Wednesday
Jun222016

CPP enhancement could spell the end of the ORPP

From the Ontario perspective, the agreement in principle to enhance the Canada Pension Plan is a good thing for business.  The solution is one that will still have impact, but less so than what we were facing here in Ontario. 

According to Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa, this will be the end of the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP), should the agreement be ratified by July 15, 2016.  If that happens, there will not be a new 1.9 percent payroll tax.  It means the government administration required to manage the ORPP will no longer be needed.  It means that small businesses in Ontario will not have to add a line to their payroll deductions.  It means that a province-by-province approach to pension reform is avoided and that would have been a costly venture.  

“A province-by-province approach would have increased regulatory fragmentation and thus administrative burden.  Ontario is doing the right thing by moving away from the ORPP in order to support a coordinated solution,” said Allan O’Dette, President & CEO, Ontario Chamber of Commerce.  

The devil is in the details.  The nine ministers have agreed in principal to the following: 

  • The income replacement level will be increased to one third of income
  • The upper earnings limit will be targeted at $82,700 upon full implementation in 2025
  • There will be a gradual 7-year phase-in beginning on January 1, 2019 consisting of:
    • A 5-year contribution rate phase-in below the Yearly Maximum Pensionable Earnings (YMPE), followed by:
    • A 2-year phase-in of the upper earnings limit
  • An increase to the Working Income Tax Benefit (WITB) to help low-income earners
  • Tax deductibility for the enhanced portion of the employee CPP contributions 

The Peterborough Chamber was very vocal in presenting the impact of ORPP to the provincial government through presentations to the Associate Minister of Finance and letters to the Minister of Finance.  Through the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber Network was able to delay proposed implementation of the ORPP by one year to 2018.  

Both the Peterborough and Kingston Chambers of Commerce were at the leading edge of pension reform when recommendations were submitted to government in 2015 asking that employees be allowed to contribute up to 1.9% more to CPP.  The goal of the recommendations was to see an enhanced CPP in order to avoid a piecemeal province-by-province approach.  

When the CPP enhancement is fully phased-in by 2025 the total increase in CPP contributions by employees and employers will be 1%, which is almost half the ORPP.

“While we were hoping to see little or no impact on businesses, we are glad to see that consideration has been given to the need for a long phase-in period,” said Stuart Harrison, President & CEO, Peterborough Chamber of Commerce. “The ability for businesses to prepare and understand changes is paramount to ensuring Ontario stays competitive.”

The ministers also agreed to three measures for implementation: 

  • introducing a long and gradual phase-in starting on January 1, 2019 that will allow more time for businesses to adjust
  • enhancing the federal Working Income Benefit as a means of offsetting the impact of increased contributions on low-income workers
  • providing a tax deduction - instead of a tax credit - for employee contributions associated with the enhanced portion of CPP in order to avoid increasing the after-tax cost of saving for Canadians

 The Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC) still has concerns about the cost of the program and impact the plan will have on cash flow and business investment.  However, because the business community has been at the table for the breadth of the discussion around pension reform, we hope to continue to work with the federal and provincial governments as they move forward.  

Quebec and Manitoba are the only provinces not to sign on.  Quebec is interested in some enhancement that works better with the Quebec Pension Plan.   

The goal is to have the plan ratified by Friday, July 15, 2016.

Wednesday
Jun222016

Peterborough Chamber helps celebrate opening of 407

We had the opportunity to celebrate the opening of Phase 1 of the 407. The highway starting at Harmony Road in Oshawa to Brock Road in Pickering officially opened to traffic on Monday, June 20th and will be free to use until January 1, 2017.

The Peterborough contingent was MPP Jeff Leal, Mayor Daryl Bennett, Warden J.Murray Jones and the Peterborough Examiner.

"Ribbon of prosperity" and "important two-way street" were a few of the descriptors used to talk about the impact of this highway. The first part of phase 2, which will end at the 35/115, will be opened in 2017 with a link to Taunton Road. The full completion date for the highway is 2020.

The Chamber has a strong connection to the 407. In 2004, there was a policy resolution from the Oshawa Chamber of Commerce to continue the 407 eastward. The then Chair of the Board for the Peterborough Chamber Dan Stanford and Stuart Harrison, President and CEO of the Peterborough Chamber asked that the recommendation to government include taking the highway all the way to the 35/115.

Wednesday
Jun152016

Peterborough Chamber submits two policy resolutions for CCC AGM

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC) depends on the policy resolutions and recommendations from local chambers and boards of trade, such as Peterborough, to determine advocacy issues important to the business community. 

On the CCC website (chamber.ca), the policy process is described as culminating in a democratic vote on the floor of our annual general meeting (AGM). 

Following approval at the AGM, the CCC, along with our members, can move forward in our advocacy efforts based on the resolutions contained within our Policy Resolutions Books. Each resolution, once approved, has an effective lifespan of three years.

