Category: News

Focus spring legislative session on strategic infrastructure and lowering costs to foster confidence: Oakville Chamber of Commerce

Today, the Oakville Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, formally released its 2017 pre-budget submission containing recommendations to the Ontario legislature as it looks to begin its spring 2017 legislative session. The submission outlines four key budget priorities and thirteen specific recommendations for Queen’s Park to adopt in order to restore fiscal balance and spur economic growth. Specifically, the Oakville Chamber of Commerce is looking for immediate support for strategic infrastructure investments and sound budget management.

Oakville businesses have stated rising costs as the most significant factor impacting business and industry, according to the Oakville Chamber of Commerce’s 2016 Advocacy Survey. The survey also revealed that transportation infrastructure and traffic congestion remains a top concern for the Oakville business community. In fact, 64% of respondents believe that traffic congestion is a significant obstacle for business. Furthermore, the top three infrastructure priorities identified by respondents were all transportation related, calling for investments in local roads and bridges, public parking, and transit. The Oakville Chamber of Commerce urges the provincial government to address the infrastructure deficit by investing infrastructure funds strategically to increase productivity and enable competitiveness for Oakville businesses.

“The Ontario Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with our diverse Chamber Network, will continue to work with the provincial government to ensure that Ontario prioritizes reducing obstacles to business competitiveness,” said Allan O’Dette, President & CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “By taking more authoritative action on this issue, we can ensure that Ontario remains an attractive environment for capital investment.”

In the submission, Ontario’s Chamber Network is also calling on the government to send a clear message of fiscal stability by balancing the provincial budget by 2017-2018. Such action would result in a more attractive environment for business investment and growth as well as confront the challenge of mounting input costs, such as electricity prices. As signalled last week in the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s Ontario Economic Report, businesses are maintaining their operations and holding onto cash rather than expanding production or investing. This indicates that industry sees the Ontario economy as high-risk.

“The Government of Ontario must ensure that it addresses recommendations made by the Oakville Chamber of Commerce in their provincial budget in order to support economic growth for Ontario businesses,” stated John Sawyer, President of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce. “Government must focus on reducing the costs of doing business in Ontario, supporting strategic infrastructure development and strengthening its efforts to bolster business competitiveness that allows Oakville to thrive.”

Addressing the current fiscal context and achieving a balanced budget is an underlying theme throughout the pre-budget submission. Ontario’s Chamber Network is committed to working with the Ontario Government to ensure the future economic success of the province. The submission is largely comprised of policy recommendations that are supported by resolutions passed by Ontario’s Chamber Network at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s most recent Annual General Meeting.

Inaugural Ontario Economic Report Forecasts Outlook for Regional and Provincial Economy

Vulnerabilities in Ontario’s economy post challenges to our prosperity. Government must prioritize growing the economy, creating jobs and driving a competitive advantage.

Today, the Oakville Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, released the inaugural Ontario Economic Report (OER), a landmark agenda aimed at shaping and informing future public policy. The OER includes entirely new economic analyses that demonstrate the difficult economic environment faced by Ontario businesses and consumers in 2017. The report also contains exclusive economic information pertaining to the Greater Toronto Area.

The report includes the results of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s new Business Confidence Survey conducted in partnership with Fresh Intelligence, a Business Prosperity Index developed by the Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis (CANCEA), and an Economic Outlook for 2017 prepared by Central 1 Credit Union. These datasets, viewed together, reveal broad challenges to Ontario’s economic health.

“Our research shows that Ontario’s economic climate is posing challenges to the businesses we represent and Ontarians more broadly,” said Allan O’Dette, President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “Investment is being held back because of a high perception of risk. We need immediate action in order for our province to continue to grow and prosper.”

Economic outlook data reveals that the Toronto region will see a slight drop in the unemployment rate to 6.8 percent in 2017. The median residential housing price will rise 7.4 percent to $580,000, which is a considerable slowdown when compared to the jump of 15.9 percent between 2015 and 2016. Not surprisingly, this will continue to be the region of the province with the highest median housing price and the largest jump in prices year-over-year.

