October 5th, 2016
Hon. Bill Morneau, M.P., P.C.,
Minister of Finance
90 Elgin Street, 17th Floor,
Sent by e-mail: Bill.Morneau@parl.gc.ca
I am writing to you on behalf of the Small Business Matters Coalition, a group of 23 trade associations representing over 100,000 small and medium size businesses in Canada from a wide variety of sectors. Our primary objective is to communicate to governments on a number of issues that in many cases, involve policies or issues confronting the business community in general, but which can pose a disproportionately more significant impact on our members.
Within that context, we are extremely concerned with the current attempt by some online e-commerce giants to have the current thresholds for duties and taxes levied on goods purchased in the United States online by Canadian consumers raised. Such a measure would indeed pose such an impact for our members.
Online shopping is now available at all hours, on all days and continues to grow. That new reality already bestows an inherent competitive advantage on these large e-commerce mammoths. Conversely, Canadian retail stores must abide by a myriad of laws, regulations, zoning and holiday closing requirements from all 3 levels of government. Most of which require corresponding financial costs on the part of the retailer to ensure compliance—a reality that does not exist for the online American competitor. As well, retailers have invested the ‘bricks and mortars’ into physical store locations across the country. They hire within their communities, source local products and as residents of the areas in which their business is located, support them in a myriad of ways.
For government to raise the threshold for tariff and or duty exemptions, is to provide an incentive to those who can lay claim to none of the above in their business models. Particularly for small and medium size businesses, this would be an unfortunate and disconcerting move on the part of the government. The tax revenue, job creation, investments and community contributions made by our Coalition members should be welcomed and not subject to a punitive measure that would unfairly alter the retail landscape.
That landscape can and does change based on consumer demands, spending and habits. But it should not be altered by a government policy change that would negatively impact Canadian businesses and in the long run, Canadians as a whole.
Thank you for your consideration and the Coalition looks forward to meeting you in the near future to discuss this and other issues of concern to our respective members.
Chair, Small Business Matters Coalition
© 2017 Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers