Category: Government Relations

Ontario’s Employers Caution Government on Changing Workplaces Review: “You Can’t Legislate Prosperity”

Keep Ontario Working Group of Leading Ontario Employers Urge Government to Proceed with Evidence-Based Policy Modernization Through the Changing Workplace Review Keep Ontario Working (KOW), a group of Ontario’s leading employers, industry and sector associations submitted its final set of recommendations to the Special Advisors of the Changing Workplaces Review (CWR). While the group acknowledges that work is changing and that labour and employment legislation should be modernized, they caution that employers and employees alike cannot risk public policy changes that would place an unintended burden on them. “The Changing Workplaces Review interim report of the Special Advisors is a large document that contains hundreds of options to the legislation that guides Ontario’s workplaces. The options laid out and that are presently being considered by the Special Advisors will impact nearly every aspect of the relationship between employers and employees, as well as the ability of Ontario businesses to create jobs and grow the economy” stated John Sawyer, President of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce.” In light of these concerns, the Keep Ontario Working group has developed several key policy options in their submission calling for evidence-based workplace modernization, with a particular focus of caution in the following areas: Education and Enforcement, Scheduling Provisions, Labour Certification Rules, Sector Exemptions, Joint/Common Employers, Sectoral Bargaining, and Minimum Standards. As part of their submission, the Keep Ontario Working group commissioned Philip Cross, Executive Fellow with the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary and former Chief Economic Analyst at Statistics Canada, to analyze the issue of precarity. Cross’ analysis indicates that by several metrics, the concern around precariousness is overstated. For example, part-time employment in Ontario and Canada shrank in 2015 as compared to 25 years ago. Data also indicates that at no time in Ontario’s recent history have employees in this province enjoyed such stable employment; the average employee in Ontario has worked for the same employer for a record 106.3 months (or nearly 9 years). Currently there is insufficient data to support major reforms to labour legislation. The group has called on government to strengthen their data by developing and releasing a new regional survey. This type of data would help to identify the real gaps existing in employment legislation. The group cautions government against making sweeping amendments to legislation without sufficient statistical and economic data as it could result in unintended consequences and negatively impact the ability of Ontario’s businesses to create jobs and grow the economy. “We support the Government’s efforts to address the challenge of precarious work, but we think it’s critical that there be a robust, evidence-based, and common understanding of who Ontario’s precarious workers are and how we can best help them” stated John Sawyer. “Our goal as part of the Keep Ontario Working Group is to increase employee experience and their ability to realize more income, without introducing new regulatory burdens that will compromise the ability of Ontario employers to create jobs and grow the economy” added Faye Lyons, Vice President of Government Relations & Advocacy at the Oakville Chamber. “What we do want is for the government to enhance enforcement of the existing legislation so that those employers who abuse their employees are held to their responsibilities under the existing legislation.” Read the full report: Reform That Works For more information on the Keep Ontario Working initiative, visit www.KeepOntarioWorking.ca. For employers who wish to provide their input to the Oakville Chamber of Commerce, please contact Faye Lyons, Vice President of Government Relations & Advocacy at faye@oakvillechamber.com or at (905) 464-0659.   About “Keep Ontario Working” Keep Ontario Working is an initiative of the leading employer and sector associations in the province, who are working together to motivate employers and employees alike to take a more active interest in the Changing Workplaces Review. Our goal is to ensure that we are improving legislation to support workers’ rights, create jobs and grow the economy. Members of the initiative include: o   Ontario Chamber of Commerce o   Canadian Franchise Association o   Restaurants Canada o   Retail Council of Canada o   Ontario Restaurant, Hotel & Motel Association o   Food & Beverage Ontario o   Ontario Forest Industries Association o   Association of Canadian Search, Employment and Staffing Services, o   National Association of Canadian Consulting Businesses o   Other employers and employer groups.  

Oakville Chamber Advocacy Survey Finds Rising Costs the most significant factor impacting business and industry

Today, the Oakville Chamber of Commerce released the results of its 2016 advocacy survey.  Rising costs are impacting local businesses and congestion continues to be an obstacle for success. The survey represents a broad sector of business including big, medium and small representing approximately 20,000 jobs. Here is a snapshot of the survey results: Cost of doing business
  • Rising costs are the most significant factor impacting business and industry
  • 83% believe that energy costs are becoming a serious obstacle to doing business
  • 78% believe that WSIB rates are becoming a serious obstacle to doing business
  • 82% agree that the Cap and Trade plan should be delayed until its impact on business is fully understood
Transportation
  • 64% of respondents believe that traffic congestion for getting staff to work is a significant obstacle for business
  • The top 3 infrastructure priorities are transportation related being:
    • Local roads and bridges
    • Public parking
    • Transit
Planning and Development- local issues
  • Almost 70% believe that regulations are unreasonable and excessive
  • 77% are supportive of a modest increase in density in the Kerr Street, Bronte and Oakville business district
  • A slim majority, felt local government in Oakville is supportive and sensitive to the needs of business
Caroline Hughes, Chair of the Board, Oakville Chamber of Commerce commented “it is important for the Chamber to hear from our members as to the issues that are impacting Oakville businesses so that we can effectively advocate on their behalf.  It is clear from the results that businesses continue to feel tapped and overburdened with regulation. Investment in local roads and bridges, public parking and transit were identified as the top 3 infrastructure priorities.  This is timely feedback for Town Council as they deliberate on how to allocate the infrastructure money committed by senior levels of government.”  

