Entries in innovation (3)

Wednesday
Jun242015

"A Canada that Wins" is good for Peterborough

October 19, 2015 is the date for the next federal election in Canada.  That is just under 17 weeks away.  Elections are always an interesting time because the process causes the voting public to reflect on the past four years and look ahead with an eye to the guidance required in the next four years.  

The Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce is part of a network that prides itself on being non-partisan.  As a business network we advocate for a better business climate that allows businesses the opportunity to compete and thrive in their own communities, across the province, the country and at the international level.  That means the Chamber must be flexible enough to work with any elected government to see these goals achieved.  The network prides itself on presenting ideas and different ways of approaching the challenges facing the Canadian economy.  The solutions presented come from the voice of businesses across the country and right here in Peterborough. 

What is the list of business priorities as we gear up for Election Day?  In March at the Greater Peterborough Chamber Annual General Meeting, Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC) Senior Director of Economic, Financial & Tax Policy Hendrik Brakel gave us a sneak preview of the CCC’s approach to Election 2015. 

"Election years are very exciting from a policy point of view, in that, there are challenges and opportunities," said Brakel. The challenge is that decisions are filtered through an election lens and the opportunity is that the economy is the number one issue and that's the realm in which the business community operates.

"Elections are a very good time to influence government," he added.

The platform presented by the Canadian Chamber titled "A Canada that wins" is based on the needs of every successful business. 

In the following press release issued in May, the CCC made public the priorities the business community wants its next government to address.  

“We are expressing the priorities of our members to candidates across the country in our 2015 federal election platform, with the firm intention of ensuring all parties will be mindful of these issues – and develop concrete plans to address them if their party forms government,” explained the Hon. Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

By presenting this document early in the pre-campaign stage, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce is setting the stage for collaboration with candidates and parliamentarians in crafting forward-thinking, long-term public policies that foster a globally competitive business sector. In order to concentrate efforts, the Canadian Chamber has applied a laser-like focus on competitiveness. It has grouped public policy priorities into the four factors that are critical to business competitiveness:

  1. Access to a powerful workforce
  2. Access to capital
  3. Access to technology and innovation
  4. Access to markets

These four key areas were identified by the Canadian Chamber’s members, from small enterprises to multinationals, as the priority targets for immediate change in order to allow Canada to compete on the global markets. “Canada is racing against the greatest competitors in the world’s toughest marathon—the global economy—and we are losing ground to the frontrunners. Our next government has to provide us with the policy tools to turn this around,” explained Mr. Beatty.

He concluded by saying, “Canadian businesses will have to face many challenges in the years ahead, but I am confident that the next government will hear us. By working together, we can make our country a more prosperous nation, a more competitive nation. We can help shape a Canada that wins.”

An interesting and exciting election is on the way on many fronts for the Peterborough area.  Peterborough riding currently doesn’t have a sitting Member of Parliament and the MPs for Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock and the current Northumberland riding have decided not to run for re-election.  This means the newly elected MPs will be bringing fresh perspectives to the job.  

With new riding boundaries in place the entire area of the City and County of Peterborough will be represented by three MPs, up from the current two. The Chamber network, of which  the Peterborough Chamber is a member, is effective because of strength in numbers, so it could bode very well for the Peterborough region to have a team of three in the House of Commons.   

The full report “A Canada that Wins” 

Comment through the "Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn. 

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.

Thursday
Sep252014

Taking care of the "Parliament of Business"

As chambers come together in the home of Confederation, Charlottetown, PEI for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce AGM, they will not only reconnect but participate in spirited debate and development of policy resolutions. The delegates are aware of the ability of our Founding Fathers to look beyond their own borders to see the possibility and strength of Canada as a whole. 

The core purpose of a chamber is to improve the business community within our own municipalities, regions, provinces, territories and country. It is a privilege to be part of this process. The purpose of this meeting is not to pit one part of the country against another, but to develop solid policy resolutions for the greater good of the entire nation. If the past years have taught us anything, it’s that moving forward as one is much more powerful than going it alone. Ideas and policies developed in various corners of Canada must become our collective policies, ones that we as a group stand behind, promote and use at any given opportunity to foster discussion. 

We can be the best wordsmiths, the best researchers, and the best at debating amongst ourselves, but if our voice isn’t strong enough or isn’t used at all then our efforts for change will fall short. Trade, export/import, hydro rates, minimum wage, taxes, red tape, start-up 

capital, EI, pension plans, pressure from the United States, the dollar - any business in Canada, from the smallest to the largest, can add commentary to any of these issues. Currently, there are chamber network policy resolutions being presented to provincial governments on these issues and now we will be setting the agenda to move forward at the federal level. Lobbying for a welcoming and investment-worthy business climate that creates jobs and encourages business expansion in each province and territory makes for a strong Canada. It is also a way for business to give back to its home communities. 

The obligation of conference delegates is to ensure the chamber network and its push for policy improvement continues to matter. It is in this way that we write the script that becomes the Voice of Business for Canada. 

This is what Peterborough Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Stuart Harrison, volunteer in-coming Board Chair Pat Marren and myself will be partaking in come this weekend at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce AGM in Charlottetown, PEI. 

It’s fitting that this process is happening in PEI as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference. That meeting of 23 delegates from the Maritime Provinces and the Province of Canada (Ontario and Quebec) was where the concept of confederation was formed. Canada would become a nation less than three years later on July 1, 1867 (http:// pei2014.ca/history_pg1). 

It's also a significant anniversary for the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce that is celebrating its 125th Anniversary in Peterborough. "The Chamber has been supporting the business community since 1889 with one core business," explains Bob Doornenbal, 2014 Board Chair and Director Franchise Sales & Marketing, Driving Miss Daisy. "That has been turned into our Vision Statement - Channeling the collective strength of the business community." 

In part, that is done through the policy process. This year, 69 policy resolutions and at least double that in the number of actionable recommendations to the federal government will be on the floor. Topics for the "Parliament of Business" include Finance and Taxation (16), Transportation and Infrastructure (10), Environment and Natural Resources (8), Human Resources (15), Industry (7), International Affairs (9), and Special Issues (4). 

From the list of 69 resolutions here are nine that standout: 

  1. Small Business Deductions 
  2. Ensuring Viability and Safety in Our National Airport System 
  3. A Climate Change Adaption Strategy for Canada 
  4. Temporary Foreign Worker and Skills Gap issues 
  5. Innovation Box Regime for Canada and Technovation: a shift in philosophy, an investment in Canada’s future 
  6. Recognizing and devising strategies to counteract the generous incentives offered by competitor jurisdictions 
  7. Improving regulatory processes to support the growth of Agri-business 
  8. Leveraging CETA to eliminate interprovincial trade barriers 
  9. Reforming Canada’s Child Care Plan 
  10. Reinstate the Canadian mandatory long-form census 

Policies are made through government legislation and are the framework within which business must operate. We are constantly striving for good, effective policy that makes being in business easier. It’s not an easy subject to wade through on your own, but as part of the Chamber network your business has a champion. 

Comment through the “Peterborough Chamber” group of LinkedIn.