TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Feb. 25, 2016) - The Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) and its 6,000 small business members, remain hopeful that the province will implement a Small Business Strategy by this time next year, despite the topic receiving limited consideration in the 2016 Budget.

The association, which has supported the government in raising minimum wage to the second-highest in Canada, has been discouraged with what it considers to be a lack of consideration to small business retailers in recent cornerstone policies of the Wynne administration. These include the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan, the Ed Clark Panel decisions on beer and wine, energy policy, and the lack of direct incentives for small business growth.

"I would be very encouraged if the Province demonstrated an interest in developing a comprehensive Small Business Strategy," said Dave Bryans, President and CEO of the OCSA. "There have been announcements on red tape reduction and that is a positive step forward, but our hard working business owners need something more. We need a vision. I would greatly welcome a call from this government to work together on a dedicated strategy for Ontario's small businesses."

Canada's Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development recognizes that of the approximately 390,000 businesses in Ontario, more than 387,000, or 98%, are classified small businesses.* Convenience stores represent approximately 9,500 of these, and employ 60,000 people.

Recently, the federal government announced the appointment of a new Minister for Small Business, Hon. Bardish Chagger. Ontario has not had a dedicated Minister for Small Business since 2009. "I know that our members would be encouraged by the appointment of a new Provincial Minister for Small Business. It would be a positive indication that our concerns are going to be heard at the cabinet table," said Bryans.

In December 2015 the Auditor General commented on the lack of attention that small business gets from the Ontario government. Included in her 2015 Annual Report, released December 2, 2015, were the observations that 1) the small business sector is being unfairly treated by provincial energy policy, and 2) that a disproportionate allocation of direct business funding support goes to large businesses with only 4% of overall resources.**

"Our members are eager to help Ontario achieve its economic potential. In so far as government is open to addressing some of the issues hindering growth in our channel, it will always have a willing partner in the OCSA," concluded Bryans.

About Ontario Convenience Stores Association

OCSA is a not-for-profit provincial association that is entirely funded by its members. Since inception, the association has grown steadily and today its membership includes the majority of major chainstore operators, oil companies and other key suppliers in the industry. Representing over 6,000 stores located in Ontario, the OCSA is engaged on many issues affecting convenience store retailers, 50% of which are independent family stores. The Mission of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association is to represent the economic interests of convenience store retailers in Ontario.

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* From "Key Small Business Statistics, August 2013" Industry Canada, Pg. 6:

** From "Annual Report, 2015," Office of the Auditor General of Ontario:

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Media Contact: Sussex Strategy Group
Laura Fracassi