“The OER reinforces many of our policy priorities that arose from our 2016 Advocacy Survey” stated John Sawyer, President, Oakville Chamber of Commerce. “Our members stated that rising costs were the most significant factor impacting business and industry; focusing on the rising cost of electricity and the need for investment in infrastructure. With these highlighted as priorities for the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and Ontario Chamber Network, we can assure our members that government will hear our strong and unified voice.”

Additional key findings in the OER are from the Business Prosperity Index. This index shows that, despite total business prosperity increasing since 2000, prosperity is increasingly generated from asset and liability management rather than the production of goods or services. This means that Ontario businesses are less likely to earn income from actual business activity today than they have in the past.

While Ontario enjoyed an average 2.6 percent real GDP growth rate between 2000 and 2006, the source of wealth generated from the production of goods and services actually declined by 12 percent during that same period. Since the recovery from the “great recession”, production activities fell a further 12 percent over that period. Broadly, this means Ontario’s business prosperity is increasingly dependent upon non-production, financial activities.

This challenge is a result of the current economic environment, in which increased costs associated with production, regulation and housing have resulted in weak market and labour force activity. Businesses in Ontario are operating in a risk-averse environment in which they are disinclined to grow production by investing or hiring.

“For many years, the voice of Ontario business has cautioned that regulatory burdens, high input costs, and government policies not attuned to innovation have hampered economic growth,” added O’Dette. “The findings in the OER reinforce this, and indicate that there are also structural issues impeding our province’s potential.”

The results of the OER highlight the key policy issues that the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and Ontario Chamber Network intends to prioritize in 2017, including workforce development, infrastructure, energy, and health care. Central to the organization’s work is the notion that industry and government tackle these issues together, in order to grow economic prosperity and drive positive change for all Ontarians.

Lunch & Learn : Power Pitching with Jim Gray

This afternoon the Oakville Chamber of Commerce held a Lunch and Learn on Power Pitching with Jim Gray.

In our intensely competitive world, the ability to pitch effectively – for new business, funding, or a better job – has never been more important. In his presentation and workshop, Jim taught us the
10 rules of power pitching, rules that can help you compete and win – when the pressure is greatest, and the stakes are highest.

Jim Gray is a pitch coach and senior communications advisor. He specializes in preparing individuals, startups and established organizations throughout North America to pitch effectively – and successfully. For the past six years, Gray has served as the pitch coach for NEXT Canada (formerly The Next 36), an accelerator program for outstanding young Canadian entrepreneurs. In July, 2016 Gray was named an Executive in Residence at Ryerson University’s DMZ, Digital Media Zone, where he serves as in-house pitch coach.

View the slides from the presentation here. We also conducted our first Facebook Live! You can watch a recording of the event here.

Health Sustainability Most Important Issue for Ontario Voters While System Confidence Wanes: Ontario Chamber Network Survey Results Reveal

Final report of Ontario Chamber Network’s Health Transformation Initiative calls for immediate action to strengthen the public health care system

Today, the Oakville Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce released Health Transformation: An Action Plan for Ontario, which includes new and exclusive survey data from two of Ontario’s top research firms that polled both Ontario Chamber members and all Ontarians. After a year of research and consultation, the Oakville Chamber of Commerce and the Ontario Chamber Network have developed three strategic recommendations to improve Ontario’s health care system. This action plan comes at a critical time, as recent Fresh Intelligence survey results reveal that only 14 per cent of Ontario’s business community is confident that the health care system is sustainable for the future. Despite other growing concerns surrounding topics like electricity pricing and climate change, health care sustainability still remains the most important issue for Ontarians.

Additional data released in today’s report, from a survey conducted by the Gandalf Group, suggests that a mere 39 per cent of all Ontarians are confident that the province’s health care system will be able to fund a consistently high level of care in the future. Reflecting the Oakville Chamber of Commerce recommendations, half of Ontarians agree that the health care system doesn’t need more money; it just needs to be better managed. With this level of increased uncertainty in Ontario’s health care system, through its membership, the Ontario Chamber Network and the Oakville Chamber of Commerce wants to be a productive partner in revitalizing public care.

“A strong public system is one that puts patients at the center of health care reform and provides Ontarians with the best-in-class care that they deserve,” said Allan O’Dette, President & CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “There is a great opportunity for the private sector to play a productive role alongside a robust and sustainable public health care system. Partnering with both for- and non-profit experts can provide the public sector with new ideas, improve access to innovation and build confidence in Ontario industry.”

