“82% of Ontario businesses who hired in the last year experienced one challenge – usually finding someone with the proper qualifications.”
The above statistic is from two surveys by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and is found in “Vote Prosperity: The 2018 Election Platform of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce” which was released last October.
What it tells us is that there is a skills mismatch across the economic spectrum. One of the areas where this mismatch is most prevalent is in the apprenticeship realm. The Peterborough Chamber of
Commerce has identified the apprenticeship system as a key driver to the success of urban/rural areas such as ours. However, the system as it is currently creates barriers for employers, apprentices, and would-be apprentices. In 2016, we authored a policy resolution asking the provincial government for the following:
Implement a three year pilot project that would allow small and medium-sized employers in rural communities and small urban centers across Ontario to apply for an apprenticeship ratio increase.
Compile and assess the data from the pilot project to inform future ratio review discussions.
The Chamber became connected locally to this issue through discussions around apprenticeships with member Fleming College and the Kawartha Trades and Technology Centre, and member businesses in this space. We also sit on a committee led by the three area school boards delivering the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program. The result of this work and Chamber advocacy led to an invitation by the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development for us to participate in group discussions around
developing a multi-year Ontario Apprenticeship Strategy.
In February of this year that strategy was released. At the outset our commentary about regional priorities and apprenticeship ratios is featured in this strategy which is based on five pillars:
We see references to the Chamber recommendations above in the short- and long-term initiatives under Pillar 3 Engage and Support Employers and Sponsors where there is discussion about employer consortiums (which were given the green light in the Fall Economic Statement) and regional strategies.
The Ontario Apprenticeship Strategy also commits to a modernized apprenticeship system that is transparent and accountable for outcomes. To that end, the report states that four broad measures to monitor progress will be used initially:
All of this is good work and we were proud to be part of the strategy to move the apprenticeship system forward.
Federally, the 2018 budget included the creation of the Apprentice Incentive Grant for Women offering yearly $3000 in grants to women pursuing training in Red Seal trades.
However, this strategy is not quite a homerun. There is an area that is not mentioned once in the report and that is the impact of apprenticeship ratios on 33 trades and how those ratios can hinder employer capacity and the apprentice’s ability to find a sponsor, particularly in rural areas. Ultimately, supporting apprentices and employers through various programs and the tax incentives mentioned in the strategy is a good step forward, but if a business cannot afford to hire additional journeymen to bring on additional apprentice or we reach the point where the number of journeymen is lower than the number of apprentices seeking placements because of the ratio restrictions then barriers will only continue to exist.
Read the Provincial Strategy
With the bill coming into effect on January 1, 2018 there are significant changes that employers need to be aware of around:
In 2019 more pieces will be coming into effect around scheduling and on-call work.
In partnership with Peterborough DBIA, the Chamber is hosting a Ministry of Labour representative to talk about the changes and what business can expect.
Join us on Tuesday, March 20th at the Peterborough Library from 5-7pm.
Chamber members can sign up for the event here
With the announcement of a Pharmacare Advisory Council in the 2018 federal budget, the issue is now one being discussed by both our provincial and federal governments. For the business community, at the Chamber Network level pharmacare has been an issue that has been discussed through the policy resolution process on several occasions with no real definitive result.
Now though with increasing government support the time has come to define the position of the business community and offer its perspective to our bureaucrats and elected leaders.
During the discussions in which I’ve been involved, debate often starts with how could Canada be a progressive country and yet not offer a pharmacare program? Not the best place to start as it could potentially lead to a solution that doesn’t fit Canada’s or Ontario’s true need; a solution that is more expensive than it needs to be, or creates more red tape.
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) recently released a report called “Principles for an Effective Pharmacare Program”. The report authored by Ashley Challinor, Director of Policy, lays out a test of five principles in which a new pharmcare plan could be evaluated.
Those five principles include:
Currently, as detailed in the OCC report, medicines taken in hospital are covered while those in the community are accessed through a variety of means including public drug plans, private group plans, individual insurance plans and payments out of pocket. Given the current breadth of access the OCC is encouraging collaborative discussions with all health care system stakeholders from industry to policy makers and patients. Should consideration be given to a pharmacare program, the decision to move forward must also be evidence-based.
Who currently has coverage in Canada? The OCC report explains that with the implementation of OHIP+ (coverage to all Ontarians under 25), the Conference Board of Canada reports that 1.8% of Canadians do not have access to drug coverage and that 4.1 million Canadians that don’t have private coverage are eligible but not enrolled in a public plan.
The OCC is also asking that the OHIP+ and any other new pharmacare program be evaluated after one year so adjustments can be made, if necessary. The Chamber Network also believes that the evaluation should be made public.
Ultimately, the business community is asking for a collaborative and evaluative solution that is targeted at those who are most affected while also creating a climate of sustainability and innovation for the industry.
The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce membership includes a significant number of members in the Health and Wellness category, Peterborough is the location of a regional hospital and we also know of continued innovation in health care through the Innovation Cluster and new businesses coming through entrepreneurial programs.
With nursing and new programs around mental health and healing arts Fleming College and Trent University are building the next generation of health care workers.
How can Peterborough weigh in on the discussion?
The framework within which business operates is changing rapidly at multiple levels of government.
The bright spot in it all is that in Peterborough we have a wonderful and engaged business community willing to take risks so that their businesses can grow, willing to make it work so they have jobs and products to offer the community and willing to give back in taxes, fundraising initiatives and many
local sports, arts and cultural events. We should celebrate their success at being profitable. We cannot forget that a thriving business community is a significant contributor and a constituent to a healthy community.
What’s on the minds of business these days?
Provincially, businesses of all sizes are in the process of adjusting to a significant number of legislated changes around employment and labour laws. How businesses adapt and if the legislated desired outcome will be achieved remains to be seen, but it’s safe to say that we’re in a period of disruption.
Electricity prices continue to put strain on businesses, as do planning and growth legislation, as well as finding the talent they need, when they need it.
Federally, changes to the rules around how private corporations are taxed raised concern amongst businesses. The response to those proposed changes was very loud from the business community. Clarification to rules around passive income for small business could be revealed in the 2018 federal budget.
If there ever was a moving target its NAFTA negotiations. There's also the implementation of CETA
continues; the ink is just drying on new version of the Trans Pacific Partnership, there is a renewed focus on reconciliation and gender parity; the announcement of Superclusters; the continued debate about pipelines; living in a global economy; and a rail project that the Peterborough business community would like to see given the green light.
Business is part of the conversation as the County and the City update their official plans and work is being done at both council tables around development charges. There are infrastructure needs and a new agriculture map that will guide growth in the County.
The City will be the site of a new provincially-owned marijuana store; the airport continues to grow,
as will Peterborough’s place in the clean tech sector with the new Cleantech Commons at Trent University.
Our members, Peterborough’s businesses simply want the tools and framework to be competitive, creative, and confident in their home community, province, and around the world.
Together, with our Chamber member businesses that is what we advocate for and in doing so we are strengthening the business community.
We also strengthen the business community by asking questions. At the Power Hour 16 questions were directed to our MP Minister Maryam Monsef, MPP Minister Jeff Leal, Warden Joe Taylor, and Mayor Daryl Bennett.
When asked about debt all mentioned that infrastructure is one of the main reasons they were experiencing high debt levels, but that in some cases debt is necessary to get the work done, as long as there is a plan to move forward and pay down that investment. Broadband was identified as a critical piece of infrastructure and it was acknowledged by all four politicians that improving access is key to our economic success.
Minister Leal told the crowd that the government is looking into transition programs for business and that more could be present in the upcoming provincial budget. Minister Monsef spoke about her trip to Davos and meetings with the heads of Pepsi Co. and Coca-Cola. Warden Joe Taylor talked about the County of Peterborough through the lens of the 407, saying that through their official plan process they are ready for any influx of people. Mayor Bennett addressed new city rules around secondary units.
To wrap up this article we go back to the first question of the night on talent. All agreed that there are more programs around integrated learning, that Peterborough area sectors such as agriculture and public administration will have openings for younger workers as older workers transition out of the workforce, and that there is increasing value in the brain trust of younger generations. All of this to say that attracting and retaining talent is one of the most critical to the success of our communities.
*Power Hour Sponsor YourTV & Cogeco recorded the Q&A Session
Watch it on Channel 700 or 10:
Fri, Mar 2, 2018 7:00pm
Sun, Mar 4, 2018 12:00pm
Mon, Mar 12, 2018 7:00pm
Tue, Mar 13, 2018 2:00pm
Peterborough has lost a tremendous community leader. Tony Smith passed away on February 15. Tony had only been in Peterborough for about 20 years, but he has left an indelible mark.
As a "retired" businessman Tony ran a number of successful ventures, from Tristone Media Group to a mobile dental service. As a volunteer and cancer graduate Tony was deeply involved in the Relay for Life. He served on virtually every committee that our Chamber of Commerce has, including serving on the Board of Directors as Chair. When the Shining Waters Rail (SWR) initiative was in danger of going off the rails, Tony stepped up, helped to create an independent Not for Profit corporation, and slowly but surely established the credibility of SWR. The studies and planning done by SWR attracted the attention of VIA Rail who realized there is potential for a High Frequency Rail service linking Quebec City, Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto, through Peterborough.
Tony was relentlessly positive, loved to laugh, and had a tremendous compassion for anyone who needed a kind word, or a pat on the back.
At this writing funeral arrangements have not been announced.
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