Category: Government Relations

Long-Term Transportation Plan Fundamental to Ontario’s Diverse Transportation Needs

This week the Ontario Chamber of Commerce released Moving Forward: Towards a Strategic Approach to Ontario’s Transportation Needs (Part I), a policy report calling on the Ontario Government to develop a Long-Term Transportation Plan. To address the current and future transportation needs of the province, the report highlights three areas of opportunity that will help improve the movement of goods and mobility of Ontarians.

In a recent Ontario Chamber survey, 58 percent of Ontario businesses rated existing transportation infrastructure as fair or poor. With much of the existing infrastructure in Ontario built in the 1950s and 1960s and nearing the end of its useful life, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce recognizes that the costs of investment are high, and Ontario is far behind when it comes to building new and maintaining old infrastructure.

“Transportation is the backbone of our economy, affecting the movement of people and goods and the everyday lives of Ontarians and businesses,” said Rocco Rossi, President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “Yet, congestion, limited transit connectivity, population growth, aging assets, unique regional needs, and a historic under-investment in infrastructure have led to a significant gap between the actual and needed infrastructure in Ontario. This has led to real challenges faced by Ontario residents and businesses every single day.”

The Ontario Chamber developed an initial thirteen strategic and pertinent transportation recommendations for a stronger Ontario within three critical areas. Although not an exhaustive review of all transportation modes and regional needs across the province, this approach will help to address the current and future transportation needs of the province with a focus on:

  1. Transit planning governance (with an initial focus on the GTHA);
  2. Moving people and goods by rail; and
  3. Autonomous vehicles.

The report points to short- and long-term opportunities, including CN Rail’s Milton Logistics Hub, the use of advanced signalling technology to increase capacity on subways, VIA Rail’s High Frequency Rail proposal, bringing two-way all-day GO Train service to the Innovation Corridor, developing ‘Union Station West’, and the return of passenger rail to Northern Ontario.

Ontario was also the first province in Canada to implement a pilot regulatory framework to allow for the testing of autonomous vehicles and driverless technology. The report calls attention to the readiness of the province for the reality of autonomous vehicles in the near future, recommending Ontario capitalize on its first-mover status in this space. The OCC urges all levels of government to work together with industry to attract future investments, innovation, and jobs, as well as ensure Ontario is the first province to reap the benefits associated with this technology.

“50% of Ontario businesses view transportation infrastructure as critical to their competitiveness. The province needs a plan that is strategic, provides value for public dollars, optimizes existing assets, leverages the private sector and technology, and takes into account the unique needs of our province,” added Rossi. “Moving forward, we will continue to consult our members on the province’s vast and diverse transportation needs.”

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce has been active on the transportation file for years, and will continue to provide thought leadership on other transportation modalities as part of its ongoing advocacy on the province’s transportation planning and priorities.

Read the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s report: Moving Forward: Towards a Strategic Approach to Ontario’s Transportation Needs (Part I).




The Accelerating Pace of Change: Economic, Business and Policy Outlook for 2019

Last night business and association executives, as well as senior public servants gathered at our annual Crystal Ball Symposium to hear from leading experts on how trends in technology, the global economy and international politics will affect Canadian business 2019 and beyond.   

This year’s event featured Linda Mantia, Chief Operating Officer for Manulife.  Responsible for globally leading corporate strategy and corporate development, analytics, technology, marketing, innovation, human resources, regulatory and public affairs, global resourcing and procurement, and the global program office. Ms. Mantia and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s Chief Economist Trevin Stratton discussed topics ranging from the growing economic divide and the national economy to strategies for businesses during this period of change.

In the full report, released today, we lay out what we heard over the course of the last year about the environment businesses expect to be operating in throughout 2019 and the implications that has for policy-makers and business leaders.

Read the full outlook.


2018 Fall Economic Statement

The Oakville Chamber of Commerce has issued the following statement in response the the Government of Ontario’s 2018 Fall Economic Statement.

“The Oakville Chamber of Commerce is encouraged by many of the measures outlined in the Government’s Fall Economic Statement including the focus on fiscal accountability, electricity costs, and cutting cumulative red tape. Our local and provincial economy are strongest when industry and government work together.  We look forward to working with our local MPPs as we continue to discuss the measures outlined in the Fall Economic Statement and advocate on behalf of our members”

Drew Redden, President, Oakville Chamber of Commerce

Read the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s analysis of the 2018 Fall Economic Statement.

Read the 2018 Fall Economic Statement.




