Entries in manufacturing (8)

Tuesday
Jun302015

From the Stats Canada desk - June 2015

Each month Statistics Canada issues a number of snapshots of Canada's social and economic picture through "The Daily", the department's official release bulletin.   

Also in June: 

  • The market value of Canadian employer-sponsored pension funds grew by 3.0% to $1.5 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2014, marking a sixth consecutive quarterly increase.
    On an annual basis, pension fund assets increased by 12.3% in value in 2014, compared with gains of 11.9% in 2013 and 9.7% in 2012.
  • The number of jobs in tourism industries was 1.7 million in 2013. These jobs, which include both employee jobs and jobs from self-employment, represented 9.4% of the 18.0 million jobs in Canada.
  • Lumber production by sawmills increased 13.0% from February to 5, 658.7 thousand cubic metres in March. Compared with March 2014, lumber production rose by 9.2%.
  • Shipments of asphalt shingles reached 3.2 million metric bundles in April, down 29.5% from the previous month. Production of asphalt shingles decreased 6.6% to 3.8 million metric bundles.

Comment through the Peterborough Chamber group of LinkedIn. 

Friday
May222015

Collaboration sees results on Service Technician issue

In the fall of 2014, manufacturers ran into some serious challenges, in that foreign service technicians coming to Canada to repair or update manufacturing equipment for Canadian companies were being turned away at the border.  This was the result of the changes last June to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. The new rules left Canadian manufacturers in a serious crisis as these technicians had the historical knowledge and ability to fix or update equipment in a timely fashion.  

A core group of manufacturers, manufacturing associations, Chambers of Commerce, and MPs were involved including the Kawartha Manufacturers Association, Quinte Manufacturing Association, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce, the Quinte and Belleville Chambers of Commerce, and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.  The new rules reflect a real need to an important and growing sector of the Ontario economy.

The details of the changes are as follows:   

Program delivery update – May 21, 2015

Update to the instructions related to Labour Market Impact Assessment exemption code 13 in the International Mobility Program

Summary

The Labour Market Impact Assessment-exempt category C-13, previously limited to emergency repair personnel, has been expanded to include individuals who are coming to Canada to repair industrial or commercial equipment that is no longer under warranty or covered by an after-sales or lease agreement.

In addition, the “Emergency repair personnel” section has been updated to include information about documentation requirements, fees, and issuing the work permit in the Global Case Management System (GCMS).

Updated instructions

Tuesday
Apr212015

Chambers of Commerce react to budget 2015

Standouts for business:

Federal budget 2015 Business wins:
1. Small business tax cuts from 11% to 9% by 2019
2. Accelerated Capital Cost Allowance for industry extended for 10 years
3. $1 billion Public Transit Fund good news for municipalities & economy



Ottawa, April 21, 2015 — With the deficit finally eliminated, Canada’s priority must be investments that will position us as a top-tier international competitor, according to Canadian Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Perrin Beatty. “As a nation, we have the potential to win internationally against strong, aggressive business rivals, but we need the right tools. This budget is a good starting point, but more needs to be done.”

“We salute the fact that the government presented a balanced budget. But this only serves to bring us to base camp; we still have a mountain to climb. To keep the budget balanced in the future and give us a fighting chance against international competitors, the government’s priority must now shift to economic growth and global competitiveness. Our prosperity depends on Canadian business winning in the global marketplace,” said Mr. Beatty.

The Canadian Chamber particularly welcomes renewed investments in infrastructure.

“Access to global markets starts at home,” explained Mr. Beatty. “It’s no use having the greatest resources in the world if we can’t get them to market. Export infrastructure is critical. And basic public infrastructures – roads, water systems, transit – are also strongly linked to improved productivity across the economy.”

“The measures to support Canada’s manufacturing sector are timely,” said Mr. Beatty. “This sector is evolving rapidly and set to seize new opportunities. The budget will have a positive impact in a sector poised for new growth.”

"We also appreciate the fact that the government took the needs of small business into account in this budget," continued Mr. Beatty.

