Tag: Ontario Chamber Network

Oakville Chamber mobilizes businesses to put shared prosperity, economic development front-and-centre in upcoming election

Today the Oakville Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, launched a major province-wide letter writing campaign urging businesses to encourage their local provincial candidates to support the Ontario Chamber Network’s election platform, Vote Prosperity. To ensure economic prosperity is at the forefront of the 2018 provincial election, the Chamber Network has developed 18 recommendations that will help bolster Ontario’s long-term economic outcomes.

This letter-writing campaign is the next phase of this advocacy effort, building on ongoing government relations activities. We are calling on our local candidates to read Vote Prosperity and engage with our local business community to ensure business priorities are heard.

“The upcoming provincial election provides our business community with an opportunity to ensure that our businesses are being heard by our future elected officials,” said Drew Redden, President of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce. “Vote Prosperity provides political parties with tangible solutions to address the challenges businesses are currently facing and to ensure that Ontario is building a prosperous economy that supports local business in our community and across the province.”

Over the next 12 weeks, the Ontario Chamber Network will be advocating Vote Prosperity with local provincial candidates across the province through meetings, social media activation and with the letter writing campaign. Vote Prosperity is built around four fundamental pillars to support a strong economy in Ontario: strengthening business competitiveness, fostering job creation, building healthy communities and improving government accountability.

“We are calling on all political leaders to read Vote Prosperity and consider our recommendations as we aim to make Ontario the best place to start and grow a business,” said Rocco Rossi, President and CEO, Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “It’s simple, when you choose prosperity, Ontario wins.”

The Ontario Chamber Network released Vote Prosperity in October 2017, ahead of most of the major political parties’ platform development. Some of the recommendations from Vote Prosperity include:

  • Allow Ontario businesses to purchase surplus electricity at rates equal to or better than the exported price to other jurisdictions;
  • Allocate resources to focus support on high growth firms and those with high growth potential, by delaying taxation on corporate income growth to overcome Ontario’s scale-up challenge;
  • Focus on strategic growth policies by ensuring that land use planning and development regulations are aligned, to increase density and create more housing stock;
  • Create a meaningful plan to tackle the debt and move towards balanced or surplus budgets.

Read the Vote Prosperity platform.

Send a letter in support. 




Further Offset Measures Needed in Upcoming Budget to Keep Ontario Competitive



The Ontario Chamber Network calls for tax reform, smart spending to support Ontario businesses

Today the Oakville Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, provided the Ontario government with 11 recommendations for the upcoming provincial budget that will help businesses manage costs and secure the province’s competitive advantage. The submission, presented to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs, calls on the government to implement taxation reforms and smart infrastructure and transportation spending to maximize growth and benefit all regions of Ontario.

As the cost of doing business in the province continues to increase, and Ontario employers take on one of the largest wage increases in recent history, Ontario’s Chamber Network is recommending the government reinstate the scheduled corporate income tax rate from 11.5 per cent to 10 per cent. The submission also calls on the harmonization of the Business Education Tax across the province, as well as targeted reductions to the Employer Health tax.  

“Employers in Oakville of all sizes are feeling the pressure from rising costs, and more than ever our local business communities are lacking confidence in the future of Ontario’s economy,” said John Sawyer, President, Oakville Chamber of Commerce. “The recent minimum wage and labour and employment standard changes will cost Ontario businesses an estimated $23 billion over the next two years. We need more support for business and the government’s commitments made in last year’s Fall Economic Statement are simply insufficient.”

The pre-budget submission also recommends that the government create additional small business deduction tax brackets, as well as delay taxation on corporate income growth to overcome the scale-up challenge.  Currently, all businesses with an annual income of $500,000 or less are taxed at a flat rate. A bracketed taxation system would give startup and SMEs more room to grow. Currently in Ontario, 71 per cent of private sector jobs can be attributed to the activities of small and medium sized enterprises.

“Ontario needs a competitive taxation system, that encourages investment and minimizes red tape, must be in Ontario’s long-term strategic plan,” said Mr. Sawyer. “As the U.S. pursues tax reform that would lower their federal corporate tax rate by 15 per cent, and with the uncertain future of NAFTA, we must find ways to keep Ontario competitive.”

