Category: Government Relations

The COVID-19 pandemic curve is starting to flatten and Canada needs a plan to restart the economy

On April 6th the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Government of Canada launched the Canadian Business Resilience Network (CBRN) to help the business community prepare, persevere and, ultimately, prosper in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This network is a coordinated, business-led, inclusive campaign that has focused on providing businesses with the tools they need to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on them, our economy and communities across the country. Its goal is also to help businesses emerge from this crisis and drive Canada’s economic recovery.

We are now seeing the COVID-19 pandemic curve flatten; provinces and territories are allowing businesses to reopen, and Canada needs a plan to restart the economy.

The shutdowns to protect public health showed the complexity of the supply chains that keep our economy going. The gradual re-starting of our economy is equally complex and will require lead-in time for businesses to prepare. This includes understanding what public health rules will be in place and what businesses can expect. Getting the re-opening right will ultimately lay the ground for a sustainable recovery. 

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has identified five key areas that need to be part of the country’s strategy to reopen the economy quickly and safely.

Stakeholder Consultation

The crisis has shown the best policy is made when it widely draws upon the advice of civil society, including businesses both large and small across sectors. The conversations need to start now in a structured manner to ensure that governments at all levels are receiving the best possible advice to minimize unintended consequences.

International best practices

Industrialized economies around the world are beginning the domestic processes to restart their economy. We should use this opportunity to learn from what is working and what is not working in other comparable jurisdictions.

Interprovincial alignment

Both in good times, and through the pandemic, we have seen the perils of misalignment between provinces and territories. Companies that operate across provincial and territorial boundaries need to have clarity and consistency to minimize confusion and ensure as seamless a reboot as possible. Companies also need to have clarity on public health rules as well as access to PPEs to meet those public health guidelines.

Government financial assistance

Temporary financial support programs have been crucial to help some companies stay afloat through the pandemic. However, there is also a need to ensure sustainable public finances. What are the conditions that should guide how the already announced financial support programs are successfully concluded?

International trade

As a country dependent on the movement of goods and services to support the economy, it is crucial for Canada to stay plugged into the global economy. Border closures rolled out in response to COVID-19 have been justified to protect public health, but will be gradually rolled back. Companies will need certainty and lead-in time to fully re-engage with the global economy as these measures are lifted.

– Faye Lyons, Vice President of Government Relations & Advocacy

Oakville’s businesses face COVID’S wrath

It’s been a tough month for Oakville’s business community. They’re struggling to navigate the economic implications of COVID-19 and many are concerned about the future of their business.

Consequently, the Oakville Chamber has been actively working with policy makers at all levels of government to provide economic relief measures for businesses during COVID-19. 

To avoid a collapse of our economy, the federal government announced a wage subsidy program to help cover three-quarters of employees’ salaries for businesses that have seen their revenue drop by at least 30 per cent due to COVID-19.  In addition, a $40,000 interest-free loan has been extended where $10,000 can be forgiven if certain conditions are met.

As one of the advocates for the significant increase to the initial 10 per cent federal wage subsidy announcement,  the Oakville Chamber, and business organizations across the Country, applauded the proposed Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy that would cover 75 per cent of salaries for qualifying businesses, for up to 3 months, retroactive to March 15, 2020.

As details emerged in the days following the announcement, we heard from members across our community who had concerns with the way the program had been designed and feared that the program would not be enough to save their business and keep their workers employed.

To that end, the Oakville Chamber has spent the last few weeks engaging with our membership to better understand their concerns, challenges and most importantly seek feedback on what types of support they need from our Federal Government. 

Business models differ from sector to sector.  Some are reliant on foot traffic, some are essential but are operating at a reduced capacity.  All of these variables mean that not all businesses will benefit from the measures introduced so far from the government.

Some smaller businesses don’t have the cash reserves to sustain them long term.  So, time is of the essence. Understandably, they are hesitant to take on more loans as they can’t predict what’s in store for them for the next six months. 

