Category: Government Relations


Pharmacare Must Address Outstanding System Gaps, Maintain High Quality Coverage

The Ontario Chamber Network releases key principles as a guide as federal government considers national pharmacare system

Today the Oakville Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, released a policy report Principles for an Effective Pharmacare Program, which provides guidelines for the federal and Ontario governments to follow when considering reforms to pharmaceutical coverage, which has implications for both governments. The report highlights five principles against which new pharmacare proposals can be tested to ensure an effective and sustainable program.

In its budget this week, the federal government announced it will begin consultations on a pharmacare program with former Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, Dr. Eric Hoskins, leading the initiative. With increasing demand for national pharmacare in Canada, the Ontario Chamber Network has engaged in its own consultations over the last few months with a diverse group of health, life sciences and insurance stakeholders to develop and endorse the test of principles.

“The Ontario Chamber Network supports improving access to medicine for all Ontarians,” said Ken Nevar, Chair of the Board, Oakville Chamber of Commerce. “It is essential that the design of a future pharmacare program is developed in a collaborative manner, reflecting these principles to ensure the long-term sustainability of the program.”

The Ontario Chamber Network developed the following five principals that pharmaceutical program proposals can be evaluated against:

  • Existing gaps in pharmaceutical coverage are identified and addressed to improve access to medications for those who need it
  • The strengths of the public-private system are leveraged
  • The program is outcomes-oriented and promotes the sustainability and efficacy of the broader health care system
  • Patients can access their medications in a timely manner
  • Broad and appropriate access to innovative medications is ensured

“The Ontario and federal governments must work with all health stakeholders, including patients, health care professionals, private insurers, employers, and the pharmaceutical industry, to identify outstanding coverage gaps and implement effective and pragmatic solutions,” said Rocco Rossi, President and CEO, Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “We look forward to working with the federal and provincial governments to ensure a future pharmacare model takes advantage of Ontario’s current health care system and embraces public-private partnership.”

The Ontario Chamber Network has been active on health care policy for a number of years, including multiple reports on life sciences as an economic driver. Pharmacare has emerged as a key public policy issue in Ontario given the recent provincial government announcement of OHIP+, which provides pharmaceutical coverage to all Ontarians under the age of 25, and a commitment by the Ontario NDP to create a universal pharmacare program if they form government after the next provincial election. 

Read the Pharmacare Report.




Oakville Chamber mobilizes businesses to put shared prosperity, economic development front-and-centre in upcoming election

Today the Oakville Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, launched a major province-wide letter writing campaign urging businesses to encourage their local provincial candidates to support the Ontario Chamber Network’s election platform, Vote Prosperity. To ensure economic prosperity is at the forefront of the 2018 provincial election, the Chamber Network has developed 18 recommendations that will help bolster Ontario’s long-term economic outcomes.

This letter-writing campaign is the next phase of this advocacy effort, building on ongoing government relations activities. We are calling on our local candidates to read Vote Prosperity and engage with our local business community to ensure business priorities are heard.

“The upcoming provincial election provides our business community with an opportunity to ensure that our businesses are being heard by our future elected officials,” said Drew Redden, President of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce. “Vote Prosperity provides political parties with tangible solutions to address the challenges businesses are currently facing and to ensure that Ontario is building a prosperous economy that supports local business in our community and across the province.”

Over the next 12 weeks, the Ontario Chamber Network will be advocating Vote Prosperity with local provincial candidates across the province through meetings, social media activation and with the letter writing campaign. Vote Prosperity is built around four fundamental pillars to support a strong economy in Ontario: strengthening business competitiveness, fostering job creation, building healthy communities and improving government accountability.

“We are calling on all political leaders to read Vote Prosperity and consider our recommendations as we aim to make Ontario the best place to start and grow a business,” said Rocco Rossi, President and CEO, Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “It’s simple, when you choose prosperity, Ontario wins.”

The Ontario Chamber Network released Vote Prosperity in October 2017, ahead of most of the major political parties’ platform development. Some of the recommendations from Vote Prosperity include:

  • Allow Ontario businesses to purchase surplus electricity at rates equal to or better than the exported price to other jurisdictions;
  • Allocate resources to focus support on high growth firms and those with high growth potential, by delaying taxation on corporate income growth to overcome Ontario’s scale-up challenge;
  • Focus on strategic growth policies by ensuring that land use planning and development regulations are aligned, to increase density and create more housing stock;
  • Create a meaningful plan to tackle the debt and move towards balanced or surplus budgets.