The Ontario Chamber Network also encourages members of the committee and government to consider how are we leveraging Ontario’s greatest asset—human capital.

The recommendations outlined in the Ontario Chamber’s pre-budget submission all come directly from Ontario’s Chamber Network through policy resolutions at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting.

Read the full submission and all 11 recommendations.



Rapid Policy Update: 2017 Long-Term Infrastructure Plan

On November 28th, the Government of Ontario released the province’s Long-Term Infrastructure Plan (LTIP) entitled Building Better Lives: Ontario’s Long-Term Infrastructure Plan 2017The plan sets forth a vision for Ontario infrastructure planning and investment and is a key interim step in meeting the requirements of the Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act, 2015 (IJPA).

The LTIP outlines a vision for how Ontario’s infrastructure must be evidence-based and should be resilient to the impacts of a changing climate and disruptive technologies, seamlessly interconnected and supportive of economic growth for the whole province. While the plan is a welcomed announcement in ensuring Ontario’s infrastructure meets the needs of its rapidly changing economy, the Ontario Chamber Network encourages the government to continually update and monitor the plan to identify what is—and is not—working well.

Below is a high-level synopsis of the plan, including the Chamber’s analysis and comparison to the Ontario Chamber Network’s Long-Term Infrastructure Plan Submission, Building Better.

Advocacy Wins
Overall, the Ontario Chamber Network achieved a number of advocacy wins in the 2017 LTIP that directly align with recommendations in their Building Better report.

The Government of Ontario will:

  • Implement a broadband strategy outlining a vision for broadband connectivity across the province;
  • Integrate climate change considerations into infrastructure planning to ensure environmental sustainability;
  • Evaluate AFP projects against an evaluation framework to track the success of the delivery model; and
  • Commit to ensure evidence-based decision making as it works on best practices in infrastructure planning and prioritization.
Key initiatives identified in Building Better Lives: Ontario’s Long-Term Infrastructure Plan 2017

Strengthening Evidence-Based Decision Making
The LTIP places a priority on enhancing the government’s capacity for evidence-based decision making, in particular through good asset management practices.

The government is undertaking extensive research to understand best practices in infrastructure planning and prioritization, and will apply these findings through ongoing work to improve consistency in business cases. This is to ensure the clear identification to decision-makers of the critical investments that are necessary to address health and safety; deliver critical services; address vulnerabilities to climate impacts; or to deliver on government mandate commitments or time-limited opportunities.

As government practices continue to improve, there will be clear prioritization criteria to assess the economic, social and environmental impacts of these investments. There will also be business case improvements to ensure that decision-makers have the evidence they need to make informed decisions. This evidence will include the current provincial infrastructure capacity, the gaps between what Ontario has and what Ontario needs, and a clear strategy on how the government will meet those needs.

Analysis
In Building Better, the Ontario Chamber Network encouraged the Government of Ontario to ensure that future infrastructure planning and spending commitments are planned methodically, fully, and in a transparent fashion. Infrastructure investments should be targeted based on sound criteria, including return on investments and evidence that the investments will reduce or eliminate existing barriers to service. The Chamber is pleased to see that evidence-based decision making will be a key pillar of the LTIP.


Climate Change Adaptation
The Province will be undertaking a provincial climate change risk assessment to help build a better understanding of the current and anticipated climate change impacts facing Ontario and help to provide a better understanding of the vulnerabilities and risks facing Ontario’s communities, infrastructure, ecosystems, and economy. Infrastructure planning and investment based on the outcomes of this risk assessment will allow for a more strategic approach to adaptation by government, helping to ensure that decisions are evidence-based and resilient.

Ontario-led efforts to increase resilience will be achieved in a variety of ways, including through climate change-related policies in infrastructure asset plans, investment directives and decisions, and land–use planning direction such as the Provincial Policy Statement (2014) and the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (2017).