Mr. Beatty particularly welcomed initiatives to improve Canada’s skilled workforce. “Measures to improve skills – such as better and more apprenticeship training – can create a new generation of capable workers. For many businesses, the skills gap is the number one barrier to growth, and the Canadian Chamber has made skills a priority for the last four years.

Access to reliable labour market information will also allow students, businesses and governments alike to focus their energies and resources on the right training programs and incentives. “Right now, Canadians are choosing career paths and investment opportunities in the dark. Having more and better information will paint a clear picture of different aspects of Canada’s labour market, allowing people to make smarter, better-informed decisions.”

Efforts to improve access to capital are also welcome. Access to capital is often the difference between life and death for start-ups and companies moving from innovation to commercialization, and Canada’s venture capital industry is small and difficult to access.

The Canadian Chamber also salutes the creation of a national Development Finance Initiative. This institution will help fund business projects in impoverished countries, turning them into tomorrow’s business partners.

“By recognizing that Canadian businesses need improved access to skilled workers, international markets and capital, the government is setting the building blocks for a more competitive Canada. However, there are still many steps to take.

Access to game-changing technology must also be improved, and more can still be done to link skills training to the needs of the market. “This budget is an important starting point, but we still have a long way to go.” concluded Mr. Beatty.

Budget Analysis 2015

– 30–

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is the vital connection between business and the federal government. It helps shape public policy and decision-making to the benefit of businesses, communities and families across Canada with a network of over 450 chambers of commerce and boards of trade, representing 200,000 businesses of all sizes in all sectors of the economy and in all regions. Follow us on Twitter @CdnChamberofCom.

Wednesday
Mar182015

Business barriers or opportunity for innovation?

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce recently released its 2015 version of its Barriers to Competitiveness for Canadian business.  As the issues are identified, recommendations made, and any progress locally is highlighted, the barriers become more like opportunities - opportunities for change and hopefully, improvement in the business climate.  

The goal of the report is simple, “identify and implement real, tangible solutions to break down the barriers to our competitiveness” as laid out by Perrin Beatty, Canadian Chamber of Commerce President. “And create more opportunities and greater prosperity for Canadian businesses and families.”  

As you’ll see in reading this article there are a number of local initiatives, projects, and organizations such as the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce that are working to turn these current barriers into opportunities.  

Silos in skills development

There are shortages and high demand forecast in a wide range of occupations and Canada is not producing enough graduates with the skills needed for the economy.  The Temporary Foreign Worker Program no longer presents an effective path to meet short-term labour shortages.  As a result stronger efforts are needed to coordinate between education and employment with the help of educators, government and employers (Canadian Chamber, 2015).

To officially break down the silos will require a new way of thinking.  Many have suggested changing the education system to reflect programs and outcomes the economy needs.  Germany has taken this type of approach.  This sort of change also requires a lot of labour market information and data.  The local Workforce Development Board is working on gathering and disseminating such information for the Peterborough area.  The Labour Market Gateway is the start of hard concrete data to inform organizations, educators and employers.  

Entrepreneurs lack capital for Canada’s fastest-growing companies

Access to capital is one of the most critical determinants of competitiveness, especially for start-ups and companies moving from innovation to commercialization.  Consultations with fast growing companies in 2014 revealed that one of the biggest hurdles is securing capital to take their companies to the next level.  Canada’s venture capital (VC) industry is still small compared to larger VC industries in the U.S. (Canadian Chamber, 2015).

Through the actions of a number of organizations from the Greater Peterborough Innovation Cluster to Peterborough Economic Development to the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce (close to half of the
membership is made up of small and medium enterprises) Peterborough has self-identified that entrepreneurship is an area of focus.The local activity in this area is evident from the growth of the Bears’ Lair entrepreneurial competition, the entrepreneurial focus of the Chamber’s 2015 Business Summit, the very active Peterborough Regional Angel Network, and the Conference Board of Canada identifying that the area has the highest number of immigrant entrepreneurs.   One of the main reasons offered by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce as to why the VC industry is small is that traditionally Canadians are risk averse.  And yet as each of these activities plays out or receives attention we are helping to knock down and chip away at this barrier.