Read the Vote Prosperity platform.

Send a letter in support. 

Complete the survey


Input Costs Soar as Confidence and Projected Profits Fall: Ontario Economic Report 2018

Ontario Chamber Network reveals consequences of a climate that discourages growth

Today the Oakville Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, released the second annual Ontario Economic Report (OER), a comprehensive analysis of data and emerging trends on the economic health of the province. Original economic research from the report reveals that 77 per cent of Ontario businesses say access to talent remains the largest impact on their competitiveness and nearly half report a lack of confidence in the province’s economy. Meanwhile, a lack of confidence in their own ability to sustain profits continues to decline.

The OER includes data from the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s Business Confidence Survey conducted by Fresh Intelligence, a Business Prosperity Index developed by the Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis (CANCEA), and a 2018 Economic Outlook prepared by BMO Financial Group.

“Industry in Ontario are feeling the impact of the rising minimum wage, significant labour reforms, increasing global and US competition, NAFTA renegotiations, consistent overregulation, rising input costs, and challenges to accessing talent,” said Rocco Rossi, President and CEO at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “This year’s Ontario Economic Report indicates that these challenges are creating a climate of low business confidence that will compromise the province’s future prosperity.”

According to OER findings, 68 percent of firms say the minimum wage increase is predicted to have a negative impact on their business. Compared to last year, they are more likely to project a decline in revenue and a shrinking of their workforce.

Some of the 2018 OER highlights on the outlook of Ontario’s economy include:

  • Businesses are losing confidence in Ontario’s economy. In 2012, 47 percent of businesses reported they were confident in Ontario’s economic outlook. Today, that share has been halved, as only 23 percent of businesses are confident in the economy.
  • Nearly two-thirds of businesses cite input costs for their lack of confidence, such as the price of electricity, taxes, and the increase in minimum wage. This is compared to only 31 percent who name competitive barriers such as declining consumer demand or changing client behaviour.
  • One quarter of small businesses in Ontario project declining revenue in 2018, which is twice the rate of large firms (26 percent vs. 13 percent). Given that the majority of businesses in this province are small, this will likely have a net-negative impact on economic growth.
  • The production of goods and services represents a shrinking contributor to business prosperity. Production activities represent only 15.3 percent of business prosperity, meaning that prosperity is increasingly becoming more dependent upon financial activities instead of productive activities. This is indicative of Ontario possessing a higher-risk operating environment.
  • Our historically low unemployment rate is a red herring, as more individuals remove themselves from the workforce or simply give up the search. The percentage of Ontarians not participating in the labour force is at a recent high of 35 percent, contributing to employers’ on-going struggle to attract talent.

“This important report identifies key vulnerabilities within our economy and provides decisions makers and community leaders with the understanding needed to find the solutions that will drive our economy forward,” said Ken Nevar, Chair of the Board, Oakville Chamber of Commerce. “This year, the Ontario Chamber Network will continue to engage and advocate on behalf of Ontario’s business community to explore these issues and develop the necessary solutions for a more prosperous Ontario.”

“Looking at businesses in the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area (GTHA), 66 per cent said they are confident in their organization’s economic outlook, while only 35 per cent said they are confident in the province’s economic outlook” stated Drew Redden, President of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce. “75 per cent of these businesses cited poor economic policy from the government as a reason why they are uncertain with Ontario’s economic outlook. The Oakville Chamber looks forward to meeting with government officials to discuss economic policies that will facilitate growth for the province’s economy, many of those which are outlined in the Ontario Chamber Network’s Vote Prosperity platform.”

In addition to new economic research, the OER outlines the areas of focus for the Ontario Chamber Network’s policy and advocacy work in the year ahead. In 2018, the Ontario Chamber Network will be looking at the potential of the health and life sciences sector, examining challenges related to urbanization and housing affordability, and studying the critical transportation needs across the province. As businesses continue to cite access to talent as a top challenge, the Ontario Chamber Network will continue to provide proactive recommendations and solutions to ensure we are leveraging our greatest asset—human capital.

Read the Ontario Economic Report 2018.

For more information about the OER, visit: www.occ.ca/ontario-economic-report

View data from the responses of businesses in the GTHA. 


