Entries in OCC (12)

Tuesday
Apr282015

Ontario Chamber Network to set official lobbying mandate

The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce will be attending the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Cornwall from today (April 30) - May 3, 2015.

At the AGM chambers of commerce and boards of trade will gather to discuss the issues of the day from
electricity prices to infrastructure to carbon pricing to strategic planning. The Chamber Network of more than 160 chambers will also be setting the tone for lobbying to the provincial government.  

In all, 40 policy resolutions, including two from the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce, will be presented and debated.  The resolutions cover improving productivity, shaping the workforce, taking advantage of global opportunities, strategic investments and other areas including a "Workplace Mental Health Strategy".  

The two Peterborough resolutions deal with the "Heads and Beds Levy" which has remained unchanged since 1987 and support for Energy East, which will create 250 jobs at Peterborough's GE plant.

Peterborough Resolutions:

Support for TransCanada's Energy East Project - new jobs, investment and growth for Ontario

Unrealized "Heads and Bed Levy" hurts Ontario's Economic Competitiveness

Full Resolution Book:

Policy Resolutions for Debate at 2015 OCC AGM

Tuesday
Feb242015

Peterborough Chamber of Commerce partners with Ontario Chamber on report to the province on proposed pension plan 

The submission expresses the Chamber Network's collective concern that the government’s proposed approach to tackle the so-called “undersaving challenge” could have unintended negative consequences for the province’s economy.

In particular, we question whether a blanket solution like the ORPP is the most effective means of boosting retirement savings for the minority of Ontarians who need it most. Recent analysis from McKinsey & Company and others suggest that a more targeted approach that focuses specifically on undersavers would be most effective.

We also highlight the findings of a recent Ontario Chamber of Commerce survey, which indicates that businesses cannot afford the costs associated with a new mandatory pension plan. Only 26 percent of businesses in Ontario believe they can shoulder the financial burden that would result from the ORPP. If faced with mandatory increased contributions under the ORPP, 44 percent of surveyed businesses indicate that they would reduce their current payroll or hire fewer employees in the future.

With these factors in mind, the submission makes two broad recommendations:

  1. Provide clarity to Ontario’s business community and the public around the potential impact the ORPP could have on jobs, investment, and the broader economy. The government must conduct a comprehensive and publicly available economic analysis of the new pension plan before it moves forward with implementation.
  2. Revise the definition of a “comparable” workplace pension plan to include other workplace retirement savings plans, such as Defined Contribution pension plans, Pooled Registered Pension Plans, Group Registered Retirement Savings Plans, Deferred Profit Sharing Plans, and group Tax Free Savings Accounts.

Read the full submission to the Ontario Government

Comment on the "Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn.

Monday
Dec082014

Ontario Businesses Urge Government to Defer Ontario Retirement Pension Plan Legislation

The latest update Wednesday, December 17, 2014: 
The Government of Ontario is starting a consultation process on the ORPP legislation.  They are currently asking for feedback in three areas:

  • Defining a comparable workplace pension plan: Since the ORPP is intended to help those without workplace pensions, workers already participating in a comparable pension plan would not be required to enrol in the ORPP.
  • A minimum earnings threshold: To reduce the burden on low-income workers, earnings below a certain threshold would be exempt from contributions, similar to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). 
  • Supporting the self-employed: Since self-employed individuals have a unique status in the labour market as both employee and employer, the province is consulting on how to best assist them in saving for their retirement.

If you have any comments on any of these areas please send them to sandra@peterboroughchamber.ca

There will also be opportunity to comment through the "Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn. 

         

In this Rapid Policy Update, you will find key information on two bills that were introduced today by the Government of Ontario. Both bills will introduce significant reforms to the pension system. The Ontario Chamber Network has significant reservations about the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan Act, 2014 (Bill 56), which will impose new costs on employers.

We are broadly supportive of the spirit of the Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act, 2014 (Bill 57), which could provide businesses with a voluntary retirement savings tool. We will provide additional information to the Chamber Network as it becomes available over the coming days.

OCC White Paper on Pension Reform  

Answers from Associate Minister Mitzie Hunter after Network Conference Call 

 

Bill 56: Ontario Retirement Pension Plan Act, 2014

The Ontario Retirement Pension Plan Act, 2014, will pave the way for the creation of the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP). If passed, this Act would commit the government to establishing the ORPP by January 1, 2017.

