The making of a Christmas wish list for business

Recently the provincial government released a fiscal review, outlining the status of the province’s finances.  Contained in that document were a few early Christmas presents for the business community.  The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce and Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) are encouraged to see the Chamber network’s powerful advocacy work directly reflected in the government’s economic plans and priorities for 2016. 

The fall fiscal review introduced for the first time detailed steps to address the cumulative burden facing Ontario businesses. 

  1. A removal of the Debt Retirement Charge on commercial, industrial, and other non-residential electricity users on April 1, 2018, nine months earlier than expected;
  2. A promise to maintain the industrial exception in the Professional Engineers Act;
  3. The “Red Tape Challenge,” a strategy encouraging Ontarians to submit comments to a Regulatory Modernization Committee regarding regulations that impact them;
  4. A Regulatory Centre of Excellence, which identifies and champions best practices from around the world; and,
  5. A Government Modernization Fund to address the cost of modernizing outmoded regulatory processes.

These measures directly reflect the work of the Chamber Network, of which the Peterborough Chamber is a part, over the past year.  

However, there is still more work to do in a number of areas from energy to taxation to the environment.  With that in mind here are a few items from the business community Christmas wish list.

  1. The release of the economic analysis for the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan to inform business and the public as to the true impact of the plan.
  2. An electricity system that is designed to power the economy.  Currently, electricity prices are the highest in North America making it one of the largest barriers to business expansion.
  3. More information on the proposed Cap and Trade system and implementation timeline.  Announcing new programs such as this without some basics as to the impacts on the economy creates apprehension in the business community.  
  4. A more focused and flexible approach to the apprenticeship program as this sector of the economy has a shortage of available workers.  
  5. A recognition that the impact of multiple major policy changes in a short period of time has a significant impact on the business community, many of which are small and medium-sized enterprises. 

In the past two years there have been about a half dozen major policy shifts from ORPP to Cap and Trade to WSIB to minimum wage to electricity to the College of Trades.  In isolation the impact may be manageable; however, the piling on effect of this shift has the potential to have a very negative impact.

“Businesses are pulled in many directions on a daily basis,” says Stuart Harrison, President & CEO, Peterborough Chamber of Commerce. “If their ability to be innovative and competitive in our communities, provincially and globally is constantly hampered by additional legislation, then there is the potential to lose any momentum the Ontario economy is currently experiencing.”

Comment through the "Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn.

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