Oakville Chamber partners with Canadian Chamber to launch 10 Ways to Build a Canada that Wins

A strong and prosperous Canada depends on business growth, but businesses are grappling with daunting challenges at home and abroad. To help them compete and grow, the Oakville Chamber of Commerce partnered with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce to release 10 Ways to Build a Canada that Wins today. 10 Ways provides businesses, decision-makers and government with a series of clear priorities and objectives that, if addressed, will give Canada a competitive edge, improve productivity and grow our economy.

“While the global economy remains risky, there are still tremendous opportunities for business growth, but we need to work together to create the conditions to support business growth and build a more prosperous economy for all Canadians,” said the Hon. Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. “10 Ways identifies the ways in which business, government and others can work together to improve Canada’s public policy environment and create the conditions for businesses across the country to flourish.”

10 Ways touches on a range of key issues, including attracting business investment, supporting SMEs, and encouraging innovation and fixing Canada’s trade-enabling infrastructure.

“The Oakville Chamber is proud to partner with the Canadian Chamber again this year to release 10 Ways” stated Ken Nevar, Chair of the Board, Oakville Chamber of Commerce. “We’ve finalized a list of 10 important ways in which Canada’s policy environment can be improved to support development and growth for businesses not only in Oakville, but across the country.”

“We are looking forward to meeting with government officials to discuss our recommendations” added Drew Redden, President, Oakville Chamber of Commerce.

This annual list by the Canadian Chamber Network is particularly important given the growing pressures on businesses faced with uncertainty around the ongoing NAFTA negotiations, additional layers of regulation, rapid technological change and low capital investment. 10 Ways not only frames the necessary public discourse around the best ways to enable Canadian businesses to grow, it provides the Canadian Chamber of Commerce with the strategic direction for its policy and advocacy efforts throughout 2018, supported by the Oakville Chamber.

10 Ways to Build a Canada that Wins in 2018

1. Make Canada a Magnet for Business Investment
We need a policy environment in Canada that makes this country the preferred location for businesses to invest, employ, export from and grow.

2. Ensure a Globally Competitive North America
The growth potential of Canadian business depends not only rely on our domestic policy environment, but also on our access to business opportunities and capabilities across North America and around the world. We need to expand and streamline business access to resources as we eliminate barriers to trade. 

3. Make Canada an Agri-food Powerhouse
Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sector has a strong and well-earned reputation. In order to make Canada a global leader in high-value food production and exports, we need a national vision and clear objectives for an agri-food cluster development strategy, a supportive regulatory environment and an increased capacity to export.

4. Develop Agile Workforce Strategies
Agile workforce policies are vital in ensuring Canadian businesses can acquire the skill sets they need to compete and grow. To this end, Canadian businesses need easy access to comprehensive market information and to programs and policies that support diversity and labour mobility. Our workforce must also have access to formative and life-long learning opportunities in essential skills and basic science, technical, engineering and business education. Only then can we attract the best and brightest from all over the world.

5. Make all of Canada an Export Gateway
Trade is the linchpin of the Canadian economy. We can enhance the competitiveness and growth potential of Canadian businesses by building on the gateways and corridors modeled to make strategic, sustainable and long-term improvements in Canada’s trade infrastructure. It is time for us to create a single, unified and efficient trade-enabling network.

6. Improve Regulatory Efficiency, Achieve Regulatory Alignment, and Ensure the Unrestricted Movement of Goods and People across Canada 
The elimination of trade barriers and unnecessary regulatory differences across Canada could add as much as $130 billion to Canada’s GDP by freeing trade and commerce within our own internal markets. Through incentives for regulators, we can concentrate on the big picture: nationally aligned standards and regulations that work for all, instead of a patchwork of regional rules.

7.Help SMEs Trade and Grow
Canada’s economic prospects depend in large part on the vitality and growth potential of small- and medium-sized enterprises. We can support our SMEs through tax policies that reward entrepreneurship, regulatory policies that take their reality into account and by giving them easier access to government contracts and international opportunities.

8. Provide Opportunities for Business Development to Support Self-determination for Indigenous Peoples
The economic and social benefits of encouraging greater and more inclusive participation by Indigenous peoples in employment and business development opportunities are shared by all Canadians. This includes a supportive tax and regulatory environment, access to new business opportunities, government programs that provide meaningful supports, and ready-access to education and training, leading to employment, apprenticeship and mentorship programs.

9. Make Canada a Global Innovator
Canada can retain its status as an advanced economy only if its businesses are world leaders in the development and application of new and advanced technologies. Canadian businesses need to be connected to the broadband infrastructure, research expertise and technology resources they require. Intellectual property and other regulatory regimes also have to be supportive and allow for easier R&D, development and, ultimately, commercialization.

