The Oakville Chamber of Commerce is encouraged by the focus on skills development, but calls for increased investment in competitiveness trade-enabling infrastructure.Yesterday afternoon, the federal government released their 2017 budget. The Oakville Chamber of Commerce welcomes the Government of Canada’s decision to focus on skills and innovation; however, the Budget delivers underwhelming implications for Oakville’s business community. Oakville’s businesses face more regulation and increased costs imposed by all levels of government for fees, taxes and essential inputs, like electricity. The Oakville Chamber believes more urgency is needed in reducing business costs and improving competitiveness. The Oakville Chamber has heard from its members for the need to address the current skills gap and has advocated this to all levels of government. The Chamber is encouraged with the Budget’s plan to invest $225 million over four years, starting in 2018-2019, to develop an organization which has three main goals: identify the skills sought and required by Canadian employers, explore new and innovative approaches to skills development, and share information and analysis to help future skills investments and programming. The Oakville Chamber is also encouraged with the Budget’s increased funding for work-integrated learning, which aligns with their policy priorities for 2017.
“Addressing the current skills gap is essential to creating a sustainable workforce. Our members have been asking for this type of investment and we are pleased to see the federal government delivering” stated John Sawyer, President of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce.Investing in the workforce helps create a competitive advantage, however; there is a pressing need for investment in trade-enabling infrastructure. The Oakville Chamber has been urging investment in the type infrastructure that will boost productivity.
“From our 2016 Advocacy Survey, our members stated the need for infrastructure investments in Oakville. In particular, their top three infrastructure priorities were all transportation related. They are local roads and bridges, public parking and transit” stated Faye Lyons, Vice President Government Relations & Advocacy, Oakville Chamber of Commerce. “Increased spending must be directed towards this kind of trade-enabling infrastructure that can transition our economy to an innovative and high-growth phase.”Unfortunately, these types of investments represent just 11% of the total $120 billion in infrastructure spending. The Oakville Chamber is concerned about the lack of funding for this type of infrastructure in the Budget. Trade-enabling infrastructure delivers a significant return on investment and responds to the need for Canadian goods in the global market. Lastly, the Oakville Chamber would like to see the federal government recognize the increasing cost to doing business in Oakville, Ontario and Canada. In our 2016 Advocacy Survey our members stated rising costs as the most significant factor impacting business and industry, and this is an unfortunate reality faced by businesses across the province and throughout Canada. While the Oakville Chamber applauds the federal government for its focus on skills development and innovation, the infrastructure gap and the rising cost of doing business must be addressed in order for Oakville’s, Ontario’s and Canada’s businesses to be competitive. Read the full Budget 2017 Analysis by the Chamber.