Entries in Ontario Chamber of Commerce (25)


OCC Rapid Policy Update: Ontario Credit Rating Downgrade

On Monday, July 6, 2015, the international credit rating agency Standard & Poor downgraded Ontario’s long-term credit rating from AA- to A+, while affirming Ontario’s short-term A-1+ rating.

The rating agency cited Ontario’s “consistently very weak budgetary performance and very high debt levels” as primary drivers of the credit downgrade. Ontario is currently running a $8.5 billion deficit. The Province is paying over $11 billion a year on interest payments to service its nearly $290 billion debt.

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) is worried about Ontario’s fiscal outlook. Further credit downgrades or an increase to interest rates could drive up the cost of borrowing, which would divert money from priority areas including infrastructure and education.

The OCC is continuing to call on the Government of Ontario to tackle its deficit by making greater use of
alternative service delivery models, applying more rigour to ministry program reviews, and exploring means-testing for certain services.

Improving its fiscal outlook will help Ontario’s business climate. 

Comment through the "Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn.  


A Summary of Legislation Passed at Queen's Park in the Spring Sitting

Yesterday, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario rose for summer break and will resume sitting on September 14. With the 2015 Ontario Budget passing the legislature on June 3, we have written a summary of the government’s spring session and highlighted how the Chamber Network has helped shape policy.

In short, the passing of the 2015 Ontario Budget provides a very clear reminder that the cumulative regulatory burden poses a significant challenge to Ontario businesses. Over the past few months, the OCC has advocated for a business climate that fosters investment and growth through our submissions to government on issues like the review of the Ontario College of Trades, cap and trade, and the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan.

The following is a breakdown of some of the major pieces of legislation that have been passed over the spring legislative session.

Ontario to Roll Out a Cap and Trade System
April 13

On April 13, 2015 the government announced its intention to move forward on a cap and trade system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).

With the support of over 30 chambers of commerce and boards of trade, our network outlined its initial concerns with the cap and trade system through a written submission to government.

The OCC will continue to work with government to ensure they consider the impact that the cap and trade system will have on the economy and job creation. We are in the initial stages of determining an impactful approach on this file.

Ontario Retirement Pension Plan Enters Design Stage
April 29

On April 29, 2015, the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan Act was passed. The Act forms the foundation of the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP), which is slated to take effect by January 1, 2017.

The Chamber Network has been relentless in challenging government over the ORPP. In a huge win for the Chamber Network, the government has already agreed to our request that the plan be submitted to a full cost-benefit analysis.

Just this week, the OCC sent a letter to Premier Wynne signed by over 150 businesses, sector associations, chambers of commerce, and boards of trade that urges the government to expand its definition of pension plan comparability. The Chamber Network continues to lead the conversation on the ORPP.

Pooled Registered Pension Plans Bill Passes the Legislature
May 26

The Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act was passed on May 26, 2015. The Act creates a framework for Ontario businesses to offer Pooled Registered Pension Plans (PRPPs) to their employees, as well as make PRPPs available to the self-employed. PRPPs offer a voluntary, low-cost, tax-assisted option to increase retirement savings.

This is a big win for the Chamber Network. The OCC has been pushing government to adopt a PRPP regime for many years.

2015 Ontario Budget Passes the Legislature
June 3

The Budget’s centrepiece was a $130 billion commitment over 10 years to build key long-term transportation and other infrastructure projects. The Chamber Network praised the government for their investments in infrastructure, but noted that too little progress is being made to combat Ontario’s $10 billion deficit.

The budget also formalized plans to sell a portion of Hydro One, the province’s largest electricity distribution utility. For the past several years, the OCC has been calling on the provincial government to ensure it is maximizing the value of its assets, including Hydro One. The OCC will be monitoring the situation closely to ensure that the sale of hydro utilities do not adversely affect electricity rates.

Comment through the "Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn.






Earlier today, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced that her government will be implementing a cap and trade system as part of its strategy to reduce Ontario’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). Globally, rising GHG levels are the main contributor to climate change.

This represents a significant policy shift that will have implications for Ontario’s business community. This Rapid Policy Update provides you with an overview of what you need to know as government moves forward with a cap and trade system.


When will the system take effect?

No details have been shared on implementation timelines.

How does cap and trade work?

A cap and trade system is a market for GHGs. The goal of the system is to provide a financial incentive for businesses to reduce their carbon footprint.

Under this system, the government sets a maximum limit on the amount of GHGs that applicable businesses can produce (“the cap”). Pollution credits are then allocated to these businesses, which stipulate how many GHG emissions each business is allowed to produce. These credits can then be bought and sold in a newly created pollution credit market (“the trade”). Businesses that reduce their emissions in a given year can sell their leftover credits to those that have emitted more.