10. Make Canada the World’s One-stop Shop for Green Resources and Technology
The application of new technologies and production processes is vital if Canada is to meet its goals for reducing carbon emissions and improving the quality of its environment while at the same time sustaining economic growth. This requires support for resource-based technology business clusters and the incentives and support programs Canadian technology companies need to be able to do business with global resource companies and engineering and procurement firms.

Read the report.



The Government of Canada is updating federal labour standards.

Please find attached a survey from the Federal Government relating to feedback on the ongoing review of federal labour standards.

The main issues this survey addresses include vacation hours, break periods for meals, as well as newer concepts such as a “Right to Disconnect” (ie, be unavailable for work-related email or phone contact), and the various definitions of “Job Quality” related to employment.

We encourage you to take 5 minutes to complete this survey so that your views are shared with the federal government.  More information can be found here.


‘Devil in the details’: Senators urge government to axe tax act changes

The federal government should scrap or at least delay plans to amend the Income Tax Act as the proposals risk harming the Canadians these changes are meant to help, the Senate Committee on National Finance said in a report released Wednesday.

The committee’s report is the product of extensive study and cross-Canada consultations with the people who have the most to lose under the proposed changes. This work took place with the endorsement of the federal finance minister.

The majority of senators on the committee believe cancellation is the most prudent course of action. However, committee Deputy Chair Senator André Pratte and Senator Éric Forest disagreed.

As an alternative to cancellation, delaying fiscal reform implementation would also give the government more time to consult with businesses and tax specialists on the details of the changes, once these have been released.

Witnesses described in concrete terms the extent to which some changes would be harmful to them. Proposed restrictions on passive investments, for instance, would discourage business owners from saving for capital investments, economic downturns or even parental leave and retirement.

There is another reason for the government to withdraw or delay its proposals.

Over the past decades, various governments have made incremental changes to the tax system, which has become bloated, complex and cumbersome. The last comprehensive review of the tax system took place in the 1960s; the committee believes it is long past time for the government to take a close look at our existing system.

If the government truly wishes to make meaningful, lasting changes toward a fairer tax system — and maintain Canada’s competitiveness with other countries that have simplified their own tax codes — the committee believes the government must embark on a full review of the tax system.

It would be an ambitious, time-consuming and difficult project. But, done well and with input from Canadians, it would leave a lasting legacy of stability and profitability.

The committee urges the government to embrace this challenge.

Read the report, Fair, Simple and Competitive Taxation: The way forward for Canada


Rapid Policy Update: 2017 Long-Term Infrastructure Plan

On November 28th, the Government of Ontario released the province’s Long-Term Infrastructure Plan (LTIP) entitled Building Better Lives: Ontario’s Long-Term Infrastructure Plan 2017The plan sets forth a vision for Ontario infrastructure planning and investment and is a key interim step in meeting the requirements of the Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act, 2015 (IJPA).

The LTIP outlines a vision for how Ontario’s infrastructure must be evidence-based and should be resilient to the impacts of a changing climate and disruptive technologies, seamlessly interconnected and supportive of economic growth for the whole province. While the plan is a welcomed announcement in ensuring Ontario’s infrastructure meets the needs of its rapidly changing economy, the Ontario Chamber Network encourages the government to continually update and monitor the plan to identify what is—and is not—working well.

Below is a high-level synopsis of the plan, including the Chamber’s analysis and comparison to the Ontario Chamber Network’s Long-Term Infrastructure Plan Submission, Building Better.

Advocacy Wins
Overall, the Ontario Chamber Network achieved a number of advocacy wins in the 2017 LTIP that directly align with recommendations in their Building Better report.

The Government of Ontario will:

  • Implement a broadband strategy outlining a vision for broadband connectivity across the province;
  • Integrate climate change considerations into infrastructure planning to ensure environmental sustainability;
  • Evaluate AFP projects against an evaluation framework to track the success of the delivery model; and
  • Commit to ensure evidence-based decision making as it works on best practices in infrastructure planning and prioritization.
Key initiatives identified in Building Better Lives: Ontario’s Long-Term Infrastructure Plan 2017

Strengthening Evidence-Based Decision Making
The LTIP places a priority on enhancing the government’s capacity for evidence-based decision making, in particular through good asset management practices.

