Category: Government Relations

Provincial Budget 2019

“The Oakville Chamber has been focusing our advocacy efforts on four key priorities: Transportation and Infrastructure, Business Competitiveness, Recruiting and Retaining Talent, and Innovation. The Chamber is encouraged to see these member priorities reflected in the Provincial Budget.

The Chamber also welcomes the government’s focus on building a more competitive tax environment. The Ontario Job Creation Investment Incentive will provide the needed tax relief for business while promoting investment and job growth. The Oakville Chamber, along with the Ontario Chamber Network, will continue to encourage the government to help small businesses scale-up by creating a variable small business tax rate.

The Oakville Chamber looks forward to seeing more details on the government’s planned investments of $14.7 billion in infrastructure over the next ten years, and will continue to press the government to address the province’s infrastructure deficit.”

-Drew Redden, President, Oakville Chamber of Commerce


Read the Ontario Chamber of Commerce analysis.

Read the Provincial Budget 2019.



Federal Budget 2019

“The Oakville Chamber of Commerce continues to advocate that the Government focus on and address four key priorities identified by our members; Transportation, Business Competitiveness, Recruiting and Retaining Talent and Innovation.

While the Budget delivers on some of our advocacy priorities that will advance the competitiveness of our members, particularly in the areas of infrastructure and housing affordability, it does fail to provide concrete measures to address the tax and regulatory burden on businesses.

The Oakville Chamber, along with the Canadian Chamber network continue to look for a commitment from the Federal Government for a comprehensive review of the taxation system to make it fair and less cumbersome for businesses as well as a broad-based commitment to reduce the regulatory burden on businesses.

Heading into the 2019 Federal Election, the Oakville Chamber will continue to engage with Federal representatives to advocate on behalf of our members, ensuring the focus remains on increasing overall business competitiveness and fostering innovation here in Oakville and across our Country.”

– Drew Redden, President, Oakville Chamber of Commerce

Read the Canadian Chamber of Commerce analysis.



Canadian Business Associations United To Press For Action On Resources

National Letter for National Day of Action and Senate Committee Testimony

The Oakville Chamber of Commerce, representing 1,200 local businesses, is joining other 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.

The cohesion of our country is threatened by the devastating impact of low oil prices, our inability to get energy resources to global markets and a growing sense of alienation among Canadians who live and work in the resources sector.

Our natural resources should be a source of pride for all Canadians. As producers of some of the cleanest, most ethically-produced energy products in the world, we should be doing all we can as a country to get them to global markets, where they can get a fair price, help reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to our prosperity as a nation.

Canada’s economic well-being is at risk and the growing sense that Canadians who live in resource-dependent regions are being ignored is creating deep and serious divisions among our citizens. We need to come together as one country and this letter is intended to deliver a clear message to politicians in Ottawa and across Canada: the businesses in your jurisdictions want you to act and act now.

In order to do so, we are asking Canada’s federal and provincial leaders to:

  • Make amendments to Bill C-69 to bring greater clarity, predictability and transparency to the bill, as outlined in the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s Senate submission.
  • Get our energy resources to tidewater, starting by recognizing that the Trans-Mountain Expansion is in the national interest and by expediting its construction in uncontested jurisdictions.
  • Implement the regulatory changes promised in the Fall Economic Update.
  • Declare a broad mutual recognition of each province’s standards, across all sectors.

Canadians in all regions believe that we can and should get our resources responsibly to global markets.

Canada’s business community is prepared to do its part. We need Canada’s politicians do theirs. Now.

Sincerely,

Drew Redden
President & CEO
Oakville Chamber of Commerce



Canada is at an economic and social tipping point because of our inability to get energy resource infrastructure built. The business community presses for action from federal government

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.  These resources must be developed responsibly and sustainably and we must support the development of the infrastructure required to ship them to markets across Canada and around the world.   

The oil and gas industry is Canada’s largest private investor, $40 billion annually.  Canada is currently struggling to attract investment to the resource sector. Rising costs from increased taxation, a burdensome regulatory environment, and the lack of pipeline infrastructure is negatively affecting our ability to compete for the capital needed to create jobs and national prosperity.

In an effort to resolve some of these issues, the government introduced Bill C-69, a piece of government legislation titled “The modernization of the National Energy Board Act (NEBA) and Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA).” It seeks to overhaul both the NEBA and CEAA, changing how major infrastructure projects are reviewed and approved in Canada.  The Bill has been passed by the House of Commons and is now in its third reading in Senate.

Although the Canadian Chamber supports the objective of a review and assessment process initiated by the government, the business community has a number of concerns with Bill C69 as it contains flaws that could seriously disadvantage specific sectors. 

As drafted, Bill C69 could lead to greater uncertainty in the assessment and review processes. The new bill requires assessment and decisions based on broad public policy questions that are beyond the scope of individual projects. It introduces longer timelines, and vague criteria that will increase the risk of legal challenges. Additionally, it gives the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada broad discretionary powers, which could further increase uncertainty for major infrastructure projects

Unless these issues are resolved, the legislation will increase regulatory uncertainty for many of Canada’s resource sectors and their related industries.  This uncertainty will deter investment and undermine economic growth and job creation.  Attempting to deal with the diversity of projects covered by the legislation with a one-size-fits-all legislative solution is doomed to fail.  To achieve its intended purpose, Bill C69 must be flexible enough to address the unique circumstances of all of our resource and infrastructure projects from ports, mining and utilities, to oil and gas, among others. 

Subsequently, the Oakville Chamber is joining other Chambers across the country to call on the government to make amendments to Bill C-69 that will institute a regulatory process that allows for certainty, predictability and transparency to the Bill. This requires clear deadlines, keeping larger national policy discussion separate from the technical project reviews, and respecting provincial jurisdictions.  We are calling on the government to get our energy resources to tidewater, starting by recognizing that the Trans-Mountain Expansion is in the national interest and by expediting its construction in uncontested jurisdictions. 

Pipeline delays and cancellations, open-ended and expensive consultation processes, and general project uncertainty have already scared off a great deal of investment capital and have put many projects at risk.

If this bill is passed without significant amendments, it will create enormous uncertainty, more red tape and increased court challenges. Not only for the energy sector but for virtually every major infrastructure project in Canada for years to come, threatening our economic prosperity.

In a global business environment, it is critical that our regulatory systems balance economic growth with environmental protection and that our elected government create the conditions for that sustainable growth.

– Faye Lyons, Vice President of Government Relations & Advocacy






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.




10 Ways to Build a Canada that Wins: 2019 Election Edition

For the past seven years the Canadian Chamber of Commerce has published the 10 Ways to Build a Canada that Wins (formerly the Top 10 Barriers to Canadian Competitiveness).

This report, which is read widely by decision-makers in government and elsewhere, articulates a series of clear priorities and objectives that, if addressed, will give Canada a competitive edge, improve productivity and grow the economy.

It is key that the 10 Ways to Build a Canada that Wins reflects the views of our members—businesses big and small throughout Canada—especially in an election year. That is why, this year, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce is partnering with Hill+Knowlton Strategies on this feedback exercise. 

Please participate in this 5-to-10-minute confidential feedback survey.




By giving us your input, you will be:

  • shaping the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s 2018 message to the federal government and other stakeholders, and
  • telling chambers of commerce at the national, provincial, territorial and local levels about the priorities that are important to you, both as a Canadian and a business person.

Please provide your input!




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.”