Local business leaders had the ear of the province Thursday morning,

Finance Minister and MPP Vic Fedeli hosted a roundtable session with Jim Wilson, the minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade.

Issues around retaining workers because a spouse can’t get a job and closed storefronts were discussed.

Overall, Wilson says it’s a fact finding mission and they’re hearing the issues in the north differ from those in the south.

“In the south they’re telling us no more corporate welfare get out of our way. Cut the regulations and cut the red tape. Here we hear cut the red tape but don’t get out of our way. We need government assistance. Getting the railway going again will help. Getting the hospital funded properly will help,” he says.

Wilson says one of their goals is to reduce red tape. He says on average in the mining industry in takes 3 years to get a permit approved but in Michigan for example 90 days guaranteed.

“And we need to move towards that. One of the simple things we can do is track your application. When you put something in to the Ministry of Environment we should bar code every application so if it’s sitting on someone’s desk for a year we know who to go to,” he says.

Fedeli says action has already been taken to support small businesses since taking office.

“We talked about the fact that we’re cutting the corporate tax rate from 11.5 to 10.5 %, we’re cutting the small business tax rate by 8.75% and we’re lowering hydro rates by 12 % ,” he says.

Fedeli says the impact government policies have had on small businesses is a cumulative one but specifically the proposed minimum wage increase and apprenticeship issues are concerns.