Next week the federal government will deliver its 2018 budget.
What is business looking for in the document?
Relief would be nice. It’s been a tough year for business, particularly in Ontario, with significant
legislative changes provincially and the added pressure of tax changes federally. On one hand there is
continued government encouragement to nurture the entrepreneurial spirit and yet, on the other hand there are public policy choices that fail to recognize the everyday risk those same entrepreneurs are facing and will continue to face. In a December article called “In Praise of Profit”, the-interim Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC) Senior Vice President of Policy Jayson Meyers writes, “the role profits play in driving business growth and assuring economic prosperity for Canadians should be a fundamental tenet of all government decision-making. Our governments must at least be aware of the negative impact higher taxes and regulatory compliance costs have on profits, job creation and business investment.”
If the government is going to encourage one aspect of the business cycle (entrepreneurship) then it should support the rest of it in the form of public policy that encourages business success.
With that in mind, there are broad themes where the government could strategically place their
markers including investment in skills and education, trade opportunities, taxes, innovation and infrastructure.
In its pre-budget submission to the Finance Committee last summer, the CCC highlighted the need to invest in infrastructure that has high growth multipliers such as digital, energy and transport. With the proposal for passenger rail from VIA Rail to bring high frequency service to the Peterborough-Havelock, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City line, and what an upgraded rail line will do for freight movement to and from the
Peterborough area, rail has the potential to be a significant economic driver in Eastern Ontario. Not to mention it ticks a number of other boxes under the federal government’s mandate around reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fighting climate change.
Trade opportunities are essential. The Pan-Pacific and CETA agreements along with a NAFTA deal that recognizes the unique relationship of North America in the global economy are key to pushing Canada forward. Programs that help businesses reach current trade partners and emerging markets will set
Canadian businesses apart.
Businesses will also be keeping a close eye on any announcements with regard to tax changes for private corporations. Discussion around passive investment income still has businesses worried,
particularly if that was their chosen vehicle toward succession planning and/or retirement. The Chamber Network is calling for a full review of the tax system with an eye toward fairness and simplification for all taxpayers and increasing the competitiveness of all businesses.
On the innovation side, there are recent announcements of five business-led “Innovation Superclusters” that were part of Budget 2017. In a press release, the federal government recognizes the importance of all areas of the economy, private-sector, not-for-profit, and academic institutions working together to create well-paying jobs, groundbreaking research and a world-leading innovation economy. These goals can only be reached by applying public policy that continues to encourage business investment and profitably, not penalize it.
If the buzz words of the day are start ups and entrepreneurship and this is where governments are choosing to invest our tax dollars, then governments also need to remember this quote posted by Chamber Board Member & owner of PTBO Canada Neil Morton on social media this past weekend: "Every city was once a startup, as was every company, every institution, and every project." —Brad Feld in his book "Startup
If we view our economy through this lens there is no reason not to nurture our business success.
There are strange waters for business to navigate these days between NAFTA negotiations, newly inked trade agreements CETA (Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement) and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, interprovincial challenges and the desire for business tax reform by the federal government. But despite the challenges of the current climate, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC) is pushing forward with the 2018 edition of the campaign “10 Ways to Build a Canada that Wins”. This document will be a guide for advocacy for chambers of commerce like ours.
Make Canada an Agri-Food Powerhouse
“Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sector has a strong and well-earned reputation for efficient production, innovation, food quality and safety that has propelled Canada to be the fifth largest exporter of agricultural
and agri-food products in the world.”
The CCC report goes on to say that the agri-food industry, from primary producers to advanced food
manufacturers to agri-food based technologies to data analytics, accounts for 7% of GDP and one in eight jobs across the country.
In 2018, the Chamber Network will focus on championing a more integrated approach involving federal and provincial governments in the development of policy in this area. This will be a key area as a provincial policy around agricultural mapping and the larger targets under the Places to Grow legislation are raising concerns for land use in rural areas. Transition time between policies is necessary to ensure understanding of projects in the development process.
There is also a continued desire to work with the government to develop a long-term vision for growing Canada’s agri-food sector.