The ORPP is the government's response to Ontario's growing retirement savings challenge, in which a significant number of today's workers could struggle to maintain their standard of living during retirement.

The ORPP, which aims to supplement the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), will require employers to match employee pension contributions. Employees and employers will contribute 1.9% each (3.8% combined) on an employee’s annual earnings up to $90,000.

 

Our Position

As we stated in a recent media release, the Government of Ontario should defer its ORPP legislation until it has answered outstanding questions about the impact the plan could have on Ontario's economic competitiveness.

The ORPP will increase the cost of doing business in Ontario. For example, in the case of a business that employs 10 people with a salary of $45,000, the employer will be obligated to pay almost $8,000 per year in additional pension contributions.

We have been adamant that the Government of Ontario hold back on its proposed pension plan until Ontarians know more about its potential impact on the economy. Businesses across the province are already facing rising costs, including soaring electricity prices, high WSIB premiums, and a higher minimum wage.

In a recent letter, a coalition of over 50 chambers of commerce and boards of trade called on the Government of Ontario to answer outstanding questions about the impact the plan could have on the economy.
 

Bill 57: Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act, 2014

The government also introduced the Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act, 2014, which would allow Ontario businesses to offer Pooled Registered Pension Plans (PRPPs) to their employees, as well as make them available to the self-employed.
 

Our Position

PRPPs must form part of the solution to Ontario's retirement challenge. PRPPs are voluntary, low-cost, and tax assisted savings vehicles that leverage the province's existing pension infrastructure. They do not require the creation of a new pension bureaucracy.

Press Release:
TORONTODec. 8, 2014 /CNW/ - The Ontario Chamber of Commerce and its network of 160 chambers in communities across the province are urging the government to defer legislation that will pave the way for the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP). The business group is calling on the Government of Ontario to answer outstanding questions about the impact the plan could have on the province's economic competitiveness. Businesses are concerned that the proposed pension plan will lead to job losses in the province.

Today, the government is introducing legislation that will pave the way for a new public pension scheme for Ontario. The ORPP, which aims to supplement the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), will require employers to match employee pension contributions, increasing the cost of doing business. For example, in the case of a business that employs 10 people who earn $45,000 each, the employer will be obligated to pay almost $8,000per year in additional pension contributions.

According to a recent survey conducted by the Chamber, 72 percent of businesses in the province believe that pension reform should be a priority for government. However, the same businesses are also clear about their concern for Ontario's broader economic picture, in which the economy is projected to grow slowly for the foreseeable future.

"Employers worry that by making it more expensive to hire, the new pension plan will negatively impact job creation and hurt Ontario's competitiveness," says Allan O'Dette, President & CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. "Combined with increases in electricity prices, high WSIB rates, and, for many employers, a higher minimum wage, the new pension plan will burden businesses that are already struggling to meet the rising cost of doing business in Ontario."

According to the same survey, only 23 percent of the nearly 1,000 responding businesses could afford the costs associated with increased employer pension contributions.

A coalition of over 50 chambers of commerce and boards of trade from across the province recently submitted a letter to the Government of Ontario, calling on it to respond to a number of crucial, but unanswered questions.

"What will be the impact of a fully-implemented ORPP? What happens when a business can't afford to meet the requirements of the ORPP? How much will it cost to administer a standalone provincial plan?" asks O'Dette. "Businesses across Ontario are seeking answers to these questions."

"The retirement income challenge is a real one," he adds. "However, we need to ensure that any changes to the pension system are made with a full understanding of the impact they will have on Ontario's business climate. We are not satisfied that these questions have been fully answered."

 

Wednesday
Dec032014

Newcomers’ Global Connections Boost Ontario’s Economy - Government of Ontario Press Release

This is quite interesting and part of this is the result of a report by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) and the Provincial government after a series of community meetings across the province. The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce, Peterborough business owners and community groups, were involved in a roundtable discussion just over a year ago with the OCC and the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. Here is a link to the original article on the OCC Immigration white paper called Think Fast: Ontario Employer Perspectives  - Sandra

Below is the press release from the Government of Ontario. 

Ontario is reintroducing its first-ever Immigration Act that would, if passed, assist the province in working with Ottawa to maximize the economic benefits of immigration.

Immigrants help grow a stronger economy by leveraging their networks and forging new global connections that will keep Ontario competitive in international markets.

