LANTZ: Many small business owners filled the community room of the East Hants Sportsplex to have a round-table discussion with Kings-Hants MP Scott Brison. Little did they know, they would also have their concerns heard by federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau.
Speaking to members of the East Hants and Districts Chamber of Commerce (EHCC), Morneau and Brison spoke of the changes to business taxes, to close loopholes used by wealthy business owners. However, the announcement of the changes has had many business owners worried about how the changes would affect them.
Stacey Ingraham, president of the EHCC, says clarity on the changes proposed were welcomed at the discussion.
“We had a good turnout and an open discussion,” he said. “Scott and Minister Morneau opened up with background of how they came to the decisions and how the policies were rolled out and talked some about how the impact of the feedback they received led them to pull back on some of the proposals, or minimize the impact.”
Ingraham said confusion has lead to most of the criticism of the changes.
“It seemed (Brison and Morneau) understood well that communication was part of the problem. Sometimes people felt they were affected when maybe they were not,” he said. “It seemed like at the end of the meeting a lot of the business owners that participated felt more comfortable about how it would affect them and their planning.
“A lot of the concern expressed was around the environment of uncertainty that was created, so a lot of feedback to the ministers that they have to get this information out quickly and concisely to accountants and lawyers who are advising the business owners so this aura of concern that is over everyone.”
Currently travelling the country speaking to business owners and association, Morneau says the meeting with the EHCC was on par with others he has participated in recently.
“I think what we saw this morning (Oct. 27) is people are starting to understand these tax changes that we’e put in place and are starting to be encouraged that it’s going to be positive for their business,” he said. “What’s happened is people have taken a little while to understand what we want to achieve, and so week by week, as they understand more, it’s getting more and more positive.”
Ingraham said the participants did not know ahead of time that Morneau would be in attendance, and they were happy to see the finance minister there.
“Really, he was the person they wanted to get their message across to so it was great to have him in the room directly,” he said.