Entries in Ontario Chamber (12)

Wednesday
Mar302016

OCC call for Red Tape Challenge heard by province

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) recognizes that the Government of Ontario is taking an important step towards addressing the cumulative burden facing Ontario businesses by announcing the implementation of a Red Tape Challenge. 

This online consultation tool will allow businesses across Ontario to identify and help eliminate regulatory duplication, lessen compliance burdens, and make it easier for businesses and citizens to interact with government. This online consultation process will focus on six sectors including: auto parts manufacturing, food processing, financial services, mining, chemical manufacturing and forestry. 

"Last summer, the OCC called on the Province to adopt a crowd-sourced approach to regulatory change, where the public could submit comments and suggest changes to the regulations that impact them. It is encouraging to see the Province making burden reduction a priority," said Allan O'Dette, President and CEO of the OCC.  

This initiative is an example of the OCC's powerful advocacy work being directly reflected in the provincial government's policies.

"The Chamber Network has made the elimination of red tape and burden reduction a priority," said O'Dette. "This commitment is the beginning of a process that will address the red tape burden that Ontario's business community faces. This is an encouraging step towards alleviating unnecessary pressure on businesses, while helping to drive Ontario's economy forward."  

Wednesday
Dec232015

New rate framework on the way...have your say on WSIB

The impact of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) rates has been an issue on the minds of many members of the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce this past year.  We heard concerns on rates, rate increases and concern around communication of the rates.  As such, the Peterborough Chamber was part of an Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) task force developing recommendations for presentation to the WSIB.  

In September, the Chamber Network submission was presented as part of the stakeholder consultation process. In all, the Chamber Network provided the Government of Ontario with ten recommendations, seven of which dealt directly with the proposed changes to the rate framework.  Of those seven, six were incorporated in the new WSIB Rate Framework document released earlier this month.  

The OCC has provided us with an update on the seven rate framework recommendations (these are the Top 5):

Recommendation 1: Provide a public and detailed analysis of how the proposed rate framework changes will impact employers. The WSIB has committed to conducting a risk disparity analysis that will form part of the regular, ongoing monitoring of the Rate Framework. Emphasizing the key goal of ‘fairly allocated premiums’, the WSIB indicated that the analysis could lead to updates to the class structure designed to better distribute the costs by industry.

Recommendation 2: Introduce a surcharge mechanism to ensure that employers with effective health and safety programs don’t pay the cost of poor performing employers within their class. In our submission, the OCC noted that the elimination of the surcharge mechanism in the proposed framework would become problematic when an employer’s costs far exceed the rate charged to the highest risk band in their class.  The WSIB has responded with a commitment to implement a program similar to the Alberta Poor Performance Surcharge (PPS) to encourage high cost employers to improve their health and safety management efforts.

Recommendation 3: Expand the proposed class structure. The WSIB originally proposed to reduce the number of employer classes from 155 to 22. Members of the business community expressed concern that the proposed class structure risks grouping employers with very different risk profiles – which could impose undue costs on businesses. The WSIB has responded by increasing the number of classes in the proposed framework from 22 to 34. We will continue to work closely with the WSIB to ensure that businesses are fairly classified
according to their risk profile.

Recommendation 4: Reconsider implementing the predominant class model. The WSIB originally proposed to subject employers to a premium rate based solely on the business’ predominant activity. We view this as problematic as it could lead to significantly higher premium rates for employers engaged in multiple business activities. The WSIB has committed to ‘further exploring’ exceptions to this general rule to allow employers to pay multiple premium rates that are reflective of their business activities. The OCC will work closely with the WSIB to ensure fairness for employers engaged in multiple business activities.

Recommendation 5: Implement a weighted cost claims ‘window’. The OCC recommended that the WSIB implement a weighted cost claims ‘window’ based on employers’ claims cost history over the past three rather than six years to ensure that the rate charged to employers is reflective of their recent commitments
to health and safety. Although the WSIB plans to move ahead with the six years claims window, the OCC is encouraged by the updated weighted feature in which the most recent three years are weighted at 66.6 percent and the remaining three years at 33.3 percent, a significant improvement from the model that had been previously proposed.

These three recommendations:

 

  • The WSIB should be subject to oversight by the Auditor General.
  • The Government of Ontario should study the merits of introducing comparable WSIB delivery models including options such as full and/or partial privatization.
  • The Government of Ontario should amend the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act to exempt construction employers who have obtained comprehensive 24/7 insurance coverage from coverage under the WSIB scheme.

 

did not deal directly with the rate framework, but are still very much part of the lobbying effort by the Ontario Chamber Network as they are important to creating a more competitive business climate for Ontario.  

The Peterborough Chamber will be hosting the WSIB Secretariat’s Executive Director of Strategic
Revenue Policy on Wednesday, January 6, 2016 from 8:30-11:00am at the Kawartha Shrine Club.  The event is in conjunction with the Kawartha Manufacturers’ Association and the Peterborough & the Kawarthas Home Builders Association.  

Comment through the "Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn. 

Thursday
Dec172015

It's in the data - the story of rebuilding Ptbo

The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce along with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) and Credit Unions of Ontario recently released Ontario Economic Update 2016.  The document tells us the story of Peterborough over the past year and provides a glimpse into what the future could hold.  

The report tells us that the housing market is driving growth.  There was a 16.4 percent increase in residential sales to October of this year, compared to last year.  This increase has pushed the average price of a home to $295,000.  Peterborough saw a surge in apartment building permits at the end of 2014 that has contributed to an increase in housing starts. Peterborough is ahead of 2014 in non-residential building construction investment spending.  

