Entries in Ontario (4)

Wednesday
Aug262015

Provincial business priorities and the federal election

Copyright Library of ParliamentThe 2015 federal election is now into its fourth week with seven left before the polls open on October 19th.  Already we’ve seen the leaders and the parties tackle many of the issues we would expect to see at a federal level, from the economy to taxes and tax cuts to the environment to child care.  But within those issues that have nationwide impact are the issues that affect each of the provinces.  The relationship Ontario has with the federal government is different from the needs of the western and eastern provinces.  

“The federal election comes at a critical time for Ontario businesses,” said Allan O’Dette, President & CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC). “It is essential that all parties commit to policies that will improve the business climate and spur economic growth in Ontario. By publicly evaluating the commitment of each federal party to this end, we are putting pressure on our federal politicians to demonstrate leadership and help our business community succeed.”

The OCC, Ontario’s most prominent and diverse business network, is calling on all federal political parties to make bold commitments that will improve Ontario’s business climate and drive economic growth. To that end, the OCC has released an Ontario business agenda for the federal election.  

“The central guiding principle of the report is that all intergovernmental relations, cooperation and policy harmonization should be paramount,” says O’Dette.

The report, “In Focus: Federal Priorities for the Ontario Economy”,  makes nine recommendations under four other principles:

Guiding principle: Federal policy should aim to fix the fiscal framework to enable greater reinvestment of the wealth generated in Ontario into its workforce and productivity capacity  

Ontario businesses and residents are poorly served by the federal government’s unprincipled allocation formulae in areas of major federal spending.  As a result of systemic inequities, Ontarians contribute between $9.1 and $12.5 billion more into the federation than what we get back in terms of services (Granofsky and Zon, 2014). 

Fiscal federalism has failed to keep pace with the 21st century macroeconomic realities of the country (Ibid). The federal spend to promote economic growth and development across the country should be allocated on a principled basis (OCC, 2015). 

  • Reform Canada’s broken EI system
  • Distribute economic development funds on a principled basis

Guiding principle: In all intergovernmental relations, cooperation and policy harmonization should be paramount

As Canadian provinces increasingly step into areas of traditional federal responsibility (retirement savings and environmental regulation, for example), the country’s regulatory landscape becomes more fragmented. Intergovernmental squabbling has at times exacerbated this fragmentation, to the detriment of Canada’s investment climate.  

The federal government – through its actions and its approach to intergovernmental relations – should promote policy harmonization across the country (OCC, 2015). 

  • Avoid further regulatory fragmentation by demonstrating leadership on key regulatory files
  • Provide businesses with accurate labour market data

Guiding principle: Federal policy should seek to make Canada and Ontario a global destination of choice for foreign investment

Ontario suffers from a $60 billion infrastructure gap, its share of economic immigrants to Canada has declined steeply over the past decade, and its productivity gap vis-à-vis the United States is widening (Association of Municipalities of Ontario, 2012; Ministry of Finance, 2014).  All these factors combine to weaken the business climate.  

Given the contribution Ontario’s economy makes to the broader Canadian economy, the federal government has a vested interest in the province’s economic fortunes and should act correspondingly (OCC, 2015)

  • Allocate infrastructure funds on a per capita basis
  • Ensure that the immigration system does not unduly limit employers’ access to the international talent they need

Guiding principle: Federal policy should champion Ontario’s competitive advantages

Ontario maintains a competitive advantage over our international competitors in several key sectors.  The province is rich in natural resources, our financial services sector is among the largest in North America, and our agri-food sector is primed for explosive growth as global food demand is set to double over the next 30 years. Meanwhile, the manufacturing industry has the potential to rebound – provided that Ontario can remain competitive globally.

The federal government should align resources behind -and build on- Ontario’s competitive advantages (OCC, 2015).

  • Improve the manufacturing sector’s connections to Canada and the world
  • Show a commitment to Ontario’s north

Guiding principle: The government should act in a fiscally responsible manner

While Ontarians are acutely aware of the fiscal challenges facing their provincial government, fewer understand the deteriorating fiscal capacity of the Canadian government.  The federal government spends nearly $30 billion a year on debt servicing costs. Meanwhile, the federal debt-to-GDP ratio has risen by 4 percentage points since 2007, and now stands at 33.1 percent.  While Canada is still in a relatively strong fiscal position, any deterioration in the federal government’s finances could drag on investor confidence.  