The Province is also establishing a new organization that will provide municipalities, Indigenous communities, and businesses with up-to-date and critical information and data, as well as practical services to build resilience and help keep Ontarians safe. This information will assist government in making evidence-based investment decisions to build resilient infrastructure across Ontario.

Analysis

In Building Better, the Ontario Chamber Network recommended the LTIP focus on building infrastructure that is resilient and adaptable to climate change. We noted that as part of this climate change should be incorporated into asset management planning. Additionally, we recommended resiliency and adaptability be considered within procurement criteria. This could include having specific sections of a tender devoted to how a proponent is addressing the impacts of climate change on the asset being built, closely aligning with the LTIP’s outlined resilient infrastructure components.


Supporting Modern Service Delivery – Broadband in Ontario
The Ontario Government is working towards developing a broadband strategy that outlines a vision for broadband connectivity through identification of key priorities. This will include leveraging private sector expertise and financing as well as federal cooperation through the Canada Infrastructure Bank. A draft broadband strategy will be developed for consultation in 2018. Through collaboration with federal and municipal orders of government and First Nations, the Province will prioritize the need for coordinated and strategic investments as it continues to expand broadband infrastructure and improve connectivity in communities across the province.

Analysis

The Chamber has consistently advocated for trade-enabling infrastructure, including both traditional and digital infrastructure such as high-speed broadband internet. As part of this, the OCC has continually supported recommendations for the development of a robust investment strategy in the province, which identifies broadband as an infrastructure investment and does not dissuade private sector investment. A broadband strategy will help the Government achieve an evidence-based approach to broadband infrastructure development.

The Ontario Chamber Network has also encouraged the building of partnerships across all levels of government to better leverage funding and respond to local needs. The private sector has long driven investment in broadband infrastructure and the Chamber has recommended the Province commits to an intergovernmental funding model that will incentivize and leverage investments in a way that expedites the closing of the digital divide. The Ontario Chamber Network would be welcomed to participate in ongoing dialogue with the Government of Ontario as it develops the provincial broadband strategy.


Improved AFP Evaluation and Analysis
To ensure that the AFP model continues to provide value, the government has developed an evaluation framework to track the success of this delivery model. This framework aims to assess the AFP delivery model’s ability to:
(a) deliver projects on-budget, on-time and on-specification;
(b) ensure proper risk transfer to the private sector was achieved at final completion; and
(c) ensure timely procurement.
The government will start by evaluating a selection of completed AFPs and traditionally delivered projects of a similar size to assess the performance of each model against these criteria. Over time, this framework will provide a stronger evidence base for the AFP delivery model which will help decision-makers choose the right delivery model for future projects.

Additionally, as part of its AFP work, the Government of Ontario is committing to support municipalities to successfully deliver key infrastructure projects. For example, it is exploring how it can encourage and support municipalities in leveraging the AFP delivery model more frequently to achieve their infrastructure priorities, and what support and advice Infrastructure Ontario can potentially provide to municipalities.

Analysis

In Building Better, the Ontario Chamber Network recommended the Government of Ontario should work to develop comprehensive principles and elements from successfully procured projects that were delivered using alternative financing and procurement methods which can then be applied as best practices to smaller scale projects.


The Ontario Chamber Network’s Position:

The Ontario Chamber Network has been advocating for building infrastructure that sets Ontario’s foundation for long-term, sustainable economic growth and prosperity, cumulating in their Building Better report. We are encouraged to see that the 2017 LTIP delivers broad alignment with the Chamber’s recommendations.

The Network was pleased to see a strong emphasis on evidence-based decision making as well as a focus on building resilient and adaptable infrastructure. We also applaud the government’s commitment to expanding broadband infrastructure and improving connectivity in communities across the province by working towards a broadband strategy.

The Ontario Chamber Network will continue to work collaboratively with the Government of Ontario as it works to execute its vision outlined in the LTIP.



