Entries in Ontario Chamber of Commerce (25)

Thursday
Oct162014

How the Chamber of Commerce drives change

One of the core activities of the Chamber is to be a voice for the business community.   This is true in our communities of the City and County of Peterborough, and at the provincial and federal levels.  This is a quick snapshot of how we can drive change – and why there’s nothing wrong with staying in the middle lane, as long as we are aware that we may need to change lanes.  

When we talk about change in the chamber world it is more often associated with a regulation, by-law or  policy that currently exists or has been brought in by the municipality, provincial or federal government. Not only do we ask for changes to existing policies, but by expressing the business community’s voice on certain themes we can also set the tone for developing policy.

The Chamber’s policy committee, one of the largest chamber committees, meets once a month and is made up of volunteers from the membership as well as appointees from our MP and MPPs offices and Peterborough Economic Development.  This group discusses any pressing issues and makes decisions on how to proceed on a given issue.  This can range from conducting a survey to issuing a media release to writing a letter to completing more research on a given topic to developing a policy resolution containing specific recommendations to government.

There are several keys to change including information gathering, expressing the business community point of view and providing solutions.   

The Chamber has the opportunity to speak as one voice for its over 900  members.   We talk to politicians and staff about the change the business community would like to see.   We use the information you give us through Chamber surveys, approved policy resolutions, and conversations about concerns affecting your business.  We also write articles and letters expressing your views.  

A few recent examples of advocacy at work:  

Locally: Louis Street Park – a survey of our members identified that Louis Street was the preferred spot for an urban park.  The Chamber sent a letter and the survey to City Hall as well as issued a media release.  When it was approved another letter was sent reminding council of the business community’s position. The letter also asked that council consider putting something tangible at the park site (ie. trees or a sign that features the design) and that the completion date of the project be moved up as much as possible. 

Provincially: The Pension Day of Advocacy.  A day set aside where 50 plus chambers from across the province were speaking as one about their concerns on the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan.   This was a high point in the advocacy on this issue, but not the beginning.  Pension reform was identified about a year ago as an area of concern.  Questions around it were part of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s yearly survey Emerging Stronger, and it was a part of the business community platform during the provincial election.   Since the government announced it was moving forward with the program in late June, the chamber network has written a letter to the Minister, participated in a conference call and the day of advocacy.  The end goal is to be part of a workable solution for the business community.  

Federally:   Chamber President Stu Harrison, Incoming Chair Pat Marren and I recently attended the Canadian Chamber of Commerce AGM.  The main reason for the AGM is to set the federal policy agenda so CCC policy staff can lobby the federal government. We accomplished this by passing some 65 policy resolutions and recommendations on a variety of issues, from innovation to labour mobility to labour market information to tax deductions for small business.  The goal is to encourage, through recommendations from the business community changes that can improve the business climate. 

What is a policy win?  A win can come in many forms when it comes to driving change.  It can be a seat at the table, it can be having a policy resolution passed at the provincial and federal levels, or the ultimate is a change in legislation.  

Through the Chamber Peterborough business successfully championed for an eight year commitment by the City of Peterborough to reduce the commercial and industrial tax ratios to between 1.5% and 1.8% of residential levels.   We put Louis Street back on the map as an urban park location with the city.  One health care policy, championed by Peterborough, has successfully led to pharmacists being able to administer flu shots in the Province of Ontario.  

At the CCC AGM, there was a session on “Effective Lobbying.”  The main takeaways from that session were:  

There is no one road to driving change.  One experience can be smooth sailing on new pavement and the next like working your way through a traffic jam. 

You have to manage how far your tank of gas will take you.  The Chamber has to carefully utilize the resources at hand from prioritizing issues to accepting feedback and cultivating relationships.  This is why the chamber is deliberately non-partisan during election campaigns and chooses to focus on the issues rather than candidates, because no matter whom is elected, as a lobby group for business we will have to work with them. 

We are not and cannot drive alone.  Change requires carpooling - bringing together our resources and knowledge to present a solid and factual case for change.  This does not happen in isolation and we are more effective working together. The stronger our membership, the more horesepower we have.

Read the Policy Report Card, which can be found at peterboroughchamber.ca  

Comment through the “Peterborough Chamber” group of LinkedIn. 

Wednesday
Oct082014

Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce says businesses are concerned about Ontario pension plan

The provincial Liberals are moving ahead with plans to install the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP).  Businesses are concerned with the immediate and long term implications of such a program and chambers across the province, including the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce, took part in a “Pension Advocacy Day” on Wednesday, October 8, 2014.   