Canada’s tax system is too complex and costly

The country over-relies on income and profit taxes rather than on taxes on consumption, which are relatively easy to collect and are least harmful to growth.  Canada must undertake a comprehensive review of its tax system with the aim of reducing its complexity and improving the way it raises tax revenue.  To that end one of the recommendations is that the income threshold for the small business tax rate be increased to $1,000,000 from $500,000 (Canadian Chamber, 2015).

Canadian trade is constrained by infrastructure deficiencies 

Public investment in infrastructure has not kept up with Canada’s economic needs and now monetary investment needs far exceed the availability of public funds.  To see the infrastructure system back to a level to support prosperity will require ongoing support from all levels of government, active engagement with private stakeholders and a greater appreciation of the opportunities that a modern public infrastructure could provide (Canadian Chamber, 2015). 

Last summer, the provincial government announced that the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund will be a permanent source of funding for roads, bridges, etc. in small and rural communities.  This is exactly the type of commitment from government that is needed.  However, as the Canadian Chamber and Ontario Chamber have said on this topic, it’s not the only type.  We also need the political will and foresight to recognize a project that will open up opportunities to an area, for example, pushing the 407 out to the 115 or a rail link between Peterborough and the GTA that avoids the 401 corridor.  

Canada is uncompetitive in the world’s tourism sector

Canada has slid from the seventh largest tourist destination in the world to the 18th. The travel and tourism industry is critical to its economy (Canadian Chamber, 2015).

Travel and tourism are a large part of the Peterborough economy, with over 1,000 businesses involved in the industry, employing over 13,000 people (http://tiac.travel/Tourism_Jobs.html).  An opportunity to improve the awareness of the area to a broader audience will be through the Travel Media Association of Canada Conference which will be held in Peterborough and the Kawarthas in June. 

Innovation rate is not sufficient to help manufacturing rebound

A modern manufacturing win is usually the result of a strong commitment to innovation, yet this continues to be a challenge.  Canada is currently ranked 22nd by the World Economic Forum for its capacity for innovation.  The innovation policy framework that exists in Canada is not sufficient to overcome a number of serious barriers for the manufacturing sector (Canadian Chamber, 2015). 

With the commitment to the Innovation Cluster in Peterborough and continued success of an advanced manufacturing sector that has embraced innovation, Peterborough is setting a precedent. The challenges are by no means small, but the help of the federal government is paramount. Manufacturing and innovation are not in isolation from many of the other Top 10 issues in the list. In fact the issue has links to the concerns in skills development, entrepreneurship, the Canadian tax system and infrastructure.  Allowing the companies to have the best climate under which to innovate is paramount.

This discussion centres on issues that have both a federal and local scope.  The goal of the Canadian Chamber report was to “find tangible solutions and opportunities that will lead to prosperity for Canadian businesses and families”.  Doing so will require innovation – a new way of thinking about an on-going challenge, but most importantly creating local solutions.

Comment through the "Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn.

Wednesday
Feb252015

Business challenges? Here's your chance to tell Premier Wynne

The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce has a number of advocacy and policy events in the coming months. 

First, the Chamber Annual General Meeting will be held at the end of March.  Watch for more details and the release of the 2014 Annual Report and Policy Report Card. 

Second, on May 1st, the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce will be welcoming Premier Kathleen Wynne to Peterborough.  More details on her visit will be forthcoming, but it gives the Chamber the opportunity to bring the concerns of the Peterborough business community directly to the elected CEO of Ontario.   

Provincial issues and policy positions have been at the forefront of many discussions with business owners over the past few months.  The impact of current provincial policy decisions will reverberate for years.  