Furthermore, the criteria for businesses to access the 75 per cent wage subsidy remains an issue for some that do not qualify.  These include businesses with small profit margins that are being hurt by a revenue decline of less than 30%, as well as service firms that are invoicing but do not know when or if these invoices will be paid.

Businesses need to see immediate execution of government programs to protect jobs and avoid delaying recovery.  We urgently need to get these funds into the hands of employers. Every day that we delay these funds will lead to more businesses shutting down and more Canadians facing unemployment.

Together, with our network of Chamber’s across the country, the Oakville Chamber is calling on all levels of government to set aside planned tax increases, new regulations and unnecessary consultations that place a burden on businesses.

This is a situation without precedent for the global and Canadian economy.   Our federal government has been responsive to our calls to action and must continue to do so as we navigate this unprecedented time together.

– Faye Lyons, Vice President of Advocacy and Government Relations


New Research Identifies Opportunities to Support Small Business Success

Ontario Chamber Network releases the fourth annual Ontario Economic Report and introduces the Small Business Friendliness Indicator

Today the Oakville Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Ontario Chamber Network, released the fourth annual Ontario Economic Report (OER) which reveals opportunities where both business and government can focus to create an environment more conducive to small business success.

The inaugural Small Business Friendliness Indicator (SBFI) measures Ontario’s competitiveness from the perspective of small businesses. For 2020, the SBFI score is -9, (on a scale of 100 to -100) indicating that the business environment poses some challenges for firms with fewer than 99 employees. However, through measures such as investment in online services and support for regulatory compliance, industry and government could improve that score.

“Small businesses are the backbone of economy; 98% of Ontario businesses are small business” stated Tim Caddigan, Chair of the Board, Oakville Chamber of Commerce. “Small businesses employ nearly three million Ontarians and represent over two-thirds of private sector workers. Given the share of the economy this sector represents, we must work to increase their competitiveness.”

The SBFI is intended to provide an assessment of the ease of business in Ontario across seven different metrics; this year the scores for three metrics were positive: the helpfulness of the Province in starting a business, the ease of licensing, and the delivery of useful training and networking programs from a variety of sources.

The SBFI also revealed that small business owners are eager to embrace more online services from government, especially with respect to regulatory compliance.

Drew Redden, President and CEO of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce added “The Ontario Economic report revealed that investment in infrastructure, such as transportation and broadband, topped the list of business priorities for government, followed by reducing red regulatory burdens, lowering the cost of living, and reforming business taxes. This aligns with our members’ priorities for government as listed in our Roadmap for Business Success, which are: business competitiveness, recruiting and training talent, transportation and infrastructure, and innovation.”

Other highlights from the Ontario Economic Report include:
  • The confidence gap, which measures the difference between business’ confidence in themselves and in Ontario’s economic outlook, widened in 2020 to near historical levels. Although organizational confidence remains high, business confidence in the broader economy dropped seven percentage points in 2020, explained in part by lowered growth expectations nationally and globally. Beyond this, challenges related to the costs of doing business, the high cost of living, and the province’s debt continue to be top of mind for Ontario Chamber members

  • Challenges related to accessing financial capital, attracting and retaining talent and burdensome regulations continue to compromise the ability of many of Ontario’s community to compete effectively with other jurisdictions.

  • Despite these challenges, Ontario’s principal economic indicators remain sound, albeit subdued, heading into 2020, but economic growth is expected to vary greatly across the province. The forecasts show employment and population growth in the Greater Golden Horseshoe surpassing other parts of Ontario, reinforcing a decade-long trend of imbalanced economic growth across the province.

Read the 2020 Ontario Economic Report.



Chamber shares business priorities with Minister of Finance Rod Phillips, MPP Stephen Crawford and MPP Triantafilopoulos during Budget Consultation

Remaining competitive, specifically when it comes to taxes and regulations, continues to be a priority for Oakville Chamber members. 

