Tag: Advocacy

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.

10,000 Years Stuck in Traffic: Infrastructure gaps block productivity, new Chamber report finds

Today the Oakville Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, released a report Stuck in Traffic for 10,000 Years: Canadian Problems that Infrastructure Investment Can Solve. The report examines the effects of traffic congestion in major cities, ranging from lowered employee productivity to delays in moving goods and services.

Lack of proper transportation infrastructure is a major barrier to Canada’s access to market and to its competitiveness, leading to lost opportunities and wasted time for both Canadian companies and residents, says the report.

“As Canadians head out on vacation this summer, they will be spending longer periods in their cars, stuck in traffic because of inadequate road infrastructure, including poorly-maintained roadways, interchanges and bridges. Unfortunately, it won’t stop after their vacations, either. Congested transportation systems – and the loss of time and productivity that comes with them – have become a reality for tens of thousands of businesses and their employees,” said Perrin Beatty, CEO and President of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

“The Oakville Chamber partnered with the Canadian Chamber to release this important report” stated John Sawyer, President of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce. “It supports the results from our 2016 Advocacy Survey, in which 64% of our survey respondents believe that traffic congestion for getting staff to work is a significant obstacle for business. The survey also found that our members’ top 3 infrastructure priorities were all transportation related being local roads and bridges, public parking, and transit.”

The report outlines several other infrastructure challenges that government must target to keep Canada competitive such as:

  • Facilitating trade along the Asia-Pacific Gateway and corridor
  • Improving digital access and infrastructure
  • Maximizing potential in Canada’s North
  • Enhancing the Ontario-Quebec trade corridor
  • Getting Canadian oil and gas to markets
  • Green electrification and transmission  

“Inconsistent public investment in our transportation systems is a hindrance to small and large businesses alike with real environmental and economic costs. Canadians in the country’s largest cities are collectively losing over 10,000 years sitting in their cars every year, time that could be much better spent,” Perrin Beatty said. “As MPs tour Canada this summer making infrastructure announcements, we need to ask, ‘are these investments being spent in the right places?’” he concluded.

This report supports the Oakville Chamber’s resolution that was passed by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce to link investment in core infrastructure to productivity performance and enhancement. The Oakville of Commerce will be bringing this policy resolution forward to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce at their Annual General Meeting in September.

“Infrastructure funds need to be allocated effectively and efficiently to the right types of projects. It is vital that investments are made strategically into projects that support the long-term growth of our economy” stated John Sawyer.

Read the report.

Watch the video and read the infographic.

Advocacy Wins for Business

As 2016 comes to an end, we’ve come to reflect on our meaningful advocacy wins for our members throughout 2016.

Here is a snapshot of some of the most recent progress we’ve made:

Closing Ontario’s Tourism Gap
Ask: In our recently release Closing the Tourism Gap: Creating a Long-Term Advantage for Ontario the Ontario Chamber Network advocated that the Ontario Government develop a government-wide Ontario tourism strategy with measurable targets. We also highlighted the need to work with tourism operators to reduce the regulatory and cost burdens within the industry by adding tourism to the Red Tape Challenge. Win: In Ontario’s Strategic Framework for Tourism in Ontario the government explicitly acknowledged the efforts and leadership presented by the Ontario Chamber Network through our solution based advocacy approach in the tourism sector. The report recognizes our efforts stating, that “The government is encouraged by the leadership that industry is already taking. Recently, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce released a forward-looking report on how the sector can collaborate to improve avenues for success. The report provides an examination of provincial tourism industry trends and presents recommendations for government and industry to work together to boost long-term competitiveness and generate sustainable demand for Ontario tourism.” Win: The mission set out within the report “to meet or exceed global industry growth over a five-year period, which the world tourism organization estimates will grow by an average of 3.3 percent per year until 2030” satisfies the Ontario Chamber Network’s recommendation of a long-term strategy with a clear industry growth target. Win: The Ontario government has signalled that it will add tourism to the Red Tape Challenge, a direct recommendation of the Ontario Chamber Network to help improve the operating environment for businesses.
Enhancing Ontario’s Agri-Food Trade Relationships
Ask: As recognized in our recent report Fertile Ground, global awareness and trust in Ontario agri-food products enhances the competitiveness of our industry abroad. Win: On November 14, 2016 Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and Michael Chan, Minister of International Trade, arrived in India to lead Ontario’s first-ever agri-food trade mission. The mission was an attempt to attract new investment and aimed to continue to grow the agri-food sector globally. We are confident that the mission will enhance Ontario’s agri-food trade relationship with India. We look forward to continuing to work alongside government to ensure that the business community is well positioned to leverage new trade opportunities in the global marketplace.
Increasing the Number of Economic Class Immigrants
Ask: In our recent report Passport to Prosperity: Ontario’s Priorities for Immigration Reform,  the Ontario Chamber Network urged the federal government to reinstate the economic category immigration target to the 2015 range of 172,100 to 186,700 by no later than 2017/18. Win: During his keynote address at the launch event of the Ontario Chamber Network report in April 2016, Minister McCallum indicated his support for this and the remaining recommendations in the report. Win: In October 2016, Immigration Minister John McCallum announced that the Federal government plans to keep the immigration targets for 2017 at 300,000. However, the new plan represents an increase in a higher target for economic immigrants – increasing from 160,6000 in 2016 to 172,500 in 2017. This measure will contribute to the ability of Canadian employers to attract the global talent that they need to remain competitive.
Shaping the Future of Provincial Regulatory Reform
Ask: Over the course of our five-year Emerging Stronger series and in our pre-budget submissions, the Ontario Chamber Network has regularly called for a reduction in the regulatory burden on Ontario businesses. Win: In the Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review, the government announced a series of steps to address the cumulative burden facing Ontario business:
  • The Red Tape Challenge, a strategy encouraging Ontarians to submit comments to a Regulatory Modernization Committee regarding regulations that impact them;
  • A Regulatory Centre of Excellence, which identifies and champions best practices from around the world;
  • A Government Modernization Fund to address the cost of modernizing outmoded regulatory processes;
  • A pledge to reduce the time taken to review air and noise approvals by at least 50 percent within the next two years, allaying concerns surrounding environmental compliance; and,
  • A promise to maintain the industrial exception in the Professional Engineers Act.
Shaping the Future of Mining in Ontario
Ask: The Ontario Chamber Network called for matching federal and provincial commitments for infrastructure investment in the mining sector in its report, Beneath the Surface: Uncovering the Economic Potential of Ontario’s Ring of Fire. Win: The Ontario Government announced it was committing $1 billion to the mining sector irrespective of federal funding.
Establishing Greater Transparency and Lower Costs in Energy Pricing