The government is undertaking extensive research to understand best practices in infrastructure planning and prioritization, and will apply these findings through ongoing work to improve consistency in business cases. This is to ensure the clear identification to decision-makers of the critical investments that are necessary to address health and safety; deliver critical services; address vulnerabilities to climate impacts; or to deliver on government mandate commitments or time-limited opportunities.

As government practices continue to improve, there will be clear prioritization criteria to assess the economic, social and environmental impacts of these investments. There will also be business case improvements to ensure that decision-makers have the evidence they need to make informed decisions. This evidence will include the current provincial infrastructure capacity, the gaps between what Ontario has and what Ontario needs, and a clear strategy on how the government will meet those needs.

Analysis
In Building Better, the Ontario Chamber Network encouraged the Government of Ontario to ensure that future infrastructure planning and spending commitments are planned methodically, fully, and in a transparent fashion. Infrastructure investments should be targeted based on sound criteria, including return on investments and evidence that the investments will reduce or eliminate existing barriers to service. The Chamber is pleased to see that evidence-based decision making will be a key pillar of the LTIP.


Climate Change Adaptation
The Province will be undertaking a provincial climate change risk assessment to help build a better understanding of the current and anticipated climate change impacts facing Ontario and help to provide a better understanding of the vulnerabilities and risks facing Ontario’s communities, infrastructure, ecosystems, and economy. Infrastructure planning and investment based on the outcomes of this risk assessment will allow for a more strategic approach to adaptation by government, helping to ensure that decisions are evidence-based and resilient.

Ontario-led efforts to increase resilience will be achieved in a variety of ways, including through climate change-related policies in infrastructure asset plans, investment directives and decisions, and land–use planning direction such as the Provincial Policy Statement (2014) and the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (2017).

The Province is also establishing a new organization that will provide municipalities, Indigenous communities, and businesses with up-to-date and critical information and data, as well as practical services to build resilience and help keep Ontarians safe. This information will assist government in making evidence-based investment decisions to build resilient infrastructure across Ontario.

Analysis

In Building Better, the Ontario Chamber Network recommended the LTIP focus on building infrastructure that is resilient and adaptable to climate change. We noted that as part of this climate change should be incorporated into asset management planning. Additionally, we recommended resiliency and adaptability be considered within procurement criteria. This could include having specific sections of a tender devoted to how a proponent is addressing the impacts of climate change on the asset being built, closely aligning with the LTIP’s outlined resilient infrastructure components.


Supporting Modern Service Delivery – Broadband in Ontario
The Ontario Government is working towards developing a broadband strategy that outlines a vision for broadband connectivity through identification of key priorities. This will include leveraging private sector expertise and financing as well as federal cooperation through the Canada Infrastructure Bank. A draft broadband strategy will be developed for consultation in 2018. Through collaboration with federal and municipal orders of government and First Nations, the Province will prioritize the need for coordinated and strategic investments as it continues to expand broadband infrastructure and improve connectivity in communities across the province.

Analysis

The Chamber has consistently advocated for trade-enabling infrastructure, including both traditional and digital infrastructure such as high-speed broadband internet. As part of this, the OCC has continually supported recommendations for the development of a robust investment strategy in the province, which identifies broadband as an infrastructure investment and does not dissuade private sector investment. A broadband strategy will help the Government achieve an evidence-based approach to broadband infrastructure development.

The Ontario Chamber Network has also encouraged the building of partnerships across all levels of government to better leverage funding and respond to local needs. The private sector has long driven investment in broadband infrastructure and the Chamber has recommended the Province commits to an intergovernmental funding model that will incentivize and leverage investments in a way that expedites the closing of the digital divide. The Ontario Chamber Network would be welcomed to participate in ongoing dialogue with the Government of Ontario as it develops the provincial broadband strategy.


Improved AFP Evaluation and Analysis
To ensure that the AFP model continues to provide value, the government has developed an evaluation framework to track the success of this delivery model. This framework aims to assess the AFP delivery model’s ability to:
(a) deliver projects on-budget, on-time and on-specification;
(b) ensure proper risk transfer to the private sector was achieved at final completion; and
(c) ensure timely procurement.
The government will start by evaluating a selection of completed AFPs and traditionally delivered projects of a similar size to assess the performance of each model against these criteria. Over time, this framework will provide a stronger evidence base for the AFP delivery model which will help decision-makers choose the right delivery model for future projects.