Recognizing that the government already announced a reduction in the small business Corporate Income Tax rate, the Oakville Chamber believes that there is still more that can be done to encourage business growth and scale up with regard to the structure rather than the level of the Corporate Income Tax. 

For example, the Small Business Deduction (SBD) reduces the Corporate Income Tax (CIT) rate on companies’ first $500,000 of active business income.  The flat rate structure of the Small Business Deduction means that companies are faced with a substantial rise in their corporate tax rate when their annual income increases above $500,000 at which point the rate jumps from 3.2 percent to 11.5 percent.   To address this challenge, the Chamber network recommended creating a variable or bracketed Small Business Deduction for income below $500,000. 

With a Corporate Income Tax rate that increases gradually as revenue grows, small business owners would no longer be discouraged from actively seeking opportunities to grow their firms.  This reform should be revenue-neutral, such that total tax revenue generated before and after the change remains the same. 

Additionally, we encourage the Province to exempt businesses’ incremental income (additional earnings over the previous year) from the Corporate Income Tax in a given year.   With this exemption in place, firms that are growing can reinvest more into their businesses.  Eligibility could be restricted to target higher-growth firms by setting a threshold minimum rate of income growth over the previous year to qualify for the exemption. 

Transportation infrastructure and congestion also remains a concern for the Oakville community. Population growth as well as increased employment growth, is positive for our local economy; however, it also underlines the need for building a resilient transportation network that works for all modes of transportation to supply the movement of goods and people. 

Recognizing that the province has committed to a share of funding for local projects like the Wyecroft Bridge, the Burloak Underpass and the Kerr Street Underpass, the Chamber further calls on the government for a sustainable and planned funding program for infrastructure projects such as the network required for MidTown which was identified as an Urban Growth Centre. 

As our communities become more connected through the collection of data, artificial intelligence and technology, it is vital that we are prepared for the business climate of the future and that we remain competitive with other jurisdictions.

A report recently released by the Province signals that the province is positioning Ontario to be a leader in the development, commercialization and adoption of advanced manufacturing and mobility technologies.  Supporting new mobility technologies, enhancing the innovation ecosystem as well as supporting research and development and early stage technology development are all measures that will assist communities in their efforts to adopt new technologies.  

Beyond providing the legislative and regulatory framework, the Chamber encourages the province to further connect municipalities and establish a common framework for the development of alternative Connected Vehicle/Autonomous Vehicle scenarios, readiness guidelines, and potential projects.  The creation of a dedicated program could further incent municipalities to invest in infrastructure/technological updates within their local jurisdictions; thereby creating a healthy environment for emerging transportation technologies.

The future efficient movement of both people and goods and services will depend on the effective management of a connected infrastructure.

As the industry evolves and becomes a reality, it will become a competitive economic advantage for communities that embrace it—and a disadvantage for those that don’t.

The new market for automated and connected vehicles is expected to grow exponentially and large economic benefits are expected.  Other regions are not standing still (e.g. United States, Japan and China) and are already adopting strategies for automated vehicles and attracting investment in this field.   Companies could soon be including Autonomous Vehicle, connectivity and technology readiness in their decisions on where to locate a business or expand operations.

To address concerns surrounding attracting and retaining talent, we believe that strong partnerships between government, industry, and post secondary institutions are fundamental to supporting a robust and dynamic workforce.  Experiential learning programs – including but not limited to work-integrated learning, co-operative education, and internships – are one of the ways these partnerships help ensure students are graduating with the skills in demand by today’s employers and the jobs of tomorrow. 

To that end, we urge the government to explore options to incentivize greater employer participation in these programs.  For instance, this might involve expanding the Co-operative Education Tax Credit or offering a tax credit to employers who hire graduates of co-operative education. 

On behalf of our Oakville Chamber members, we will continue to press all levels of government on policy reform that encourages business competitiveness and growth. 


