On November 14th Ontario’s Finance Minister, Charles Sousa, tabled the Ontario’s 2016 Fall Economic Update. Many of the central themes echoed what was put forward in the SeptemberThrone Speech including steps to reduce electricity costs for individuals and businesses, as well as eliminate the deficit by 2017-2018.
Key highlights for the ICT sector include:
Implementation of Business Growth Initiative: The BGI is a 5 year – $400M plan to improve Ontario’s competitiveness. New announcements, and significant re-announcements include:
A new $32.4M Scale-Up Voucher program, that will provide fast and flexible funding to help fuel fast growing firms. Vouchers can be used to fund talent development/recruitment, accessing new markets and IP services. (*Contact me if you have further questions about this)
A new $28.8M Small Business Innovation Challenge pilot program – where the government will identify a specific issue or problem, and issue an open call for SMEs to submit innovative solutions. The government will then purchase the best solution, providing real world testing and first customer credibility for the company.
Improving connectivity in the London-Waterloo-Toronto-Ottawa Super Corridor both digitally (i.e. 5G) and physically (e.g. regional express rail).
Launching the Ontario Investment Office to provide centralized and coordinated investment/reinvestment attraction services, including provincial funding opportunities and regulatory issues. (*ITAC is looking to host a members’ webinar with the OIO President soon).
Reducing Electricity Costs for Business: As announced in the September throne speech, the government is rebating HST for eligible small businesses beginning January 1, 2017. For larger companies, the government is expanding the Industrial Conservation Initiative, that lets large consumers lower their bills by up to a third by reducing consumption during peak demand periods.
Digital Government: Ontario is developing a Digital Government Action Plan that will outline a vision for transforming government services online. In 2017 Ontario will open a new digital outpost at Communitech in Kitchener to access non-traditional design approaches and high-performing talent.
Modernizing Information and Information Technology: In Budget 2016 Ontario identified that it would aim to achieve $100M in annual savings from improved productivity and efficiency through IT by 2020 by, for instance, reducing contract costs. Steps to further reduce costs include creating a single OPS enterprise service management group to improve internal IT service delivery and vendor contract management. The government is also seeking to reduce fee-for-service resources, including use of external consultants by recruiting 96 OPS IT positions.
Other exciting announcements from the update include doubling the maximum Land Transfer Tax refund for first-time homebuyers from $2000 to $4000. Or, at least that’s well timed for me personally.
If you have any questions about the update of or ITAC’s Ontario policy priorities, please contact David Messer at firstname.lastname@example.org