Tag: Infrastructure

Oakville Chamber of Commerce calls for infrastructure investments that support economic growth and quality of life

The Oakville Chamber of Commerce’s recommendations for infrastructure spending were supported by the Canadian Chamber network at the policy conference and Annual General Meeting (AGM) held this past weekend in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

The policy resolution, and the recommended actions contained in the resolution, will become one of a number of key priorities identified by the Canadian Chamber. It will form part of the framework for the advocacy efforts undertaken by the organization at the federal level.

The resolution which was submitted to the Canadian Chamber states that more than half of Canada’s public infrastructure, valued at $1.1 trillion, is owned by municipalities and according to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, one third of municipal infrastructure is reported to be in fair, poor or very poor condition.

 “Infrastructure funds need to be allocated effectively and efficiently to the right types of projects. It is vital that investments are made strategically in projects that support the long-term growth of our economy” stated Ken Nevar, Chair of the Board, Oakville Chamber of Commerce.

Mr. Nevar also notes that “While most of our infrastructure challenges are the responsibility of our local government, both the federal and provincial governments 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.”

According to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), every $1 billion invested in infrastructure generates between $1.20 billion and $1.64 billion in real GDP growth; a proven multiplier effect guaranteed to boost the economy.

Similarly, every $1 billion invested in infrastructure creates approximately 16,000 jobs which are supported for one year across multiple sectors.

The resolution prepared by the Oakville Chamber is driven by Chamber member opinion obtained through advocacy surveys which revealed that traffic congestion continues to be an obstacle for success for businesses and that infrastructure priorities need to be transportation related.



Ontario Needs More Resilient Infrastructure to Confront Challenges of 21st Century

Report points to a $19 billion infrastructure gap which must be addressed through new accountabilities in Ontario’s Long-Term Infrastructure Plan

Today, the Oakville Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, released Building Better: Setting the 2017 Ontario Infrastructure Plan Up For Success, a report calling on the Ontario Government to implement key recommendations in its imminent Long-Term Infrastructure Plan (LTIP) that will help ensure accountable planning and building resilient, adaptable infrastructure for the future.

With relatively stagnant infrastructure investment since the 1970s, the province of Ontario currently faces a significant infrastructure gap, where it would need an estimated $19 billion to improve current infrastructure alone. The gap exists because governments have not invested in upholding original infrastructure and Ontario’s harsher climate has contributed to the deterioration of the province’s infrastructure.

“Here in Oakville, and across Ontario, there is a need for significant infrastructure spending to fill the current gap –  to ensure Oakville is equipped for the future; a future that has very different infrastructure needs from the past,” said John Sawyer, President of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce. “To succeed in our constantly evolving economy, we must ensure that infrastructure dollars are spent on innovative and forward-looking projects that will grow our province’s capacity to do business and grow our economy.”

The Government’s LTIP is expected to be released this fall with stakeholders greatly anticipating its release. Ontario’s Chamber Network is contributing to the development of the LTIP by recommending that: 

  • While the Government has made significant infrastructure investments, it should bring fresh accountability methods around how infrastructure dollars are spent to ensure spending and planning are transparent;
  • Governments of all levels should confront challenges of the 21st century by ensuring planning considers how we can build infrastructure that is resilient and adaptable and deals with variables such as climate change; and that,
  • The Long-Term Infrastructure Plan must be strategic, robust, and based on long-term thinking.

“We commend the Government of Ontario for their impressive allotment of infrastructure funds; this investment in our province’s infrastructure has the potential to yield tremendous benefits for all Ontarians,” said Richard Koroscil, Interim President & CEO, Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “To ensure the Ontario government’s investments do not suffer the same fate as those of federal government, where significant funds have been committed but few projects identified, we hope the Government of Ontario will implement our recommendations, to better strengthen the province’s Long-Term Infrastructure Plan.”

“We have heard from our members about the need to invest in crucial transporation infrastructure in Oakville. In fact, the top three infrastructure priorities identified by our members in our 2016 Advocacy Survey were local roads and bridges, public parking, and transit” added Faye Lyons, Vice President of Government Relations & Advocacy, Oakville Chamber of Commerce. “This is why we are recommending the Provincial Government to adopt an outcomes-based approach to infrastructure funding with project prioritization based on clear, transparent criteria such as resulting in economic growth, efficiency, sustainability, and community benefits.”

Research shows that investment in infrastructure, such as roads, transportation, communication, utilities and more, have resulted in lowered business costs and increased labour productivity. It is estimated that for every $1 billion in infrastructure spending 16,700 jobs are supported for one year and the GDP sees a $1.14 billion increase.


Read the report.



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.