Typically, the cap is lowered gradually to reduce the total GHGs emitted by the participating jurisdiction over time. We do not yet know what the emission cap will be in Ontario and if it will change over time.

What sectors will be most impacted?

The Ontario government has not indicated which businesses or sectors will be subject to the cap and trade system. However, it has announced its intention to link the carbon market with North America's largest cap and trade system currently in place in California and Quebec.

In Quebec, businesses that emit 25,000 metric tons or more of CO2 equivalent (i.e. GHGs) a year are subject to the cap and trade system. In its first year, only the industrial and electricity sectors were subject to Quebec’s cap and trade system. This year, fossil fuel distributors are being phased into the system, which will affect a more significant portion of the economy.

How will the government use the revenue collected from cap and trade?

The provincial government has not indicated how much will be raised by the cap and trade system. It has signalled that it will reinvest the money raised through the system into projects that reduce GHG emissions and help businesses remain competitive. Projects may include building more public transit or providing financial assistance to businesses as they move to reduce their carbon footprint.

What is the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s position?

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) recognizes that urgent action is required to mitigate the existing and pending negative environmental and economic effects of climate change. In principle, we support efforts to reduce GHGs.

However, the introduction of a cap and trade system must be viewed within the broader context of the escalating cost of doing business in Ontario. Over the past year, the Government of Ontario has implemented or announced a number of initiatives that will have a direct impact on business, including a new Waste Diversion Act, a review of the Labour Relations Act, the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP), in addition to this new carbon pricing system.

The cumulative impact of these changes poses a serious threat to the future competitiveness of Ontario’s business climate. It is incumbent on the provincial government to ensure that Ontario remains among the most attractive places in the world to do business. As such, we believe government must put economic interests, along with environmental ones, at the forefront of the discussion. The following principles should be among those that shape the design of the cap and trade system:
  1. Government must consider the impact that the cap and trade system and regulatory changes have on the economy and job creation in the province.
  2. The cap and trade system must be revenue neutral and the revenue collected should be used to mitigate the impact of the plan on those businesses most affected.
  3. Government should harmonize its efforts with Ontario’s immediate competitors for investment and trade.

What are the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s next steps?

In the coming months, we will work with the Chamber Network to advocate on behalf of Ontario’s business community and communicate our position to the Government of Ontario. We will also seek answers to the key design questions that remain unanswered.

Please stay tuned for updates as this important business issue unfolds.

Additional resources

How Cap and Trade Works (Government of Ontario)
News Release: Cap and Trade System to Limit Greenhouse Gas Pollution in Ontario(Government of Ontario)
Ontario’s Climate Change Discussion Paper 2015 (Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change)
Questions or comments? Contact Scott Boutilier, Policy Analyst.

OCC Rapid Policy Update: The Government is Set to Put a Price on Carbon

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce  does not yet know the specifics of how the government will proceed on carbon pricing, but the consultation document confirms that the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change is weighing several options for market mechanisms that would be used to price carbon in Ontario. 

They are: 

  • A cap and trade system that places a limit on total emissions, with the price being determined in the market. Quebec adopted this measure in 2013, and currently applies it to large electricity generators and industrial facilities, and transportation and heating fuels.
  • A baseline and credit system that aims to reduce the intensity of greenhouse gas emissions without limiting the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions. A baseline is set for each carbon emitting business or organization, who are then required to improve their efficiency by a set amount. Businesses and organizations who overachieve receive credits, and those who do not meet their targets can buy credits. Alberta established this system in 2007, and requires businesses and organizations who do not meet their targets to pay $15 per tonne of excess emissions.
  • A carbon tax that sets a price for carbon emissions that businesses, organizations, and individuals are required to pay. This approach was adopted by British Columbia in 2008, where the current price of carbon is $30 per tonne of carbon dioxide.
  • Regulations and performance standards that would require businesses to meet standards or specific targets or to use specific technology.

 What’s Next?

The Government of Ontario is now undertaking a 45 day consultation process to elicit feedback on its consultation paper. The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change will hold meetings in a number of Ontario cities. Consultation are underway, but Peterborough is not on the list for in-person consultations.  A full list can be found here

After the consultation period, the government will make a decision on which mechanisms or approaches to adopt.

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s Position

While the OCC supports efforts to lower greenhouse gas emissions, we are wary of any policy or regulatory change that would impose undue costs on Ontario businesses or hurt job creation, especially when the cost of business in the province is slated to rise as a result of the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan and soaring electricity rates.

Government must not lose sight of the impact that new policy and regulatory changes could have on Ontario’s economy. Over the coming weeks, the OCC will work closely with its members to more clearly develop a response to the proposals outlined in the government’s consultation paper.

Comment through the "Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn.


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.



  • 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.