Building on the government's Immigration Strategy, the proposed Ontario Immigration Act would:

  • Facilitate Ontario's work with the federal government on the recruitment, selection and admission of skilled immigrants.
  • Strengthen the province's ongoing efforts to reduce fraud by protecting the integrity of our immigrant selection program and improve accountability.
  • Increase transparency and information-sharing with our immigration partners.

The province will also redesign the Provincial Nominee Program to respond to expected increases in the federal government's allocation of economic immigrants.

Maximizing Ontario's immigration programs is part of the government's economic plan for Ontario. The four-part plan is building Ontario up by investing in people's talents and skills, building new public infrastructure like roads and transit, creating a dynamic, supportive environment where business thrives and building a secure savings plan so everyone can afford to retire.

 

QUICK FACTS

  • Ontario remains the number one destination for newcomers to Canada, receiving more immigrants than the combined total of all the provinces and territories west of here.
  • Newcomers make up 30 per cent of Ontario's labour force.
  • Over the next 25 years, immigration will account for all of the increases in Ontario’s working-age population and is expected to be a major source of future labour force growth.
  • Federal decisions over the decade have reduced the proportion of economic immigrants coming to Ontario to 46 per cent, while other provinces on average receive 65 per cent (2013). In 2011, 97 per cent of Ontario’s provincial nominees remained in the province.

 

Comment through the "Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn. 

 

 

Tuesday
Nov182014

OCC Rapid Policy Update: Our take on the Government's 2014 Fall Economic Statement

 

On Monday, November 17, 2014, the Government of Ontario released its 2014 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review, which provides an update on the government’s finances and progress on key commitments since the release of the 2014 Budget. In October, the province’s unemployment rate declined to 6.5 percent, its lowest rate since 2008. The province has also seen real gains in GDP, exports, and household consumption since the beginning of the year.

The government remains committed to eliminating its budget deficit by 2017-18. It continues to project a deficit of $12.5 billion for the 2014-15 fiscal year, with significant reductions in the deficit thereafter.

The government plans to meet this target despite a substantial decline in revenue. Projected revenue for 2014-15 is $509 million less than previously forecasted in the 2014 Budget. With projected government expenses declining by $208 million since the 2014 Budget, the government is using $300 million from its reserve fund to make up the difference. 

 

Path to a Balanced Budget

In the Fiscal Review, the government highlighted the four key components of its plan to reach a balanced budget by 2017-18. These are:

1. Reviewing and transforming programs

The government's annual program review savings targets remain at $250 million for 2014-15 and $500 million for 2015-16 and 2016-17.

OCC Position: The government expressed willingness to pursue “other tools” to meet its goal of balancing its books by 2017-18. We feel that a more robust program review and more ambitious targets are required prior to any revenue increases.

2. Managing compensation costs

Government has negotiated zero or minimal salary increases in recent agreements with public sector unions.

OCC Position: We support government's efforts to hold the line on public sector salaries. 

3. Ensuring everyone pays their fair share of taxes

According to government figures, the province generated over $380 million in additional revenue in 2013-14 by enhancing the integrity of the tax system. The government is taking action to tackle the underground economy. This includes: 

  • Pilot programs to strengthen compliance in high-risk sectors
  • Working with the federal government to identify new measures to curtail corporate tax avoidance
  • Stepping up efforts to curb contraband tobacco by establishing oversight of raw leaf tobacco, effective Jan. 1, 2015

OCC Position: We support a crackdown on the underground economy and on tax evaders.

4. Unlocking the value of provincial assets

The Premier’s Advisory Council on Government Assets will present its final recommendations in advance of the 2015 Budget. The Council is investigating how to generate the most value out of the LCBO, Hydro One, and OPG.

OCC Position: We support government's efforts to deliver more value from provincially owned assets, but these efforts should be expanded to more government assets in a regularized (not one-off) process. 

 

The Federal Funding Gap

In his address to Provincial Parliament, the Minister of Finance called on the federal government to reform the federal transfer system to treat Ontario fairly. The gap between what Ontarians pay in federal taxes and what they receive in federal funding and transfers is $11 billion, or $850 per Ontarian. He stressed that more of the money that comes to the federal government from Ontarians should be reinvested back into Ontario.

Specifically, the Minister called on the federal government to match the province’s $1 billion commitment to Ring of Fire investment, and increase federal investment in public transit.

OCC Position: We strongly encourage the federal government to reform fiscal transfers and programs that shortchange Ontario, such as Employment Insurance.

We also encourage the federal government to match the provincial investment in the Ring of Fire and to invest more in productivity enhancing infrastructure, such as transit.