Rapid Policy Update: Bill 47, Making Ontario Open for Business Act, 2018

On October 23rd,  the Government of Ontario announced Bill 47, Making Ontario Open for Business Act, 2018The announcement included a near full repeal of Bill 148, dissolution of the Ontario College of Trades, and improvements to the journeyperson-to-apprentice ratio.

What do these changes mean for business?

  1. Minimum wage paused at $14 per hour

  2. Partial repeal of scheduling provisions

    Bill 148 allowed employees to refuse a shift scheduled less than 96 hours before its start and required employers to pay staff for a minimum of three hours of work in the case of a cancelled/reduced shift. The government will be repealing the 96-hour rule, while maintaining the 3-hour rule.
  3. Removal of equal pay for equal work

  4. Returning to previous calculation of public holiday pay

  5. Return to previous union certification policies

    Bill 148 extended card-based union certification to the temporary help agency industry, the building services sector, and home care and community services industry, removing the need for a secret ballot vote.  In addition, Bill 148 forced employers to provide unions with access to employee lists and employee contact information where the union is able to demonstrate 20 percent employee support. It will return to the previous requirement to demonstrate at least 40 percent employee support.
  6. Amended personal emergency leave

    Under Bill 148, small businesses were required to provide a minimum of 10 personal emergency leave days per year (8 unpaid and 2 paid). This will be amended to require a total of 8 unpaid days within the following categories: 3 sick days, 2 bereavement days, and 3 family emergency leave days. To help promote accountability, employers may now once again ask employees for a sick note.
  7. Maintain domestic or sexual violence leave

    Bill 148 introduced a domestic or sexual violence leave provision, which gives employees the right to up to 10 days of individual leave and up to 15 weeks of leave if the employee or their child experiences domestic or sexual violence or the threat of such violence.
  8. Maintain paid vacation expansion

    The government will not be removing provisions that entitle employees to 3 weeks of paid vacation after 5 years with the same employer.
  9. Apprenticeship ratios set at 1:1

    10. Dissolution of the Ontario College of Trades The government has announced that it will be dissolving the Ontario College of Trades and uploading its responsibilities to the Ministry of Labour
“Yesterday’s announcement is welcome news for the Oakville Chamber of Commerce. As Oakville’s business advocate, our position has been clear: Bill 148 was too much, too fast. The compounding labour reforms and unintended consequences came at too high a cost for Ontario’s economy and the businesses who employee Ontarians in Oakville and across our Province. The Oakville Chamber will continue to advocate on behalf of our members to ensure that the Government implements balanced policies that make it easier to invest, start, and grow a business as well as build an economy that connects workers to jobs” – Drew Redden, President, Oakville Chamber of Commerce

Tariff Rate Quota (TRQ) For Certain Steel Goods

On October 25, the federal government will enact provisional safeguard measures on the importation of a number of steel products, including heavy plates, concrete reinforcing bars, energy tubular products, hot-rolled sheets, pre-painted steel, stainless steel wires and wire rods. These will be administered in the form of a tariff-rate quota. For more information, please see the below notice from the federal government.  “This message pertains to imports of certain steel goods as set out in the Order Imposing a Surtax on the Importation of Certain Steel Goods. The purpose of this message is to inform Canadian businesses that the Government of Canada is imposing provisional safeguards in the form of tariff rate quotas (TRQs) on seven classes of steel goods. The provisional safeguards will take effect on October 25, 2018. We encourage you to disseminate this information to your members to ensure that Canadian businesses are aware that they need to obtain an import permit if  imported goods are to avoid the over-access surtax. Imports that exceed the quota will be subject to a 25 per cent surtax.  The TRQs will be administered by Global Affairs Canada by way of shipment-specific imports permits on a first come, first served basis. In order for goods to be considered within the quota, they must be covered by a valid import permit at time of accounting. Please refer to the Notice to Importers, Serial No. 911, and the Frequently Asked Questions for detailed information on which products and countries are covered by the TRQs, how the TRQs will be administered and how to apply for a shipment-specific permit.”

Oakville Mayoral Debate 2018

The Oakville Chamber of Commerce hosted the 2018 Oakville Mayoral Debate in partnership with Sheridan and YourTV on Monday, October 15th at Theatre Sheridan. Questions from the debate were drawn from  A Roadmap for Business Success, a campaign outlining the Oakville business community’s priorities for the upcoming 2018 municipal election: Business Competitiveness, Transportation, Recruit and Retain Talent, and Innovation. 

