Entries in Emerging Stronger (4)

Wednesday
Jan272016

Business challenges also offer opportunities

Growing the economy and spurring job creation are the main focus of the 2016 Emerging Stronger document. The fifth and final economic agenda under the Emerging Stronger brand and released by the Peterborough and Ontario Chambers of Commerce (OCC) identifies 25 recommendations. These recommendations are designed to inform the government and the private sector on how to enhance Ontario’s economic competitiveness. 

“This is a critical point for Ontario’s economy with a number of major legislative changes on the horizon for the business community. It's also an opportunity for the public and private sectors to work together to set the framework for future growth,” says Jason Becker, BDO Canada LLP and Chair of the Board of Directors, Peterborough Chamber of Commerce. 

Emerging Stronger's recommendations are grouped under five headings: 

  1. Fostering a culture of innovation and smart risk-taking in order to become a productivity leader 
  2. Building a 21st century workforce 
  3. Restoring fiscal balance by improving the way government works 
  4. Taking advantage of new opportunities in the global economy 
  5. Identifying, championing, and strategically investing in our competitive advantages in the global economy. 

Over the past five years, Emerging Stronger has identified a course of action aimed at making Ontario the best place in which to live, work, and invest and progress has been made in several areas including: 

 

  • Ontario remaining the North American leader in attracting foreign investment 
  • The provincial and federal governments are reinvesting in infrastructure 
  • The new Business Growth Initiative is committed to reducing the growing cost burden on business 

 

However, there are still some challenges that remain: 

 

  • Electricity rates 
  • Skills Shortage
  • Employment insurance
  • Labour productivity 
  • Labour market information 
  • Immigration 
  • Ontario Retirement Pension Plan 

 

“Ontario businesses are looking for stability and economic certainty,” says Allan O’Dette, President & CEO, Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “It is important that public policy address the concerns of the business community.” 

The OCC's Business Confidence Index is the most comprehensive survey of business opinion in the province. It serves as the second informative piece of the Emerging Stronger document and shows that business confidence is at a five-year low. Ontario business leaders are increasingly concerned with the state of the Ontario economy, with only about 30 percent of businesses confident in the provincial economy. Their worries centre around uncertainty throughout the global economy, the financial state of the province and the growing cost of doing business in Ontario. 

However, businesses also recognize that a brighter future can be had by continuing to build a skilled workforce, supporting innovation and taking advantage of global opportunities. 

Full Emerging Stronger report

Media News Release on Emerging Stronger 2016

Wednesday
Feb182015

The business community is driving the economic agenda for Ontario

The Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce has partnered with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce to release Emerging Stronger 2015.  This is the fourth edition of the document which is a business-driven economic agenda for Ontario.  

The report identifies the immediate steps that government and the private sector must take to enhance Ontario’s economic competitiveness and spur job creation in the province including: 

  • Make Ontario’s regulatory system more open and responsive
  • Develop a targeted and coherent intergovernmental strategy for Ontario’s manufacturing sector
  • Create an entrepreneurship advantage in Ontario
  • Modernize Ontario’s apprenticeship system and the regulation of skilled trades
  • Ease the fiscal burden on municipalities by fixing outdated labour legislation
  • Provide information and support to enable Ontario businesses to take full advantage of the Canada-E.U. Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA)
  • Mitigate the impact of pension reform on the business climate 
  • Bend the electricity cost curve

“The recommendations in Emerging Stronger 2015 speak directly to issues affecting Peterborough businesses”, says Stuart Harrison, President and CEO, Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce. “They encourage improvements for manufacturing, trades, entrepreneurs, as well as changes to the regulatory framework for business and the interest arbitration and tendering processes for municipalities."

Create an entrepreneurship advantage in Ontario

Ontarians start fewer businesses per capita than any of their provincial peers. Many point to a lack of entrepreneurial culture in Ontario to account for this trend. Government can take corrective action by creating a grade 11 ‘Introduction to Business and Commerce’ course. Further, the province should consider emulating
successful programs from elsewhere that pair students with local business people to create a business, design a product, and sell it. Businesses also have a role to play. Business leaders need to invest more time mentoring.