2017 Fall Economic Statement

Yesterday, the Government of Ontario released its 2017 Fall Economic Statement, which provides an update on the government’s finances and progress on key commitments since the release of the 2017 Budget. The government is continuing to project a balanced budget in 2017–18 and ongoing balance in 2018–19 and 2019–20, unchanged from the 2017 Budget forecast. The province also boasts a steadily declining  unemployment rate which reached  5.9 percent in October 2017, and has been below the national average for 31 consecutive months.  

The fall statement forecasts real GDP growth of 2.8 percent in 2017, up from 2.3 percent in the 2017 Budget. Ontario’s net debt-to-GDP peaked  in 2014–15 at 39.3 percent, however it is projected to be 37.3 percent in 2017–18, lower than the 37.5 percent forecast in the 2017 Budget.  

The government also made announcements related to Strengthening Ontario’s Small Businesses, Encouraging Youth Employment and Modernizing Apprenticeships for Small Businesses.

What does this mean for business?

Strengthening Ontario’s Small Businesses

The Province is announcing more than $500 million in new initiatives, over three years, for small business. Most notably the province is proposing a 1 percent cut in the small business Corporate Income Tax (CIT) rate from 4.5 percent to 3.5 percent. The Fall Economic Statement also includes enhanced financial support for small and medium‐sized fruit and vegetable farming businesses and investments to enhance the vibrancy of communities and main streets.

Our Response: As part of the Ontario Chamber Network’s Bill 148 advocacy work, the Oakville Chamber of Commerce has consistently urged the government to provide a comprehensive package of offsets, which includes a reduction in the small business tax rate. These measures will help to provide small businesses compensation for their limited access to capital financing, and the pressures placed on their revenue streams from Bill 148’s increased labour costs.

Encouraging Youth Employment

Ontario will provide $124 million over three years in supports for youth ages 15 to 29 years, working with Employment Service and Youth Job Connection to support employer hiring and retention beginning January 1, 2018. Through Ontario’s Employment Service program, a small employer with fewer than 100 employees would receive a $1,000 incentive for hiring a young worker and a $1,000 for retaining that worker for six months. Additionally, if workers are hired through Youth Job Connection, a separate program that recruits youth facing employment barriers, employers would receive retention payments of $1,000 after three months, with a further $1,000 payable after six months for each worker.

Our Response: In partnership with Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis (CANCEA) the Ontario Chamber Network conducted an independent economic analysis modelling  the impacts of Bill 148,. Evidence suggests that a 10% increase in the Ontario minimum wage could decrease youth employment by 2% to 6 % over time. Considering this challenge, funding for small business to link youth with the labour market is a step in the right direction.

Modernizing Apprenticeships for Small Businesses

The Province is proposing adding five service‐sector trades to the eligibility list for the new Graduated Apprenticeship Grant for Employers: Hairstylist, Cook, Horticultural Technician, Baker/Patissier, and Appliance Service Technician. Additionally, the government is proposing supporting multiple employers to pool together and form consortia to hire, register and train their apprentices for skilled trades.

Our Response: In our report Talent-in-Transition, the Oakville Chamber of Commerce recommended that the government collaborate with business and education stakeholders to increase employers’ awareness of the consortium model. By allowing for multiple employers to join and form hiring consortium, apprentices will see an enhanced system flexibility while improving support for the development of a workforce that is responsive to Ontario’s local labour market needs.


Advocacy and Policy Update: 2017 Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP)

On October 26th, the Ontario Government released its 2017 Long-Term Energy Plan. The plan comes after a year-long consultation, which saw engagement from across the province. Below is a high-level synopsis of the plan, including the Ontario Chamber Network’s analysis and comparison to their Long-Term Energy Submission, Leading the Charge.

Key Initiatives identified in Delivering Fairness and Choice for Business:

Ensuring Affordable and Accessible Energy

The LTEP projects that the residential price for electricity will remain below the outlooks published in the 2010 and 2013 Long-Term Energy Plans.The LTEP highlights how The Fair Hydro Plan will reduce electricity bills by 25 per cent (on average) for residents, small businesses and farms.The government will continue to support the expansion of natural gas, providing customers with more choice and aiding economic development in their communities.