The Peterborough Chamber and 50 other chambers across Ontario also recently signed a letter expressing the concerns of the business community.  The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC), on behalf of the provincial Chamber Network, sent a letter to the Honourable Mitzie Hunter, Associate Minister of Finance. Minister Hunter has been charged with developing the framework for the ORPP.  The provincial government chose to develop this plan after the federal government refused to make any changes to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP).     

As stated in the letter, the business community is very aware that a section of the population that is not prepared for retirement and acknowledges that “significant number of retirees, who lack sufficient income to maintain their standards of living, would have serious implications on the fiscal health of Ontario.”

However, many employers believe a standalone provincial pension plan is not the best route for Ontario.  As expressed in the letter, the concern lies in the cumulative effect of a number of expected increases for employers over the next few years from soaring electricity costs to very high WSIB premiums and yet Ontario’s Ministry of Finance projects the real annual GDP to be at 2.1% for the next twenty years.  This would be down from 2.6% growth seen in the previous twenty years. 

The provincial government is still in the very early design stages of the ORPP.  Here’s what we know so far:  

  • The ORPP will require equal contributions to be shared between employers and employees, not exceeding 1.9 per cent each (3.8 per cent combined) on earnings up to a maximum annual earnings threshold of $90,000. The ORPP maximum earnings threshold would increase each year, consistent with increases to the CPP maximum earnings threshold. 

Here are some illustrative examples of how much businesses will end up paying using the known parameters: 

  • A business has five employees, all of whom make $50,000.00 annually.
    • The business will need to pay $883.50 (1.9%) per employee per year in ORPP contributions
    • The business will be paying $4,417.50 in total, per year, in ORPP contributions for its 5 employees
  • A business has 20 employees, 10 of whom make $90,000 annually, five of whom make $50,000 annually, and five of whom make $30,000 annually. 
    • The business will need to make ORPP contributions of $1,643.50 for each employee that makes $90,000, $883.50 for each employee that makes $50,000, and $503.50 for each employee that makes $30,000.
    • The business will be paying $23,370 in total, per year, in ORPP contributions for its 20 employees. (OCC Backgrounder 2014)
  • Businesses already participating in a comparable workplace pension plan would not be required to enrol in the ORPP. The government has not yet defined what it means by “comparable plan”.
  • The ORPP would be publicly administered at arm’s length from government and have a strong governance model. 

Increased costs are not the only concerns of business:   

  • Unnecessary bureaucracy
  • Fragmentation of the pension landscape 
  • Ontario is moving in a different direction on pension while other provinces are looking at using Pooled Registered Pension Plans (PRPPs) (OCC letter to Minister Hunter September 2014) 

According to the OCC survey Emerging Stronger 2014 employers are overwhelmingly in favour of Pooled Registered Pension Plans (PRPPs). These plans allow for greater flexibility in terms of employer contribution and would not be mandatory.

Starting in 2017, the ORPP will be phased in and coincide with expected reductions in Employment Insurance premiums.  The largest employers would be enrolled first and contribution rates would be phased in over two years.  

Comment through the “Peterborough Chamber” group of LinkedIn. 

Tuesday
Oct072014

Chambers across Ontario send letter to provincial government on pension reform

 

 

 

 

September 8, 2014
The Honourable Mitzie Hunter, MPP
Associate Minister of Finance
7th Floor, Frost Building South
7 Queen’s Park Crescent
Toronto, Ontario M7A 1Y7

Dear Associate Minister Hunter, 

As your government moves forward with the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP), we are writing to urge you to consider how this new pension scheme will affect the province’s immediate and longterm growth. We request a meeting with you to discuss how we can work together to secure a pension future that will support both the retirement savings needs of Ontarians and Ontario’s economic recovery.

As you know, Ontario is facing a pension challenge. While a majority of Ontarians are relatively well prepared for retirement, a sizeable minority (1/4 to 1/3 of Ontarians according to varying estimates) are not adequately saving for retirement. Many of these people are middle income-earners, including almost 1.3 million workers in the province who do not have access to a pension plan in the workplace. Voluntary individual savings tools are also being underutilized.

At the same time, Ontario’s population is aging; by 2035, 23 percent of Ontarians will be of retirement age, compared with 14 percent in 2011. A significant increase in the number of retirees, who lack sufficient income to maintain their standards of living, would have serious implications for the fiscal health of Ontario.