Over the course of four reports, the Ontario Chamber Network’s Health Transformation Initiative has pointed to the overarching theme of making use of private sector expertise as a way to improve Ontario’s health care system. With a vision for a sustainable and prosperous health sector that involves private sector participation, the Oakville Chamber of Commerce’s fifth and final report, Health Transformation: An Action Plan for Ontario highlights the top three recommendations that government can implement today:

  • Shift Ontario towards a value-based health care system
  • Modernize procurement and supply chain processes
  • Better integrate Ontario’s technical discoveries and innovations into the public health care system

“Cross-industry collaboration is critical to solving some of the issues faced by Ontario’s health care sector,” said Caroline Hughes, Chair of the Board, Oakville Chamber of Commerce. “It is our hope that this action plan will serve as a jumping off point for important discussions on healthcare sustainability in Oakville and demonstrate the Oakville Chamber’s readiness to be a problem solver in this health care area.”

While the recommendations in this report are directed towards government, the Oakville Chamber of Commerce is also calling on the private sector to take on a collaborative role in health system reform and drive solutions that will strengthen the economic health of Ontario’s economy and put patients first.

Click here for more survey data information.

A total of 773 Ontario Chamber of Commerce members were polled by Fresh Intelligence via an online methodology between October 25th 2016 and November 30th 2016. A total of 1004 Ontarians were polled by The Gandalf Group between December 28th, 2016 and January 3rd 2017. A random probability sample of this size has a margin of error of +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20.


RBC Economic Outlook Breakfast 2017

On Friday, January 20 the Oakville Chamber of Commerce hosted the annual RBC Economic Outlook Breakfast. Over 300 Chamber members and their guests gathered at the Oakville Conference & Banquet Centre to gain valuable economic and social insights from Craig Wright, Senior Vice-President & Chief Economist, RBC and Sean Simpson, Vice-President, Ipsos Public Affairs.

You can view both presentations below:

Watch the broadcast of the RBC Economic Outlook Breakfast on Cogeco on:

  • Thursday, January 26 at 1pm
  • Thursday, January 26 at 8pm
  • Saturday, January 28 at 3pm

Taxation of Employer Sponsored Health Benefits

The federal government is considering taxing employer-paid health and dental benefits. Along with adding hundreds or thousands of dollars to Canadians’ tax bills, this proposal could cause many employers to stop offering coverage to employees. When Quebec introduced a similar tax, 20% of employers dropped health and dental benefits for employees. Studies suggest the removal of this tax benefit across the board could result in a decrease of 50% of small firms that will be able to offer health benefits.

Read the letter that the Oakville Chamber of Commerce sent out this morning to Mr. John Oliver, MP Oakville and Ms. Pam Damoff, MP Oakville North Burlington cc’ing Mr. Bill Morneau, Minister of Finance and local media.

Oakville Chamber Hosts RBC Economic Outlook Breakfast 2017

The Oakville Chamber of Commerce will host its annual RBC Economic Outlook Breakfast on Friday, January 20 at the Oakville Conference and Banquet Centre. RBC Senior Vice-President and Chief Economist Craig Wright and Ipsos Public Affairs Vice President Sean Simpson will share valuable economic insights and forecasts for the new year.

The event provides an ideal opportunity for business professionals to understand how the economy may impact their business throughout 2017. Attendees will have the opportunity to submit questions during a moderated Question and Answer Forum following the presentations.

“The RBC Economic Outlook Breakfast is one of the Chamber’s most popular annual events as businesses plan for the year ahead. Due to increasing demand, this year we’ve moved to the Oakville Conference and Banquet Centre” said Caroline Hughes, Chair of the Board for Oakville Chamber of Commerce. “We thank our partners RBC, Ipsos Public Affairs and Henderson Partners LLP for their support in making this annual event possible.”

