Earlier this week, along with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) and the Kawartha Chamber of Commerce & Tourism, we released a report called Obstacles and Opportunities for Small Business in Ontario. The report offers recommendations to government based on the information gathered through roundtables and surveys of businesses over the past six months. Two roundtables were held in Peterborough and Lakefield and the findings sent to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and distributed to our respective members.
The Peterborough and Kawartha Chambers of Commerce heard concerns about the price and reliability of electricity and the impact on our local business communities. Many businesses at roundtable events in June mentioned hydro has a challenging factor in their day-to-day operations. Local businesses also expressed frustration with the increasing cost of complying with an increasing number of government regulations.
As the collective report identifies, our local businesses are not alone in identifying electricity and other input costs as the most prominent challenges facing small business, along with access to a talented workforce, and government compliance.
“In the Peterborough area, local businesses are working hard to maintain and expand their operations, however they are facing some big obstacles including infrastructure deficits and the rising cost of doing business in Ontario,” said Stuart Harrison, President & CEO, Peterborough Chamber of Commerce.
The report finds that collectively, these select policies (from cap and trade to interest arbitration) demonstrate that small businesses face input pressures from all levels. From the perspective of small business owners, government seems to be taking a piecemeal approach to program and regulatory changes with little consideration of their cumulative impact on Ontario’s business climate.
“It is critical that regional governments work with the provincial and federal governments to ensure that investments and programs are targeted to reduce operational costs and to support business growth in our region,” added Kris Keller, President of the Board, Kawartha Chamber of Commerce & Tourism.
In Obstacles and Opportunities, we learn that businesses want to know: Where does Ontario’s current cost-of-doing-business measure relative to its peers and to prior years; Does government have a position on an acceptable threshold of the cost-of-doing business?
Most businesses that we spoke with locally were encouraged to hear more about the province’s Red Tape Challenge program and hope the province will use the feedback to make improvements and reduce Red Tape.
The report also highlights that small business contributes approximately 28 percent to the provincial GDP and created 87.7 percent of the new jobs nationally from 2005 to 2012.
Out of the Small Business Too Big To Ignore consultations on which this report is based, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce urges the government to take immediate action to implement the following three recommendations in the near term:
- Continue the scheduled Business Education Tax (BET) rate reductions
- Develop a single access point for all government-funded workforce, training, and employment services
- Have all three levels of government commit coordinated infrastructure dollars to connect all Ontario businesses to the 21st century global economy.
by all three levels of government.” said Allan O’Dette, President and CEO of the OCC.
To read the full report