Businesses overwhelmingly agree that the pension problem needs to be addressed. According to a recent OCC survey, 72 percent of Ontario businesses believe that pension reform should be a priority for government. As a result, the business community appreciates your government’s action on this file and the attention you have brought to this issue at the national level.

However, Ontario’s pension problem is complicated by the province’s broader economic picture. As you know, Ontario’s economy is in transition. The economy is projected to grow slowly for the foreseeable future. Ontario’s Ministry of Finance projects the province’s real annual GDP growth for the next twenty years to be 2.1 percent, down from 2.6 percent during the previous twenty years.

Employers are facing rising costs, including soaring electricity prices and high WSIB premiums, which risk stifling investment in Ontario. In this context, businesses are wary of policies that will add to their costs.

In our recent report in partnership with the Certified General Accountants of Ontario (now the Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario), An Employer Perspective on Fixing Ontario’s Pension Problem, we aggregated the results of consultations with employers on Ontario’s pension future. From these consultations, it is clear that businesses in the province prefer a well-targeted pension solution that provides flexibility for employers and employees, and does not increase their costs unnecessarily.

Employers are overwhelmingly in favour of Pooled Registered Pension Plans (PRPPs), and as such, we applaud your government’s intention to implement PRPPs.  At the same time, employers are wary of a standalone provincial pension plan. The position of Ontario businesses is clear: they cannot incur the costs associated with a new Ontario pension plan. According to a recent OCC survey, only 23 percent of businesses are certain that they can afford the costs associated with increased employer pension contributions. Worry has also been expressed that smaller businesses, whose resources are more limited, will be disproportionately impacted when compared with larger peers and competitors.

Apart from increased costs, the following concerns regarding the ORPP were outlined by Ontario businesses: 

  • Unnecessary bureaucracy: businesses question the need for a new provincial pension bureaucracy that will duplicate and complicate an already effective and balanced national pension system based on OAS-GIS, the CPP-QPP, and private workplace retirement savings plans.
  • Fragmentation of the pension landscape: a unique provincial pension plan will add complexity and costs for employers, particularly for those who operate in more than one province.
  • National commitments to Pooled Registered Pension Plans (PRPPs): national momentum for PRPPs has already been generated, with implementation taking place at the federal level, and in Quebec, B.C., Alberta, and Saskatchewan, and a framework plan in Ontario. Why should Ontario move in a different direction, while other provinces are already moving towards PRPPs? 

In light of the concerns expressed by our member companies with respect to the ORPP, we strongly urge your government to reconsider its approach to addressing Ontario’s pension problem. Ontario’s employers need answers to crucial outstanding questions. 

  • What will be the impact of a fully-implemented ORPP? If it has not done so already, the government needs to conduct an overall impact analysis of the ORPP to fully assess the costs and benefits of the Plan from economic and social perspectives. If it has, these results should be made public. Such an impact analysis should examine the short- to long-term impact of the ORPP on business competitiveness, investment and employment/wages. The net impact on retirement saving should also be examined. What is the possibility of people saving less privately as a result of ORPP contributions (which would result in no positive net impact on retirement preparedness)?
  • How will the government treat businesses who cannot afford to match mandatory contributions under the ORPP? Will there be exemptions for small businesses? Will small businesses be directed or mandated to offer another plan (PRPP or Group RRSP) as an alternative?
  • What types of workplace pension plans will be considered “comparable” to the ORPP? The government has pledged to exempt those employees already participating in a comparable workplace pension plan from enrolling in the ORPP. If businesses decide that an alternative pension scheme, such as the PRPP, or any number of other long-standing registered pension plans is preferable to the ORPP, will they qualify as “comparable”?
  • Will the government consider broadening the diversity of sources of retirement income to mitigate risk? Experts agree that having multiple sources of retirement income through wellregulated private as well as public pensions enhances sustainability and reduces the risk of a retirement income shortfall. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and other expert groups have underscored the strength of balanced public-private pillar based pension systems such as what we have here in Canada. Will a mandatory ORPP scheme provide a desirable level of diversification for Ontarians’ sources of retirement income, and would the relative balance of the retirement savings system be impacted?
  • How will you address worker mobility issues? What happens to the ORPP contributions of employers and employees if employees are required to move out of the province, or if they transfer to workplaces in Ontario that already offer a registered workplace plan (or PRPP)? Will this increase the already significant red tape burden for businesses?
  • How will the ORPP impact the self-employed? Self-employed individuals often face a greater degree of income variability. While savings vehicles like the PRPP provide flexibility in terms of employer contributions, it is not clear that the ORPP would do the same. 