The debate will air on YourTV, Channel 700 on Cogeco, at the following dates and times:

  • Wednesday, October 17th at 9:00pm
  • Thursday, October 18th at 10:00am
  • Friday, October 19th at 10:00am
  • Friday, October 19th at 1:00pm

You can also watch the Oakville Mayoral Debate online.



Innovation: What are your Mayoral candidates saying?

The Oakville Chamber of Commerce released A Roadmap for Business Success, a campaign outlining the Oakville business community’s priorities for the upcoming 2018 municipal election: Business Competitiveness, Transportation, Recruit and Retain Talent, and Innovation. Read the Mayoral Candidate statements below.

What is your plan to foster innovation in Oakville?


Rob Burton
Great things happen when we work together. Collaboration is a powerful tool and it’s at the root of what we can do together to see innovation flourish in Oakville.
 
The old Post Office building in downtown Oakville has been earmarked for the location of an innovation hub. When repairs and upgrades to the building are completed, the space on its upper floors can become a place for burgeoning start ups to make connections, test ideas and gain access to needed resources.
 
Exploring partnerships, on projects such as Smart City initiatives with groups like Silicon Haltonwill lead the way to opening opportunities during the renewal of downtown Oakville’s Lakeshore Road streetscape. The project would derive benefits from new technologies and local entrepreneurs can gain valuable hands on experience.
 
Shortly, I plan to announce the Mayor’s Innovation Challenge, a competition that will invite individuals, start-up’s, small business and others to propose new solutions to overcome local issues like parking, traffic and infrastructure. With the advent of autonomous vehicles on the horizon, our roads and cities will be a different place in the future. Ride sharing is just the beginning. A group of judges will comprise senior Town of Oakville officials as well as experts from Oakville-based businesses who are leaders in R&D and technology. Teams/individuals will make submissions and finalists will have a chance to pitch their concepts to a live audience at Oakville’s Centre for the Performing Arts.

Julia Hanna
Becoming a Technological Leader – Not Just a Follower.
As Mayor, it is one of my planning priorities for Oakville to become a leader in SmartCity technologies that improve residents’ quality of life and attract high tech jobs to our community. To help accomplish this goal I will harness our local talent and entrepreneurs to form a Technology Advisory Committee to help Oakville jump into the forefront of the adoption of smart technology that will benefit our community.
 
Free Downtown WiFi & Smart Available Parking Spot Locator App
I will use my position on Council to gain the support needed to have free WiFi installed in the Downtown as part of the upcoming Downtown streetscape renovations and instruct town planners to determine the best way to do the same in other Town centres.
 
With WiFi-enabled, I will champion smart parking technology (called “smart parking pucks”) to be installed so people can find the closest available parking spot through an app on their smart phones. Not only is this a great convenience for people visiting Downtown, but it also sets Oakville on a smart technology path that can attract innovative companies. Stratford is an example of a community already benefiting from attracting innovative companies through WiFi and smart parking puck technology.

John McLaughlin
No response received. 










Recruiting & Retaining Talent: What are the Mayoral candidates saying?

The Oakville Chamber of Commerce released A Roadmap for Business Success, a campaign outlining the Oakville business community’s priorities for the upcoming 2018 municipal election: Business Competitiveness, Transportation, Recruit and Retain Talent, and Innovation. Read the Mayoral Candidate statements below.

What is your plan to help employers recruit and retain talent in Oakville?


John McLaughlin
No response received.

Rob Burton

For Oakville, helping local business to recruit and retain top achievers means creating a win/win environment. Employers need ready access to a highly skilled workforce and employees need a live/work location that is an asset to their lifestyle.

The latest employment figures show that Oakville created over 3,000 jobs between 2016 and 2017, bringing our total to just over 89,000. Of that total 70% of jobs are full time employment. In 2017, Oakville had the highest share and number of new business openings compared to our regional neighbours.

Region wide, Oakville has the highest share of knowledge-based and institutional jobs compared to other local municipalities. We also have the highest number of jobs in the professional, scientific and technical services sector. Oakville is home to over 1,200 medium sized businesses who collectively employ over 36,000 people. Over half of those businesses are independently owned and a high number have chosen to locate both home and business in our community.

The statistics above tell us we’re creating an atmosphere that gives employers and employees confidence in locating in Oakville. We are consistently rated among the best places to live, raise a family and work in Canada, making Oakville an attractive part of an employment package.

Working with our Regional and Provincial partners, we want to enhance our attraction as the best place to live and work through improved movement of people and a bigger supply of housing that is suited to today’s workers and their families.