Analysis: In Leading the Charge, we advocated that government’s long-term energy plan must respect the principles of affordability and competitiveness. We are pleased to see the 2017 LTEP has placed an  emphasis on ensuring affordability as one of its fundamental pillars. Reducing electricity costs for industry and small business is a top priority of the Ontario Chamber Network. Under the Affordable and Accessible Energy section, the LTEP points to the government’s measures to help business and industry with energy costs. The plan points out the Save on Energy for Business programs, including the provincial government’s partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce to raise awareness about these energy efficiency programs through Know Your PowerLearn more.

Ensuring a Flexible Energy System

The LTEP further emphasis  the Market Renewal Process currently being undertaken by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), allowing the province to adjust to changes and cost-efficiency and acquire electricity resources  needed to meet future demand.

Analysis: The 2017 LTEP  re-affirms that Ontario needs a flexible energy system that can meet possible future outlooks. Flexibility ensures that Ontario has the ability to respond to changing market conditions, allowing the province to balance electricity demand and supply. Market Renewal could transform Ontario’s wholesale electricity market and ultimately result in a more competitive and flexible energy procurement system.

Innovating to Meet the Future

The LTEP promises to invest in  cost-effective energy storage by updating regulations, including addressing how the Global Adjustment is charged for storage projects.

The Government plans to work with the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) to provide customers greater choice in their electricity plans.

The LTEP proposes to expand the options for net metering to give building owners more opportunities to access renewable energy generation and energy storage technologies.

Analysis: Leading the Charge called on the government to continue to pursue and maintain a balanced supply mix, while seeking to invest in transformation and cost-saving technologies such as energy storage. The Ontario Chamber Network has long recognized that new technologies such as energy storage will be complementary to peaking resources such as wind and solar while supporting the baseload operation of nuclear power. We were pleased to see a commitment to nuclear refurbishment projects such as Darlington, the life extension project at the Bruce Power facility, and the continued operations of Pickering mentioned explicitly.


Improving Value and Performance for Customers

The government plans to enhance the energy sector becomes as a more consumer-focused, and commits to working with the OEB to improve the performance and efficiency of LCDs, and to redesign electricity bills to make it easier for consumers to understand and manage their energy costs.

The government will direct the IESO to develop a competitive selection or procurement process for transmission, and to identify possible pilot projects.

Analysis: Electricity bills need to be clearer and more understandable. While the 2017 LTEP  makes a positive step in this direction, the Ontario Chamber Network will continue to advocate for greater transparency and predictability in the energy system, including the need for the government to create a separate line item on natural gas bills for cap and trade-related costs.


Energy Conservation and Efficiency

The LTEP places a further emphasis on the importance of a Demand Response capacity auction.

The government provided insight into its Green Ontario Fund, which will provide energy consumers with a co-ordinated one-window approach to encourage conservation across multiple energy services and programs.

Analysis: The 2017 LTEP commits to conservation as a means for sustaining Ontario’s energy system and a tool for consumers to manage their energy costs, while emphasizing the importance of Demand Response mechanisms such as  a capacity auction. Since 2015,  the Ontario Chamber Network has called for a  capacity auction, as a means to create  greater opportunities for Demand Response to grow further and compete with other resources.   


Responding to Climate Change

The Government remains committed to an electricity system that includes renewable energy generation and supports the goals of Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP).

The LTEP plans to strengthen the ability of the energy industry to anticipate the effects of climate change and integrates its impacts into its operational and infrastructure planning.

Analysis: The Ontario Chamber Network’s submission to the LTEP, Leading the Charge, called on the government to ensure energy planning is aligned with Ontario’s CCAP  goals. The 2017 LTEP reaffirms this ask and supports the alignment. Also, in the Ontario Chamber Network’s submission to the Long-Term Infrastructure Plan, Building Better: Setting up the Next Ontario Long-Term Infrastructure Plan for Success, we call on the government to ensure that the province’s infrastructure planning is also aligned with the Climate Change Action Plan.