Highlights from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce AGM

The Oakville Chamber of Commerce attended the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s 2016 Annual General Meeting (AGM) this past September in Regina Saskatchewan. The Canadian Chamber’s Annual General Meeting focuses on the latest issues important to the Canadian business community and brings together Chambers of Commerce from across Canada to find solutions to address the challenges that Canadian businesses face. The Canadian Chamber network works to set its policy agenda for the upcoming year during its annual general meeting.  Resolutions submitted this year covered a broad range of topics that were successfully endorsed by delegates on issues such as Employment Insurance (EI) Reform, Bridging the Broadband Gap, Pension Reform, Enabling More Canadian Firms to Scale Up, Tax Fairness for the Sports Entertainment Industry and the Increase of GST/HST Filing Threshold. These issues are important to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and its network of chambers of commerce and boards of trade across Canada who represent 200,000 Canadian businesses. These resolutions are now policy positions of the Canadian Chamber and its members and will be pursued with the federal government over the coming months. The Oakville Chamber will continue to support the Canadian Chamber’s efforts and these resolutions in its daily operations to help ensure that Oakville continues to maintain a competitive businesses climate, and maximizes the potential of its business community and membership.

Ontario Chamber Network sends letter to the Ontario Energy Board

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce outlines why cap and trade related costs need to be a separate line item on utility bills

On September 2, 2016, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) regarding their decision to have cap and trade costs included in the delivery charge of utilities on behalf of the Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade across Ontario. The Ontario Chamber of Commerce has publicly indicated support for the Province’s efforts in dealing with climate change through the Climate Change Action Plan and specifically the decision to move forward with a cap and trade program which is designed to significantly reduce GHG emissions and deliver a lower carbon future for all Ontarians. However, given the Premier’s commitment to transparency around energy pricing, the Ontario Chamber Network believes that the OEB should reverse their decision and align with other Canadian jurisdictions on this issue. Read this letter.

Oakville Requires a Dedicated Innovation Strategy to Support, Retain and Grow Our Health Science Sector: Oakville Chamber of Commerce

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At a time when the province is trying to address the major challenge of fiscal sustainability, the Oakville Chamber of Commerce is suggesting a different approach to fixing the province’s health care system and putting patients first. In a report released today in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, the Ontario Chamber network is calling on the provincial government to turn its focus from budget cuts to empowering the health care system to become an economic and productivity driver that is responsive to emerging innovation being developed in our own backyard. The report, Adopting Our Advantage: Supporting a thriving health science sector in Ontario, is the third in a series of health policy reports and is part of the organization’s year long Health Transformation Initiative. Currently in Oakville, the health science sector is struggling to attract local capital, find experienced managerial talent, and access the most important market in the province – the health care system. These challenges mean that entrepreneurs are more likely to partner with foreign investors, as they struggle to find the resources that would give them a strong foothold in Ontario. “In order for the government to receive a return on its investments in research, and patients in Oakville to gain access to the kind of innovations that will improve their quality of life, there needs to be a unified strategy to support Ontario’s health science sector” stated Kerry Colborne, Chair of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce. “Today, we are not supporting our own discoveries. If we were able to change that, it would have a great impact on our provincial economy, on our provincial health industry and on our local health care system.” Oakville’s Town Council recently endorsed the land use parameters for a Health, Science and Technology District (HSTD) located at the northeast corner of Third Line and Dundas Street West. “We are pleased to see that the Town of Oakville recognizes  the need for innovation related to health care. We hope to see them move as quickly as possible on this” stated John Sawyer, President of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce. The provincial government invests a significant amount of money into research funding, education and seed development funds. However, if the companies that emerge from this environment are unable to access the markets or resources they need to scale their business, they are more likely to leave the province causing Ontario taxpayers to lose out on our investment. With innovation being identified as a priority at both the provincial and federal levels, now is the time for government to adopt a cohesive strategy to address the challenges facing this sector and take hold of the opportunity presented by our strengths in health sciences that will lead to a self-sustaining, vibrant health economy. “If we can establish an integrated system that has a collective vision, the potential rewards for Ontario are great. A lack of focused investment in the province’s home-grown innovation will only lead to missed opportunity.” added Allan O’Dette, President of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. The report’s recommendations suggest a cohesive approach to health care that would make it easier to capitalize innovative health science start-ups, attract and retain experienced talent, and provide market access to the public health care system. For this to take place, Ontario requires a dedicated vision for health science innovation, one that recognizes our competitive advantages and makes use of our single-payer system as an economic driver.  

Oakville Chamber of Commerce Calls On the Provincial Government To Push Broadband Strategy into High Speed

Today, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce has called on Premier Kathleen Wynne to commit dedicated provincial infrastructure funds to developing and expanding broadband internet access in remote and rural areas of the province. With record investments being made by government in transit and transportation infrastructure, the business advocacy organization is calling upon the provincial government to recognize, through infrastructure dollars, that access to high speed internet is also essential for Ontario businesses to compete in the 21st century global economy. “Local businesses in Oakville are becoming increasingly dependent on internet access for their everyday business practices,” said Kerry Colborne, Chair of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce. “High-speed internet access has become a necessity for doing business in today’s economy and it is critical that all regions across Ontario have access to this essential infrastructure.” While the Oakville and the Ontario Chamber acknowledge broadband investments made by the Government of Canada in the recent federal budget, internet access continues to be an issue in parts of Ontario. The letter to the Premier identifies three key recommendations that the Ontario government should address in the coming term to ensure all communities in the province are able to compete in the global economy:
  1. Develop a robust broadband investment strategy that acknowledges that broadband is an essential infrastructure investment, and creates space for continued private-sector investment.
  1. Build partnerships across all levels of government in order to leverage funding and respond to local need. Recognizing that the private sector has driven investment in broadband infrastructure, the OCC recommends an intergovernmental funds matching formula that will continue to incentivize large private sector investments.
  1. Benchmark Ontario’s internet speeds and access. In order to ensure Ontario is able to compete in a technology-driven global economy, we need to create broadband infrastructure that is equal with those of other globally-competitive jurisdictions.
“Just as businesses depend on roads and electricity, high-speed Internet is fundamental to advancing the province’s economic interests,” said Allan O’Dette, CEO & President of the Ontario Chamber “Committing funds to broadband infrastructure in rural and remote regions of the province will ensure that economic fragmentation is reduced in Ontario.” With government services increasingly shifting to online platforms, universal access to high speed internet is becoming more important than ever. By working with the Oakville and the Ontario business community, government can develop broadband policy that is responsive to existing needs while not dissuading private sector investment.

Chamber releases report “The Infrastructure that Matters Most: The Need for Investment in Canada’s Trade Infrastructure”

The Oakville Chamber of Commerce, in collaboration with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, released their recommendations on infrastructure spending entitled “The Infrastructure that Matters Most: The Need for Investment in Canada’s Trade Infrastructure” with a focus on spending to improve Canada’s global competitiveness and economic well-being.  Read the full report. Specifically, the recommendations for the federal government are:
  1. Make Trade Infrastructure an Equal Priority in the $120-billion Federal Infrastructure Plan
To improve Canada’s global economic competitiveness, the government should make trade-enhancing infrastructure investments an equal priority in the federal plan, commensurate with the funding allocated to the new social, transit and green infrastructure categories.
  1. Make Trade Infrastructure Investment Decisions Using Merit-based Criteria.
The federal government should ensure new trade infrastructure projects are selected on the basis of national objectives according to merit-based criteria. A merit-based approach ensures critical investments are not held captive to local or regional interests or undermined by inadequate financial support.
  1. Renew the Federal Commitment to Canada’s Trade Corridors
A renewed program focusing on trade corridors that recognizes that Canada must improve the quality, speed, and cost effectiveness of its trade networks can usher in a new era of Canadian competitiveness.
  1. Partner with Industry to Develop a National Trade Infrastructure Committee
The federal government should establish a National Trade Infrastructure Committee of public sector and industry experts as an institutional mechanism to guide long-term national trade infrastructure priorities.
  1. Consider the Proposed Federal Infrastructure Bank to Enhance Trade Infrastructure Investment
As the government develops its promised infrastructure bank, there is an opportunity to use this new tool to provide more than just low-cost financing for municipal infrastructure projects. The government should consult with investors to determine whether the bank should be used to generate more public-private investments in trade-enabling infrastructure. Kerry Colborne, Chair of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce said “the government has a unique opportunity to reshape Canada’s economic future by making trade infrastructure a priority in its national infrastructure plan. For a plan that will set the course for the next decade of infrastructure investment across the country, making trade infrastructure a priority will send an important signal to global customers, Canada’s businesses and its workers. It will be a message that Canada is committed to improving its international trade competitiveness to generate more wealth and employment for its citizens.”