To respond to these comments and to provide you direct access to representatives of businesses across the province, we invite you to participate in a teleconference call with Ontario’s chambers of commerce and boards of trade in September. Participants in our network teleconferences include executives from chambers of commerce and boards of trade from across the province, who have a clear sense of business priorities in their communities.

We look forward to discussing this issue with you further in the near future. To get in touch, please contact Josh Hjartarson, Vice President, Policy & Government Relations, at 416.482.5222 ext. 2320, or by email at joshhjartarson@occ.on.ca.

Thank you, 

Mark Nibourg - Greater Arnprior Chamber of Commerce

Corey Bilton - Arthur & District Chamber of Commerce

Monika Rogers - Beaverton District Chamber of Commerce

Bill Saunders - Belleville & District Chamber of Commerce

James McNeill - Bradford Board of Trade

Steve Sheils - Brampton Board of Trade

Keith Hoey - Burlington Chamber of Commerce

Jim DiNovo - Brantford Brant Chamber of Commerce

Anne MacDonald - Brockville & District Chamber of Commerce

Valerie Arnold-Judge - Caledon Chamber of Commerce

Greg Durocher - Cambridge Chamber of Commerce

Roberta Scarrow - Centre Wellington Chamber of Commerce

Gail Bishop - Chatham-Kent Chamber of Commerce

Kevin Hargreaves - Cornwall & Area Chamber of Commerce

Arend Kersten - Flamborough Chamber of Commerce

Keanin Loomis - Hamilton Chamber of Commerce

Adam Ward - Hanover Chamber of Commerce

Kathleen Dills - Halton Hills Chamber of Commerce

Nicole Middelkamp-Hope - Huron Chamber of Commerce

Ann Campbell - Ingersoll District Chamber of Commerce

Wes Romaniuk - Kenora & District Chamber of Commerce

John Sawyer - Oakville Chamber of Commerce

Kevin Ward - Northumberland Central Chamber of Commerce

Allan O’Dette - Ontario Chamber of Commerce

Gerry Macartney - London Chamber of Commerce

Debra Scott - Newmarket Chamber of Commerce

Sharon D’Arcey - North Perth Chamber of Commerce

Andrew Ryeland - Parry Sound Area Chamber of Commerce

Bert Loopstra - Owen Sound District Chamber of Commerce

Bob Malcolmson - Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce

Pat Wiseman - Perth & District Chamber of Commerce

Stuart Harrison - Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce

Bree Nixon - Port Hope & District Chamber of Commerce

Wendy Parsons - Leamington District Chamber of Commerce

Travis Crawford - Kincardine & District Chamber of Commerce

Bill Hughes - Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce

Dave Ashton - Prince Edward County Chamber of Tourism & Commerce

Suzanne Andrews - Quinte West Chamber of Commerce

Leslie Whidden - Richmond Hill Chamber of Commerce

Dave Cage - Stoney Creek Chamber of Commerce

Garry Lobsinger - Stratford & District Chamber of Commerce

Bob Hammersley - St. Thomas & District Chamber of Commerce

Marianne Braid - Southeast Georgian Bay Chamber of Commerce

Stephen Boles - South Huron Chamber of Commerce

Debbi Nicholson - Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce

Suzanne Renken - Tillsonburg District Chamber of Commerce

Charla Robinson - Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce

Phil Barton - Timmins Chamber of Commerce

Nicole Couwenberg - Township of Norwich Chamber of Commerce

Jeff Hamilton - Trent Hills & District Chamber of Commerce

Matt Marchand - Windsor Essex Chamber of Commerce

Comment through the "Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn.

Thursday
Sep112014

A funny thing happened on the way to a trade agreement

As Canada negotiates the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) with the European Union, it is also setting, consciously or subconsciously a framework that has the potential to improve trade barriers between this country’s provinces and territories. 

Internal trade barriers have been a concern for many years by many groups, including local chambers such as the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce, provincial chambers such as the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) and the Chamber Network’s federal arm the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. 

At the provincial level, delegates at the OCC’s Annual General Meeting in May voted in favour of a policy resolution called “Eliminating Inter-Provincial Trade Barriers before CETA takes effect.” 

As explicit tariffs between provinces are forbidden under section 121 of the Constitution Act of 1867, most interprovincial barriers are the result of differing rules, regulations, licensing requirements and regional programs. These barriers to internal trade are often enforced by provincial legislation in attempts to protect local interests (OCC Policy Resolution, 2014). 

