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.