Entries in Ontario Chamber of Commerce (25)


Getting it right: A framework for "Scaling Up"

It’s no surprise to us in Peterborough that entrepreneurship is rapidly becoming a focus in our economy.  

A few weeks ago entrepreneurship was included in the Chamber’s Top 10 Opportunities for growth in the Peterborough economy.  We have seen an intentional and concerted effort to build and create a sustainable ecosystem for startups and new businesses.

What do we know about small business in Canada?  It represents 98 percent of all firms and created 77.7 percent of all jobs between 2002-2012 (Industry Canada website).  This situation is expected to continue.  

What has the government committed to on this issue?  In the 2016 budget, through the Business Growth Initiative scaling up was identified as a key pillar.  “While Ontario is home to dynamic entrepreneurs and many cutting-edge companies, the province lags the U.S. and many other advanced economies in its share of medium-sized and large firms that comprise the economy.  This is important because larger firms tend to be more productive, export-oriented and pay higher wages, on average. For this reason, the Province is taking action to help scale up more Ontario firms by enhancing access to capital and establishing new programs that will focus on fostering accelerated growth — concentrating resources on young companies that have demonstrated success and have great potential” (2016 Provincial Budget). 

What do those of us in the business ecosystem need to do?  The goal of the Peterborough Chamber is to help and be the voice of business to the province in creating a framework to ensure small companies can grow and be sustained successfully.  

As part of representing our members, the Peterborough Chamber is on an Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) Taskforce examining the needs of businesses looking to grow.  The OCC Taskforce is looking to support economic growth in the province by creating the conditions for firms to scale up in Ontario, clearly defining the concept of “scaling up"and the current barriers to doing so, providing constructive recommendations to government and the business community, and answering a few questions such as, how do we encourage more firms to scale up in Ontario.  

The OCC identified “scaling up” as one of the major topic discussions coming out of the 2015 Ontario Economic Summit.  According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, Canada ranks as a leader, especially in early stage entrepreneurial activity.  The startup ecosystem includes over 140 assistance organizations.  However, the tools must be in place to ensure the entrepreneurial spirit translates into successful business with economic benefits. 

Part of the Taskforce's research process involves asking business owners about the challenges they’ve had with scaling up.  The goal is to gather Ontario specific data from those who have gone through the experience.  Some of the questions include identifying the top barrier to business, whether it is access to financing, talent, mentorship, peer support, new customers, markets or regulation/red tape. Those answering the survey will be asked how the barriers affected the scaling up process and whether there was any thought to leave Ontario.  The survey also asks about the ease of seeking government resources and the role of the private sector.  For those not interested in scaling up, we are asking why it is not a consideration.


Why are we ploughing ahead with ORPP?

The provincial government released the final design parameters for the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP) last week, but it wasn’t successful in quieting the calls from the business community to delay the plan until the federal government has completed its review of the Canada Pension Plan (CPP).  

Many members of the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce are left wondering why the rush?  When the ORPP was announced, the reason for hatching a made-in-Ontario retirement plan was because the federal government was unwilling to consider expanding CPP.  The new government has committed to a conversation with Canadians about how to improve the program and yet Ontario is ploughing ahead.  Our agricultural community may have something to say about the impact of ploughing a field that has been tapped too often.   

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce policy staff has identified the impact of the newly announced design details including:

Implementation timelines. We learned that government will not extend ORPP implementation timelines, as we had asked. This will put pressure on both government and employers to meet the January 1st, 2017 implementation timeline, which we believe is very ambitious. These tight timelines necessitate increased collaboration between government and employers over the next 11 months.

A new funding policy. In the event that the ORPP becomes underfunded, there exists the potential for the ORPP Administration Corporation Board of Directors to increase contribution rates by up to 0.2 percent. The OCC had been seeking a guarantee that employer contribution would not exceed 1.9 percent and we will continue to lobby the government on this point.

A clearer definition of employment. Until the parameters were issued, it was unclear what constituted an “Ontario employee.” This has now been defined. A person will be considered employed in Ontario if they report to work, full- or part-time, at an employer’s establishment in Ontario. This definition captures a greater number of businesses than many anticipated, including federally regulated businesses.

A streamlined comparability test. The government is establishing a comparability test that can be applied at the level of a subset of employees. This has important implications for those employers whose employees are not offered identical benefits. For example, some employers have different benefits for part-time and full-time employees. The government has indicated that this test would streamline the administrative process of assessing plan comparability. The OCC looks forward to receiving greater detail on this comparability test.