Today, Ontario’s Finance Minister is in Oakville for pre-budget consultations

Faye Lyons, Vice President of Government Relations & Advocacy will be presenting member priorities to the Minister.  Below are her remarks:


Good morning.  My name is Faye Lyons and I am the Vice President of Government Relations for the Oakville Chamber of Commerce. 

On behalf of the Chamber and our over 1100 members I thank you Minister for the opportunity for us to provide our recommendations for the upcoming Provincial budget. 

As you know the Ontario Chamber of Commerce will be submitting a comprehensive list of recommendations on behalf of the network. 

Today, with the three minutes allotted to me I will focus on the local business priorities identified by our Chamber.   

In our most recent advocacy surveys, members identified business competitiveness, transportation, recruiting and retaining talent and innovation as their top priorities. 

We commend the government on its intention to form a Premier’s Advisory Council on Competitiveness to identify opportunities for improving Ontario’s competitiveness. 

Our members identified taxes as an obstacle to business competitiveness and growth.  To that end, recognizing that the government has already announced a reduction in the small business Corporate Income Tax rate, there is still more that can be done to encourage business growth and scale up with regard to the structure rather than the level of the Corporate Income Tax. 

The Small Business Deduction (SBD) reduces the Corporate Income Tax (CIT) rate on companies’ first $500,000 of active business income.  The flat rate structure of the Small Business Deduction means that companies are faced with a substantial rise in their corporate tax rate when their annual income increases above $500,000 at which point the rate jumps from 3.2 percent to 11.5 percent.   To address this challenge, the Chamber network recommends creating a variable or bracketed Small Business Deduction for income below $500,000. 

With a Corporate Income Tax rate that increases gradually as revenue grows, small business owners would no longer be discouraged from actively seeking opportunities to grow their firms.  This reform should be revenue-neutral, such that total tax revenue generated before and after the change remains the same. 

Additionally, we encourage the Province to exempt businesses’ incremental income (additional earnings over the previous year) from the Corporate Income Tax in a given year.   With this exemption in place, firms that are growing can reinvest more into their businesses.  Eligibility could be restricted to target higher-growth firms by setting a threshold minimum rate of income growth over the previous year to qualify for the exemption. 

Transportation infrastructure and congestion remains a top concern for the Oakville community. Congestion on Oakville roads is a barrier to business, and members cite that Oakville does not have the road infrastructure for the development it needs. Additionally, Oakville’s economic growth is an important factor in the success of the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area (GTHA).

According to the Provincial Ministry of Finance, the Greater Toronto Areas (GTA) population is projected to increase from 6.9 million in 2017 to 9.7 million in 2041. Halton is projected to be the fastest-growing census division in Ontario over the projection period, with growth of 56.2 per cent to 2041.   

Increased employment growth, as well as population growth, is positive for our local economy; however it also underlines the Chamber’s call for building a resilient transportation network that works for all modes of transportation to supply the movement of goods and people. 

Recognizing that the province has committed to a share of funding for local projects like the Wyecroft Bridge and the Burloak Underpass, with the projected population growth mandated by the provincial growth plans, Oakville would benefit from a sustainable and planned funding program by the Province for infrastructure requirements for crucial transportation infrastructure projects  such as the network required for MidTown which was identified as an Urban Growth Centre. 

A reliable transportation network is essential for trade, the movement of goods and services as well as people.  It is also integral to our province’s economic competitiveness.

As our communities become more connected through the collection of data, artificial intelligence and technology, it is vital that we are prepared for the business climate of the future and that we remain competitive with other jurisdictions.

Population growth as well as increased employment growth, is positive for our local economy; however, it also underlines the need for building a resilient transportation network that works for all modes of transportation to supply the movement of goods and people. 

A report recently released by the Province signals that the province is positioning Ontario to be a leader in the development, commercialization and adoption of advanced manufacturing and mobility technologies.  Supporting new mobility technologies, enhancing the innovation ecosystem as well as supporting research and development and early stage technology development are all measures that will assist communities in their efforts to adopt new technologies.  