Oakville Chamber policy recommendations for infrastructure become key priority for the Ontario Chamber

 The Oakville Chamber’s policy recommendations for infrastructure spending were approved this weekend at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting, in Sarnia, Ontario.

The policy resolution, and the recommended actions, will become one of a number of key priorities identified by the Ontario Chamber and form part of the framework for the advocacy efforts undertaken by the organization at the provincial level. The resolution submitted to the Ontario Chamber states that Ontario’s infrastructure deficit is delaying recovery in all parts of the province.  Meanwhile, congestion in the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area (GTHA) costs the region an estimated $6 billion in lost productivity each year. With Ontario’s population expected to grow approximately 30% by 2041, infrastructure needs will justifiably grow with it. “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, President of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce. Sawyer also notes that “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 local governments, 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.” According to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), every $1 billion invested in infrastructure generates between $1.20 billion and $1.64 billion in real GDP growth; a proven multiplier effect guaranteed to boost the economy. Similarly, every $1 billion invested in infrastructure creates approximately 16,000 jobs which are supported for one year across multiple sectors. The resolution prepared by the Oakville Chamber and co-sponsored by the Halton Hills Chamber of Commerce is driven by Chamber member opinion obtained through advocacy surveys which revealed that congestion continues to be an obstacle for success for businesses and that infrastructure priorities need to be transportation related.

Link Investment in Core Infrastructure to Productivity Performance and Enhancement

Oakville Chamber of Commerce, co-sponsored by the Halton Hills Chamber of Commerce Issue: Provincial and federal infrastructure investments must support the long term growth of our economy and quality of life.

Background:   Ontario’s infrastructure deficit is delaying recovery in all parts of the province.  Meanwhile, congestion in the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area (GTHA) costs the region an estimated $6 billion in lost productivity each year. With Ontario’s population expected to grow approximately 30% by 2041 our infrastructure needs will justifiably grow with it. Roads, bridges and highways are all critical to our economic competitiveness. Canada’s current infrastructure deficit is estimated to be approximately $200 billion, and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) claims that left unattended this deficit could potentially rise to as much as $2 trillion by 2065.

The Ontario government has committed to invest approximately $150 billion over 12 years in direct infrastructure spending however it is not yet clear where these funds will be deployed and which principles will guide infrastructure spending. 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.

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. According to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), every $1 billion invested in infrastructure generates between $1.20 billion and $1.64 billion in real GDP growth; a proven multiplier effect guaranteed to boost the economy. Similarly, every $1 billion invested in infrastructure creates approximately 16,000 jobs which are supported for one year across multiple sectors. Under current federal infrastructure programs, Public Transit Infrastructure Fund, Clean Water and Wastewater Fund, funding recipients are required to demonstrate that projects are “incremental” – i.e. new or accelerated projects – rather than projects funded and/or prioritized through asset management plans.

Moving into Phase Two of the federal government’s distribution of federal funds, investments in productivity-enhancing projects need to be the criteria.  The government needs to adopt an outcomes-based approach to infrastructure funding instead of a project-based approach. The government also needs to find a balance between its strategic objectives and ensuring that eligibility criteria for Phase Two infrastructure programs are flexible to ensure that municipalities can meet their diverse needs. 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. The federal government also needs 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. Both the provincial and federal governments should 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.

Recommendations: The Ontario Chamber of Commerce urges the Government of Ontario to:
  1. Develop an infrastructure strategy that demonstrates how infrastructure dollars will be allocated linking investment in core infrastructure to productivity performance and enhancement, economic growth and job creation;
 
  1. Work with the federal government on developing a principled approach to the design of the federal government’s funding commitments;
 
  1. Continue to use Alternate Finance Projects (AFP’s) and Private, Public Partnership (P3) models to develop large infrastructure projects, where appropriate and develop strategies to encourage private sector investment in smaller, municipal level projects;
 
  1. Recognize the many years of critical capital planning and prioritization work already undertaken by municipal asset management plans and work with the federal government on a flexible approach by not imposing “incrementality” requirements for project eligibility.

2017 Federal Budget: Work in Progress for Oakville’s Business community

The Oakville Chamber of Commerce is encouraged by the focus on skills development, but calls for increased investment in competitiveness trade-enabling infrastructure.