ORPP is a large part of the cumulative burden that Ontario businesses are facing.  It has the potential to hurt our competitiveness by hampering a business’ ability to hire or even retain their current employees.  While the economic analysis by the province indicates that there will be a period of reduced GDP growth, as businesses adjust to the cost, the analysis is also banking on reduced Employment Insurance (EI) and Workplace Safety & Insurance Board (WSIB) premiums.  These are not guaranteed reductions.  In the case of EI the federal Liberals did say during the election they would reduce premiums, but not near the same amount as expected when the premium rate was announced under the previous government.  In the case of WSIB, the earliest implementation date is 2019, allowing for a year of adjustment for businesses.  

In October 2015, the Peterborough and Kingston Chambers of Commerce submitted a recommendation to the federal government that employees be allowed to increase their CPP contributions.   

The Peterborough Chamber has been involved in the ORPP conversation for the past two years and has contributed letters and impact analysis on behalf of our members.   And while some of the design details have been created in direct response to focused advocacy by us and our colleagues at the OCC, the question remains why January 2017 is a hard and fast timeline. 

Taking the time to allow the federal government to examine the CPP is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of a province recognizing that ORPP will have a negative impact on our fragile economy, hurt our competitiveness and is not the best answer right now for business or Ontario residents.   


Emerging Stronger 2016: How confident are you in Ontario's economy? 

Grab a coffee and take the Ontario Chamber of Commerce's latest survey to add your voice to Canada's most credible survey of business opinion.  The answers to this survey will inform the Ontario Business Confidence Index and Emerging Stronger 2016 documents which will be released in early 2016.

By taking a moment to complete this short survey, you will be entered into a draw to win two roundtrip tickets to anywhere Porter Airlines flies.



Chamber Members: At the end of the survey please indicate that you belong to the Peterborough
Chamber of Commerce.  If you choose to be entered into the draw you will be asked for your
information in the next question.  You can also choose not give your information at that time. 

Please note that only the prize winner will be contacted. Promotional consideration for this survey has been provided by Porter Airlines.

The Peterborough Chamber is asking business to fill out this survey as it is a useful tool in gauging the economic situation in Peterborough, City and County.   The more businesses who fill out this survey from the area, the better the statistics we can generate to determine the economic climate. 

From the 2015 version of the survey by the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce, Ontario Chamber of Commerc and Leger Marketing, we found out that: “The recommendations in Emerging Stronger 2015 speak directly to issues affecting Peterborough businesses, in that they encourage improvements for
the manufacturing and trades sectors, as well as changes to the regulatory framework for business and the interest arbitration and tendering processes for municipalities.”

The Ontario Business Confidence Index assesses businesses’ confidence in their own organizations and the broader provincial economy.  In 2015, the Index summarized feedback from almost 1,500 businesses across the province. Compared to 2014, businesses are much less confident in Ontario’s economy and in their own organizations’ economic outlook, with an overall confidence rating of 58% in 2015 vs. 74% in 2014.

#BeHeard for 2016 and take the survey. 


Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce and a coalition of employers call for clarity and express deep concern over proposed Ontario pension plan

PETERBOROUGH, SEPTEMBER 23, 2015: The Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce, Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC), and a coalition of major Ontario employers are calling on the provincial government to outline to the employer community the details of the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan. In a letter addressed to Premier Kathleen Wynne, a coalition of more than 150 organizations laid out five specific questions that reflect the collective concerns of Ontario employers.

“The Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce and Ontario’s employer community know that without greater clarity, the proposed pension plan could have a direct, negative impact on jobs and the economy,” said Stuart Harrison, President & CEO, Peterborough Chamber. “This is why we continue to advocate for a solution that supports business growth. The concerns summarized in today’s letter illustrate that we have not yet found that solution.”

The primary concern of the employer community remains with the ORPP’s potential economic impact. Businesses in the province face increasing costs from a number of sources - rising electricity rates, a new cap and trade system, and some of the highest workplace safety insurance premiums in the country. There is deep concern that the proposed pension plan will further contribute to this cumulative burden. This joint letter followed the government’s recent revision to the proposed plan’s comparability rules under the ORPP, which now include defined contribution (DC) pension plans with a combined contribution rate of 8 percent and where the employer contributes at least 4 percent.

