Entries in federal (4)

Wednesday
Jul222015

Jobs, jobs, jobs: Federal Election 2015

With most of the candidates in place for the Peterborough-Kawartha, Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock and Northumberland-Peterborough South ridings, it’s time to start breaking down the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC) 2015 Federal election platform called “A Canada That Wins”.  

In his presentation at the March Peterborough Chamber Annual General Meeting, Hendrik Brakel Senior Director, Economic, Financial & Tax Policy at the CCC spoke to much of what is in the official platform.  As with the provincial election and to an extent the municipal elections in 2014, jobs are quickly becoming a main focus of this campaign. The following is a segment called “5 Minutes for Business:  The Top 3 Issues in the Federal Election – Jobs, Jobs, and Jobs” penned by Brakel.   

"Jobs are always a top issue in a federal election, but with this shaky economy, it’s fast becoming the number one priority. Opposition parties have made much of the recent bad news: in the first quarter, Canada’s GDP shrank by 0.6%, exports tumbled 5.6% and corporate profits fell by 14% as the drop in oil prices slammed the Canadian economy.

And yet the Canadian labour market has held up well, adding an average of 20,000 jobs per month since the beginning of 2015. In fact, Canada added a rip-roaring 59,000 jobs in May. What gives? Where are these jobs coming from in the midst of economic despair?

Our regional differences are as stark as ever. Energyrich provinces once drove job creation while the manufacturing sector of Central Canada lagged behind. Now lower oil prices and a weaker Loonie have flipped the numbers. Still, the outlook is very mixed.

There are now 25,000 fewer jobs in the Alberta oil patch, but there is good reason to believe that the worst is behind us. Firstly, oil prices have stabilized around the $60 range and are headed slightly higher. The market no longer fears a drop to $20 as Citibank had predicted. Secondly, oil sands projects require huge upfront investments, but once those are made, they can go on producing for years with relatively low costs. And they need to keep operating continuously: most can’t be shut down without damaging the equipment. Thirdly, new investments are on-track with 10 new oil sands projects scheduled to start this year and 7 set for 2016 with total capacity over 300,000 barrels per day, according to Oil Sands Review. These are probably safe because once they’re partially paid for, “you don’t stop a project mid-cap-ex”. Some exploration and drilling activity has been scaled back, but job losses should ease.

In manufacturing, the outlook is much improved and the parties have all pledged support for the sector, which is certainly welcome. The challenge is that manufacturers are increasing production by investing in capital and new technologies: they’re becoming more efficient and more competitive. As a result, we’ll see an impressive resurgence in manufacturing and exports, but it may not translate into big job gains.

The political parties are missing the big picture by focusing so much on jobs in manufacturing and natural resources because together they account for just 11% of the labour force. The overwhelming majority (78%) of Canadian employment is in the service sector and recently it’s been the fastest growing part of our economy.

Services are a poorly understood grab bag of different occupations. It’s sometimes perceived as low-paying because it includes retail and restaurants, but there are also scientists, engineers, lawyers and financiers.

Over the past year, Canada’s fastest job growth is in sectors like business and support services (up 4.5% compared to last year), education (up 4.1%), finance and insurance (up 3.5%) and professional, scientific and technical (up 1.7%), while retail has barely budged (0.3%). And the gains in high-end services employment are spread right across the country.

With the election just around the corner, we would love to hear a politician say: “we need highly specialized skills to compete and succeed in the service economy. That’s why we must invest in Canadian education and training to make it the best in the world.”

Our Peterborough Chamber members and members of the public interested in the economy have the opportunity to make their voices heard at a meeting held by the Peterborough-Kawartha federal liberal candidate, Maryam Monsef.  The meeting is Friday, July 24, 2015 from 8-10am at the Holiday Inn.  Liberal MP Ralph Goodale will also be in attendance.  

Also running in the Peterborough-Kawartha Riding are Mike Skinner for the Conservatives and Dave Nickle for the NDP. In Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock running for MP are Jamie Schmale as the Conservative candidate, David Marquis for the Liberals, Mike Perry for the NDP, and William MacCallum for the Green Party. In Northumberland-Peterborough South Adam Moulton is running for the Conservatives, Kim Rudd for the Liberals, Russ Christianson for the NDP, and Patricia Sinott for the Green Party.