Julia Hanna

Plugging Oakville’s Youth Brain Drain

The presence of young people and young families is a sign of a healthy, growing community. As a larger percentage of our population reaches retirement, attracting young people has become an increasingly urgent priority for municipalities across Canada. Unfortunately, Oakville is experiencing a Youth Brain Drain. Parents have little hope their adult children can work and live in the community in which they were raised. This loss of our young people significantly impacts our business community who rely on the energy, innovation and talent of young workers. As Mayor, I am committed to a vibrant and flourishing community that will enable more of our adult children to stay in Oakville.








Transportation: What are the Mayoral candidates saying?

The Oakville Chamber of Commerce released A Roadmap for Business Success, a campaign outlining the Oakville business community’s priorities for the upcoming 2018 municipal election: Business Competitiveness, Transportation, Recruit and Retain Talent, and Innovation. Read the Mayoral Candidate statements below highlighting how they will address transportation challenges in Oakville. 

What is your plan to address transportation challenges in Oakville, both movement of goods and movement of people?


Julia Hanna
Smart Traffic Technology Investments
Many proactive communities around the world are benefiting from improved traffic flow through smart traffic management systems. These systems can provide centrally-controlled traffic signals and sensors that regulate the flow of traffic through the city, in response to demand.
 
Oakville needs to manage growth before the growth happens. With almost all growth planned a decade or more in advance, and with the Town of Oakville levying some of the highest development fees on new home construction in North America ($73,900 in municipal development charges. Source: Atlas Group Report, April 2018), the Town should be able to better anticipate and manage traffic congestion on Town roads.
 
As Mayor, I will support increasing capacity on Oakville’s arterial roads to keep people moving. I will champion the implementation of smart traffic technologies. And I will work with Council to improve the Town’s planning process to ensure we align the implementation of congestion management strategies with future development.
 
Advocate for GO Transit Improvements
GO Transit is a vital link for thousands of Oakville residents every day. Metrolinx has been making significant improvements to the frequency of service and the infrastructure supporting it to make service more reliable. As Mayor, Oakville’s GO riders can count on me to be a tireless advocate at every level of government to continue this progress. Fast, reliable public transit is one of the best ways to get people home in time for dinner.

John McLaughlin
Efficient and economical transportation, is critical to economic competitiveness and mobility.  Oakville doesn’t need “more” roads, it needs “more” from its roads.  Congestion (and commuter delays) is largely a problem of a growing regional population, new development beyond traditional urban areas, as well as increased longevity.  That population is largely on the “go” over existing road networks, increasing gridlock, noise, pollution and placing more stress on operating & capital budgets, as well as accelerating the decay of those assets.  I will quickly introduce zero-emission electric vehicles, both public & personal transit, reducing pollution, noise and operating costs. This de-carbonized transportation is also innovative, environmentally friendly as well as more “fun”.  I will encourage a municipal rebate zero-emission purchase/use program as well as special “green transit” lanes on our roadways.  Single person/per vehicle trips are no longer sustainable, rather multiple person/per trips are preferred, removing the number of cars on the road during peak travel times, as well as preserving the environment and reducing travel times for both goods and persons.  Behavioral changes to transportation thinking are necessary, beginning with Oakville transit which will run “grid” return routes, with electric-vehicles at a $2 flat fare (PRESTO integrated) anytime rate, on a 24 hour basis (reduced service after 11:00 p.m.) with connections to GO stations — and also run a “special” 4 time daily trip to Milton return, to serve that growing labour & residential market.  Ride “sharing” will finally be rewarded, with gas tax revenues (expected to decline) funding a “rebate” program for 2 or more in a car!  Free parking (24/7) will also be instituted Town wide, to promote business, tourism & recreation.

Rob Burton
Our regional and provincial partnerships are at the core of improving Oakville’s movement of goods and people.
 
The largest projects are with Metrolinx, for grade separations at Burloak Drive and Kerr Street. These will give commuters and commercial traffic faster, safer access to the QEW. Future rail electrification, with its associated 10-minute GO service, forecasts an increase in demand for rail service. We’re asking the province to increase station capacity with a GO station expansion on the west side of Trafalgar Road. This would provide faster access for commuters from the north and east. We continue to ask our provincial representatives to move forward with the construction of our “missing link” highway interchange at Royal Windsor Drive.
 
Halton Region has agreed to my request to move forward with the Wyecroft Road Extension and Bridge. This crossing will benefit merchants and shoppers and commuters.
 
Halton Region’s Advanced Traffic Management System will assess real time traffic conditions and in turn, trigger traffic signal response to current demand on a 24/7 basis.
 
