Taking care of tourism is important for Peterborough

Tourism is a pillar of the Peterborough economy.  Over 1,000 businesses are directly involved in this sector, employing over 13,000 people in the Peterborough and Haliburton, Kawartha Lakes, Brock ridings, according to the Tourism Industry Association of Canada.   At the recent Annual General Meeting for Peterborough and the Kawarthas Tourism, Director of Tourism and Communications Fiona Dawson offered the following details:  

  • 3.45 million visitors annually, representing 57% of all visits to Region 8 in the province
  • Those visitors spent $358 million in the local economy
  • Most visitors are spending their time here on outdoor activities, checking out parks and historic sites

The spotlight will continue to shine on tourism as the province of Ontario is working toward developing a new strategic framework for this sector. The past few years have been challenging after the federal budget for tourism promotion was cut by 20% in 2013.  

Knowing that the Ontario tourism industry is a “critical economic driver”, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) has made a submission to the provincial government with some initial feedback in five areas:


  1. Where possible, steps should be taken to reduce the cumulative burden experienced by tourism operators  As tourism crosses many ministries of government effort must be made to create a regulatory environment that is conducive to business growth.
  2. Improved coordination in Ontario’s tourism ecosystem is needed, especially to maximize the impact of scarce marketing resources  Strategic marketing is needed to minimize duplicative or contradictory efforts because marketing is an essential component of tourist attraction and growth.
  3. Greater cooperation between the provincial and federal governments should be a priority How can Ontario leverage the efforts of the federal government to grow the tourism market in this province?
  4. Invest in trade-enabling infrastructure to facilitate greater travel within Ontario and internationally  Such investments in road, air and rail will make tourism destinations more accessible for tourists.
  5. Outcomes of the strategic framework should be clearly defined and monitored Develop clearly defined and quantifiable targets to reach within a specific time frame to help determine the success of the new framework. 


Over the next few months the OCC will be writing a more “substantive work on the steps needed to be taken to grow and support tourism in the province.”  The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce will be part of the OCC’s working group on the report to be released in the fall.  

We also attended the province's consultation session on the proposed framework in April.   

If you are in the tourism sector and would like to provide feedback, reach us at:


Chamber attends Peterborough Day at Queen's Park

President and CEO Stuart Harrison and Policy Analyst Sandra Dueck attended the event, which was started by MPP Jeff Leal in 2003, on Thursday, May 19, 2016. 

The day included sitting in on Question Period and being acknowledged by Minister Leal for being in the audience, as well as chatting with senior staff, MPPs and Ministers, including Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca.  

Stu also spoke eastern Ontario economic development with Carol Kim, Senior Advisor on Strategic Initiatives to Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Jeff Leal. 

It's not just agriculture, it's the business of agriculture. For example, local distiller Persian Empire buys 100s of thousands of litres of milk locally for their yogurt drink, which they distribute broadly.


Have your say: what's ailing small business in Ptbo?

93 percent of the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce membership fall under the category of small business (100 employees or less).  These businesses employ close to 8,500 people.  For the Kawartha Chamber of Commerce & Tourism, 96% of their membership is small business, employing over 3,800.

Recently, the Peterborough and Kawartha Chambers of Commerce, in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC), launched Small Business Too Big To Ignore, a six month campaign to highlight the important contributions of small businesses to our communities and investigate the top barriers to small business growth. 

Along with the campaign the Peterborough and Kawartha Chambers will be hosting a series of roundtables using the OCC’s recent report, Top 3 Obstacles to Small Business Success, which is aimed at starting a conversation about the underlying challenges that are weighing on small businesses and stifling job creation.

In the report, the OCC cites the rising cost of doing business as a major impediment to small business growth. In fact, OCC 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 Stuart Harrison, President & CEO, Peterborough Chamber of Commerce. “The Peterborough and Kawartha Chambers are launching this campaign to take a look at how we can engage both government and business leaders in our communities in a productive conversation to 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 OCC 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 that is reflective of the needs of employers in our area has been a cornerstone of our advocacy efforts for quite some time,” said Sherry Boyce-Found, General Manager, Kawartha Chamber of Commerce & Tourism. “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.”

The goal of the roundtables with small business owners is to identify the barriers that they face and understand how the three areas already identified fit into the equation.

“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 To Ignore campaign,” said Allan O’Dette, President and CEO of the OCC. “The insights gained from the local chamber consultations will inform an upcoming OCC report to be released during Small Business week in October 2016. We are really looking forward to the feedback.”

Top 3 Obstacles to Small Business Success


OCC: Concerns about Cap and Trade; asks for delay

In a letter dated May 12, 2016, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) sent a letter to Minister of
Environment and Climate Change Glen Murray asking for a one year delay in the Cap and Trade program to 2018 and for clarity on four main issues:  


  1. What will be the economic impact of the cap and trade system?
  2. How will cap and trade revenue be invested and administered?
  3. How, and when, will offsets be available?
  4. What will the cap and trade system look like after 2020?


The letter speaks to businesses feeling "uncertain about the incoming cap and trade system and unprepared for its full implementation next year."

It goes on to state, that in order "to produce the most effective environmental and economic outcomes, it is important that government takes the time to get the design of  cap and trade right.”

The letter is in response to the recent introduction of Bill 172, Climate Change Mitigation and Low-carbon Economy Act, 2016.

The OCC thanks the government for their continued engagement with the business community and appreciates the steps toward transparency as it pertains to the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Account.  

The business advocacy group "understands the need to address climate change and will continue to contribute to the conversation."

Read the letter


The Culture of Complaint

In February of this year the Huffington Post did a story on Peterborough becoming the second worst place in Canada to find a job.  The result was a predictable outpouring of criticism and blame.

At the time no one was able to explain why we had dropped from 3rd to 27th in one month. As a Chamber, our comment to the media was centred around our skepticism of the numbers. We didn’t go from nearly first to nearly worst in one month....

Huffington Post is not to blame, and neither are the local media outlets who carried the story. They were quoting a BMO Report, which quotes available statistics. Similarly, our unemployment rate has been on a wild roller coaster ride, going from 8.6% in November to 3.2% in April. Does anyone believe those numbers?

BMO is back with this month’s report, and “Alert the Media” we’ve staged a magic recovery, going from 27th to 6th in three months! It’s a miracle! Good work everyone! It’s beer o’clock! (Yes that is sarcasm...)

Here is the point. We’re not that bad, and we’re not that good.

Job creation is everyone’s responsibility:

  • Peterborough Economic Development as the lead agency
  • Multiple agencies and associations, from the Innovation Cluster to the Chamber to the Construction association to the Manufacturers Association, and many more, all working for growth and support of our various members/constituencies.
  • Business owners who juggle multiple challenges in order to hit sales/growth targets
  • Municipal, Provincial and Federal Government who help create the conditions for employment

I could go on for a long time, but this is “Team PTBO” All of us need to be on board, and we need to constantly remind ourselves that being positive and working hard at job creation is an ongoing process.

No matter what this month’s numbers say....