Highlights from Ontario's fall economic statement

TORONTO - Ontario's Liberal government released a fall economic update Tuesday that included a tax cut for small businesses as an offset for a minimum wage that will rise to $14 an hour on Jan. 1, and $15 an hour the following year. Here are some highlights:

— The corporate income tax rate for small businesses will be lowered from 4.5 per cent to 3.5 per cent on Jan. 1.

— Small businesses with fewer than 100 employees that hire young workers (aged 15 to 29) will get incentives of $1,000 and another $1,000 for retaining that worker for six months.

— Producers of locally grown fruits and vegetables will get $60 million in supports.

— An apprenticeship training tax credit will be turned into a grant, giving employers $2,500 upon an apprentice's completion of both level one and level two, $3,500 for completion of levels three and four, and $4,700 when the apprentice gets certification.

— The apprenticeship grant would be available to all trades eligible for the current tax credit, as well as in five additional trades: hairstylist, cook, horticultural/landscape technician, baker and appliance service technician.

— The legislation takes a preliminary step toward allowing Ontario's nine Indigenous institutes to award degrees or diplomas on their own.

— The government will put $85 million toward mercury remediation in the English-Wabigoon River system, which has affected the Grassy Narrows community for decades, through a trust that will be set up in collaboration with First Nation communities.

— Real GDP growth is forecasted to be 2.8 per cent this year, up from the 2.3 per cent projected in the spring budget.

— Net-debt-to-GDP ratio is projected to fall to 37.3 per cent this fiscal year

— Interest on debt, which is currently about $312 billion, is projected to grow from about $12 billion now to $13.3 billion in 2019-20.

— A moderating housing market has left the government with about $300 million less in land transfer tax revenues since projections in the spring budget.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved. 2017

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