Locally, commercial and residential users will benefit from the Speers Road Reconstruction Project which will see the Speers Road Corridor rebuilt from Third Line to Kerr Street. Road capacity increases are also set for Bronte, Dundas, Trafalgar, and Cornwall. The new roads will include separated bike lanes, providing direct access to GO transit for active transportation users.








Business Competitiveness: What are the Mayoral candidates saying?

The Oakville Chamber of Commerce released A Roadmap for Business Success, a campaign outlining the Oakville business community’s priorities for the upcoming 2018 municipal election: Business Competitiveness, Transportation, Recruit and Retain Talent, and Innovation. Over the next four weeks, the Oakville Chamber will be releasing Mayoral Candidate statements highlighting the candidates’ vision on how they would address each of the four pillars, kicking off today with Business Competitiveness. 

What is your plan to strengthen business competitiveness in Oakville?


Rob Burton

As one of 
the most educated communities in Canada, Oakville offers business a highly skilled professional workforce on the doorstep. Our commercial property tax rates are some of the lowest in the GTA and we have ample employment land for development. Oakville is known for its livability and ranks as one of the best places in Canada to raise a family. However,to keep our local businesses moving forward, takes more.
 
This year, Oakville achieved ISO 37120 platinum certification from the World Council on City Data (WCCD). This is a crucial first step in creating an expanding portal of data that can drive development of new technologies, optimize business processes and enhance research to make data-driven decisions and solve complex problems.
The prospect of a Lifesciences Campus, to be built in close proximity to the new hospital is moving closer. Such a hub doesn’t just create collaboration. It becomes a competitive cluster. Physical co-locating of firms creates an economic zone that shares infrastructure, inter-firm learning and collaboration that can continually feed innovation and improvement.

At the local level we are continuing to improve infrastructure through renewal of local roads and the planning of additional parking in our commercial business areas. Regional projects include widening and improvement of Region roads and updating of storm sewers to adapt to climate change.

Lastly, we continue to nurture relationships with city and regional representatives from both China and India to pave the road for new business opportunities.

Julia Hanna
Make Economic Development a Town Priority Again
For 12 years, the current Mayor has paid lip service to economic development and Oakville has developed a reputation as a difficult and very costly place to locate a business. Our Town has the highest office space vacancy rate in the GTA and has suffered the departure of major companies like: Tim Horton’s, Manulife, Shredit, Mattamy, as well as many small and mid-sized businesses.
As Mayor, I will champion economic development that attracts more professional, high tech, office employers and businesses to Oakville so more people can work closer to home.
 
Help Existing Businesses Create More Jobs
As the Chair of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce, I met a wide array of businesses. One of the issues I heard over and over was that businesses wanted to expand and create more jobs in Oakville, but their plans were curtailed or abandoned because of the onerous regulations and punishing fees levied by the Town. As Mayor, I will demand a full review of all Town fees levied against business expansion.
 
Enable Local Companies to Compete Equally for Town Contracts
Oakville has some of the brightest and most innovative companies and entrepreneurs in Canada. As Mayor, I will work with Council and Town procurement to stop small companies from being shut out of Town business and enable them to compete on an equal footing with major multi-nationals. These businesses benefit the whole community, creating local jobs, paying Oakville taxes offering local knowledge and expertise.

John McLaughlin
Business competitiveness requires a lower business tax rate (not just for BIA’s) & municipal incentives and partnerships. The Chamber of Commerce business membership also agrees. Competitive business practices also requires an integrated transit plan to provide another means for a local skilled workforce to travel to, and from – a workplace, in today’s environment, often on a 24 hour basis. My electric transit zero-emission plan is part of that strategy and will encourage local jobs & sourcing opportunities, plus an infrastructure build-out that is modern, technical & innovative. Local education & training & market opportunities (e.g. skills, trades, computer science, engineering etc.) must be integrated with local business and Chamber member’s, to help sustain and grow a businesses footprint. Our locality, promotes cross-border market opportunities, in conjunction with provincial & federal partners. The “borderless” electronic age also permits business to locate further away from customer’s – provided shipment time or service delivery is only an incremental cost. Additionally, “red-tape” reduction, affordable housing and less road congestion are key factors to competitiveness (and within the Town ‘s control as they created these problems. Also, government training or incentives are critical to innovate, update and increase local employment, plus grow & foster partnerships with supply chain partners and customer markets. Transportation, infrastructure and “free parking” for local customers all contribute to a more competitive business environment for Oakville. The Mayor & Council have failed to keep Oakville competitive, rather at times, political opportunists more interested in their own “re-election”, not Oakville’s economic or social future..