Beyond providing the legislative and regulatory framework, the province can further connect municipalities and establish a common framework for the development of alternative Connected Vehicle/Autonomous Vehicle scenarios, readiness guidelines, and potential projects.  The creation of a dedicated program could further incent municipalities to invest in infrastructure/technological updates within their local jurisdictions; thereby creating a healthy environment for emerging transportation technologies.

The future efficient movement of both people and goods and services will depend on the effective management of a connected infrastructure.

As the industry evolves and becomes a reality, it will become a competitive economic advantage for communities that embrace it—and a disadvantage for those that don’t.

The new market for automated and connected vehicles is expected to grow exponentially and large economic benefits are expected.  Other regions are not standing still (e.g. United States, Japan and China) are already adopting strategies for automated vehicles and attracting investment in this field.   Companies could soon be including Autonomous Vehicle, connectivity and technology readiness in their decisions on where to locate a business or expand operations.

Chamber members have also identified recruiting and retaining talent as a barrier to their ability to succeed.  We believe that strong partnerships between government, industry, and post secondary institutions are fundamental to supporting a robust and dynamic workforce.  Experiential learning programs – including but not limited to work-integrated learning, co-operative education, and internships – are one of the ways these partnerships help ensure students are graduating with the skills in demand by today’s employers and the jobs of tomorrow. 

To that end, we encourage the government to explore options to incentivize greater employer participation in these programs.  For instance, this might involve expanding the Co-operative Education Tax Credit or offering a tax credit to employers who hire graduates of co-operative education. 

On behalf of the Oakville Chamber, I thank you for the opportunity to share our member’s priorities for the upcoming budget.



Advocacy: A Year in Review

Building a stronger more competitive business environment is always a top priority for the Oakville Chamber. This past year we spearheaded policy resolutions that were supported by the majority of Chambers across Ontario and Canada that will help improve and promote success for the business community. These public policies around growth and planning will help pave the way for improved housing affordability, infrastructure productivity as well as the regional economy. 

Recognizing that our members and their employees are often required to travel to the United States for critical business, we also helped shape public policy that will enhance Canada/US labour mobility by reducing administrative burden and misinformation to help improve the process for business travelers and border crossings.

Read our resolutions for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

Read our resolution for the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.


Events

The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion*
*at the time of the event
The Honourable Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario
Mayor of Oakville, Rob Burton
The Honourable Vic Fedeli, Ontario’s Minister of Finance* 
*at the time of the event
The Honourable Bill Morneau, Canada’s Minister of Finance
2019 Federal Election Candidates Debate: Oakville
2019 Federal Election Candidates Debate:
Oakville-North Burlington
The Honourable Caroline Mulroney, Ontario’s Minister of Transportation

Headlines


Calls to Action

Letter for National Day of Action and Senate Committee Testimony

The Oakville Chamber joined Chambers from across the country to sound the alarm that Canada is at an economic and social tipping point because of our failure to get energy resource infrastructure built. Read the letter.

Vote Prosperity: Federal Election Platform

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce launched  Vote Prosperity ,  the Canadian Chamber Network’s election platform.  Vote Prosperity   calls on all of the federal parties to support Canada’s job creators by including seven priorities in their election platforms. Learn more.


Unleashing the economic potential of Ontario’s beverage alcohol sector

The Oakville Chamber, in partnership with the Ontario Chamber, of released a new report:  Refreshing the Sale of Beverage Alcohol in Ontario.

Oakville Chamber gives thumbs up to Draft Economic Development Strategy

“The Oakville Chamber is encouraged to see that the Economic Development Department has listened to the business community and is making plans to improve the business climate in Oakville.” Read the statement.

Addressing Regional Imbalances Critical to Ontario’s Future

The Oakville Chamber, in partnership with the Ontario Chamber Network, released a new report,  The Great Mosaic: Reviving Ontario’s Regional Economies. The report outlines how government of all levels can work with industry to unleash the potential of Ontario’s regional economies and reinforce the competitiveness of the province as a whole.

A Roadmap for Business Success

A Roadmap for Business Success is the Oakville Chamber’s advocacy priorities. It is built on four pillars:
1. Business Competitiveness
2. Transportation
3. Recruit and Retain Talent
4. Innovation


What the Candidates Are Saying: 2019 Federeal Election

As part of the Oakville Chamber’s advocacy efforts leading up to the federal election on October 21st, we invited candidates to share with our members their vision with the Oakville business community. Specifically, how their party’s policies and/or platform would strengthen Oakville’s business competitiveness.
 Read the Oakville North-Burlington candidate responses.



Letter to the Town of Oakville: Budget 2020

The Oakville Chamber wrote a letter to Mayor Rob Burton and Town Councillors with their priorities for the Budget 2020. Read the letter.

Columns

Canada is at an economic and social tipping point

Canada’s resource sector remains a vital driver of our economy, helping to create jobs and economic prosperity not just for those who work in the sector, but for millions of Canadians across the country. Continue reading.


Town report underscores Oakville chamber priorities

Improving the business climate for our members is a top priority for the Oakville chamber. Breaking down barriers, helping to reduce red tape and navigating through the regulations and legislative requirements enforced by the various levels of government is what we do. Continue reading.


It’s time for a comprehensive review of the Canadian Tax system

Canada’s tax system is simply not working anymore. Businesses say it is deterring investment and driving it elsewhere. Continue reading.


Oakville Chamber putting business priorities at forefront of federal election

With a federal election only months away, the Oakville chamber, in conjunction with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, has launched its election policy website, Vote Prosperity, to highlight the needs of Canadian businesses to all parties in the upcoming federal election. Continue reading.

Budget 2020: Oakville Chamber’s to do list for council

The Oakville chamber’s submission focused on member’s concerns regarding the importance of supporting the growth of the existing business community, while remaining competitive against other jurisdictions when it comes to property taxes, development charges and industrial land sale values. Continue reading.


Driving Oakville Forward

As our communities become more “connected” through the collection of data, artificial intelligence and technology, it is vital that we are prepared for the business climate of the future. To that end, the Chamber is encouraging the Town to develop a Strategy for Urban Mobility and Transportation Planning. Continue reading.


Budget 2020 – Oakville Chamber calls on the Town to develop a strategy for urban mobility, prioritize infrastructure investments, and extend the parking incentives in Downtown Oakville

On November 19th the Town of Oakville launched their proposed 2020 Operating and Capital Budgets to the Budget Committee.

The Oakville Chamber’s submission focused on member’s concerns regarding the importance of supporting the growth of the existing business community, while remaining competitive against other jurisdictions when it comes to property taxes, development charges, and industrial land sale values.

Moreover, as the Town continues to grow and intensify, we urged Council to prioritize infrastructure investment for the movement of people and goods and services.  Projects such as the Wyecroft Road Bridge and the Grade Separations of Burloak and Kerr will assist in alleviating congestion and improving safety.  However, the Chamber also encouraged Council to make the improvements to MidTown a priority by accelerating the planning and design for the Royal Windsor Interchange as well as working with the Ministry of Transportation on this crucial transportation network.

The Chamber has been pleased to support many initiatives brought forward by the Town’s Economic Development department in an endeavor to strengthen our local economy.  According to the Town’s 2018 Economic Update, initiatives such as the new Brownfields Community Improvement Plan and the Economic Development Strategy have facilitated growth for the Town.  In fact, in 2018 new operations brought more than 1,600 new jobs while existing companies welcomed more than 560,000 square feet of new commercial and industrial development.[1]

That’s why, we need to continue to support our business community that is the lifeblood of our Town. Oakville’s non-residential tax base represents 13.02 per cent of the total assessment base and contributes 18.24 per cent of all town taxes levied. In 2018, this amounted to $34.6 million in tax revenue collected.[2]  However, the financial contribution from the business community is further exceeded by the creation of jobs, the spending of funds locally as well as the contribution of companies giving back to the community.

This underscores the importance of the Town remaining innovative and progressive in its effort to remain Canada’s best place to live.  As our communities become more “connected” through the collection of data, artificial intelligence and technology, it is vital that we are prepared for the business climate of the future.  To that end, the Chamber is encouraging the Town to develop a Strategy for Urban Mobility and Transportation Planning.  Moreover, it is crucial that this Strategy is aligned with the Town’s Economic Development Strategy to ensure that the needs of the business community are prioritized.

We must support all businesses in Oakville including those located in our downtown.  Businesses have endured construction and decreased business on Lakeshore Road since April as a result of the downtown streetscape renewal project.  The Chamber strongly urged Council to resolve the impediments of this project and further called on the Town to evaluate the challenges of this downtown project to ensure that future streetscape projects don’t have similar delays and impacts on business. 

Additionally, the Chamber supported the Downtown Mitigation Strategy and encouraged Council to continue to support our downtown core by extending the current parking incentives to January 2021. 

On behalf of the business community, the Oakville Chamber will continue to work with Town Council on budget initiatives that will strengthen the local economy.

[1] Oakville 2018 Economic Update

[2] Oakville 2018 Economic Update


Driving Oakville Forward

The Oakville Chamber of Commerce encourages Town’s Infrastructure Readiness for connected and autonomous vehicle technology

As our communities become more “connected” through the collection of data, artificial intelligence and technology, it is vital that we are prepared for the business climate of the future.  To that end, the Chamber is encouraging the Town to develop a Strategy for Urban Mobility and Transportation Planning.  Moreover, it is crucial that this Strategy is aligned with the Town’s Economic Development Strategy to ensure that the needs of the business community are top priority.

Transportation infrastructure and congestion remains a top concern for the Oakville community. Congestion on Oakville roads is a barrier to business, and members cite that Oakville does not have the road infrastructure for the development it needs. Additionally, Oakville’s economic growth is an important factor in the success of the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area (GTHA).

According to the Provincial Ministry of Finance, the Greater Toronto Areas (GTA) population is projected to increase from 6.9 million in 2017 to 9.7 million in 2041. Halton is projected to be the fastest-growing census division in Ontario over the projected period, with growth of 56.2 per cent to 2041. [1] 

Similarly, our economy is growing.  Currently, according to the Town’s Draft Economic Development Strategy our local economy supports approximately 116,300 jobs; and between 2013 and 2018, the local economy grew by 9,763 jobs.  However, 64% of residents are commuting to jobs outside of Oakville with most commuting to jobs in Toronto, Mississauga, and Burlington. Oakville is a net importer of labour, with companies attracting a total of 65 per cent of workers from outside of Oakville. This indicates an opportunity to attract the local resident labour market into Oakville employment opportunities. [2]

Increased employment growth, as well as population growth, is positive for our local economy; however it also underlines the Chamber’s call for building a resilient transportation network that works for all modes of transportation to supply the movement of goods and people. 

That’s why the Chamber is calling on the Town to engage with Chamber business and industry leaders.  Oakville is well-positioned in the automated vehicle industry due in large part to the businesses located in Oakville that are leading the way in economic development; such as automotive as well as the information and technology sector, to position itself as an economic development leader around automated and connected vehicle technology.  

Oakville is not alone in needing to explore this space.  Researchers and academics working in the field of connected and autonomous vehicles have strong relationships with their counterparts, paralleled by discussion between provincial and federal governments and information-sharing between municipalities.  It is important that as a community we engage with our local talent as well as reach out to other jurisdictions, including those with similar structures and similar environments.

This underscores the need for the Town to develop a working group of stakeholders.  Working with businesses and a broad set of stakeholders is essential to foster employment and investment growth.  Cross sector collaboration is essential for competitiveness.  This cannot be done in isolation.

Innovation is also key to our communities’ success surrounding the Urban Mobility and Transportation Planning Strategy. The Chamber believes that the strategy needs to incorporate a plan on innovation that includes partnering with the business and tech community, and piloting projects that drive smart city initiatives. 

Finally, the Oakville Chamber strongly encourages the Town to develop a Strategy for Urban Mobility and Transportation Planning that ensures that town policies, programs and activities create an attractive climate for business investment and job creation for economic growth as well as a transportation network that makes the movement of goods and people a priority. 

On behalf of the Chamber members we will look forward to working with the Town on this important initiative and we will be strident in our efforts for results.

[1] Ontario’s Ministry of Finance Population Growth Census Data, June 25, 2018

[2] Town of Oakville, Draft Economic Development Strategy


By Faye Lyons
Vice President of Government Relations & Advocacy

Letter to the Town of Oakville: Budget 2020

Dear Mayor Burton and Town Councillors:

On behalf of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce I am pleased to provide comment on the Town’s Budget for 2020. 

The Chamber is pleased to support many initiatives brought forward by the Town’s Economic Development department in an endeavor to strengthen our local economy.  According to the Town’s 2018 Economic Update, initiatives such as the new Brownfields Community Improvement Plan and the Economic Development Strategy have facilitated growth for the Town.  In fact, in 2018 new operations brought more than 1,600 new jobs while existing companies welcomed more than 560,000 square feet of new commercial and industrial development.[1]

An additional 200,000 people, in the next twenty years, coupled with new investment and supporting the growth of the existing business community, underlines the need for Oakville to remain competitive against other jurisdictions when it comes to property taxes, development charges, and industrial land sale values.

Oakville’s non-residential tax base represents 13.02 per cent of the total assessment base and contributes 18.24 per cent of all town taxes levied. In 2018, this amounted to $34.6 million in tax revenue collected.[2]  However, the financial contribution from the business community is further exceeded by the creation of jobs, the spending of funds locally as well as the contribution of companies giving back to the community.

This underscores the importance of the Town remaining innovative and progressive in its effort to remain Canada’s best place to live.  As our communities become more “connected” through the collection of data, artificial intelligence and technology, it is vital that we are prepared for

the business climate of the future.  To that end, the Chamber is encouraging the Town to develop a Strategy for Urban Mobility and Transportation Planning.  Moreover, it is crucial that this Strategy is aligned with the Town’s Economic Development Strategy to ensure that the needs of the business community are prioritized.

Furthermore, as the Town continues to grow and intensify, Council needs to prioritize infrastructure investment for the movement of people and goods and services.  Projects such as the Wyecroft Road Bridge and the Grade Separations of Burloak and Kerr will assist in alleviating congestion and improving safety.  However, the Chamber also encourages Council to make the improvements to MidTown a priority by accelerating the planning and design for the Royal Windsor Interchange as well as working with the Ministry of Transportation on this crucial transportation network.

We must support all businesses in Oakville including those located in our downtown.  As Council is aware, businesses have endured construction and decreased business on Lakeshore Road since April as a result of the downtown streetscape renewal project.  The Chamber strongly urges Council to resolve the impediments of this project.  We call on the Town to evaluate the challenges of this downtown project to ensure that future streetscape projects don’t have similar delays and impacts on business. 

Additionally, the Chamber supported the Downtown Mitigation Strategy and encourages Council to continue to support our downtown core by extending the current parking incentives to January 2021. 

On behalf of the business community, the Oakville Chamber encourages Town Council to support budget initiatives that strengthen the local economy.


Yours Truly,

Drew Redden
President & CEO 
Oakville Chamber of Commerce
——————————————————

[1]Oakville 2018 Economic Update

[2] Oakville 2018 Economic Update


Read as a PDF.