For more election information you can check out the Peterborough Chamber’s 2015 Federal Election Hub on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fedelection2015ptbo

The Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce does not endorse any one candidate, but we encourage and support all candidates, which is the reason for the page. The Chamber works with all elected representatives municipal, provincial and federal. 

Comment through the "Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn. 

Wednesday
Apr292015

A tale of two budgets: federal and provincial

In a tale of two budgets, the federal and provincial budgets were delivered last week. The federal budget is a pre-election document with something for everyone.  The provincial budget is one of a majority government with an eye to transportation infrastructure and getting the province fiscally on solid ground. 

Provincially  

Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) policy analysts were in the budget lockup at Queen’s Park last Thursday and came away with the following analysis:

Provincial deficit has risen

Budget 2015 makes the right commitments but is vague on details when it comes to how the government will meet its deficit reduction targets (eliminating the deficit by 2017-2018).  Total provincial debt is projected to grow to $284 billion this year – equivalent to $20,772 of debt for every Ontarian.  The OCC applauds the government for making difficult decisions in terms of wage restraint measures and holding average annual growth in program spending to 1.5 percent.  This should be a top priority area for the government as eliminating the deficit is the most important step government can take to improve Ontario’s competitiveness and create jobs in the province.

Government is plowing ahead with the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP)  

The OCC remains concerned about the impact that the ORPP could have on the economy.  Budget 2015 provides little in the way of clarity for employers on the details of the ORPP.  We continue to call on government to develop a comprehensive understanding of the impact of the ORPP and to re-examine the narrow exemption rules it has in place.  These narrow parameters ignore the contributions that many employers are already making to their employees’ retirement through defined-contribution plans.

Employers will continue to be shocked by rising electricity rates

Budget 2015 does little to address business’ concerns over rising electricity rates.  According, to the OCC’s most recent survey, rising electricity prices are the number one factor hurting business competitiveness.  While the Industrial Conservation Initiative (ICI) and the extension of the Northern Industrial Electricity Rate (NIER) program are encouraging, we remain very concerned about out-of-control electricity rates.  

Government is making important investments in transportation infrastructure

The OCC welcomes increased spending in areas of strategic, economic importance, including transportation infrastructure.  Budget 2015 increases dedicated transportation infrastructure funds by $2.6 billion to $31.5 billion available over 10 years.  These funds will be used for transit, transportation, and other priority infrastructure projects across Ontario. The Province should continue to make use of its world-leading Alternative Financing and Procurement (AFP) expertise in order to ensure it is getting the best bang for its infrastructure buck.

Government is aggressively pursuing an asset recycling strategy

The OCC supports the government’s goal to maximize the value of its assets. Budget 2015 increases the asset optimization target to $5.7 billion, up from a $2.6 billion target in 2014.  As it undertakes its asset review, government must ensure that its actions do not hurt domestic industry and, as it relates to the sale of electricity infrastructure, do not put the rate payer at risk. 

Innovation initiative:  The government is investing $20 million to establish a Health Technology Innovation Fund and appoint a Chief Innovation Strategist.

Cuts to the Apprenticeship Training Tax Credit: Funding is being returned to pre-recession levels, resulting in $30 million in cost savings. 

Youth Employment: Ontario Youth Jobs Strategy is being renewed to the tune of $250 million in the next two years. 

Full Provincial Budget 

Federally

“Oil prices have recovered slightly, to around $56, and we expect them to be back in the $65 range by year-end.  The government also enjoyed a $3.4 billion windfall from the sale of GM shares,” says Hendrik Brakel, Senior Director, Economic, Tax and Finance Policy, Canadian Chamber of Commerce.  “As a result, there is room for some helpful measures to support Canadian business, a few things that will make life easier for business.”

Taxes

Small Business Tax Rate will be reduced from 11 percent to 9 percent by 2019 (0.5 percent reduction each year starting January 1, 2016), resulting in $2.7 billion in tax savings through 2020.  

The federal government also committed to extending the accelerated capital cost allowance to 2025.  

On payroll taxes, the Canadian Chamber was pleased by the government reconfirming the EI premium rate freeze.  

Trade and International Affairs 

There was a significant increase in funding for agriculture exports, including $18 million to promote
competiveness and trade opportunities and $12 million to market Canadian food.  

Technology and Innovation

The federal government promised $1.3 billion over six years starting in 2017-18 to the Canada Foundation for Innovation for advanced research infrastructure at universities and research hospitals. 