Yesterday afternoon, the federal government released their 2017 budget. The Oakville Chamber of Commerce welcomes the Government of Canada’s decision to focus on skills and innovation; however, the Budget delivers underwhelming implications for Oakville’s business community. Oakville’s businesses face more regulation and increased costs imposed by all levels of government for fees, taxes and essential inputs, like electricity. The Oakville Chamber believes more urgency is needed in reducing business costs and improving competitiveness. The Oakville Chamber has heard from its members for the need to address the current skills gap and has advocated this to all levels of government. The Chamber is encouraged with the Budget’s plan to invest $225 million over four years, starting in 2018-2019, to develop an organization which has three main goals: identify the skills sought and required by Canadian employers, explore new and innovative approaches to skills development, and share information and analysis to help future skills investments and programming. The Oakville Chamber is also encouraged with the Budget’s increased funding for work-integrated learning, which aligns with their policy priorities for 2017.
“Addressing the current skills gap is essential to creating a sustainable workforce. Our members have been asking for this type of investment and we are pleased to see the federal government delivering” stated John Sawyer, President of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce.
Investing in the workforce helps create a competitive advantage, however; there is a pressing need for investment in trade-enabling infrastructure. The Oakville Chamber has been urging investment in the type infrastructure that will boost productivity.
“From our 2016 Advocacy Survey, our members stated the need for infrastructure investments in Oakville. In particular, their top three infrastructure priorities were all transportation related. They are local roads and bridges, public parking and transit” stated Faye Lyons, Vice President Government Relations & Advocacy, Oakville Chamber of Commerce. “Increased spending must be directed towards this kind of trade-enabling infrastructure that can transition our economy to an innovative and high-growth phase.”
Unfortunately, these types of investments represent just 11% of the total $120 billion in infrastructure spending. The Oakville Chamber is concerned about the lack of funding for this type of infrastructure in the Budget. Trade-enabling infrastructure delivers a significant return on investment and responds to the need for Canadian goods in the global market. Lastly, the Oakville Chamber would like to see the federal government recognize the increasing cost to doing business in Oakville, Ontario and Canada. In our 2016 Advocacy Survey our members stated rising costs as the most significant factor impacting business and industry, and this is an unfortunate reality faced by businesses across the province and throughout Canada. While the Oakville Chamber applauds the federal government for its focus on skills development and innovation, the infrastructure gap and the rising cost of doing business must be addressed in order for Oakville’s, Ontario’s and Canada’s businesses to be competitive. Read the full Budget 2017 Analysis by the Chamber.

Focus spring legislative session on strategic infrastructure and lowering costs to foster confidence: Oakville Chamber of Commerce

Today, the Oakville Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, formally released its 2017 pre-budget submission containing recommendations to the Ontario legislature as it looks to begin its spring 2017 legislative session. The submission outlines four key budget priorities and thirteen specific recommendations for Queen’s Park to adopt in order to restore fiscal balance and spur economic growth.

Specifically, the Oakville Chamber of Commerce is looking for immediate support for strategic infrastructure investments and sound budget management. Oakville businesses have stated rising costs as the most significant factor impacting business and industry, according to the Oakville Chamber of Commerce’s 2016 Advocacy Survey. The survey also revealed that transportation infrastructure and traffic congestion remains a top concern for the Oakville business community. In fact, 64% of respondents believe that traffic congestion is a significant obstacle for business. Furthermore, the top three infrastructure priorities identified by respondents were all transportation related, calling for investments in local roads and bridges, public parking, and transit. The Oakville Chamber of Commerce urges the provincial government to address the infrastructure deficit by investing infrastructure funds strategically to increase productivity and enable competitiveness for Oakville businesses.

“The Ontario Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with our diverse Chamber Network, will continue to work with the provincial government to ensure that Ontario prioritizes reducing obstacles to business competitiveness,” said Allan O’Dette, President & CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “By taking more authoritative action on this issue, we can ensure that Ontario remains an attractive environment for capital investment.” In the submission, Ontario’s Chamber Network is also calling on the government to send a clear message of fiscal stability by balancing the provincial budget by 2017-2018. Such action would result in a more attractive environment for business investment and growth as well as confront the challenge of mounting input costs, such as electricity prices. As signalled last week in the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s Ontario Economic Report, businesses are maintaining their operations and holding onto cash rather than expanding production or investing. This indicates that industry sees the Ontario economy as high-risk.

“The Government of Ontario must ensure that it addresses recommendations made by the Oakville Chamber of Commerce in their provincial budget in order to support economic growth for Ontario businesses,” stated John Sawyer, President of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce. “Government must focus on reducing the costs of doing business in Ontario, supporting strategic infrastructure development and strengthening its efforts to bolster business competitiveness that allows Oakville to thrive.”

Addressing the current fiscal context and achieving a balanced budget is an underlying theme throughout the pre-budget submission. Ontario’s Chamber Network is committed to working with the Ontario Government to ensure the future economic success of the province. The submission is largely comprised of policy recommendations that are supported by resolutions passed by Ontario’s Chamber Network at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s most recent Annual General Meeting.

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.