Leverage the private sector to put patients first: Chamber Report

Oakville Chamber positions commissioning as solution to health system woes Today, the Oakville Chamber, in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce released a new report, Prescription for Partnership, which points to the need for health care stakeholders, both public and private, to put patients first. This report takes a closer look at the role commissioning can play in re-orienting a system that too often operates in response to budgetary pressure. Commissioning allows public and private sector perspectives to be in conversation much earlier in the decision-making process. The Oakville Chamber cites commissioning as a way of focusing our system on outcomes for patients rather than inputs from providers. This kind of collaboration is a key enabler of innovations in access, quality, and cost. “The provincial government needs to work with the private sector in order to meet its goal of putting patients first,” said John Sawyer, President of the Oakville Chamber “We need the public and private sectors to problem-solve together and leverage one another’s expertise throughout the decision making process.” The private sector has long been an active participant in Ontario’s health care system. In fact, the level of private sector involvement in Canadian health care is slightly above the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average – 12th highest overall, and greater than 22 other countries in the OECD. However, the current relationship between the public sector and private health vendors (both for-profit and non-profit) lacks a co-operative structure and culture. “Today, the public sector is largely making decisions based on strict budgets and inflexible guidelines,” said Allan O’Dette, President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber. “We cannot allow patient needs to continue to finish second.” Prescription for Partnership: How New Models of Collaboration in Health Care Can Make Outcomes a Priority is the second of five reports within the Ontario Chamber’s year-long Health Transformation Initiative. Visit transformhealth.ca for more information.  

Mayor to Present Oakville Economic Update

Oakville Mayor Rob Burton will speak at an Oakville Chamber of Commerce breakfast on Thursday, June 2, 2016 at the Holiday Inn, Oakville Centre. The Mayor will provide an update on Oakville’s economy, and more specifically, the Town’s 2016 budget. “This annual breakfast is popular among our members, who are interested in issues affecting our local economy,” says Chamber Chair Kerry Colborne. “We are pleased to offer them this opportunity to hear directly from the Mayor about initiatives from Oakville’s Municipal Government.” There will be a moderated question and answer period following the Mayor’s presentation. Questions for Mayor Burton can be submitted in advance of the breakfast via email to faye@oakvillechamber.com with the subject line: ‘Question for the Mayor’. The Chamber would like to thank presenting partners Cogeco, Union Gas and supporting partners CN, Ford and Remax Aboutowne for making this event possible. For ticket information, please contact the Oakville Chamber of Commerce at 905-845-6613 or info@oakvillechamber.com. Date: Thursday, June 2, 2016 Time: 7:30am – Registration 8:00am – 9:00am – Event Location: Holiday Inn, Oakville Centre 590 Argus Road, Oakville

Small Business: Too Big To Ignore

Nearly 3 million Ontarians are employed by small businesses of 100 or less employees, but the rising cost of doing business in the province is stunting their growth.   The Oakville Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce is launched Small Business Too Big Too Ignore, a six month campaign that will highlight the important contributions of small businesses to our communities and investigate the top barriers to small business growth. Coinciding with the launch of this campaign, the Ontario Chamber also released its report, Top 3 Obstacles to Small Business Growth, aimed at starting a conversation about the underlying challenges that are weighing on small businesses and stifling job creation.   In the report, the Chamber cites the rising cost of doing business as a major impediment to small business growth. In fact, Ontario Chamber survey results show that one in twenty businesses in the province expect to close their doors in the next five years due to rising electricity prices. In addition, 38 percent will see their bottom line shrink, with the cost of electricity delaying or canceling investment in the years to come.   “Rising electricity prices is just one of the many elements adding to the cost of doing business in the province,” said Kerry Colborrne, Chair of the Oakville Chamber. “The Oakville Chamber of Commerce is launching this campaign to take a look at how we can mitigate these types of costs by engaging both government and business leaders in a productive conversation to the answer the question ‘what exactly is ailing small business?’.”   In addition to the rising cost of doing business, the report also lists key infrastructure gaps and a lack of access to skilled workers as the top three obstacles weighing on small business. According to a recent Ontario Chamber survey, 39 percent of employers have had difficulty filling a job opening over the past year and a half – an increase of 11 percentage points since 2014.   “Building a 21st century workforce has been a cornerstone of our advocacy efforts for quite some time,” said John Sawyer, President of the Oakville Chamber. “We’ve seen tremendous progress on this file over the past few years but we recognize the need to foster greater connections between skilled workers and employers.”   Over the next six months, local chambers of commerce and boards of trade will hold consultations with small business owners throughout the province to identify the barriers that they face.   “Small businesses of 100 or less employees are the core of our membership and employ nearly 3 million Ontarians, which is why we’ve decided to undertake the Small Business Too Big Too Ignore campaign,” said Allan O’Dette, President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “The insights gained from the local chamber consultations will inform an upcoming Chamber report to be released during Small Business week in October 2016. We’re really looking forward to the feedback.”