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Helping small business compete in the digital economy

Browse creative ideas to help small businesses in Ontario succeed in an increasingly digital economy.

graph representing economic growth

View the ideas submitted to Small business

The problem

The global economy is changing, presenting new challenges and opportunities for small businesses. With the increasing popularity of online commerce and business services, small and medium-sized businesses are sometimes left behind.

These businesses play a vital role in our economy and communities.

While we’re taking steps to reduce regulatory burdens (opens in a new window) and have created funds and grants to support small business, what initiatives or projects could help main street and small businesses adopt new technologies and online services in order to compete in this new environment?

Who we're trying to help

We want to help small businesses, with fewer than 100 employees, as well as the self-employed:

  • adopt innovative technologies that help their businesses
  • compete in the digital economy
  • increase production of goods and services
  • grow their business
  • increase profits

What we're doing/have done

Business advice

We advise small businesses, through the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (opens in a new window) (which includes Small Business Enterprise Centres). These centres across the province provide local advice to help you start, finance a business and commercialize your ideas. They also, help young people get entrepreneurial skills.

Reducing regulatory burdens

In 2016, we launched the Red Tape Challenge (opens in a new window), a two-year, online consultation that asks the public to help us identify and fix regulations that are unclear, outdated, redundant or unnecessarily costly for business.

So far, we’ve identified 171 actions we can take to make it easier for businesses to operate in Ontario and are taking action on:

  • 63 opportunities in the automotive parts manufacturing sector
  • 57 opportunities in the food processing sector
  • 51 opportunities in the financial services sector

Money for small businesses

We’re helping small businesses access grants and loans through the:

We’ve also created the:

The Ministry of Finance also lowered the preferential small business corporate income tax (CIT) rate (opens in a new window) from 5.5% to 4.5% to help small businesses remain competitive.

We’re updating legislation

This fall, under the proposed Cutting Unnecessary Red Tape Act, 2017, we are introducing changes to help build a smarter, more modern and more efficient regulatory framework. Some of the changes we’re proposing include:

  • giving businesses the option to electronically submit any required documentation to the Government of Ontario instead of more costly paper submissions
  • requiring all government ministries to offset every dollar of new administrative costs to business by removing old and unnecessary costs
  • recognizing businesses that have a good compliance record and lowering their costs by reducing the requirements, such as the number of inspections, without compromising the environment health and safety, and other protections

Develop and testing solutions

In Winter 2017, we launched the Small Business Innovation Challenge (opens in a new window) which gives small to medium size businesses an opportunity to:

  • develop, test, and demonstrate their products to help solve a real-world challenge
  • sell their solution to other global markets
  • increase their competitiveness

Helping companies grow

Ontario’s high growth companies create jobs, drive economic growth and help attract other companies to the province.

To support them, we are creating a Scale-Up Strategy to help them:

  • identify and address the specific barriers they face
  • expand domestically and internationally

To support this strategy, we will:

  • host a leadership roundtable
  • create issue-specific working groups
  • host research, and regional consultations with senior executives

Learn more

A number of government ministries are also working to help small businesses, including the:

  • Ministry of Northern Development and Mines, partnering with northerners and communities to increase economic development, innovation, collaboration and invest in infrastructure
  • Ministry of Energy, reducing hydro costs, to continue supporting small businesses
  • Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development, through Employment Ontario, offers a suite of employment services and skills training programs designed to:
    • help Ontarians find a job, upgrade their skills, enrol in training, or job
    • help employers find workers with the skills they need and get support in the event of layoffs and closures
  • Ministry of Finance, cutting taxes and lowering compliance costs to encourage investment and job creation

72 ideas submitted to Small business


Vehicle rules killing small business

This idea did not move past government review because it did not meet the guidelines for a Budget Talks submission.

I remit HST on all invoices and I get HST back on products and services related to product and labour.

Read more
Created on October 27, 2017 by Jennifer Constrction.

Wireless Electricity

This idea did not move past government review because it would not help support any of the Budget Talks focus areas.

Wireless electricity to the homes in Ontario. it will be the first time in the world to supply electricity without cables.

Read more
Created on October 30, 2017 by anandbabud.

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