Ontario pledges $3 billion to battle U.S. downturn, high loonie

Finance minister promises tax cuts for businesses and training for laid-off workers

The Ontario government is coming to the aid of those hit hard by the slowing United States economy, the high Canadian dollar and soaring oil prices.

Finance Minister Dwight Duncan unveiled a $3-billion package of tax cuts and spending initiatives on Dec. 13 to help manufacturers and other companies affected by the economic downturn south of the border and the soaring loonie, as well as workers who have been laid off.

The province will introduce more than $1.1 billion in tax cuts over the next three years, including the elimination of the capital tax for manufacturers, a 21-per-cent retroactive capital tax cut for all businesses and an increase in the small business deduction threshold to $500,000 from $400,000.

The government will also provide $40 million for skills development and employment services to help laid-off workers.

With the government expecting to see a $750-million surplus in the spring budget, Duncan also promised $1.4 billion for infrastructure, including $500 million for new transit projects and $100 million for Move Ontario 2020 projects — the province's $17.5-billion transportation plan for Toronto and Hamilton.

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