Supporting Regional Solutions and Infrastructure

The government commits to working with local communities to develop plans for meeting their diverse energy requirements. The government has indicated with the first cycle of regional and municipal energy planning complete, the IESO will begin making recommendations that address the challenges and opportunities that have emerged in individual communities. 

Analysis: The Ontario Chamber Network is encouraged to see the expansion of natural gas, particularly for northern communities, giving consumers greater choice and aiding in economic development. Natural gas assets enabled the transition off coal-fired generation and provided a source of on-demand power to backstop wind and solar resources. As a flexible and responsive resource, natural gas adaptability will be instrumental for regional planning as a mechanism to keep costs down.

Our Position:

The Oakville Chamber of Commerce, along with the Ontairo Chamber Network, has long been active in advocating for a principled and pragmatic approach to energy planning. We were encouraged to see that Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan 2017: Delivering Fairness and Choice delivers broad alignment with the Ontario Chamber Network’s previous policy stance. The 2017 LTEP, echoes the Network’s call for the need to ensure competitive and affordable rates through new procurement models.

The Ontario Chamber Network was pleased to see the strong commitment made to Ontario’s nuclear sector, including the refurbishment projects at Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) Darlington site and Bruce Power’s facility in Tiverton, as well as a renewed commitment  to pursue continued operations at OPG’s Pickering site.  We also applaud government on the initial integration of Ontario’s CCAP into our energy planning system.

While today’s plan places an emphasis on ensuring affordability and flexibility, the Ontario Chamber Network will continue to advocate that further rate mitigation strategies must be developed and aimed specifically at the business sector.


What’s Next?

The release of the LTEP today provides us with an encouraging glimpse into Ontario’s energy future. The Ontario Chamber Network will continue to advocate for the reduction of input costs for businesses and looks forward to working with the government to deliver on its energy priorities.


Half of Ontarians fear their skills will soon be obsolete: Oakville Chamber of Commerce

New Ontario Chamber of Commerce report urges action into alignment of skills, education and career opportunities

Today the Oakville Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, released a comprehensive report, Talent in Transition: Addressing the Skills Mismatch in Ontario, which identifies ten recommendations that will better align the skills acquired by Ontarians with those required by employers. The report, which was developed in partnership with leading officials in the private and educational sectors, as well as with representatives from across Ontario, includes exclusive, new research of both Ontario Chamber Network members as well as the general population on sentiment toward skills development.

Of the six in ten businesses who attempted to recruit staff in 2016, 82 per cent experienced a challenge in hiring someone with the proper qualifications. “Ontario employers are finding it more and more challenging to recruit properly qualified talent. If improvements are not made, we will find ourselves in a situation where there are ‘people without jobs and jobs without people” said Richard Koroscil, interim-President and CEO, Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “Our latest report identifies opportunities to improve alignment of skills, education, career opportunities.”

It is not just employers who are concerned with the growing skills mismatch. Of the general population, half of Ontarians are concerned their skills and expertise will no longer be useful or will become less valuable in the next decade. Over the last decade, the skills mismatch has been a major concern for the future growth of Ontario’s economy. The report states that as Ontarians move into the knowledge-based economy, with rapidly changing technological advancement, it is essential to leverage our greatest asset, human capital.

The Ontario Chamber’s report outlines a strategy that unites government and industry to work collaboratively to ensure that all regions across Ontario have access to the skilled workforce required to compete in the global economy. In working together on the recommendations presented in this report, Government and industry can:
  • Improve the transition from school to the workplace (through the expansion of experiential learning opportunities).
  • Improve the labour market outcomes (achieved through Employment Ontario programs).
  • Develop a modernized apprenticeship system (reflective of the current business climate and focused on the integration of young people into the trades).
“We hear from employers in Oakville who are experiencing challenges to find qualified employees all the time,” said John Sawyer, President of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce. “If we align government, employers and educators to find solutions to the skills mismatch, we can strengthen our economy and ensure there are meaningful career opportunities here in Oakville.”

Ontario’s Chamber Network has been active on the skills issue since 2012. This report is part of larger advocacy work to ensure all regions across Ontario have access to the skilled workforce that they require to compete in the global knowledge economy.