Ask: The Ontario Chamber Network called on the Ontario government, in its July 2015 report Empowering Ontario: Constraining Costs and Staying Competitive in the Electricity Market, to provide greater transparency in energy pricing. Win: The updated Ontario Energy Report, released in March 2016, included an industrial price chart that provides a clearer cost picture for Class A businesses. Win: In the September 2016 Throne Speech, the government announced that the Industrial Conservation Initiative will be expanded so that any company that consumes more than 1MW will be eligible. Accordingly, an additional 1000 companies in Ontario are now eligible to save between 14% to 30% on their bill, a noticeable increase from the 300 companies currently enrolled in the program. Win: The removal of the Debt Retirement Charge on commercial, industrial, and other non-residential electricity users on April 1, 2018, nine months earlier than expected.
Supporting Investment in High-Speed Broadband Infrastructure
Ask: In the Ontario Chamber Networks’s federal pre-budget submission, we urged the federal government to move beyond its Connecting Canadians initiative and invest in critical broadband infrastructure. Win: The federal government announced in its most recent budget that it is investing $500 million over five years in a new program to increase high-speed broadband service in rural and remote communities. Ask: On July 19th, 2016, the Ontario Chamber Network sent a letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne asking the provincial government to commit infrastructure dollars to developing and expanding broadband infrastructure across rural and remote Ontario. Win: On July 26th, 2016, the Ontario government announced their plans to invest $90 million dollars to bring high-speed Internet access to over 300 communities in Ontario.
Improving Income Reporting Practices
Ask: In the August 2015, report Harnessing the Power of the Sharing Economy, the Ontario Chamber Network called on the provincial government to analyze income reporting levels in order to better understand the motivating factors behind providers’ decisions to report or not report income, and establish and clarify appropriate rules moving forward (e.g. minimum income thresholds). Win: On February 19th, 2016, the Ontario government announced a pilot project with Airbnb to help educate the home-sharing service’s hosts on how to report their income and other key regulatory aspects of their service industry.
Modernizing the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board
Ask: Recognizing that the proposed Preliminary Rate Framework from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board could increase the premium rates paid by employers and, subsequently, the cost of doing business in the province, the Ontario Chamber Network provided the WSIB with a written submission outlining 10 recommendations that the WSIB and the Government of Ontario should adopt to mitigate the impact of the proposed reforms. Win: In December 2015, the WSIB released an updated Rate Framework that incorporates a number of suggestions and recommendations from the Ontario Chamber Network, including 6 of the 7 recommendations directed to the WSIB in our September 2015 submission:
  • Provide a public and detailed analysis of how the proposed rate framework changes will impact employers;
  • Introduce a surcharge mechanism to ensure that employers with effective health and safety programs don’t pay the cost of poor performing employers within their class;
  • Expand the proposed class structure;
  • Reconsider implementing the predominant class model;
  • Retain the Second Injury and Enhancement Fund (SIEF);
  • Implement a weighted cost claims ‘window’; and
  • Eliminate the Fatal Claims Adjustment Policy.
Win: In September 2016, WSIB Chair Elizabeth Witmer announced a 5% reduction on the average premium rates for 2017, the first rate reduction since 2001.
Mitigating the Impact of Retirement Security Reform
Ask: Recognizing the burden of the proposed Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP), the Ontario Chamber Network called on the government to delay its implementation to provide more time for businesses to adjust to the new financial obligations. We also asked that the government provide greater clarity and broader classification for “comparability” to include some Defined Contribution plans. All the while, the Ontario Chamber Network was working toward our stated, preferred option to support retirement security through a national Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) enhancement instead of a stand-alone ORPP. Win: In June 2016, Finance Minister Charles Sousa announced that the Government of Ontario would be abandoning the ORPP in favour of an enhanced CPP, avoiding increased regulatory fragmentation and thus administrative burden – avoiding significant consequences for Ontario’s business community.  Win: In February 2016, Premier Kathleen Wynne announced that her government was delaying the first phase of ORPP contributions from January 1, 2017 until 2018. Win: The government expanded the definition, meaning that employers who already provide certain DC pension plans for their employees will be exempt from contributing to the new ORPP.

