CFIB Questionnaire

Canadian Federation of Independent Business
Federal Election 2004
Party Leaders? Questionnaire

1. A New 5-year Tax Reduction Plan
In a recent CFIB member survey, 77 per cent of respondents believe that the government should introduce a new multi-year tax reduction plan. A long-term plan to reduce the overall tax burden helps provide small businesses with the stimulus to grow and the certainty to create jobs. Will you commit to introducing a new 5-year tax reduction plan for individuals and businesses?

The Green Party has does have a long term plan to reduce taxes on profit and incomes, by taxing pollution and the unsustainable use of resources. For forward thinking and innovative companies, the rewards will be substantial.

2. Debt Reduction
Canada?s high public debt and government spending remains a top concern for 56 per cent of CFIB Members. While CFIB members strongly supports the decision to pay down the federal debt by over $50 billion since 1996, it also urges the government to adopt an aggressive long-term mandatory debt reduction plan. Will you commit to a mandatory debt reduction plan?
The Green Party plans modest debt reduction. Encouraging productivity increasing investments, improving our skills as a workforce, and focusing on entrepreneurship will in the long run make Canada more competitive than harsh cuts to public services.

3. Paper Burden and Regulations
CFIB research reveals that government regulations impact smaller firms more negatively than larger firms (three-quarters of Canadian businesses have fewer than five employees). The 2004 federal budget announced the government?s commitment to work with CFIB and small businesses to reduce the government regulatory burden. Will you commit to working with CFIB to substantially reduce government regulatory and paper burden on small business?

Yes, the Green Party is committed to modernizing the public service, reducing the number of top level managers, refocusing on quality customer service, and minimizing the cost of reporting with easy to use online tools.

4. Bank Mergers
Access to financing is of critical importance to small- and medium-sized businesses. The Mackay Task Force report cited the need for more banking competition. However since then competition has decreased further with the merger of TD bank and Canada Trust. As of the fall of 2004, the government will begin to consider merger applications from Canada?s major banks. Will you demand increased competition in the banking sector before supporting any merger between Canada?s major banks?
Yes, the Green Party is proposing that we improve our Banking Watchdog to one that ?barks and has teeth.? Our watchdog will have a board of directors elected by banking customers, and be an aggressive opponent of unjustified bank charges and unfair treatment of small business customers. We will not approve mergers unless it was in the public interest to do so.

5. Small Business Income Tax ThresholdThe federal small business income tax threshold is being raised to $300,000 by 2005. Eight out of ten surveyed business owners support raising the federal threshold to $400,000, which some provinces, including Alberta, New Brunswick and Ontario, have already done. Do you support increasing the small business threshold to $400,000?
The Green Party has no position on this issue.

6. Increase the Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption
The Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption has remained unchanged at $500,000 since it was put in place in 1987. It is the primary retirement vehicle, along with RRSPs, available to business and agri-business owners, yet it is woefully inadequate. With a large number of entrepreneurs now edging closer to retirement, raising the exemption would facilitate the transfer of businesses to a new generation of entrepreneurs. Do you support raising the lifetime capital gains exemption to $1 million?

The Green Party has no position on this issue.

7. Employment Insurance
SME owners are looking for greater fairness in the way EI is administered. They are looking for lower EI premiums beyond 2004 and a fairer distribution of the EI cost burden, for example, moving to a 50-50 split of premiums, to deal with the problem of EI/CPP over-contributions by employers and additional costs to SME owners associated with measures such as extended parental leave. What is your position to ensure fairness in the EI system?

The Green Party is committed to reduce EI premiums to the point where they sufficiently fund EI, and not maintain a recurring surplus.

8. Property & Casualty Insurance
Small business owners are facing soaring premiums and decreasing availability of Property & Casualty insurance coverage, while insurance companies are enjoying record profits. Nearly 80 per cent of CFIB members believe that the federal government should conduct a review on P&C insurance to find ways to lower premiums and ensure adequate access across Canada. Will you support a federal review of property & casualty insurance?

We are examining the options of expanding our banking watchdog agency to cover all financial services.

9. Shortage of Skilled Labour
Shortage of qualified labour is the fastest growing problem facing small business, 47 percent of CFIB members cited labour shortage as a concern. This is a complex problem involving all levels of government, businesses and academic institutions. What concrete proposals will you undertake to address the growing shortage of skilled labour?

The Green Party will negotiate National Standards for Postsecondary education which do not overemphasize academic streams, increase the proportion of ?hands on? learning and cooperative education, and revitalize our vocational training and apprenticeship programs.

10. Municipal and Border Infrastructure Funding
Sound infrastructure, including roads, border crossings, sewers, and water treatment facilities are integral components of a healthy and competitive country. Seventy-nine per cent of CFIB members support local governments receiving a share of existing gas tax revenues to help pay for infrastructure, however 83 per cent are opposed to increasing the gas tax rate to pay for it. What is your plan for funding municipal and border infrastructure renewal?

The Green Party plans to increase gas taxes, but lower income taxes. We will seek to increase the long term competitiveness of our economy knowing that we must adapt to a future in which oil will be much more expensive than it is today. The Green Party will help upgrade our rail and intermodal infrastructure, and invest in public transit to relieve the gridlock in our cities.

11. Small Business Policy
The small business sector accounts for nearly half of Canada?s GDP, employs six out of ten Canadians and is credited with having created the bulk of all new jobs since Sept 11, 2001. Small business is not only critical to local economic development, but it is also vitally important to Canada's overall economic growth and job creation. What other measures and policies will you promote to help small- and medium-sized businesses grow?

  • Promote mentorship programs that transfer skills and experience from one generation to the next.
  • Create a National Economic Defense Agency to provide fair and quick assistance to businesses seriously affected by trade disputes, epidemics, severe weather and other emergencies.
  • Take a Step-By-Step approach to regulatory reform in a process that involves all stakeholders.
  • Help companies reduce IT expenses by assisting the development of stable and secure open-source and free software for business applications.
  • Eliminate patronage and favoritism in government contracting.
  • Provide accountable and transparent government.
  • Invite small business owners to participate in a National Business Plan once every four years to focus and prioritize government programs supporting our economic development.