Event Details

Date: Friday, January 20, 2017

Time: 7:30am – 9:30am

Location: Oakville Conference and Banquet Centre (2515 Wyecroft Road)

Tickets: Members $35; Non-members $55. Register online through the events calendar, by phone at 905-845-6613, or e-mail

Craig Wright, Senior Vice-President & Chief Economist, RBC

Craig leads a team of economists providing economic, fixed income and foreign exchange research to RBC clients. Craig is a regular contributor to a number of RBC publications and is a key player in delivering economic analysis to clients and the media through the Economics Department’s regular economic briefings. A graduate of Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Toronto, Craig was appointed Chief Economist in 2001 having joined RBC in 1994 after working at another financial institution for seven years. Craig is a participant in a number of the key RBC internal committees and is a member of the C.D. Howe Institute Monetary Policy Council, Wilfrid Laurier School of Business and Economics Dean’s Advisory Council and the British Columbia Economic Forecast Council.




Sean Simpson, Vice President of Ipsos Public Affairs

Sean is Vice President of Ipsos Public Affairs, Canada’s leading polling and market research firm. He leads Ipsos’ public-opinion polling specialization, including conducting research on political, economic, consumer and social trends. Sean’s clients include corporations, NGOs, governments and industry associations. Sean is a primary spokesperson for Ipsos in Canada and is featured regularly in the news, and leads Ipsos’ relationship with its media partner, Global News. A graduate of Wilfrid Laurier University (BA, MA), Sean regularly acts as a guest lecturer at universities and colleges in Ontario, and he teaches courses on sampling and survey design at the Laurier Summer Institute for Research Methods.  Sean lives in Kitchener with his wife Amie, where he is actively engaged in the arts.

Ontario Premier to Address Oakville and Burlington Business Community at Chamber Luncheon


The Premier of Ontario, The Honourable Kathleen Wynne, will speak at a luncheon hosted by the Oakville and Burlington Chambers of Commerce on Friday, January 13. The Premier will be presenting on “A Balanced Plan to Build Ontario Up for Everyone”, outlining the Ontario government’s plan to grow Ontario’s economy and create jobs.

“Our members represent a cross section of businesses of all sizes and sectors. This demonstrates their desire to be engaged within the community and to hear our political leaders first hand” stated Caroline Hughes, Chair of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce. “We are very pleased the Premier has accepted our invitation to meet with our members.” Ms. Hughes further commented “Leaders tell us they very much appreciate speaking directly with our members. It gives them an opportunity to listen and interact with people in the real world who face the day-to-day challenges of operating a business.”

Over the course of the summer both the Oakville and Burlington Chambers, along with Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade across the province, engaged in the Small Business: Too Big to Ignore campaign, which highlighted the important contributions of small businesses to our communities and investigated the top barriers to small business growth. Following the campaign, the Ontario Chamber Network released their report Obstacles and Opportunities for Small Business in Ontario. The report identified and offered solutions to the most pressing challenges that Ontario small business owners face; including infrastructure deficits and the rising cost of doing business in Ontario.

“A key role for Chambers of Commerce is to bring people together and ensure there is meaningful dialogue” stated Marty Staz, Chair of the Burlington Chamber of Commerce. “This is why both the Burlington and Oakville Chambers of Commerce are pleased to be able to offer this unique opportunity for our Members and their guests to hear the Premier speak. I am sure they are keen to hear directly from Ms. Wynne about her vision for the province and how it will affect the business community.”

“I’m looking forward to Premier Wynne’s visit to Oakville” stated Kevin Flynn, MPP for Oakville. “Her choice is a clear indication of the respect the Oakville and Burlington Chambers of Commerce have earned in Ontario’s economic circles. This visit offers the ideal opportunity to engage with their vibrant business communities on the progress we’re making as we continue to lead Canada, the United States, and all the G8 countries in business and economic growth.”

Event Details

Date: Friday, January 13, 2017

Time: 11:30am – 1:30am; The Premier speaks from 12:00pm – 12:30pm followed by a moderated Question and Answer forum

Location: Oakville Conference Centre (2515 Wyecroft Road)

Tickets: Members $35; Non-members $55

Register online through the events calendar, by phone at 905-845-6613, or e-mail


The Premier of Ontario, The Honourable Kathleen Wynne

Kathleen Wynne is Ontario’s 25th Premier.