Additionally, as part of its AFP work, the Government of Ontario is committing to support municipalities to successfully deliver key infrastructure projects. For example, it is exploring how it can encourage and support municipalities in leveraging the AFP delivery model more frequently to achieve their infrastructure priorities, and what support and advice Infrastructure Ontario can potentially provide to municipalities.

Analysis

In Building Better, the Ontario Chamber Network recommended the Government of Ontario should work to develop comprehensive principles and elements from successfully procured projects that were delivered using alternative financing and procurement methods which can then be applied as best practices to smaller scale projects.


The Ontario Chamber Network’s Position:

The Ontario Chamber Network has been advocating for building infrastructure that sets Ontario’s foundation for long-term, sustainable economic growth and prosperity, cumulating in their Building Better report. We are encouraged to see that the 2017 LTIP delivers broad alignment with the Chamber’s recommendations.

The Network was pleased to see a strong emphasis on evidence-based decision making as well as a focus on building resilient and adaptable infrastructure. We also applaud the government’s commitment to expanding broadband infrastructure and improving connectivity in communities across the province by working towards a broadband strategy.

The Ontario Chamber Network will continue to work collaboratively with the Government of Ontario as it works to execute its vision outlined in the LTIP.



Canadian Chamber of Commerce 2017 Policy Resolutions

At the Canadian Chamber Annual General Meeting (held in September in Fredericton, New Brunswick) Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade from across the country met to approve policy resolutions for 2017.  The 2017 resolutions were discussed, amended and approved during debate, at which time accredited voting delegates from across the country considered a total of 79 proposals (of which 65 were approved) which had been drafted originally by local Chambers of Commerce, Boards of Trade and National Committees and Task Forces of the Canadian Chamber. In accordance with the by-laws, a majority of two-thirds of the votes cast was necessary to approve each resolution.

These resolutions will be brought to the attention of appropriate federal government officials and other bodies to whom the recommendations are directed. The method of presentation of each item will be determined by a number of factors, including subsequent events and legislation which may affect the subject matter, additional information that may become available, the timing of a presentation, etc.

Throughout the year, members will be updated and advised of the action(s) taken on each of these positions by way of summaries and reports in Canadian Chamber publications.

Read the Canadian Chamber of Commerce 2017 Policy Resolutions.


Advocacy and Policy Update: 2017 Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP)

On October 26th, the Ontario Government released its 2017 Long-Term Energy Plan. The plan comes after a year-long consultation, which saw engagement from across the province. Below is a high-level synopsis of the plan, including the Ontario Chamber Network’s analysis and comparison to their Long-Term Energy Submission, Leading the Charge.

Key Initiatives identified in Delivering Fairness and Choice for Business:

Ensuring Affordable and Accessible Energy

The LTEP projects that the residential price for electricity will remain below the outlooks published in the 2010 and 2013 Long-Term Energy Plans.The LTEP highlights how The Fair Hydro Plan will reduce electricity bills by 25 per cent (on average) for residents, small businesses and farms.The government will continue to support the expansion of natural gas, providing customers with more choice and aiding economic development in their communities. Analysis: In Leading the Charge, we advocated that government’s long-term energy plan must respect the principles of affordability and competitiveness. We are pleased to see the 2017 LTEP has placed an  emphasis on ensuring affordability as one of its fundamental pillars. Reducing electricity costs for industry and small business is a top priority of the Ontario Chamber Network. Under the Affordable and Accessible Energy section, the LTEP points to the government’s measures to help business and industry with energy costs. The plan points out the Save on Energy for Business programs, including the provincial government’s partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce to raise awareness about these energy efficiency programs through Know Your PowerLearn more.

Ensuring a Flexible Energy System

The LTEP further emphasis  the Market Renewal Process currently being undertaken by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), allowing the province to adjust to changes and cost-efficiency and acquire electricity resources  needed to meet future demand. Analysis: The 2017 LTEP  re-affirms that Ontario needs a flexible energy system that can meet possible future outlooks. Flexibility ensures that Ontario has the ability to respond to changing market conditions, allowing the province to balance electricity demand and supply. Market Renewal could transform Ontario’s wholesale electricity market and ultimately result in a more competitive and flexible energy procurement system.

