Today the Oakville Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Ontario Chamber Network, released the fourth annual Ontario Economic Report (OER) which reveals opportunities where both business and government can focus to create an environment more conducive to small business success.
The inaugural Small Business Friendliness Indicator (SBFI) measures Ontario’s competitiveness from the perspective of small businesses. For 2020, the SBFI score is -9, (on a scale of 100 to -100) indicating that the business environment poses some challenges for firms with fewer than 99 employees. However, through measures such as investment in online services and support for regulatory compliance, industry and government could improve that score.
“Small businesses are the backbone of economy; 98% of Ontario businesses are small business” stated Tim Caddigan, Chair of the Board, Oakville Chamber of Commerce. “Small businesses employ nearly three million Ontarians and represent over two-thirds of private sector workers. Given the share of the economy this sector represents, we must work to increase their competitiveness.”
The SBFI is intended to provide an assessment of the ease of business in Ontario across seven different metrics; this year the scores for three metrics were positive: the helpfulness of the Province in starting a business, the ease of licensing, and the delivery of useful training and networking programs from a variety of sources.
The SBFI also revealed that small business owners are eager to embrace more online services from government, especially with respect to regulatory compliance.
Drew Redden, President and CEO of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce added “The Ontario Economic report revealed that investment in infrastructure, such as transportation and broadband, topped the list of business priorities for government, followed by reducing red regulatory burdens, lowering the cost of living, and reforming business taxes. This aligns with our members’ priorities for government as listed in our Roadmap for Business Success, which are: business competitiveness, recruiting and training talent, transportation and infrastructure, and innovation.”
Other highlights from the Ontario Economic Report include:
- The confidence gap, which measures the difference between business’ confidence in themselves and in Ontario’s economic outlook, widened in 2020 to near historical levels. Although organizational confidence remains high, business confidence in the broader economy dropped seven percentage points in 2020, explained in part by lowered growth expectations nationally and globally. Beyond this, challenges related to the costs of doing business, the high cost of living, and the province’s debt continue to be top of mind for Ontario Chamber members
- Challenges related to accessing financial capital, attracting and retaining talent and burdensome regulations continue to compromise the ability of many of Ontario’s community to compete effectively with other jurisdictions.
- Despite these challenges, Ontario’s principal economic indicators remain sound, albeit subdued, heading into 2020, but economic growth is expected to vary greatly across the province. The forecasts show employment and population growth in the Greater Golden Horseshoe surpassing other parts of Ontario, reinforcing a decade-long trend of imbalanced economic growth across the province.