On the economic development front in Peterborough, Peterborough & The Kawarthas Economic Development Agriculture Advisory Committee has identified three priority areas for 2018:
Develop Agile Workforce Strategies
Accessing talent has been identified as one of the biggest challenges to business competitiveness in
Peterborough and across the province. The ability to make a difference in this space requires targeted strategies at all levels of government. Among the policy areas identified as priorities from the CCC and Chamber Network are workforce strategies that:
The CCC report identifies that jobs of today require essential skills such as literacy and numeracy,
communication, problem-solving, teamwork and interpersonal skills, along with trades and technical skills.
Businesses will always be up to the challenge to build a “Canada that wins”, looking for new ways to grow and reach new customers and markets, but governments and policy makers cannot lose sight of the importance of a policy climate that allows for business success.
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce is working in partnership with the Ministry Responsible for Small Business to ensure that small businesses across the province are aware of a new website. The web portal is designed to be a one-stop shop for small business owners and the questions they have with regard to funding, growing and regulations that apply to their business.
The website was officially launched at a news conference with Ontario Chamber President & CEO Rocco Rossi and Minister Jeff Leal.
The Peterborough Chamber will be hosting a workshop on it to inform our local businesses and help provide feedback to the provincial government at the end of March. The website and gathering of information important to small business was part of a policy resolution submitted by the Peterborough and Sudbury Chambers of Commerce and passed by delegates at the 2017 Ontario Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting
Have a look at the site, call the hotline if you need to and let us know about your experience!
The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC), has released 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 has the largest impact on their competitiveness and nearly half report a lack of confidence in the province’s economy.
The overarching document is titled “2018 Ontario Economic Report” (OER). The report is broken down into three sections:
“This important report identifies key vulnerabilities within our economy, and provides decision makers and community leaders with the understanding needed to find the solutions that will drive our economy forward,” said Stuart Harrison, President & CEO, Peterborough 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.”
This week we’ll dive into the Business Confidence Survey. First off, thank you to the dozens of
Peterborough businesses who responded to the OCC’s fall survey. As a result we have data that we can share with you specific to our region.
What is the Business Confidence Survey?
Since 2012 the OCC, through the Chamber Network, has been asking businesses how confident they are in their own business outlook and how confident those same businesses are in the province. Supplementary questions then ask why a business is or is not confident.
What did the 2018 Survey reveal?
Overall, 48 percent of businesses lack confidence in Ontario’s economic outlook. That is up from 41 percent in 2017. The number one explanation, cited by three-quarters of respondents, is economic policy from government. This is followed by the high price of inputs such as raw materials and electricity, high business tax rates and a high level of provincial debt. Over half also indicated overregulation of the economy is cause for concern (OER 2018 pg 11).
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.
Of the almost 80 responses from Peterborough businesses, 42% were not confident in Ontario’s economic outlook, with economic policy and high input costs being the foremost reasons for the lack of confidence.
Hiring and retaining staff continues to be a challenge for business, particularly small business.
Provincially, the survey shows 44 percent of businesses continue to struggle in this area and that number jumps to 57 percent when looking at medium-sized businesses.
Looking at the Peterborough numbers, 30 percent of respondents told us their workforce increased while 67 percent say it stayed the same in the last half of 2017. Where it turns troubling is when businesses were asked to look ahead to the next six months. In answering that question, 27 percent (21 businesses) expected their workforce to decrease, 54 percent expected it to stay the same and 18 percent expected their workforce to grow.
Even though challenges exist some Ontario businesses are expressing optimism around economic growth and population growth projections.
What is going on in the community related to workforce?
Issues around workforce have consistently been a challenge for Peterborough. Over the past number of years we have seen significant swings in unemployment and participation in the labour market.
Businesses have told us that in the skilled trades it’s difficult to find the people they need, but that there are also challenges in finding employees for jobs across all sectors. This was evident throughout the Chamber’s 2017 Leaders Lunch series, which explored trends in workforce through an examination of the millennial generation, tourism, agriculture, and aerospace.