Ease the fiscal burden on municipalities by fixing outdated labour legislation

Many municipalities face ballooning costs as a result of faulty labour legislation and processes. This fiscal burden can be eased in two ways: 1. Reform the interest arbitration system. Partly as a result of Ontario’s broken interest arbitration system, emergency service costs are outpacing inflation. Last year, we recommended that, among other things, arbitrator decisions consider municipalities’ ability to pay. Unfortunately, little progress has been made. We urge the government to reform this system so that arbitrator decisions consider a municipality’s economic and fiscal environment. Further, disincentives should be put in place that discourage negotiators from relying on the interest arbitration mechanism. 2. Reform tendering of
municipal contracts. Ontario should reform its tendering rules by leveling the playing field for all qualified
construction companies when competing for public contracts. Municipalities are treated as businesses under Ontario’s Labour Relations Act. As a result, the Ontario Labour Board has been applying collective-bargaining rules for construction companies to municipalities. This has forced a growing number of municipalities to restrict tendering, resulting in higher costs for taxpayer-funded construction projects. Closing this loophole would ensure municipalities make the most of their infrastructure and taxpayer dollars.

Modernize Ontario’s apprenticeship system and the regulation of skilled trades

Ontario continues to have some of the highest apprenticeship ratios in the country.  The ratio is the number of
apprentices allowed per journeyman.  Although some progress has been made by the Ontario College of Trades to reduce ratios, more can be done. Lowering ratios will allow businesses, particularly SMEs, to hire more
apprentices and contribute to higher apprenticeship completion rates (which currently stand at 50 percent on average).  In 2014, the Government of Ontario commissioned a review of some aspects of the Ontario College of Trades. This is a positive step. However, the review must be comprehensive and include the decision-making processes on apprenticeship ratios. To ensure that the apprenticeship system is more flexible and responsive to local labour markets, Ontario should transfer government apprenticeship administration to colleges. In addition, colleges should work more closely with local employers to determine the best mix of apprentices locally and how best to fill the need for apprenticeship positions.

Develop a targeted and coherent intergovernmental strategy for Ontario’s manufacturing sector

Ontario’s days as a manufacturing hub are far from over. The province is home to an ever-growing number of specialized and niche manufacturers. Further, some manufacturing is reshoring from emerging markets. However, American and Mexican jurisdictions are increasingly aggressive in attracting investment. The provincial and federal governments need to develop a shared and targeted strategy focused on attracting and fostering manufacturing investments in areas where Ontario can be globally competitive. For their part, Ontario businesses need to invest more in productivity-enhancing technology.  A previous Emerging Stronger recommendation is worth repeating: firms and sector organizations need to benchmark their productivity relative to their global peers and, where they fall behind, invest more in productivity-enhancing technology.

The Emerging Stronger brand is based on five priorities: 

  1. Fostering a culture of innovation and smart risk-taking in order to become a productivity leader
  2. Building a 21st century workforce
  3. Restoring fiscal balance by improving the way government works
  4. Taking advantage of new opportunities in the global economy
  5. Identifying, championing, and strategically investing in our competitive advantages in the global economy

Thanks to our research partners, the Mowat Centre at the University of Toronto and Leger Marketing.

What the provincial leaders are saying about Emerging Stronger 2015

Andrea Horwath Leader of Ontario’s New Democrats – “People are the economy. New Democrats believe that Ontario’s economy can only emerge stronger if hardworking families are doing well. Like the authors of Emerging Stronger, New Democrats believe that by investing in people, and putting a strategic focus on research and innovation, we can lay the groundwork for a sound economic future. By targeting tax incentives, government can help business across sectors to create and protect good-paying jobs here at home in Ontario.”

Jim Wilson, Interim Leader of the Ontario PC Party - “Emerging Stronger is a leader in promoting pragmatic public policy to create more private sector jobs. The Ontario PC Party will always stand by your side in supporting innovative ideas to drive economic growth. On behalf of the Ontario PC Caucus, I thank you for your valuable and thoughtful contributions to building a stronger Ontario.”

Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario -  “As our economy continues to create more opportunities for people, our
government is focused on completing the transition from recovery to growth by delivering our four-part economic plan. And once again, Emerging Stronger has valuable insights for government, business and not-for-profits, as we work together to build Ontario up. In a federal election year, these insights are particularly important. Ontarians have an opportunity to choose a federal government that helps our province and our country reach its full economic potential. I recommend they review the valuable recommendations contained in Emerging Stronger 2015.”

Read the full report

Comment through the "Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn.

Wednesday
Feb042015

Enhancing competitiveness and job creation is the focus of a business-driven economic agenda for Ontario  

The Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce has partnered with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce to release Emerging Stronger 2015.  This is the fourth edition of the document which is a business-driven economic agenda for Ontario.  