Ontario Deserves Evidence-Based Reform: Statement on Ontario’s Fair Workplaces Plan

Changes Will Hurt Job Creation, Consumer Costs and Economic Growth

The Keep Ontario Working coalition, in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and Ontario Chamber Network, expressed concern that the Government of Ontario’s Fair Workplaces and Better Jobs Plan, commits to unproven sweeping reforms without ensuring protection against unintended consequences, including job losses, rising consumer costs and economic hardship.

The Keep Ontario Working Coalition (KOW) is a broad-spectrum group of business sector representatives concerned with sound public policy to help produce jobs and grow Ontario. As noted in the Business Prosperity Index of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s 2017 Ontario Economic Report, despite projections that Ontario will lead Canada in economic growth in the coming years, diminished profitability, lower labour market participation, and sluggish market activity; along with other key factors have resulted in a risk-averse atmosphere that businesses are disinclined to grow production. Businesses are questioning if they should grow in Ontario or expand offshore. Despite that, Ontario’s private sector is still doing its part to support workers. As the Government pointed out in Budget 2017, 98 per cent of all new jobs since the recession in Ontario have been full time, and 78 per cent in above-average wage industries. This positive economic activity by Ontario’s private sector demonstrates a clear commitment to good jobs throughout our province.

OCC AND KEEP ONTARIO WORKING STATEMENT

The following is a statement by the Keep Ontario Working Coalition on the Government’s proposed workplace reforms:

We share in the Government’s desire for broadly inclusive growth. However, in order to achieve this, we need to ensure that we are not risking job losses, rising consumer costs, and economic hardship as a result of over-regulation. “Government cannot regulate prosperity. To demonstrate true fairness and compassion for workers, we must ensure Ontario has a strong economy to help create jobs and increase economic growth. “That is why we are urging the government to take time this summer to have an independent third party conduct a comprehensive economic impact analysis on the proposed reforms to consider the unintended consequences to employers. In addition, as the province’s biggest employer, the government must fully understand what these changes will cost in relation to the provincial treasury as well as social services and other government agencies. “Why is evidence-based policy important? Only three years ago, the Premier’s own Minimum Wage Advisory Panel conducted extensive research and concluded: ‘In the Canadian context, researchers have generally found an adverse employment effect of raising minimum wages especially for young workers…typically those studies find that teen employment would drop by 3 to 6 per cent if the minimum wage is raised by 10 per cent.’ “While the Changing Workplaces Review cautioned that any regulatory change shouldn’t impair the competitiveness of businesses in the province, the reforms outlined in Fair Workplaces and Better Jobs Plan thus far do not provide the balance needed to help ensure a competitive environment for Ontario. “But we have time. Now we must work cooperatively with government to identify the scale of the economic impact of these changes and help employers transition into any new policy regime. We will continue to be cooperative partners with government to find solutions that will, where possible, inhibit negative impacts on the growth of Ontario’s economy, our people, and our communities.”

Your Business Could Be Eligible to Save On Their Electricity Bills

Your business could be eligible to save on their bills the the Ontario Government’s Industrial Conservation Initiative (ICI) program. This program offers significant cost saving for businesses with average peak demand of over 500 kilowatts (kW). Many of your members might be eligible to save on average one-third off their electricity bills if they apply before June 15, 2017. The Ontario Chamber of Commerce has developed an Informational Flyer on the details about the ICI program and how and when to apply. The deadline to apply for the ICI is approaching, please share with your members as soon as possible. Eligible businesses must apply between June 1 – 15. For additional information see the Ministry of Energy’s backgrounder on the ICI program. You can also help us collect data to inform our future policy work on electricity pricing. Please fill out the Ontario Chamber’s short survey. It is only 3 questions and takes 1 minute to complete! Take the Survey Now!

Oakville Chamber strongly objects to potential labour and employment standards reforms

Changes would discourage investment, eliminate jobs and diminish economic opportunities in Ontario, especially among small business owners

 The Oakville Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, has sent a letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne warning against potential changes to Ontario’s Labour Relations Act (LRA) and the Employment Standards Act (ESA), including the introduction of a $15 minimum wage. The letter is cautioning that these reforms may have unintended consequences impacting job creation and competitiveness, as well discouraging investment in the province.