The resolution asks the provincial government to: 

 

  • Pursue trade liberalizing agreements with other Canadian jurisdictions through the use of Article 1800 of the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT), that allows interested parties to move forward when consensus is not possible. 
  • Encourage all the parties of the AIT to conduct a full review and renegotiation of that agreement in order to eliminate barriers to trade, investment and labour mobility by 2015. A new agreement should: Cover all sections of the economy including ministries, crown corporations and regional and local governments. 
  • Institute a dispute resolution mechanism that includes access to a panel with binding and enforceable powers and contain significant fines for non-compliance. 

 

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC) has identified internal trade barriers as one of the Top 10 Barriers to Competitiveness. “Over the years, we have been calling on the government to significantly improve the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT),” says Perrin Beatty, President & CEO, Canadian Chamber of Commerce in a recent blog. “We are encouraged that the federal government is now committed to eliminating remaining barriers to internal trade—an issue that has been costing Canadian companies billions of dollars over the years. We are ready to work with the various levels of governments to advance this issue and improve the competitiveness of the Canadian economy.” 

The Voice of Business continues to ring loud and clear as the CCC and a number of provincial chambers including the OCC wrote a letter to the Premiers. The letter was sent before the Premiers met in PEI recently. 

“While Canada faces many economic and social challenges, we believe that there is one issue that must be given significant attention by our governments: the removal of barriers to internal trade and mobility. 

Internal trade barriers continue to impede the free movement of people and goods between Canada’s provinces. Such barriers often arise as a result of minor differences in standards, certifications or regulations. The red tape that these differences impose on businesses and the economic toll they place on our competitiveness have become intolerable. 

The Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT) was negotiated twenty years ago and does not respond to today’s economic and commercial realities. While there have been some helpful changes over the years - in particular to the chapter on labour mobility- the agreement as currently written no longer does our economy justice. 

As Canada continues to remove the barriers between our country and the rest of the world, it is time to make the creation of an integrated, efficient Canadian economy a priority. In particular, as we move closer to a final agreement with the European Union, we run the risk of having a more open trading relationship with Europe than we have internally. How can we expect our businesses to be able to compete with the twenty-eight countries in the European Union if they are unable to efficiently access markets closer to home? 

The costs imposed by these internal barriers limit consumer choice, complicate unnecessarily the process for Canadians wanting to work in other regions of Canada, and impose a multi-billion dollar drag on Canada’s economy. These costs are being recognised both here at home and, increasingly, abroad. For example, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recently urged Canadian governments to harmonize certification requirements for apprenticeship programs as a means to improve interprovincial mobility. 

We urgently call on you and the federal government to adopt a renewed commitment to break down the remaining barriers to internal trade and mobility in Canada. We believe that all of Canada’s governments should strive for a more modern agreement on internal trade. At a minimum, the existing agreement should be strengthened and updated to reflect the realities of our modern, trade dependent economy, with the onus being placed on those proposing impediments to the ability to do business throughout Canada to justify these barriers and with the ability to resolve disputes in a timely manner. 

Together, our network of Chambers of Commerce is comprised of more than 450 local chambers of commerce and boards of trade representing more than 200,000 businesses and industry associations of all sizes and sectors in every region of Canada. We wish you every success as you prepare for your important deliberations and we stand ready to work with you and the Government of Canada to create an efficient and competitive Canadian economy.” 

Not only is there a cohesive attitude amongst the Chamber Network in Canada, but the letter and follow-up discussion at the Premiers meeting in PEI may be “very good news, if they mean what they say,” says Beatty in his blog. “For years, Canadian businesses have struggled to navigate the complex system of differing rules, regulations and standards. These minor differences increase costs, reduce our efficiency and warn foreign investors away from our country.” 

It also appears the government of Canada is truly taking notice and has issued One Canada, One National Economy: Modernizing Internal Trade in Canada. “Persistent barriers to internal trade, including regulatory differences, inconsistent standards, and restrictions on the free movement of people, goods and services, fragment our economy and put Canadian firms at a disadvantage,” James Moore, Minister of Industry. “The result is a weaker Canadian economy, lost jobs, and a less united Canada.” 

The proposal examines two ways Canada can develop a solution to the problem:  

  • Option One: Focus on priority areas for improvement 
  • Option Two: Completely redesign the internal trade framework for Canada  

The report concludes with a promise to Canadians and Canadian business: 

“These two pathways are each legitimate and viable routes to a renewed AIT and a stronger Canadian economy. They form a sound basis on which to move forward and represent approaches we can pursue over time to achieve meaningful outcomes. Going forward, the Government of Canada is committed to working with provinces and territories to forge agreement on a path forward and begin the essential work of renewing internal trade to the benefit of all Canadians.” 

With the business community, the province and the federal government having an eye to reform, the time is now to get it done. 

**More about the Industry Canada proposal can be found at:
http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/081.nsf/ eng/00001.html 

To comment on this article please go to the "Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn.

Thursday
Sep112014

Training the workforce: the employer's role

 

It’s not a stretch to say that job creation and employment are issues on the minds of the Peterborough business community. Both will most likely highlight the upcoming municipal election campaign. The role of government is to create the environment or framework within which a business can succeed and grow. Employers are also part of the equation. They are not only the beneficiaries of any government programs; they need to use them. 

Part of employment and job creation revolves around employee training. If you are able to train and improve the knowledge of current employees, thereby making them more productive, the chances are greatly increased that your business will need to expand its human capital to meet demand. In Peterborough, Economic Development officials have said that any new job growth will come from companies with five employees or less. This statement lends even more importance to effective employee training programs that employers can easily tap into. 

A new report by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC), Essential Skills Ontario (ESO) and co-released with the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce encourages that training programs funded by the federal government and designed and implemented by the province in the form of the Canada Job Grant must adhere to the following five principles: 

  1. Strike a balance between program integrity and emloyer usability 
  2. Facilitate efficiency and effectiveness in the provider market 
  3. Encourage flexibility with respect to how training is delivered 
  4. Encourage sector-based approaches to training 
  5. Drive awareness of training programs within the business community 

The OCC policy group held consultations in eight Ontario communities and met with small and medium enterprises, multi-national firms, industry associations, human resource professionals, training service providers and post-secondary institutions (Report, September 2014). The OCC also used data collected from the membership survey completed earlier this year. 

Since the announcement of the Canada Job Grant program in the 2013 federal budget, a lot has happened. The report from the OCC and ESO details the parameters the Government of Ontario will follow in rolling out upcoming programs: 

 

  • Available to businesses and non-profit organizations to train workers and unemployed Ontarians in need of skills upgrading 
  • Up to $10,000 provided from government for training costs per person, including tuition and training materials 
  • Requirements for employers to contribute one-third of total training costs, up to $5,000 (with some flexibility for small employers) 
  • Eligible training is limited to short-duration training provided by a third party trainer 

 

Ontario and many other jurisdictions are in the midst of change, as many sectors of the economy are branching out and taking on challenges to remain competitive. “Employer investments in training lead to gains for the economy. 

Employers who actively invest in the skills of their employees utilize these skills to increase productivity and market-share.” (Report, September 2014). The report also quotes the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which suggests that “even if 10 percent more employers could be persuaded to take this ‘high road’, the Ontario economy would move to a significantly higher skill equilibrium.” 

To support the six recommendations, the report “The Future of Training in Ontario” offers ten actionable suggestions: 

  1. Minimize administrative burdens on employers 
  2. Develop one access point for all government-funded workforce, training and employment services 
  3. Provide flexibility in employer financial contributions 
  4. Reserve funding for small to medium employers and first-time program participations 
  5. Encourage competition and consolidation in the service provider market 
  6. Enable third parties to play a brokerage role 
  7. Where no third party training provider is available, allow employers to train in-house 
  8. Build on existing partnerships between employers and training providers 
  9. Promote a consortia approach to training; allow employers with similar human capital needs to pool resources 
  10. Execute an employer engagement and marketing strategy in collaboration with employer organizations 

The document recognizes employers will need to develop an employee training strategy and that such a strategy has a certain amount of risk, such as losing employees to competitors once the training is complete. Esri Canada, a company that specializes in geographic information system solutions, has had a training program for employees since 2009. A representative told the OCC in 2013 that the company is willing to take the risk of training people and it’s paying off. That being said it’s crucial that any government programs make it easy for businesses to access them and put them to work. 

What does this all mean for employers in Peterborough? It means there will be increased options for training. It means employers will be investing in their workforce, their human capital, just as they invest in their tangible assets. In various roundtables with government officials, again and again, there is a plea from employers to make these type of programs no-brainers. Many employers would take advantage of them if they were easy to use, navigate and complete in a timely manner. 

Employer involvement in training of employees is just one way of pushing the Ontario economy forward, of pushing the greater Peterborough area economy forward and we must keep our options open. 

The full report can be found on the OCC website occ.ca and on the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce website peterboroughchamber.ca 

Comment on this article through the "Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn. 

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