Innovating to Meet the Future

The LTEP promises to invest in  cost-effective energy storage by updating regulations, including addressing how the Global Adjustment is charged for storage projects. The Government plans to work with the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) to provide customers greater choice in their electricity plans. The LTEP proposes to expand the options for net metering to give building owners more opportunities to access renewable energy generation and energy storage technologies. Analysis: Leading the Charge called on the government to continue to pursue and maintain a balanced supply mix, while seeking to invest in transformation and cost-saving technologies such as energy storage. The Ontario Chamber Network has long recognized that new technologies such as energy storage will be complementary to peaking resources such as wind and solar while supporting the baseload operation of nuclear power. We were pleased to see a commitment to nuclear refurbishment projects such as Darlington, the life extension project at the Bruce Power facility, and the continued operations of Pickering mentioned explicitly.

Improving Value and Performance for Customers

The government plans to enhance the energy sector becomes as a more consumer-focused, and commits to working with the OEB to improve the performance and efficiency of LCDs, and to redesign electricity bills to make it easier for consumers to understand and manage their energy costs. The government will direct the IESO to develop a competitive selection or procurement process for transmission, and to identify possible pilot projects. Analysis: Electricity bills need to be clearer and more understandable. While the 2017 LTEP  makes a positive step in this direction, the Ontario Chamber Network will continue to advocate for greater transparency and predictability in the energy system, including the need for the government to create a separate line item on natural gas bills for cap and trade-related costs.

Energy Conservation and Efficiency

The LTEP places a further emphasis on the importance of a Demand Response capacity auction. The government provided insight into its Green Ontario Fund, which will provide energy consumers with a co-ordinated one-window approach to encourage conservation across multiple energy services and programs. Analysis: The 2017 LTEP commits to conservation as a means for sustaining Ontario’s energy system and a tool for consumers to manage their energy costs, while emphasizing the importance of Demand Response mechanisms such as  a capacity auction. Since 2015,  the Ontario Chamber Network has called for a  capacity auction, as a means to create  greater opportunities for Demand Response to grow further and compete with other resources.   

Responding to Climate Change

The Government remains committed to an electricity system that includes renewable energy generation and supports the goals of Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP). The LTEP plans to strengthen the ability of the energy industry to anticipate the effects of climate change and integrates its impacts into its operational and infrastructure planning. Analysis: The Ontario Chamber Network’s submission to the LTEP, Leading the Charge, called on the government to ensure energy planning is aligned with Ontario’s CCAP  goals. The 2017 LTEP reaffirms this ask and supports the alignment. Also, in the Ontario Chamber Network’s submission to the Long-Term Infrastructure Plan, Building Better: Setting up the Next Ontario Long-Term Infrastructure Plan for Success, we call on the government to ensure that the province’s infrastructure planning is also aligned with the Climate Change Action Plan.

Supporting Regional Solutions and Infrastructure

The government commits to working with local communities to develop plans for meeting their diverse energy requirements. The government has indicated with the first cycle of regional and municipal energy planning complete, the IESO will begin making recommendations that address the challenges and opportunities that have emerged in individual communities.  Analysis: The Ontario Chamber Network is encouraged to see the expansion of natural gas, particularly for northern communities, giving consumers greater choice and aiding in economic development. Natural gas assets enabled the transition off coal-fired generation and provided a source of on-demand power to backstop wind and solar resources. As a flexible and responsive resource, natural gas adaptability will be instrumental for regional planning as a mechanism to keep costs down.

Our Position:

The Oakville Chamber of Commerce, along with the Ontairo Chamber Network, has long been active in advocating for a principled and pragmatic approach to energy planning. We were encouraged to see that Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan 2017: Delivering Fairness and Choice delivers broad alignment with the Ontario Chamber Network’s previous policy stance. The 2017 LTEP, echoes the Network’s call for the need to ensure competitive and affordable rates through new procurement models. The Ontario Chamber Network was pleased to see the strong commitment made to Ontario’s nuclear sector, including the refurbishment projects at Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) Darlington site and Bruce Power’s facility in Tiverton, as well as a renewed commitment  to pursue continued operations at OPG’s Pickering site.  We also applaud government on the initial integration of Ontario’s CCAP into our energy planning system. While today’s plan places an emphasis on ensuring affordability and flexibility, the Ontario Chamber Network will continue to advocate that further rate mitigation strategies must be developed and aimed specifically at the business sector.

What’s Next?

The release of the LTEP today provides us with an encouraging glimpse into Ontario’s energy future. The Ontario Chamber Network will continue to advocate for the reduction of input costs for businesses and looks forward to working with the government to deliver on its energy priorities.