Ontario PC Leader Doug Ford would cancel some business grants, keep other supports: spokeswoman

Doug Ford‘s campaign said the Progressive Conservatives would cancel some business support programs if they form government next month, but would keep others.

The Tory leader was in Niagara Falls, Ont., today to talk about his plan to attract and retain business in Ontario, including lowering corporate income taxes from 11.5 per cent to 10.5 per cent.

The Liberals pointed out that Ford later held a photo-op at a company in Smithville, Ont., that received some federal funding to expand — which the Liberals called hypocritical since Ford has railed against so-called “corporate welfare.”

When asked if he supported such programs, Ford said the incentives he would give businesses in Ontario include eliminating red tape and regulations, lowering hydro rates and fighting a federally mandated carbon tax.

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“If we’re going to give incentives to anyone, we’re going to give incentives to the companies here in Ontario, to the small, medium and large businesses rather than benefitting our U.S. neighbours, our U.S. companies that are taking your jobs,” he said.

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READ MORE: Ontario election 2018: 10 ridings to keep an eye on

Ford said “instead of picking winners and losers” he would lower business taxes for everyone.

Spokeswoman Melissa Lantsman later clarified that Ford would maintain regional economic development funds because some areas need help attracting investments, but he would get rid of the Jobs and Prosperity Fund, which she criticized as being “used to hand out money to handpicked insiders including Liberal donors.”

Ontario’s financial accountability office recently released a report on business support programs, finding that the Liberal government was not tracking whether the billions of dollars it has given to companies was having any effect.

The government pumped about $22.9 billion into dozens of business support programs between 2012 and 2017. The report examined 12 programs, and found that most did not have guidelines in place to help track performance, and none had established measures to determine whether the government funds were helping the businesses achieve their goals.

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The government invites certain businesses to apply for the Jobs and Prosperity Fund — as opposed to other programs that are open to all claimants — and doled out $422 million to large businesses between 2012 and 2017, the FAO said.

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