Current Top 5 Issues provincially for the Chamber Network:

Debt and Deficit

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s (OCC) Vice President of Policy and Government Relations Josh Hjartarson spoke in Lindsay recently on this topic.  When comparing Ontario to other places, whether it is Europe or other provinces within Canada, we are in a more stable position.  But that doesn’t mean Ontario is without risk.  Hjartarson stressed the point that in the past 25 years, in which all three major parties have held the lead role in government, Ontario has seen surpluses in only a handful of those years.  The concern is that this should not be a pattern of which to be proud. “In the 2013-2014 fiscal year, the Government of Ontario spent $10.5 billion more than it collected in revenue, increasing its net debt to $267.2 billion. Over eight percent of the province’s total spending is now devoted to interest charges on the debt.” (Emerging Stronger, 2015).  

Servicing the debt costs Ontarian’s more than what the government spends on post-secondary institutions.  The OCC and the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce as part of the provincial network are asking the government to take a hard look at this fact and make some decisions that can push servicing the debt down on the expenses list.  The less we are paying and sitting on debt, the healthier the economy can be for businesses and residents.

Electricity Costs 

Rising electricity prices are often cited as the main barrier to competitiveness by Ontario businesses. The OCC has been conducting in-depth interviews with key stakeholders in the province’s electricity sector on ways to bend the electricity cost curve.  Ontario’s decision to phase out the use of coal-fired generation facilities has branded the province as a leader in modern, clean energy. Ontario’s energy supply now consists of a strong mix of nuclear, hydro, gas, and renewables. 

However, this path has not been without its challenges. The province’s competitiveness suffers from its
relatively high electricity prices for industrial users. While minor steps have been taken since the release of the 2013 Long Term Energy Plan (LTEP) to mitigate costs, further system-wide cost savings should be explored within the province’s existing energy landscape. Further, Ontario should focus its investments in areas such as nuclear and data analytics where Ontario can be an innovation and export leader and that, at the same time, can lower long-term costs to consumers.  The full report on this issue is expected to be released at the end of March (Emerging Stronger, 2015).

We also know that competitor markets are emphasizing their lower electricity costs as a reason to locate south of the border.  As a result of these targeted campaigns almost 20 Ontario Chambers of Commerce, including Peterborough, co-sponsored a policy resolution to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce asking the 
government to be aware of this movement and develop a strategy to help Canadian communities compete.  

Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP)

The provincial government is moving forward with a mandatory pension plan, the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP). Many businesses are worried about the costs it will impose. The government must conduct and publish an economic analysis of the impact of this new pension plan on business competitiveness, investment, and employment. In addition, pension reform must leverage the expertise of Ontario’s world leading financial services industry (Emerging Stronger, 2015).

The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce made a presentation to the consultation panel last month, has
participated in several teleconference calls with Minister Mitzie Hunter, and signed a letter as part of the OCC’s submission to the government on design details.   Furthermore, it is anticipated that the Chamber Network will be formalizing its position at the network AGM at the beginning of May.  

As part of its argument, the Peterborough Chamber has consistently encouraged the government to consider that part of the problem can be traced back to financial literacy.  Our MPP Minister Jeff Leal is very aware of an OCC policy resolution calling for a curriculum change to make a business course, including financial literacy topics, a requirement of high school graduation.

Lack of a Manufacturing Strategy

In the Emerging Stronger document, the OCC believes Ontario can once again be a stable manufacturing hub. The province is home to an ever-growing number of specialized and niche manufacturers.  Peterborough is a shining example of this with no sign of slowing down.  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 (Emerging Stronger, 2015).

Entrepreneurship Strategy

The business course requirement for high school graduation is also important to this issue.  The belief is that if we are encouraging entrepreneurship as a viable career choice, then we should also ensure that these individuals have the tools for success. 

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. 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 new entrepreneurs and small business owners (Emerging Stronger, 2015).

In Peterborough, we know that entrepreneurs hold a special place with support from Peterborough Economic Development, Greater Peterborough Innovation Cluster, competitions such as Bears’ Lair and the upcoming
Business Summit hosted by the Chamber of Commerce. 

With Premier Wynne coming to Peterborough on May 1st, what would you want her to know about the
challenges facing your business?  

Comment through the "Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn.