Entries in policy (10)


Grabbing the ear of government in 2016

Two days and 70 policy resolutions to debate; this is the task ahead of delegates at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC) Annual General Meeting next month.  It is through adopting, defeating or referring resolutions to the Board of Directors that the Chamber Network sets the policy agenda for the CCC.  

What is a policy resolution?  A policy resolution is a discussion paper that identifies an issue impacting the business community, presents the case for how the issue could be resolved and concludes by providing recommendations to government.  

The policy debates highlight the issues on the collective mind of businesses across the country and the end result is a script that the Canadian Chamber can use in its dialogue with the federal government. 

There are eight main areas of focus: finance and taxation, special issues, natural resources and environment, transportation and infrastructure, industry, international affairs, social policy, and human resources.   

For the most part these resolutions are written by chambers just like the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce.  This year, our policy committee and board of directors submitted two policy resolutions: Advancing Canadian Competitiveness Using Shortline Rail (Transportation and Infrastructure) and Restoring Canada’s Innovation Competitiveness (Industry).  

In the rail resolution, the federal government is being asked to create a dedicated shortline capital funding program that is accessible to all shortline companies, and to establish a tax credit program to assist
shortline rail companies in making capital investments.    

The innovation resolution is asking the federal government to: 

  • Rename the SR&ED tax credit the Innovation Tax Credit and start it at 20% of eligible expenses
  • Simplify the process of the Innovation Tax Credit application, using the following as a base: improving the pre-claim project review service, simplifying the base on which the credits are calculated, and introducing incentives that encourage SME growth – so that Canadian companies of all sizes and across all industries can move forward with confidence to bring their innovation to market
  • Create an innovation environment that encourages private sector investment in R&D and technology across all industries focusing on the following factors for success: ease of use for businesses, consultation with the business community to ensure programs are in line with the real time needs of business, achieved and sustainable growth of participating businesses, export readiness, and help with operational scale-up.

Other resolutions of note include Addressing Barriers to Indigenous Participation in Canada’s Economy, Canada as a Global Leader in Venture Capital Financing, the Risks of Cyber Crime, Expanding Canada’s Export Capacity through Harmonizing Agri-Food Cross-Border Trade Regulations, and Improving the Express Entry System for 

International Student Graduates.   

Broader issues from pension reform to marijuana to infrastructure asset management to broadband to scaling up to recruiting talent will also be discussed.  

The goal of the delegates in debating and refining these recommendations is to provide clear direction to the Canadian Chamber as to the thoughts and needs of the Canadian business community, through the membership of chambers of commerce and boards of trade across the country.

You can find the proposed 2016 resolutions on our website peterboroughchamber.ca/policy-report-cards--resolutions.html

Ontario Chamber Network role in policy process

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce policy debates are often lively as delegates debate issues that have different impacts across the country. 

In an effort to ensure that the Ontario perspective is not lost, a group of chambers and boards of trade review all of the resolutions to be discussed.  This allows the group to have a good understanding of the issues and to pass that information on to their volunteers attending the event.  It also allows for local Chambers to receive feedback on resolutions from members and present the case for support of their resolution to the group.  What we bring to the AGM is an informed group of delegates focussed on ensuring Ontario's voice is heard at the national level. 

This year's co-chairs of the caucus are Sandra Dueck from the Peterborough Chamber and Joyce Mankarios of the Sudbury Chamber.


In business? The Chamber has your back

One of the main mandates for the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce is to foster a pro-business attitude at all three levels of Government with strong credible lobbying on your behalf.   The one page report below touches upon some of the highlights from 2015.  

The Peterborough Chamber was very active in 2015 at the municipal level we successfully lobbied, along with our Kawartha Manufacturers’ Association and the Peterborough-Kawarthas Association of Realtors, to have the Tax Ratio Reduction Program re-instated with a commitment to see it through to completion in 2021. 

At the provincial and federal levels, we lead the way for the Chamber Network to approve a recommendation of support for the Energy East pipeline.  A project that will bring 250 jobs to Peterborough’s GE Hitachi plant.  

In 2016, we will be releasing a number of position papers with the Ontario Chamber, the 2015 Peterborough Chamber Annual Report Card and are aiming to bring forward policy resolutions to the provincial and federal policy meetings. 

The Chamber values your input on business issues.  If you have a regulatory and/or legislative issue please contact sandra@peterboroughchamber.ca

Comment through the "Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn. 


Chambers of Commerce set lobbying agenda in Ottawa

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting (AGM) was held in Ottawa this past weekend. What happens at this meeting? This year over 325 delegates representing 150 chambers of commerce and boards of trade gathered in the nation’s capital for two days. The goal was to set the lobbying agenda for the Canadian Chamber to bring forward to the federal government.

It was a pretty unique time to be in Ottawa, leading up to the 42nd Federal Election, but more importantly the Canadian business community represented through the Chamber of Commerce leaders and board volunteers voted in favour of around 50 resolutions.  

Among the policy resolutions approved by the delegates were three directly involving the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce.  

  1. Energy East, which asked the government to support the project as an economic driver while ensuring responsible management of the environment and other concerns.  This resolution was brought forward with co-sponsors The Saint John Region Chamber, Fédération des Chambres de Commerce du Québec, Belleville & District Chamber, Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce, Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, Manitoba Chambers of Commerce, Regina Chamber of Commerce, and Fort McMurray Chamber of Commerce. The nationwide support for this resolution speaks to the jobs the project will create, including 250 jobs in Peterborough and allow for Canadian oil to be moved and used in Canada with greater efficiency.  
  2. Canada Pension Plan, which asks that employees be allowed to increase their portion of the contribution to CPP to discourage provinces from starting to implement their own plans. Peterborough was a co-sponsor with the Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce. 
  3. Infrastucture, which stressed the importance of a solid plan for the economy (this was put forward by the London Chamber of Commerce and supported by 21 Ontario Chambers). 

Thank you to the Peterborough Chamber Policy Committee for their input on these resolutions.

Also now on the books are policies that start to address how businesses of all sizes feel the government should move forward with clean technology, innovation funding, research funding, improving the tax statutes, the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, improving communication between the rail industry and business,  greenhouse gas emissions, and collection of taxes from foreign companies for online sales.   

The largest number of resolutions this year focused on trade, including trade with the U.S and the Asia-Pacific. The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal was a large part of the discussion.  

By the time the policy resolutions were all debated and voted on, the delegates left Ottawa giving the Canadian Chamber of Commerce a solid plan to bring the message of the business community to Parliament Hill.  

"The CCC AGM is the Parliament of Business,” says Stuart Harrison, President and CEO, Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce. “Policy Analyst Sandra Dueck is the Chair of the Ontario Caucus and led the Ontario delegates including incoming Board Chair Jason Becker in the voting process and strategy.”

The approved policy resolution book will be online shortly and we will be posting it to our Twitter and Facebook accounts, as well as, peterboroughchamber.ca  


Ontario Chamber Network to set official lobbying mandate

The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce will be attending the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Cornwall from today (April 30) - May 3, 2015.

At the AGM chambers of commerce and boards of trade will gather to discuss the issues of the day from
electricity prices to infrastructure to carbon pricing to strategic planning. The Chamber Network of more than 160 chambers will also be setting the tone for lobbying to the provincial government.  

In all, 40 policy resolutions, including two from the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce, will be presented and debated.  The resolutions cover improving productivity, shaping the workforce, taking advantage of global opportunities, strategic investments and other areas including a "Workplace Mental Health Strategy".  

The two Peterborough resolutions deal with the "Heads and Beds Levy" which has remained unchanged since 1987 and support for Energy East, which will create 250 jobs at Peterborough's GE plant.

Peterborough Resolutions:

Support for TransCanada's Energy East Project - new jobs, investment and growth for Ontario

Unrealized "Heads and Bed Levy" hurts Ontario's Economic Competitiveness

Full Resolution Book:

Policy Resolutions for Debate at 2015 OCC AGM


Business challenges? Here's your chance to tell Premier Wynne

The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce has a number of advocacy and policy events in the coming months. 

First, the Chamber Annual General Meeting will be held at the end of March.  Watch for more details and the release of the 2014 Annual Report and Policy Report Card. 

Second, on May 1st, the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce will be welcoming Premier Kathleen Wynne to Peterborough.  More details on her visit will be forthcoming, but it gives the Chamber the opportunity to bring the concerns of the Peterborough business community directly to the elected CEO of Ontario.   

Provincial issues and policy positions have been at the forefront of many discussions with business owners over the past few months.  The impact of current provincial policy decisions will reverberate for years.  

Current Top 5 Issues provincially for the Chamber Network:

Debt and Deficit

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s (OCC) Vice President of Policy and Government Relations Josh Hjartarson spoke in Lindsay recently on this topic.  When comparing Ontario to other places, whether it is Europe or other provinces within Canada, we are in a more stable position.  But that doesn’t mean Ontario is without risk.  Hjartarson stressed the point that in the past 25 years, in which all three major parties have held the lead role in government, Ontario has seen surpluses in only a handful of those years.  The concern is that this should not be a pattern of which to be proud. “In the 2013-2014 fiscal year, the Government of Ontario spent $10.5 billion more than it collected in revenue, increasing its net debt to $267.2 billion. Over eight percent of the province’s total spending is now devoted to interest charges on the debt.” (Emerging Stronger, 2015).  

Servicing the debt costs Ontarian’s more than what the government spends on post-secondary institutions.  The OCC and the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce as part of the provincial network are asking the government to take a hard look at this fact and make some decisions that can push servicing the debt down on the expenses list.  The less we are paying and sitting on debt, the healthier the economy can be for businesses and residents.

Electricity Costs 

Rising electricity prices are often cited as the main barrier to competitiveness by Ontario businesses. The OCC has been conducting in-depth interviews with key stakeholders in the province’s electricity sector on ways to bend the electricity cost curve.  Ontario’s decision to phase out the use of coal-fired generation facilities has branded the province as a leader in modern, clean energy. Ontario’s energy supply now consists of a strong mix of nuclear, hydro, gas, and renewables. 

However, this path has not been without its challenges. The province’s competitiveness suffers from its
relatively high electricity prices for industrial users. While minor steps have been taken since the release of the 2013 Long Term Energy Plan (LTEP) to mitigate costs, further system-wide cost savings should be explored within the province’s existing energy landscape. Further, Ontario should focus its investments in areas such as nuclear and data analytics where Ontario can be an innovation and export leader and that, at the same time, can lower long-term costs to consumers.  The full report on this issue is expected to be released at the end of March (Emerging Stronger, 2015).

We also know that competitor markets are emphasizing their lower electricity costs as a reason to locate south of the border.  As a result of these targeted campaigns almost 20 Ontario Chambers of Commerce, including Peterborough, co-sponsored a policy resolution to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce asking the 
government to be aware of this movement and develop a strategy to help Canadian communities compete.  

Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP)

The provincial government is moving forward with a mandatory pension plan, the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP). Many businesses are worried about the costs it will impose. The government must conduct and publish an economic analysis of the impact of this new pension plan on business competitiveness, investment, and employment. In addition, pension reform must leverage the expertise of Ontario’s world leading financial services industry (Emerging Stronger, 2015).

The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce made a presentation to the consultation panel last month, has
participated in several teleconference calls with Minister Mitzie Hunter, and signed a letter as part of the OCC’s submission to the government on design details.   Furthermore, it is anticipated that the Chamber Network will be formalizing its position at the network AGM at the beginning of May.  

As part of its argument, the Peterborough Chamber has consistently encouraged the government to consider that part of the problem can be traced back to financial literacy.  Our MPP Minister Jeff Leal is very aware of an OCC policy resolution calling for a curriculum change to make a business course, including financial literacy topics, a requirement of high school graduation.

Lack of a Manufacturing Strategy

In the Emerging Stronger document, the OCC believes Ontario can once again be a stable manufacturing hub. The province is home to an ever-growing number of specialized and niche manufacturers.  Peterborough is a shining example of this with no sign of slowing down.  Further, some manufacturing is reshoring from
emerging markets. 

However, American and Mexican jurisdictions are increasingly aggressive in attracting investment. The provincial and federal governments need to develop a shared and targeted strategy focused on attracting and fostering manufacturing investments in areas where Ontario can be globally competitive. 

For their part, Ontario businesses need to invest more in productivity-enhancing technology. A previous Emerging Stronger recommendation is worth repeating: firms and sector organizations need to benchmark their productivity relative to their global peers and, where they fall behind, invest more in productivity-enhancing technology (Emerging Stronger, 2015).

Entrepreneurship Strategy

The business course requirement for high school graduation is also important to this issue.  The belief is that if we are encouraging entrepreneurship as a viable career choice, then we should also ensure that these individuals have the tools for success. 

Ontarians start fewer businesses per capita than any of their provincial peers. Many point to a lack of entrepreneurial culture in Ontario to account for this trend. Further, the province should consider emulating successful programs from elsewhere that pair students with local business people to create a business, design a product, and sell it. 

Businesses also have a role to play. Business leaders need to invest more time mentoring new entrepreneurs and small business owners (Emerging Stronger, 2015).

In Peterborough, we know that entrepreneurs hold a special place with support from Peterborough Economic Development, Greater Peterborough Innovation Cluster, competitions such as Bears’ Lair and the upcoming
Business Summit hosted by the Chamber of Commerce. 

With Premier Wynne coming to Peterborough on May 1st, what would you want her to know about the
challenges facing your business?  

Comment through the "Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn.