On Sept 6th, 2018, Collins Blay partner Jason Skilnick delivered the following speech at the Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce Meet the Candidates (Mayor & Council) event. Read his speech below:
Thank you Bill, Melody and the Chamber of Commerce for giving me the chance to speak on behalf of Collins Blay LLP, today. Everyone should know in this room the great job that Bill Stewart, Melody Knot and others at the Chamber of Commerce have done over the past year. They have kept us informed and brought us together locally and nationally to raise issues that are important to small businesses. We sincerely thank you and recognize your efforts.
Bill said I could speak about anything I want. Well I would like to talk about hockey and the Frontenacs, but we have more serious matters that we need to discuss.
Firstly, we want to congratulate the candidates that are vying for Mayor and Councilor positions. Those who serve us in public service leadership positions play a very important role in the well being of all Kingstonians. When I began school at Queen’s in 1998 I immediately fell in love with this limestone city that was situated right on Lake Ontario. A second thing I fell in love with was the vibrant business community that provides us an incredible amount of choice as consumers and adds to the culture that makes up Kingston. Therefore, it is important to protect local businesses otherwise we may lose choices, our cultural identity, not to mention employment.
We want to recognize the cities attraction of significant investment from abroad that has been made in Kingston including Feihe International investment. Further, the airport expansion and third crossing as very important infrastructure projects to grow and support the Kingston economy and will be outstanding achievements that we will benefit for decades to come. I want to provide you one example of how important the airport expansion is to local business:
A local start up technology company was successful in developing technology, but required significant capital and was required to seek the capital from the US market. For the new US-based-executives of this Company to travel to Kingston, it required a full day of travel. This simply is not workable in today’s business environment and does impact the ability of Kingston startups to continue on, and grow, here in Kingston. We need to make our great city accessible to the world.
Here is my ask for our successful candidates: You do everything you can to support our small business community. We see the financial results for the small businesses of Kingston and area. I believe that local businesses and their owners are already paying the maximum amount of total tax that they can bare. What this means for our future leaders is that it is important to seek out new solutions to problems that are not solved by simply throwing more dollars at an issue.
When I became an owner in Collins Blay in 2013, each time I came across a problem I thought, ‘well we should have a policy to address this issue’. I quickly learned that once you create more policies, you now have to police those policies, which is time consuming for business owners and takes away from running a successful business.
The number of laws that existing businesses are subject to is staggering and seemingly impossible for any new business owner to navigate. I appreciate there are many factors to consider when creating new laws. What I want to stress is, regardless of the intended outcome of the law, it takes significant time for the business owner to navigate the complexity. Consider, for example, the complex new law changes like Bill C148 regarding the new labour laws; or the Federal government’s new and complex laws relating to income splitting and passive income, that impact every single incorporated business. These laws have only have added to the administrative burden and cost that local businesses face, but in some cases also increased the taxes they pay, thus reducing funds available for reinvestment in their business.
Consider also the tremenduous uncertainty our businesses face with the US negotiating a trade deal with Mexico while Canada has been left out. What does this uncertainty mean for our local businesses that either procure or sell with our largest trading partner? Even the US tax reform and new US state tax rulings have further complicated the administration of many local businesses. Layer in a possible carbon tax, trans-mountain pipeline questions, new QST laws that can impact local companies and so on; there is a lot of uncertainty that businesses that are part of a global economy are facing including those in our community.
So, I repeat my ask of our candidates: please do everything you can to protect, support and foster a thriving environment for small businesses in Kingston and area. I believe to increase innovation, entrepreneurship and investment in our community, we need reduce the complexity to doing business in Canada. The risks of not having a law or policy must be balanced with the risk of not having entrepreneurship, innovation and investment. Kingston is competing nationally and globally for the right to be the home of many businesses.
Note that I am not asking you to cease to make new by-laws or administrative policies, but please before you do, make certain it is absolutely necessary to have the new law. Further, if you come across a law or policy that you do not understand and the reason it exists, simply ask, Why? Look for ways to simplify the local business environment so business owners can spend more time on what really counts, their businesses. Our local laws should be as robust as is necessary, but not a single word more. Remember, every new law requires additional oversight and tax dollars that do not exist.
The firm I joined in 2011 is an example of a local success that is possible. Collins Blay was founded in 1980 by 3 partners and staff member. Unfortunately, our Collins Blay family recently lost Stan Collins who was a one of the founding partners. Stan made incredible contributions on several local boards in addition to his business endeavors. Today we are proud to have over 35 people working at Collins Blay advising small businesses locally and abroad. Each year our firm seeks to employ new local college and university graduates and support them to become Chartered Professional Accountants, which will further support local businesses for years to come. There is no question that successful businesses in Kingston will mean we will be providing a stronger community and more opportunity for our next generation.
We truly thank all candidates for their pursuit of public service in our great city and we wish those successful our sincerest support in helping local small businesses and our community.
Thank you very much,