The September release of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business Barometer shows a continued decline in both the index representing all 13 business sectors followed as well as the index for agriculture, as seen on the accompanying chart. In total, 11 of the 13 industry sectors saw their index fall in September while the provincial ratings (not shown) fell for all provinces.
The index is created on a scale from 0 to 100, where an index above 50 points to business owners expecting business performance will strengthen over the upcoming year while an index below 50 points to an expectation of weaker business performance over the year. The CFIB views an index between 65 and 70 for business sectors that are growing at their potential.
The agriculture index fell by 2.7 points to 46.2 in September, more than the average 1.9-point drop calculated across all 13 business sectors. The September index is the lowest of the 13 business sectors as well as the only reading below 50.
While farmers face harvest delays in areas in the western prairies, grain prices continue under pressure and uncertainty surrounds the outcome of the ongoing NAFTA negotiations, there is no doubt that the federal government's proposed tax reforms have had an impact on farmers' sentiment from coast to coast. Despite being the largest tax overhaul seen in 50 years, proposed measures were quietly announced in the summer months while the short 75-day "drive-by consultation" is taking place during harvest that has irked the nation's farmers. Also is the case for the class-warfare created by implying that Canadian private corporations are tax cheats and using loopholes despite following the laws of the land for decades on end.
While the Federal Liberals have twice used their majority on the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food to block all debate surrounding the impact of the tax measures on agriculture, the industry is represented in presentations made to the Standing Committee on Finance.
In Thursday's Committee meeting, Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau held to the belief that only a small percentage of business owners will be affected by the proposed tax measures. This was in stark contrast to other presenters, such as Meyers Norris Penny representatives that suggested all 150,000 of their business customers would be affected. When speaking of agriculture, Mr. Morneau stated that his party would get these changes right and that his party is not out to disadvantage farmers, yet he clearly failed to defend why private corporations should face such drastic measures that are far in excess of what is faced by public corporations, including his own family business.
The consultation period on tax planning for private corporations ends on Oct. 2.
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