The Workforce Development Board’s (WDB) Labour Market Gateway tells us that local employers have job openings. In the third quarter of 2017, there were almost 1,200 online job postings in Peterborough. The WDB is also working on its latest Community Labour Market Plan that presents a high-level overview of local and regional key labour market indicators as well as informing priorities for the coming year.
The Local Employment Planning Council Pilot Project, business organizations such as the Chamber, employment agencies, labour organizations and others are working to paint a picture of the Peterborough labour market.
Municipally, the City and County are asking what draws people to the Peterborough area, what keeps them away and what keeps them here through a Wellbeing Plan exercise.
Read the full OER Report
Round Six of NAFTA negotiations has wrapped up and a quick scour of the landscape concludes a much more positive tone was achieved between negotiators from Canada, United States and Mexico.
That said there is more work to be done Canadian Chamber has been informing the dialogue since the beginning of the process and offers this insight:
“NAFTA Modernization is a reasonable goal: It’s a fact that NAFTA was negotiated more than two decades ago.
How to Modernize
We need to keep a few guiding principles in mind in order to succeed:
The latest round of negotiations included discussion around automobiles, dispute resolution and the proposed review clause.
Round 7 of negotiations will be in Mexico starting on February 26th.
Bill 148 has resulted in a significant number of changes to the Employment Standards Act and Labour Relations Act, from the amount of minimum wage to the calculation used in determining statuatory holiday pay to the definition of an independent contractor.
The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce wants to hear how your business has chosen to approach the changes that came into effect on January 1, 2018.
The answers will inform our continued advocacy efforts to the provincial government on this issue.
Thank in you advance for taking the time to fill out this brief survey of three questions. It should take you no more than five minutes.
On the Chamber's Advocacy Bill 148 page you will find links to:
You can access the survey through the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce Bill 148 Advocacy page.
Take the Survey
The City of Peterborough continues to be a city in transition. And that’s a good thing as new ideas and
processes have the potential to move our community forward in a positive way. That said, councillors will have some decisions ahead of them that will have an impact on our members. At the General Committee meeting of January 15th, councillors were presented with several reports on these issues including:
Legalization of Cannabis
Peterborough has been identified as one of 40 Ontario communities to have an Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation (OCRC) store open this year, with another 110 across the province by the end of 2020. The report by City Solicitor Patricia Lester outlines what is known about the role of the municipality under this new federal and provincial legislation. Lester highlights that as a creature of the province, the municipality cannot deny a business license and that the final location choice is in the hands of the OCRC.
Read the Report
E-Tendering and E-Bidding System
The City of Peterborough is planning to change its online tender and bidding system to a group called Bids and Tenders. In her report to council Director of Corporate Services Sandra Clancy states that "issuing the City’s procurement documents through Bids and Tenders will streamline the process for staff, create efficiencies within the departments and reduce the number of non-compliant bids being submitted by vendors.”
The new system, which will be implemented between June and September of this year, also comes with a lower annual membership fee of $165 compared to the current $250.
Read the Report
Brownfields Tax Assistance Program
The tax incentive only applies to properties requiring environmental remediation. During the length of the agreement with the property owner, the City does receive taxes based on the assessment of a clean property. However, the owner receives a rebate equal to the difference between the taxes of the clean and unclean property, to cover the cost of remediation. After the agreement the City then realizes the full amount of taxes based on the assessment of the cleaned up property.
The view is that there is more value in the long run to the City on a remediated property than one that stays as is. The Director of Corporate Services concludes that, “The BTAP program is having a positive impact on enabling development to happen at locations that are environmentally challenged that would otherwise likely not be redeveloped.”
Read the Report
Development Charges Amendment Study
The goal of the amendments is to encourage more development in the downtown core. Doing so will help the municipality on several fronts including meeting provincial Places To Grow targets and opening up a variety of residential opportunities.
The current by-law has a life cycle of five years before a full review is required. Therefore, any amendments
approved by Council will be in place until January 1, 2020. At the will of Council, they could continue in the next iteration of the by-law as well.
The study presented to Council examines the following:
A public meeting on the amendments will be held on Monday, February 5th, 2018 at 5:00pm at Council Chambers and a secondary report will be presented to Council sitting as General Committee on March 26th.