Oakville Chamber urges government to link investment in core infrastructure to productivity performance and enhancement

The Oakville Chamber recently co-hosted a Symposium with the Professional Engineers of Ontario – Oakville Chapter on “Smart Infrastructure”.  We brought together representatives from business, academia, government and leading industry experts to discuss one of the most critical issues facing Canada’s economy today, infrastructure. Canada’s infrastructure gap is not a new problem however, it has gained political attention as Canadians have become cognisant of both the financial costs associated with this underinvestment coupled with their personal costs.  The missed opportunities both economically and socially are being felt on a daily basis. Case in point, the most recent Oakville Chamber Advocacy survey revealed that congestion continues to be an obstacle to success for businesses and that infrastructure priorities need to be transportation related. Roads, bridges, highways, water systems, energy and communications are all services that are critical to our economic competitiveness. Canada’s current infrastructure deficit is estimated to be approximately $200 billion, and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities claims that left unattended this deficit could potentially rise to as much as $2 trillion by 2065. According to the Canadian Infrastructure Report Card (CIRC) almost 60% of Canada’s core public infrastructure is owned and maintained by municipal governments and the total value of core municipal infrastructure assets is estimated at $1.1 trillion dollars.  While most of our infrastructure challenges are the responsibility of our local government, both the federal and provincial government have committed renewed investment to tackle our infrastructure needs.  Successful distribution of this funding will be achieved by the co-ordination, communication and collaboration of all levels of government. To that end, the Oakville Chamber welcomes both the federal and provincial government’s commitment of infrastructure funding, however we must ensure that the infrastructure funds are allocated effectively and efficiently to the right types of projects for Oakville. It is vital that investments are made strategically into projects that support the long-term growth of our economy. Many studies conducted share similar conclusions.  Investment in public infrastructure contributes to growth in labour productivity.  The largest occurring in construction, transportation and the wholesale/retail sectors. Consequently, moving into Phase Two of the federal government’s distribution of federal funds, the Oakville Chamber will be a strong advocate on behalf of our members to ensure that investments in Oakville are appropriately funded on productivity-enhancing projects.  We will be encouraging the government to adopt an outcomes-based approach to infrastructure funding instead of a project-based approach. Moreover, we will encourage the government to find a balance between its strategic objectives and ensuring that eligibility criteria for Phase Two infrastructure programs are flexible to ensure that communities like Oakville can meet their diverse needs. Moving forward, the need for a long term sustainable infrastructure plan will still be essential.  The new infrastructure demands coupled with the maintenance and future rehabilitation will further strain our resources.  This will only be compounded by further population growth. To this end, the Oakville Chamber will encourage the federal government to expand the use of public, private partnerships (P3s) while making it easier for smaller projects, like those at the municipal level, to attract private sector investment. Canada is a global leader in the use of public, private partnerships.  Locally we have seen the results of successful P3s through the construction of Oakville’s new hospital. We will encourage the government to look for innovative and collaborative approaches to help ensure that private sector money and know-how can be directed to projects that benefit communities of all sizes. On behalf of the Oakville Chamber members, we continue to advocate on this important issue to ensure that our local community benefits from strategic infrastructure projects to improve our economy and quality of life.  

Oakville Chamber Advocacy Survey Finds Rising Costs the most significant factor impacting business and industry

Today, the Oakville Chamber of Commerce released the results of its 2016 advocacy survey.  Rising costs are impacting local businesses and congestion continues to be an obstacle for success. The survey represents a broad sector of business including big, medium and small representing approximately 20,000 jobs. Here is a snapshot of the survey results: Cost of doing business
  • Rising costs are the most significant factor impacting business and industry
  • 83% believe that energy costs are becoming a serious obstacle to doing business
  • 78% believe that WSIB rates are becoming a serious obstacle to doing business
  • 82% agree that the Cap and Trade plan should be delayed until its impact on business is fully understood
  • 64% of respondents believe that traffic congestion for getting staff to work is a significant obstacle for business
  • The top 3 infrastructure priorities are transportation related being:
    • Local roads and bridges
    • Public parking
    • Transit
Planning and Development- local issues
  • Almost 70% believe that regulations are unreasonable and excessive
  • 77% are supportive of a modest increase in density in the Kerr Street, Bronte and Oakville business district
  • A slim majority, felt local government in Oakville is supportive and sensitive to the needs of business
Caroline Hughes, Chair of the Board, Oakville Chamber of Commerce commented “it is important for the Chamber to hear from our members as to the issues that are impacting Oakville businesses so that we can effectively advocate on their behalf.  It is clear from the results that businesses continue to feel tapped and overburdened with regulation. Investment in local roads and bridges, public parking and transit were identified as the top 3 infrastructure priorities.  This is timely feedback for Town Council as they deliberate on how to allocate the infrastructure money committed by senior levels of government.”