Since taking office in February 2013, some of Premier Wynne’s accomplishments include the largest infrastructure investment in Ontario’s history and completing the single-largest climate change initiative in North America by eliminating coal-fired electricity generation in the province. She also introduced a ground-breaking plan to stop sexual violence and harassment.

Premier Wynne’s economic plan for Ontario builds on her number-one priority: growing the economy and creating jobs. Her four-part plan invests in talent and skills, including helping more people get and create the jobs of the future by expanding access to high-quality college and university education. In addition to infrastructure investments in roads, bridges, transit, schools and hospitals, her plan is investing in a low-carbon economy driven by innovative, high-growth, export-oriented businesses. The plan is also helping working Ontarians achieve a more secure retirement.

Premier Wynne serves as Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. During her first year as Premier, she also served as Minister of Agriculture and Food. Prior to becoming Premier, she served as Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, Minister of Transportation and Minister of Education.

First elected to the Ontario Legislature in 2003 as the MPP for Don Valley West, Premier Wynne was re-elected in 2007, 2011 and 2014. She became the leader of the Ontario Liberal Party in January 2013.  On June 12, 2014 Premier Wynne’s government was re-elected with a majority mandate.

Before becoming an MPP, Premier Wynne served as a trustee on the Toronto District School Board. Prior to that, she led citizens’ groups in a number of grassroots community projects and played a major role as an organizer and facilitator.

Premier Wynne has lived with her partner, Jane, in North Toronto for more than 25 years. She has three children and three grandchildren.

Oakville Chamber of Commerce – Holiday Hours

Please note that the Oakville Chamber office will be closed from Monday, December 26th to Monday, January 2nd. The office will re-open at 8:30am on Tuesday, January 3rd.
On behalf of all of us at the Oakville Chamber, have a Happy Holiday Season!

Ontario Labour Minister to Address the Changing Workplace in Ontario at Oakville Chamber Breakfast

The Honourable Kevin Flynn, Ontario Minister of Labour, will speak at a breakfast hosted by the Oakville Chamber of Commerce at the Holiday Inn – Oakville Centre on Friday, December 16.

“We are very pleased to host the Labour Minister” stated Caroline Hughes, Chair of the Oakville Chamber. “We invite guest speakers, like Minister Flynn, to provide an opportunity for our members and their guests to hear directly from key decision makers. We also want to provide our members with the opportunity to discuss key issues with important elected officials. This is a crucial time for us to host the Labour Minister to discuss the Changing Workplaces Review and the changes the Province is considering to the Labour Relations Act and the Employment Standards Act.”

“Ontario’s Ministry of Labour is currently undertaking a review of the Labour Relations Act and the Employment Standards Act through its Changing Workplaces Review. The Review has been tasked with examining key workplace trends, including the increase in non-standard working relationships such as temporary jobs, involuntary part-time work, and self-employment.” stated John Sawyer, President of the Oakville Chamber. “We are presenting our members with the opportunity to hear directly from the Labour Minister, ask questions and provide their feedback on the proposed changes.”

Minister Flynn will be speaking on the Changing Workplaces Review, followed by an engaging Q&A Forum.

Event Details:

Date: Friday, December 16, 2016

Time: 7:30am – 9:00am; Minister Flynn speaks at 8:00am

Location: Holiday Inn – Oakville Centre, 590 Argus Road, Oakville, ON  L6J 3J3

Tickets: $25 for Members, $45 for Non-Members. Tables of 8 are available. (All prices are subject to HST.)

To register: Register online through the Event Calendar or contact the Chamber directly at 905-845-6613.


The Honourable Kevin Flynn, Ontario Minister of Labour

kevin-flynnThe Hon. Kevin Flynn was first elected to the Ontario legislature in 2003 as MPP for Oakville. He was re-elected in 2007, 2011 and 2014, making his the longest serving MPP in the Oakville riding. Minister Flynn has been Ontario’s Minister of Labour since March 2014 and is a member of Treasury Board. Having been Chair of the Select Committee on Mental Health and Addictions prior to being named minister, he has made health and safety in the workplace a major component of his mandate. He has also extended workplace protections, pushed for more fairness for vulnerable workers, promoted health and safety action plans and training, increased workplace inspections, and improved the minimum wage by tying it to the rate of inflation