Read the Report
The next City Council meeting is Monday, January 29th, 2018.
The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce is a member of the Local Employment Planning Council (LEPC) Industry Business Engagement Working Group.
The LEPC is a provincial pilot project that is in the process of developing a clear picture of the workforce landscape in eight Ontario communities, including the City and County of Peterborough.
One of the projects is a study of Newcomer Employment Activity by Laridae and the Workforce Development Board (WDB).
Our Peterborough Chamber members can help out by completing a short survey on their views, concerns and needs with respect to recruiting and hiring newcomers to Canada.
Take the survey
The survey will be open until February 5th. It should take about ten minutes to complete. Your response will be anonymous. In addition, please share the survey with other employers.
Thank you for taking the time to provide input to this project. Your opinion is valued!
*About the Newcomer Employment Integration Project
The federal government released its long-awaited draft legislation on the federal carbon pricing regime. Provinces and territories must put into place carbon pricing systems that meet certain criteria, called a “benchmark”.
For those jurisdictions that do not meet these criteria, the federal government will impose its own carbon pricing regime – referred to as a “backstop.” The backstop has two parts. First, is a carbon levy that distributors of fuel will have to pay. It won’t be charged at the pump, although it will increase the price of natural gas and petroleum and, in some places, electricity. Second, is a separate regulation that will only apply to facilities that emit a large amount of greenhouse gases.
Since provinces and territories have until September 1, 2018 to outline their approach to carbon pricing, it is not yet certain where exactly the federal systems will apply. However, carbon pricing systems in BC, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec are generally expected to meet the federal government’s criteria and won’t be subject to the federal law as well.
The chamber network has supported carbon pricing since 2011. However, as mentioned in a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau and signed by the CEOs of the provincial and territorial chambers, we are concerned that government is choosing to layer regulation on top of carbon pricing policies. This approach not only adds costs but negates one of the main benefi ts of carbon pricing: the fl exibility it offers to business.
We’ll continue to make the case that, as Canada moves forward with ambitious climate policies, government should consider lowering costs elsewhere. A good place to start is comprehensive review of the Canadian tax system.
If you have any questions on this policy file, please reach out to our Natural Resources Policy Director Katrina Marsh, firstname.lastname@example.org . If you do please cc Peterborough Chamber Policy Analyst Sandra Dueck email@example.com
PETERBOROUGH: On Tuesday, January 16th, the Chamber celebrated the inaugural meeting of the 2018 Board of Directors, under the direction of Jim Hill of James F. Hill Financial Management Services as Chair of the Board.
As Chair, his focus is on the impact our member-driven organization can have on the business community. “We will continue to create innovative and exciting forums and events for all our members,” says Hill. “It is our goal to attract businesses of all sizes and cohorts to the Chamber by eschewing the status quo and continuing to evolve the Chamber to meet the needs and expectations of today's business owners.”
Chair - Jim Hill, James F. Hill, Financial Management Services
Vice-Chair – Ben vanVeen, Century 21 United Realty Inc., Brokerage
Treasurer – Dawn Hennessey, Business Development Bank of Canada
Secretary – Stuart Harrison, Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce
Directors-at-Large – Joe Grant, LLF Lawyers LLP
– Allison Seiderer, Living Well Home Medical Equipment
Sofie Andreou, Sofie Andreou & Associates
Tim Barrie, Merit Precision Moulding Ltd.
Chris Calbury, Emmatt Digital Solutions
Gwyneth James, Cody & James CPAs Professional Corporation
Mary McGee, Little Lake Cemetery Company
Lorrie McMullen, The Venue Peterborough
Neil Morton, PTBOCanada.com
Amy Simpson, MicroAge Technology Solutions
Morgan Smith, Signarama
Mayor Daryl Bennett, representing the City of Peterborough
Sherry Senis, Selwyn Township Deputy Mayor, representing the County of Peterborough
Lorie Gill, representing Women’s Business Network
Paul Glenn, representing the Peterborough County Federation of Agriculture