The federal government should – at a minimum – maintain Canada’s fiscal position (OCC, 2015).

  • Begin to pay down the federal debt

In the end all this to say that Ontario needs its federal government to be involved and committed to seeing the province prosper.  “A healthy Ontario economy is good for Canada,” said O’Dette. “All parties must be prepared to take the bold actions necessary to solidify a bright future for Ontario and further the economic success of our great country.”

The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce has sent questions on business-related issues to the candidates. The responses will be posted to the Chamber website.  The Chamber is also holding an all candidates debate on business issues Tuesday, October 6 from 4-6pm. 

Comment through the "Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn. 

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. 

 

 

Monday
Nov032014

Peterborough Chamber Sounding Alarm on Ontario’s Debt and Deficit 

 

Ontarians should be very concerned about the province’s fiscal situation, according to a new report from the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce.

The report, How Bad Is It? What Do We Do About It?, provides a straightforward account of Ontario’s current fiscal situation. It finds that while Ontario's fiscal situation is better than that of many other countries facing fiscal problems, the province is likely to reach a state of crisis unless it cuts spending and changes the ways it does business.   

The report finds that Ontario’s history of spending is unsustainable. In only seven of the past 25 years has the government balanced its books or achieved a surplus. As a result, the province has been digging itself deeper and deeper into the red. By 2016-17, interest payments to service the provincial debt are projected to consume ten cents of every dollar the government spends. 

According to the authors, a tipping point may be closer than Ontarians think. With a slower growth future projected for the province, combined with the growing demands of a rapidly aging population, the need to deal with the fiscal situation now becomes all the more urgent.  

A sustained state of poor fiscal health can hurt business confidence and makes the province a less attractive place to invest. According to a recent Ontario Chamber of Commerce survey, 93 percent of businesses in the province believe that eliminating the deficit should be a top priority for government. 

The authors also recognize the need for a solid partnership with the federal government that delivers on the need for more principled federal transfers. 

And as the authors conclude, the
approaches mentioned above “offer
opportunity to reduce government spending and to reshape government programs and services to increase the public’s return on investment.”   They can also “set the province on a path toward fiscal sustainability.”

What makes this report worth buying into is the idea that not any one
approach is the ultimate solution, but that there has to be a knowingness and willingness to use an approach that improves the business climate and improves the government’s ability to focus on key priorities.  

Read the Full Report

Comment through the "Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn.

Thursday
Oct022014

Canada and Ontario governments announce new job grant

Rapid Policy Update from the OCC:

What do businesses need to know?

The governments of Canada and Ontario have jointly announced the roll-out of the Canada-Ontario Job Grant, a new employer-driven skills training program.

The Job Grant will provide businesses with up to $15,000 per person to cover training costs for workers or unemployed Ontarians in needs of skills upgrading.

In order to participate in the program, employers will be required to contribute on average, one-third or up to $5,000 of the total costs of training. Small businesses will benefit from flexible arrangements, such as the potential to count wages as part of their employer contribution.

Eligible training under the Job Grant can be provided in a classroom, on-site at a workplace, or online, as long as it is provided by an eligible third-party trainer, such as a community college, career college, trade union centre, and/or private trainer.

As part of the Job Grant, the ministry is also calling for ‘expressions of interest’ for two new, employer-driven skills training pilots:

  • The Customized Training pilot will assist in the development and delivery of firm-specific training solutions that meet employers’ workforce needs.
  • UpSkill will support essential and technical skills training tailored to specific sectors for potentially vulnerable workers in low and medium-skilled occupations.

To apply for the Canada-Ontario Job Grant and learn more about the training pilots, visit the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities website.

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce played an instrumental role in shaping the Canada-Ontario Job Grant. In partnership with Essential Skills Ontario, the OCC recently released the report, Moving Forward Together: An Employer Perspective on the Design of Skills Training Programs in Ontario. This report presented the business perspective on employer-driven training and provided recommendations to government on how to ensure new programs are a success.

Comment through the "Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn.