Category: Government Relations

Recovery Activation Program

The Oakville Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce our partnership with the Toronto Region Board of Trade to deliver the Recovery Activation Program.

The Recovery Activation Program (RAP) is an immersive online workshop program that connects businesses with industry experts for guidance, mentorship and practical advice about process modernization and end-to-end digital transformation.

It is completely free for businesses and supports firms of any size across Ontario.

All participants will graduate from RAP with an expertly vetted Digital Transformation Blueprint which will detail a specific plan to attack each participant’s unique barriers to digital connectivity and will act as a highly practical tool throughout their digital restructuring.

RAP will ensure participants develop a holistic strategy to digital transformation.

Participants will focus on five key pillars:

  • Digital Modernization: Harnessing technology to transform internal processes and enhance external business opportunities
  • Technological Hardware:  Learning about digital capacity, backend hardware and risk mitigation techniques for a digital transformation
  • Structural and Regulatory Alignment: Exploring the legal tools and regulatory requirements for a successful digital restructuring
  • Digital Restructure Financing: Accessing the right mentors, investors, and resources to prepare businesses to undertake a restructuring
  • Marketing and Sales: Leveraging data-driven marketing and sales insights to inform a digital transformation

Take the Digital Needs Assessment (DNA)

The Digital Needs Assessment, an online tool designed to give you a better understanding of the digital readiness of your business, benchmarked to your industry. It will provide you with a critical starting point for your digital transformation, and your gaps and opportunities.

Once complete, you will receive your ‘DNA’ results and a follow-up email with a custom recommendation of the Recovery Activation Program service offering(s) that best meet the needs of your business. Take the DNA.

Let us help your business reconnect! 

Visit the Board of Trade website for information and the online application form.  Be sure to indicate the Oakville Chamber of Commerce as the nominating Chamber to support your application.

Apply now.

This program is funded in part by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, the Government of Canada, and the Government of Ontario.



Oakville Chamber’s message to all levels of government

Build the necessary infrastructure to support a digitized world and stay current in the latest technology to remain competitive in a post-COVID-19 world

COVID-19 has been surreal to many of us.  Over the course of a few days, businesses were shut down, nonessential workers were required to work from home and people were asked to self quarantine in an effort to control the virus. 

This created a need for organizations, businesses and people around the world in almost every industry to reinvent and adapt to one of the most challenging times since the Second World War.

The difference between then and now is the advancement of science and technology. Unfortunately, COVID-19 represents a tremendous economic shock and burden.  According to experts, recovery is what will be required over the next 18–24 months to get output back to its pre-crisis level.  

There is however some positive aspect and learnings that have developed as a result of the pandemic; technology has enabled hundreds of millions of people to remain connected, productive and healthy.  

For the better part of a decade, Digital Transformation has been the core driver of organizational change. The transition from legacy IT to cloud computing; the expansion of retail and banking into the mobile space; the rise of machine learning, artificial intelligence, and smart automation; and the growth of the IoT were, among other massively transformative technologies, at the heart of a generational forward evolutionary leap. And it is therefore not surprising that these very technologies have enabled businesses, governments, healthcare systems, students, and workers to adapt to the turmoil of disruption caused by the pandemic.[1]

The ability for us to adapt so quickly under these unprecedented conditions only underscores the critical need for governments to continue to invest in digital technology, innovation and a connected infrastructure.  

As part of the plan for recovery, the Oakville Chamber believes that governments at all levels will need to enhance digital connections amongst business, employees, citizens and government to create an attractive climate for business investment and job creation for economic growth.  

An increasingly digital economy will require major investments in sophisticated networks, cybersecurity and electronics.  It will also force businesses to adopt new technologies and business models to interact with customers, clients and employees.

In collaboration with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and its Roadmap to Recovery we will urge the federal government to commit to adopting technology and innovative measures to ensure a smart and lasting recovery.

Locally, the Oakville Chamber will continue to press the Town of Oakville to forge ahead with its development of both a Mobility Strategy as well as a Digital Strategy.  This is critical as part of our Town’s economic recovery.  Now, is the time to embrace technology and the economic benefits that ensue. 

[1] Forbes


Faye Lyons, Vice President, Governent Relations & Advocacy

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

COVID-19: Business Resources and Updates

This is the Oakville Chamber of Commerce’s central hub for business resources and updates regarding COVID-19. Please visit this page often as we continue to provide the most up-to-date information. 

Order of Information Listed:
1. Oakville Chamber Updates
2. Recent Government Updates for Business
3. Direct Financial Support for Business
4. Direct Financial Support for Workers
5. Access to Capital
6. Tax Relief
7. Other Support Measures
8. Resources for Business: Health & Safety, Re-opening Guidelines, HR, Marketing & Operations


The Mayor’s Economic Task Force

Welcome Back Oakville Campaign

The Mayor’s Economic Task Force (the Oakville Chamber of Commerce, Oakville’s Business Improvement Areas, Visit Oakville, and the Town’s Economic Development Department) launched #WelcomeBackOakville to encourage residents to safely explore Oakville and support local business.

The campaign includes an interactive map to see what businesses are open or if they are offering modified services. The map also includes a list of local PPE Suppliers.

Oakville businesses can use the easy to share graphics to join the campaign on social media, using the hashtag #WelcomeBackOakville.



Recent Government Announcements


Government of Ontario announces The Resilient Communities Fund  – August 5, 2020

Paid parking resumes in Oakville beginning August 4, 2020  – July 31, 2020

Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program extended to August – July 31, 2020

Ontario implements additional measures at bars and restaurants to help limit the spread of COVID-19
– July 31, 2020

Canada and Ontario invest in modern, green public transitfor residents of Oakville 
– July 29, 2020

Toronto and Peel Region to enter Stage 3 – July 29, 2020

CRA announces an extension to the payment deadline and offers interest relief on outstanding tax debts during COVID-19
July 27, 2020

Safe Restart Agreement represnts new funding for priority programs in Ontario
 – July 27, 2020

Ontario delivers up to 4 billion to support municipalities and transit
– July 27, 2020

Halton Region to enter Stage 3 as of 12:01am on Friday, July 24th  – July 20, 2020
The Region of Halton to move forward into Stage 3 as of 12:01am on Friday, July 24th.

The Chief Medical Officer of Health, public health experts and other officials have advised the following, high-risk places and activities are not yet safe to open in Stage 3, due to the likelihood of large crowds congregating, difficulties with physical distancing, or challenges maintaining the proper cleaning and sanitation required to prevent the spread of COVID‑19.
Businesses and services listed as not yet safe to open:
  • Amusement parks and water parks;
  • Buffet-style food services;
  • Dancing at restaurants and bars, other than by performers hired by the establishment following specific requirements;
  • Overnight stays at camps for children;
  • Private karaoke rooms;
  • Prolonged or deliberate contact while playing sports;
  • Saunas, steam rooms, bath houses and oxygen bars;
  • Table games at casinos and gaming establishments.
All other businesses and public spaces will be permitted to be open, subject to ensuring the appropriate health and safety measures are in place, as well as limits on gathering sizes. More information on restrictions and gathering limits in Stage 3 is available below.
The government invites businesses not able to open or resume full activities due to Stage 3 restrictions to visit Ontario.ca/reopen to submit a reopening proposal.
For questions on restrictions that will remain in place during Stage 3, review the Stage 3 Emergency Order on the emergency information portal or call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.

Halton Regional Council approves Temporary Mandatory Face-Covering By-Law effective July 22nd  – July 15, 2020
Effective July 22, 2020, wearing a non-medical mask or face covering is mandatory in certain enclosed indoor public places in Halton region. Some individuals are exempt. Please be kind and support each other. The by-law is in effect until November 30, 2020, unless extended by Regional Council. To learn more, read the by-law , media release , watch the webinar on the by-law, or frequently asked questions. There are also posters and a sample mask policy available for businesses on the Halton Region website.

Support for Business

Direct Financial Support for Businesses

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)

Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF)

Direct Financial Support for Workers

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

Employment Insurance

Access to Capital

Business Credit Availability Program
Through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC), the new Business Credit Availability Program will increase the credit available to small, medium and large Canadian businesses, providing more than $65 billion in direct lending and other types of financial support.

Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF)

The government’s support for large employers through LEEFF will be delivered by a subsidiary of the Canada Development Investment Corporation (CDEV), in cooperation with Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) and the Department of Finance. Visit the CDEV website. Broader sectoral dynamics for LEEFF applicants will be considered through processes led by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. Learn more.


Financial Relief Offered by Canadian Banks
Banks will provide financial relief to businesses affected by the economic consequences of COVID-19. The Bank of Montreal, CIBC, National Bank of Canada, RBC Royal Bank, Scotiabank and TD Bank will work with personal and small business customers, on a case-by-case basis, to provide flexible solutions to help them manage challenges, such as pay disruption, childcare disruption due to school closures or those facing illness from COVID-19.

Bank of Canada Interest Rate
The Bank of Canada cut its overnight rate to 0.25% – the interest rate at which major financial institutions borrow and lend one-day (or “overnight”) funds among themselves.

Tax Relief

The Canada Revenue Agency
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is extending the payment due date for individual, corporate, and trust income tax returns, including instalment payments, from September 1, 2020, to September 30, 2020. Penalties and interest will not be charged if payments are made by the extended deadline of September 30, 2020. This includes the late-filing penalty as long as the return is filed by September 30, 2020.

The CRA is also waiving interest on existing tax debts related to individual, corporate, and trust income tax returns from April 1, 2020, to September 30, 2020 and from April 1, 2020, to June 30, 2020, for goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) returns. While this measure for existing tax debts does not cancel penalties and interest already assessed on a taxpayer’s account prior to this period, it ensures that a taxpayer’s existing tax debt does not continue to grow through interest charges during this difficult time. 
Deferred Provincial Taxes

Beginning April 1, 2020, the Government of Ontario is providing flexibility to about 100,000 businesses in Ontario to help manage their cash flows during this challenging time. This will continue for a period of five months, up until August 31, 2020.

For this period, the Province will not apply any penalty or interest on any late-filed returns or incomplete or late tax payments under select provincially administered taxes, such as the Employer Health Tax, Tobacco Tax and Gas Tax.

Additional Assistance For Business

Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program
The Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program provides loans, including forgiveable loans, to commercial property owners who in turn will lower or forgo the rent of small businesses for the months of April (retroactive), May, and June. Learn more.
 
Digital Main Street
The Government of Ontario in partnership with the Government of Canada, is helping small businesses enhance their online presence through the Digital Main Street Platform.
Through the $57-million contribution to the Digital Main Street platform, businesses will be able to take advantage of three new programs to support their digital transformation:


1. shopHERE powered by Google:
The program will hire highly skilled and trained students to build and support the launch of online stores for businesses that previously did not have the capacity to do so themselves.

2. Digital Main Street Grants:
The grant will help main street small businesses be digitally more effective, through a $2,500 grant administered by the Ontario BIA Association. Small businesses will be able to adopt new technologies and embrace digital marketing. Municipalities, Chambers of Commerce, and Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) can apply for a Digital Service Squad grant, which will allow them to establish teams to provide personalized, one-on-one support.

3. Future-Proof Main Street:
The program will provide specialized and in-depth digital transformation services and support that helps existing main-street firms adapt to changes in their sector and thrive in the new economy. By leveraging teams of digital marketing professionals and talented students, these firms will be able to create new online business models, develop and implement digital and e-commerce marketing strategies, and maximize digital tools, platforms and content.


Sign-up for the Digital Main Street Program.

 
Distantly.ca
Distantly.ca is an online donation platform that allows community members to make direct donations to small businesses.

Recovery Activation Program

The Recovery Activation Program (RAP) is an immersive online workshop program that connects businesses with industry experts for guidance, mentorship and practical advice about process modernization and end-to-end digital transformation. It is completely free for businesses and supports firms of any size across Ontario. Learn more.


Stop the Spread Business Information Line
The Government of Ontario has launched a toll-free line 1-888-444-3659 to provide support to Ontario businesses who have questions about the province’s recent emergency order to close at-risk workplaces following recommendations by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.

Help is available from Monday to Sunday, from 8:30 a.m.―5:00 p.m. A complete list of essential services is available on the Government of Ontario’s website.

Work-Sharing Program
The Government of Canada has enhanced its Work-Sharing Program to support employers and their workers who are experiencing a downturn in business by expanding the program from 38 to 76 weeks and by streamlining processes to improve access.

Learn more.

WSIB Deferred Payments

The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) will allow employers to defer payments for a period of six months. This will provide employers with $1.9 billion in financial relief.

All employers covered by the WSIB’s workplace insurance are automatically eligible for the financial relief package. Schedule 1 employers with premiums owed to the WSIB will be allowed to defer reporting and payments until August 31, 2020. The deferral will also apply to Schedule 2 businesses that pay WSIB for the cost related to their workplace injury and illness claims. In addition, no interest will be accrued on outstanding premium payments and no penalties will be charged during this six-month deferral period.

Learn more.


Resources for Business

Navigating the support programs for business


Business Continuity and Recovery

Business Services, Operations and Marketing Support
  • #WelcomeBackOakville Marketing Campaign – Welcome Back Oakville
  • eBay: Register as a new Canadian business seller on eBay before  August 22nd, 2020 and receive an all-in-one online business solution to get more out of the eBay marketplace and millions of buyers. Learn more. 
  • Ontario Made program for Ontario Manufacturers – Government of Ontario
  • Canada Post – Think Small Program.
    • Until August 31st, re-connect with your community with a mailing to inform customers that you’re open, re-opening or incentives to visit you: choose from the Shared Mailer, or the Solo Mailer. 
    • Until October 31st, take advantaged of an integrated marketing campgin to help keep your business top of mind: choose from a Canada Post Smartmail Marketing partner, or use Snap Admail.
    • Learn more.
 
Health & Safety, and Security

PPE


Human Resources

Monitor COVID-19

Stay up-to-date on the rapidly evolving situation, and on the nature of the virus itself, by frequently checking municipal, provincial, and national websites.




      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.