The coalition includes employers of all sizes, in addition to companies across a diverse range of sectors, including construction, insurance, manufacturing, and mining. More than 40 organizations across the Chamber Network have also signed on, in addition to industry and trade associations. Other questions that need to be addressed are: 

  • How will the ORPP impact Ontario’s GDP, jobs, and investment?
  • What assumptions has the Government made to arrive at its revised definition of comparability?
  • How will the government ensure that the ORPP is a cost-effective plan?
  • How will Pooled Registered Pension Plans (PRPPs) be implemented while preserving their advantages for employers?

“Government is moving ahead with a brisk timeline and some employers will begin making ORPP contributions in less than 18 months,” added Allan O’Dette, President & CEO, OCC. “With so much uncertainty around plan components, Ontario businesses are not ready. We are concerned that a lack of clarity means that the Government doesn’t have answers for the very important questions which remain unresolved.”

“The Peterborough Chamber and Ontario employers will continue to work with the provincial government to find a solution that will meet the needs of Ontario’s business community while addressing the challenges Ontarians face later in life,” adds Harrison.

For a copy of the full letter, visit the OCC website.


Changing workplaces: a business perspective

As the Ontario Ministry of Labour reviews the Labour Relations Act (LRA) and the Employment Standards Act (ESA), the business community is weighing in with the business perspective.  There are aspects of the ESA that are working and should be maintained and there are other areas that could be improved upon in order to keep Ontario’s competitive edge.  

“Throughout our submission, we urge you to consider the economic impacts of any proposed changes to the Labour Relations Act and the Employment Standards Act,” says Allan O’Dette, President & CEO, Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “We also urge you to consider the structural changes that the global economy has undergone over the past few decades and to consider the manner in which Ontario’s labour laws should – or should not – be used to counteract those changes.” 

Many of the 14 recommendations find their base in the policy resolutions approved by the Chamber Network at the 2015 Annual General Meeting in Cornwall this past May.  The goal of the recommendations is to ensure that Ontario is “the best place in which to live, work, and invest.” 

The Chamber Network is offering five recommendations under the Labour Relations Act and nine recommendations under the Employment Standards Act for the consideration of the Changing Workplaces Review.  

The recommendations under the LRA deal with how unions are certified and the process that should be followed, particularly when small construction employers are involved.  The fifth recommendation asks for fair and open tendering by municipalities by asking that these entities be de-classified as ‘construction employers’.  

The recommendations under the ESA relate to greater contractual or statutory right, exemptions, scheduling and refusal of work, non-standard employment and unpaid leave of absence.  One of the most pressing areas in this review is dealing with how the workforce has changed, with many employment situations now falling under the heading “Non-Standard Employment”. There are three recommendations under this heading: 

Canadian governments should take a broader and more effective approach to the growth of non-standard work by considering innovation solutions that would provide all workers with access to the benefits of the social safety net.  The Guaranteed Annual Income (GAI) is one proposal worth further study. 

Consider the broader economic and fiscal impacts of any proposed changes to the Employment Standards Act that would mandate private and public sector employers to fundamentally restructure their employment relationships with their contracted workers. 

Do not establish, through the Employment Standards Act, a reverse onus on employee status where a worker is presumed to be an employee unless the employer demonstrates otherwise. 

This past summer the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce participated in the Good Jobs Summit hosted by the United Way and the Peterborough City and County Health Unit.  The discussion by the 40 or so community members revolved around how to address the rise in precarious employment, such as contract positions or positions that do not involve the standard employment agreement between the employer and employee.  It’s an issue that is having an impact across the country.  

As an advocacy group for the business community, chambers such as the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce advocate for a business climate that allows business to thrive. This includes: 


  • less regulation
  • training and support for the skilled trades
  • a jobs strategy
  • access to a powerful workforce 
  • and numerous other Policy Resolutions all leading towards a better business climate


Legislators have an opportunity for innovation in this space recognizing that the labour force, while desiring certain fundamentals, will continue to change and adapt to the demands of the economy.  

In the end, the major underlying theme of this report is asking the government to consider the broader economic context and impact any proposed changes would have.  The Chamber Network understands the need to find “a balance between a desire to counteract the structural changes that our workforce
has undergone over the past few decades, and the need to maintain a healthy business climate” (OCC Report 2015).

Full report

Comment through the "Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn.