers throughout the aftermarket supply chain include: 

$275M to extend the Ontario Jobs Training Tax Credit to 2022

This temporary, refundable personal income tax credit helps workers get the training they need for a career shift, re-training or to sharpen their skills. The credit provides up to $2,000 in relief for 50% of a person’s eligible expenses which include tuition and fees paid to bodies in respect of an occupational, trade or professional exam.

An additional $90.3M over 3 years to enhance the Skilled Trades Strategy

AIA Canada has participated in consultations that will inform initiatives that are part of the strategy. The strategy seeks to:

  • Break the stigma associated with pursuing a career in the skilled trades
  • Simplify the skilled trades and apprenticeship systems to make it easier to access grants, support and training
  • Encourage business participation

Expansion of Digital Main Street

Over the next two years, $40 million will be invested in the Digital Main Street program that helps small businesses increase their digital presence by, among other things, providing them with grants, technical training and digital resources and access to Digital Transformation Grants that fund the implementation of digital strategies for small businesses.

Ramping up online presence is critical for businesses along the aftermarket supply chain. More and more, business activities are conducted online – including retail and scheduling of appointments. Businesses that don’t make the digital leap, could see their revenues reduced.

Investment commitment from major auto manufacturers  

The government announced that it has secured investment commitments of $5.6 billion from major auto manufacturers for electric vehicle supply chain capacity. Measures like this are designed to keep Canada’s automotive industry competitive and to accelerate the transition to green transportation. The push by governments to get more electric vehicles on the roads, highlights the need for industry to continue to advocate for vehicle owners continued right to repair their vehicle at the service facility of their choice. As we know, electric vehicles are more likely to be connected vehicles, capable of wirelessly transmitting vehicle information which may not be accessible to the aftermarket.

Following this “mini-budget”, the Ontario Government is set to table its full budget in March 2022, which will serve as the Premier’s unofficial kick-off to the election. AIA Canada will be participating in the pre-budget consultations process, scheduled to begin during the winter recess.