The potential reforms are coming at a time when costs for consumers and the cost of doing business is high and putting Ontario at a competitive disadvantage. Ontario has experienced slower growth in GDP and job creation than in the past, and drastic reforms to labour and employment run the risk of causing serious damage to the future prosperity of the province. “These sweeping changes could seriously impact job creation and the health of our local economy in Oakville” said Faye Lyons, Vice President of Government Relations and Advocacy at the Oakville Chamber of Commerce. “We need to get the message out that the proposed changes would discourage investment in Ontario, thereby discouraging investment and diminishing economic opportunities in Ontario.”

On issues of non-standard and part-time work, Statistics Canada data shows that part-time work has risen 22 percent since 2003, down from the 36 percent increase in the previous 12-year period. Recent studies show that 76 percent of part-timer workers voluntarily choose part-time work to better accommodate schooling or personal life.

“We are urging Premier Wynne to complete an economic impact analysis of the proposed reforms to limit potential consequences that could seriously jeopardize our future growth,” said Richard Koroscil, Interim-President and CEO, Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “We support reform where and when it is needed, but we caution against change for change’s sake.”

The Ontario Chamber’s letter reminds the Premier that Ontario’s employer community is doing its part to create a better jobs and working conditions in the province. Budget 2017 points out that 98% of all new jobs created since the recession have been full time, and 78% have been above- average wage for their respective industries. The letter notes that the goals of economic growth and improved employee rights are not mutually exclusive. The Ontario Chamber believes that what supports the competitiveness of Ontario’s economy can also help enhance quality of work. Increased education and enforcement may assist with compliance to Government regulations and can improve worker environments. Regulatory reform that raises costs for business, only to reduce the ability of business to invest in and grow the labour force is counterproductive.

Read the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s letter to Premier Wynne.
For more information on how the proposed reforms could affect Ontario’s economy, see the Ontario Chamber’s Rapid Policy Update.

Oakville Chamber policy recommendations for infrastructure become key priority for the Ontario Chamber

 The Oakville Chamber’s policy recommendations for infrastructure spending were approved this weekend at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting, in Sarnia, Ontario.

The policy resolution, and the recommended actions, will become one of a number of key priorities identified by the Ontario Chamber and form part of the framework for the advocacy efforts undertaken by the organization at the provincial level. The resolution submitted to the Ontario Chamber states that Ontario’s infrastructure deficit is delaying recovery in all parts of the province.  Meanwhile, congestion in the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area (GTHA) costs the region an estimated $6 billion in lost productivity each year. With Ontario’s population expected to grow approximately 30% by 2041, infrastructure needs will justifiably grow with it. “Infrastructure funds need to be allocated effectively and efficiently to the right types of projects. It is vital that investments are made strategically into projects that support the long-term growth of our economy” stated John Sawyer, President of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce. Sawyer also notes that “According to the Canadian Infrastructure Report Card (CIRC) almost 60% of Canada’s core public infrastructure is owned and maintained by municipal governments and the total value of core municipal infrastructure assets is estimated at $1.1 trillion dollars.  While most of our infrastructure challenges are the responsibility of local governments, both the federal and provincial government have committed renewed investment to tackle our infrastructure needs.  Successful distribution of this funding will be achieved by the co-ordination, communication and collaboration of all levels of government.” According to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), every $1 billion invested in infrastructure generates between $1.20 billion and $1.64 billion in real GDP growth; a proven multiplier effect guaranteed to boost the economy. Similarly, every $1 billion invested in infrastructure creates approximately 16,000 jobs which are supported for one year across multiple sectors. The resolution prepared by the Oakville Chamber and co-sponsored by the Halton Hills Chamber of Commerce is driven by Chamber member opinion obtained through advocacy surveys which revealed that congestion continues to be an obstacle for success for businesses and that infrastructure priorities need to be transportation related.