The report identifies the immediate steps that government and the private sector must take to enhance Ontario’s economic competitiveness and spur job creation in the province including:

  • Make Ontario’s regulatory system more open and responsive
  • Develop a targeted and coherent intergovernmental strategy for Ontario’s manufacturing sector
  • Modernize Ontario’s apprenticeship system and the regulation of skilled trades
  • Ease the fiscal burden on municipalities by fixing outdated labour legislation
  • Provide information and support to enable Ontario businesses to take full advantage of the Canada-E.U. Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA)
  • Mitigate the impact of pension reform on the business climate 
  • Bend the electricity cost curve

 “The recommendations in Emerging Stronger 2015 speak directly to issues affecting Peterborough businesses”, says Stuart Harrison, President and CEO, Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce. “They encourage improvements for the manufacturing and trades sectors, as well as changes to the regulatory framework for business and the interest arbitration and tendering processes for municipalities.

The Emerging Stronger brand is based on five priorities: 

  1. Fostering a culture of innovation and smart risk-taking in order to become a productivity leader
  2. Building a 21st century workforce
  3. Restoring fiscal balance by improving the way government works
  4. Taking advantage of new opportunities in the global economy
  5. Identifying, championing, and strategically investing in our competitive advantages in the global economy

Thanks to our research partners, the Mowat Centre at the University of Toronto and Leger Marketing.

Find the full report here: Emerging Stronger 2015

Comment through the "Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn.

 

Wednesday
Oct082014

Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce says businesses are concerned about Ontario pension plan

The provincial Liberals are moving ahead with plans to install the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP).  Businesses are concerned with the immediate and long term implications of such a program and chambers across the province, including the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce, took part in a “Pension Advocacy Day” on Wednesday, October 8, 2014.   

The Peterborough Chamber and 50 other chambers across Ontario also recently signed a letter expressing the concerns of the business community.  The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC), on behalf of the provincial Chamber Network, sent a letter to the Honourable Mitzie Hunter, Associate Minister of Finance. Minister Hunter has been charged with developing the framework for the ORPP.  The provincial government chose to develop this plan after the federal government refused to make any changes to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP).     

As stated in the letter, the business community is very aware that a section of the population that is not prepared for retirement and acknowledges that “significant number of retirees, who lack sufficient income to maintain their standards of living, would have serious implications on the fiscal health of Ontario.”

However, many employers believe a standalone provincial pension plan is not the best route for Ontario.  As expressed in the letter, the concern lies in the cumulative effect of a number of expected increases for employers over the next few years from soaring electricity costs to very high WSIB premiums and yet Ontario’s Ministry of Finance projects the real annual GDP to be at 2.1% for the next twenty years.  This would be down from 2.6% growth seen in the previous twenty years. 

The provincial government is still in the very early design stages of the ORPP.  Here’s what we know so far:  

  • The ORPP will require equal contributions to be shared between employers and employees, not exceeding 1.9 per cent each (3.8 per cent combined) on earnings up to a maximum annual earnings threshold of $90,000. The ORPP maximum earnings threshold would increase each year, consistent with increases to the CPP maximum earnings threshold. 

Here are some illustrative examples of how much businesses will end up paying using the known parameters: 

  • A business has five employees, all of whom make $50,000.00 annually.
    • The business will need to pay $883.50 (1.9%) per employee per year in ORPP contributions
    • The business will be paying $4,417.50 in total, per year, in ORPP contributions for its 5 employees
  • A business has 20 employees, 10 of whom make $90,000 annually, five of whom make $50,000 annually, and five of whom make $30,000 annually. 
    • The business will need to make ORPP contributions of $1,643.50 for each employee that makes $90,000, $883.50 for each employee that makes $50,000, and $503.50 for each employee that makes $30,000.
    • The business will be paying $23,370 in total, per year, in ORPP contributions for its 20 employees. (OCC Backgrounder 2014)
  • Businesses already participating in a comparable workplace pension plan would not be required to enrol in the ORPP. The government has not yet defined what it means by “comparable plan”.
  • The ORPP would be publicly administered at arm’s length from government and have a strong governance model. 

Increased costs are not the only concerns of business:   

  • Unnecessary bureaucracy
  • Fragmentation of the pension landscape 
  • Ontario is moving in a different direction on pension while other provinces are looking at using Pooled Registered Pension Plans (PRPPs) (OCC letter to Minister Hunter September 2014) 

According to the OCC survey Emerging Stronger 2014 employers are overwhelmingly in favour of Pooled Registered Pension Plans (PRPPs). These plans allow for greater flexibility in terms of employer contribution and would not be mandatory.

Starting in 2017, the ORPP will be phased in and coincide with expected reductions in Employment Insurance premiums.  The largest employers would be enrolled first and contribution rates would be phased in over two years.  

Comment through the “Peterborough Chamber” group of LinkedIn.