For consideration in 2016, the Peterborough Chamber has submitted the following:  

Advancing Canada's Competitiveness Using Shortline Rail

This resolution asks for capital investment tax incentives for shortline rail companies 

Restoring Canada's Innovative Competitiveness

This resolution asks the federal government to improve the SR&ED tax credits to encourage more private sector innovation

These policy resolutions will now be assessed by the CCC Policy Committees to see if they will be on the floor for debate at the Annual General Meeting in Regina, Saskatchewan in September.

Wednesday
Jun152016

One project in one sector and the economic impact 

“The nuclear sector has been identified as a significant opportunity for the Peterborough area, with over 20 local companies making up a nuclear cluster,” said Stuart Harrison, President & CEO, Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce. “The Darlington Nuclear refurbishment offers the opportunity for local businesses to be a part of the supply chain that will see the project through to completion.”

Recently, the Peterborough and Ontario Chambers of Commerce hosted the Hon. Jeff Leal, MPP of Peterborough, Ontario Power Generation, and local vendors in the nuclear industry including Rolls-Royce and Canadian Instrumentation Services Group Ltd. The goal of the roundtable was to discuss how the Darlington Nuclear Refurbishment project will impact the Peterborough and provincial economies.  

"Refurbishing Darlington is an investment in clean air, in lower energy prices, in jobs, and an important investment in Peterborough,” said Boris Vulanovic, Director Operations & Maintenance at OPG.  “OPG and our suppliers and partners are working as one team to deliver the project safely, on time and on budget." 

Discussion centred around the nuclear supply chain and skilled trades.

 

Wednesday
Jun082016

Taking Peterborough's business voice to the provincial level

The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce is constantly looking to ensure the voice of Peterborough business is heard at the provincial level.  

Over the winter months and continuing throughout the summer months of 2016, the Peterborough Chamber has or will be part of three provincial working groups under the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) examining areas of great importance to Peterborough and the province.  All three subject areas were identified in the Chamber’s Top 10 Opportunities for Peterborough.  They are entrepreneurship, tourism and agriculture.  

Entrepreneurship

The timing is right for entrepreneurship. In Peterborough there has been an intentional and concerted effort to build and create a sustainable ecosystem for startups and new business through the StartUp Ptbo program.  That said, it is important to understand the tools available to business for growth.  Where are the gaps and overlaps?  

Recognizing that this is a Top 10 Opportunity for the Peterborough area, the Chamber was part of a working group examining the issues and helped facilitate feedback via a survey about the needs of entrepreneurs to grow their businesses.  We also connected the OCC with several local businesses for an interview and attended the launch of the resulting report at the Ryerson DMZ. The Breaking Barriers: Ontario’s Scale Up Challenge report presented six recommendations to position Ontario for long-term success including improved access to talent with scale up experience, adressing gaps in the right kinds of financing, and increasing incentives to growth offered through public programs. 

In their 2016 budgets, both the federal and provincial governments mentioned the importance of scaling up to the Canadian and Ontario economies, and according to Statistics Canada small business represents 98% of all firms and created 77.7% of all jobs between 2002 and 2012.  

Tourism 

This sector of our economy is also a staple. Proof is in the numbers recently released by Peterborough & the Kawarthas Tourism (PKT) which show the Peterborough area welcomes 3.45 million visitors annually and that these visitors spend $358 million locally.

The OCC has formed a working group to examine and participate in the provincial discussion around a proposed strategic framework for the tourism sector.  The Peterborough Chamber is once again part of the working group on this matter and work has already begun with a submission to the provincial government on the proposed framework.  Thank you to Brenda Wood at RTO8 and Fiona Dawson at PKT for their information and contributions to this work.  The submission put forward suggestions in five areas including: improving the cumulative burden facing businesses in the tourism sector and improving the coordination of the tourism ecosystem.  

Agriculture

In the Peterborough area agriculture is a key building block of the economy, with over $400 million in economic activity each year, according to Peterborough Economic Development.  Agriculture is also a sector that is changing rapidly with the use of technology and land availability.  How we grow our food, get it ready for market and get it to market are areas of important study.  The Peterborough Chamber is committed to being part of a working group through the OCC that will be releasing a report later this summer focusing on innovation, competitiveness and market development in the agri-food sector. The OCC and the working group are committed to developing recommendations to ensure Ontario producers and processors have the tools and resources they need to continue to innovate and reach emerging markets.  We will be reaching out to our agriculture community for feedback and information on the issues that are impacting the sector. 

The federal and provincial governments have also indicated that agriculture is an important sector. The Premier has made commitments to improve the climate for agri-business and the federal government, in Budget 2016, continued with the Growing Forward 2 program to 2018 as well as $30 million over six years for advanced research in agricultural science. 

The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce is proud to be a part of these working groups contributing to the narrative in these sectors.  We look forward to presenting the findings to our member businesses and beyond.