As well as, $1 billion over five years for technical demonstrations in the aerospace industry plus $30 million over four years for Canada’s satellite communications sector.  

People and Skills

The investment of $65 million will allow business and industry trade associations to work with post-secondary institutions to better determine the needs of the market.

The Canadian Chamber has been advocating for improved labour market information, so it was pleased to see $4 million over two years to launch a new one-stop national labour market information portal.  We welcome this as a first step toward more investments in actual surveys.  

Missing from the federal budget were discussions around climate change.

Full Federal Budget

The business community is fighting for a business climate that functions at the utmost efficiency and look to the government at all levels to set the framework so that goal can be realized.   The economic health of our country and our province are key to moving us forward.  However, both budgets reflect a common tension that governments must balance through the best of times and the worst of times. 

Comment through the "Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn.

Wednesday
Oct012014

Peterborough Chamber helps set federal policy agenda for business

Incoming 2015 Board Chair Pat Marren of Glenn Windrem Trucking (right) and Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Stuart Harrison voting during the policy plenary at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting in Charlottetown, PEI. 

The Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce and delegates from chambers across the country debated 72 policy resolutions.  Those that were carried become part of the federal policy agenda for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC).  

Along with a dozen other Ontario Chambers, the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce lent its direct support to a policy resolution calling on the government to undertake an expedient review of the full impact that competitor jurisdictions' business attraction efforts are having on Canada's economy.  This would be done in co-ordination with businesses and chambers of commerce from across Canada and examine the impact in terms of both GDP losses and job losses.

"This is what we call the Parliament of Business," explains Stuart Harrison, Chamber President & CEO. "By discussing these issues and voting on policy resolutions chambers across the country collectively begin to speak with one very strong voice."

What this means for our members: 

The CCC will present the policies to federal government officials, meet with representatives and make known the position of local chambers on issues important to the business community.

At the 2014 AGM those asks were: 

  • improving the innovation climate through tax incentives and revising current programs to help SMEs and larger innovators
  • improving labour market information availability
  • removing interprovincial trade barriers
  • investigating the importance of effective child care in relation to number of spaces and cost
  • improving the newly-redesigned Temporary Foreign Worker Program
  • improving productivity for Canadian companies through tax incentives, subsidies and grants
  • improving some of the requirements for business to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) 
 

 

Wednesday
Sep242014

Enabling Accessibility in workplaces funding available

Provided by: Mark Buffone, Accessibility Compliance Coordinator, City of Peterborough 

There is an open call for proposals to receive funding from the Federal government for projects that improve accessibility in workplaces. Full details available at:

http://www.esdc.gc.ca/eng/disability/eaf/workplace.shtml

Tips on applying:

1. Funding for projects for renovation, retrofit or new construction in which job opportunities for people with disabilities could be created or maintained. Includes provision of assistive technologies, professional fees, consultants.

2. Organizations can submit one application only.

3. Federal goverment will fund up to $50,000. Minimum 50% of the project costs to be by others.

4. Open to small businesses only (not-for-profit organizations are not eligible)

5. Project duration must be a maximum of 52 weeks.

Furthermore, Employment and Social Development developed the following criteria: 

For the purpose of this CFP, systemic barriers are defined as:

Limitations that prevent people with disabilities from accessing job opportunities, advancement
opportunities, or limitations that prevent improving the current employment status of people with disabilities or prevent them from maintaining their position within an organization as a result of design elements of workplaces. Such elements include, but are not limited to, disability/adaptive aids and assistive technology devices, stairs, doorways, the width of hallways and levelled room layouts, and equipment not designed with accessibility principles in mind.

Responding to systemic accessibility issues in workplaces means that projects must be geared towards activities that can serve to improve the accessibility and safety of all current and future employees with disabilities, as opposed to one individual’s specific accommodation needs.

For the purpose of this CFP, assistive technologies are defined as:

Accessible information and communication technology media aimed at increasing accessibility for people with disabilities to information and/or communication. Technologies include, but are not limited to, FM loop systems, visual-audible alarm signal devices, special computer software and peripheral hardware (e.g. speech recognition and/or screen enlargement software or device, electronic reader or audio description program, etc.).

Deadline for applications:
Wednesday, October 1, 2014 at 11:59pm EST

Comment through the "Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn.