MISSISSAUGA, Ont. - The Ontario government needs to "get off the backs" of small businesses so that over-regulated employers can focus on creating more jobs, Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak said Monday.
Hudak touted his plans to cut red tape at a custom cabinetry business in Mississauga, Ont., saying a Tory government would remove irksome rules like ones that prohibit competitive bids on government construction projects and end the government monopoly on providing workplace insurance to employers.
"The biggest tax break we can give small business? Get off their backs, get out of the way and let them focus on selling more products and hiring more people," Hudak said in a carpentry workshop.
"We're going to drain that swamp of regulation and hassle and runaround."
The PC pledge to reduce the "regulatory burden" on small business by at least a third over three years will trigger the creation of 84,000 new jobs over eight years, Hudak said.
It's part of his party's grand plan to create about 500,000 additional jobs over eight years while also slaying Ontario's $12.5-billion deficit by 2016-17 — a year ahead of the Liberals.
To reach that goal, Hudak has said he'd slash government program spending by six per cent over four years, including cutting 100,000 public sector jobs.
The Liberals have slammed the PC platform, saying it would risk Ontario's fragile economic recovery if voters elect the Tories on June 12.
But Hudak took his own jabs at the Liberals on Monday, saying they want to tell business owners how to do their jobs.
"We're going to need someone in the premier's chair who is a competent economic manager, that treats business owners with the respect they deserve, not suspicion that we're getting from Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals," Hudak said.
"I believe in smaller government and that small business should be creating the jobs, not government."
The Tories further plugged their job-creation strategy — which is the centrepiece of their campaign — in a new ad which was released on Monday.
The clip features people in different careers who say they "want to work" before Hudak is seen saying there is a "jobs crisis" that must be tackled in Ontario.
"Our ads are all about our positive, optimistic vision of what Ontario can be. How we're going to get more people on the payroll in our province," Hudak said, adding that the PC ads stood in stark contrast to those recently released by the Liberals.
"I'm just very disappointed that Kathleen Wynne, that she's gone so negative. It looks to me like someone whose more interested and worried about keeping her own job instead of being focused on creating more jobs for Ontarians."
In one recent Liberal ad, the Liberal leader can be heard asking if NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is "for real," while another online clip compares Hudak to former cost-cutting PC premier Mike Harris and suggests Hudak can't be trusted.
Wynne has said her ads are not personal attacks but instead are about contrasting differences between the Liberals and the other parties.
The parties can only run ads online for now, as there is a blackout for election ads on traditional media until May 21.
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