Employment is expected to grow about 1.8 percent in 2016 and then stabilize around 1.3 percent in 2017.  The authors of the report also predict we’ll see unemployment stabilize at just over 7.5 percent, which would make for the lowest average unemployment rate in a decade.  Population growth will also be on the positive side, increasing 0.8 percent in 2016.  

“We are pleased to see positive growth is expected for Peterborough in each of the next two years,” says Stuart Harrison, President  & CEO, Peterborough Chamber of Commerce. “This is reflective of what we are seeing with new businesses setting up shop in all sectors of our economy and areas of the city and county.”

So what does this all mean?  What is the big picture?  This is the story of a city that is in the final stretch of rebuilding.  It hasn’t been easy, but we’ve done it.  Peterborough is transforming from the traditional
manufacturing town of recent decades to a city with a diverse and vibrant economy.  Manufacturing, while still a key sector, is now defined as an advanced manufacturing sector with an emphasis on innovation; the Peterborough retail sector is chugging along with a good mix of unique stores and chain franchises; the public sector is strong between the university, college, hospital and municipal services; the agricultural sector is bringing new products to market; and the strategic emergence of an entrepreneurial hub caps off 2015 with a flourish.  

There are also a number of external factors that will have a positive impact on Peterborough.  The lower Canadian dollar will be good for tourism and our economic sectors who are exporting to the U.S. and beyond.  A stronger U.S. economy will also help drive growth in Ontario. The federal and provincial governments have promised a focus on infrastructure projects. These projects will stimulate growth across a variety of sectors.  

“Ontario businesses are helping Ontario emerge stronger from the downturn,” says Allan O’Dette, President & CEO, OCC. “In order to generate sustained economic growth, government must invest in infrastructure, close the skills gap, and ensure that input costs do not stifle investment or job creation.”  

To that end, there is a large role for chambers of commerce to play, “the Chamber will continue to lobby and develop recommendations to help mitigate the impact of the cumulative effect of significant provincial policy changes such as ORPP, WSIB rate framework reform, electricity prices, and Cap and Trade,” adds Harrison.

The takeaway from the Ontario Economic Update 2016: Peterborough CMA report is that the recent period of instability and uncertainty has afforded Peterborough an opportunity to explore the importance of
community, dialogue and a common goal.  Success calls for a willingness to be dynamic. It’s not always easy, but the results of this report prove that it’s necessary.

Comment through the "Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn.

Thursday
Dec032015

The making of a Christmas wish list for business

Recently the provincial government released a fiscal review, outlining the status of the province’s finances.  Contained in that document were a few early Christmas presents for the business community.  The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce and Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) are encouraged to see the Chamber network’s powerful advocacy work directly reflected in the government’s economic plans and priorities for 2016. 

The fall fiscal review introduced for the first time detailed steps to address the cumulative burden facing Ontario businesses. 

  1. A removal of the Debt Retirement Charge on commercial, industrial, and other non-residential electricity users on April 1, 2018, nine months earlier than expected;
  2. A promise to maintain the industrial exception in the Professional Engineers Act;
  3. The “Red Tape Challenge,” a strategy encouraging Ontarians to submit comments to a Regulatory Modernization Committee regarding regulations that impact them;
  4. A Regulatory Centre of Excellence, which identifies and champions best practices from around the world; and,
  5. A Government Modernization Fund to address the cost of modernizing outmoded regulatory processes.

These measures directly reflect the work of the Chamber Network, of which the Peterborough Chamber is a part, over the past year.  

However, there is still more work to do in a number of areas from energy to taxation to the environment.  With that in mind here are a few items from the business community Christmas wish list.

  1. The release of the economic analysis for the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan to inform business and the public as to the true impact of the plan.
  2. An electricity system that is designed to power the economy.  Currently, electricity prices are the highest in North America making it one of the largest barriers to business expansion.
  3. More information on the proposed Cap and Trade system and implementation timeline.  Announcing new programs such as this without some basics as to the impacts on the economy creates apprehension in the business community.  
  4. A more focused and flexible approach to the apprenticeship program as this sector of the economy has a shortage of available workers.  
  5. A recognition that the impact of multiple major policy changes in a short period of time has a significant impact on the business community, many of which are small and medium-sized enterprises. 

In the past two years there have been about a half dozen major policy shifts from ORPP to Cap and Trade to WSIB to minimum wage to electricity to the College of Trades.  In isolation the impact may be manageable; however, the piling on effect of this shift has the potential to have a very negative impact.

“Businesses are pulled in many directions on a daily basis,” says Stuart Harrison, President & CEO, Peterborough Chamber of Commerce. “If their ability to be innovative and competitive in our communities, provincially and globally is constantly hampered by additional legislation, then there is the potential to lose any momentum the Ontario economy is currently experiencing.”

Comment through the "Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn.

Friday
Nov272015

Evidence of the Chamber Network lobbying message in provincial fall budget update

Yesterday, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) responded to the provincial government's fiscal review, which outlined the status of the province's finances. The OCC is encouraged to see its powerful advocacy work directly reflected in the government’s economic plans and priorities for 2016, including detailed steps introduced for the first time in the fall economic statement to address the cumulative burden facing Ontario businesses. They include:

  • A removal of the Debt Retirement Charge on commercial, industrial, and other non-residential electricity users on April 1, 2018, nine months earlier than expected;
  • A promise to maintain the industrial exception in the Professional Engineers Act.
  • The “Red Tape Challenge,” a strategy encouraging Ontarians to submit comments to a Regulatory Modernization Committee regarding regulations that impact them;
  • A Regulatory Centre of Excellence, which identifies and champions best practices from around the world; and,
  • A Government Modernization Fund to address the cost of modernizing outmoded regulatory processes.

While there is still more work to be done, these measures directly reflect our work over the past year, including a number of detailed reports on issues that matter most to Ontario business – from energy to taxation to the environment.