“By the year 2020, the GPA will be sought out by many, and admired worldwide, as a uniquely healthy, diverse, enriched community which balances and promotes vibrant economic and employment opportunities while honouring the natural environment and valuing its cultural heritage. “
– That is the vision statement from GPA 2020 – A Vision for our Future. For those of you who are not familiar with it, it was a community engagement exercise like no other. Leading up to the final report in 1997, the steering committee led five action teams, each with co-chairs. Each action team was assigned 3 or 4 community sectors, each sector with 3 community at large volunteers. These volunteers spread out across the city and county and spoke with more than 2,000 residents and businesses.
It was an impressive effort, and it presented 26 recommendations in 12 areas designed to inform all levels of government – federal, provincial, City and County. The 12 areas included:
2020 is here. How does the reality stack up against the vision?
Stuart Harrison and I had the opportunity to get a 360 degree look at Canada’s economy recently. The 360 Summit was hosted by our national counterpart the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and featured an all-star line-up of speakers in touch with the heartbeat of the economy.
The day started off with five CEOs sitting on the stage talking about competitiveness and regulation, which was enlightening.
“Declining economic competitiveness in Canada should create the same gasp and concern just as if Canada went to an international hockey tournament and didn’t win a medal,” Mark Little, CEO Suncor. It wasn’t a jab at one of Canada’s national sports, but a way to create a connection to the economy for all Canadians. It matters that the country is competitive in business and the economy, not 14th place.
“Canada is fairly well positioned, but we continue to need skilled people to drive competitiveness,” Jad Shimaly of Ernst & Young. “How do we feed that funnel? We need to continue to foster innovation and generate Canadian owned intellectual property.”
Michael Doughty, CEO, Manulife. “We’re not an insurance company competing against other
insurance companies, we are competing against the companies who have a better, more effective, seamless experience for customers. We can’t fall behind in the digital transformation and skilled workforce and we need infrastructure that is world class in the physical and digital”
“There has to be a willingness of government to work with us. That’s what’s made the difference,” Heather Chalmers, President & CEO, GE. “Business must also be thoughtful in their approach of government.”
When it comes to regulatory environment, over the last 10-15 years Canada has dropped from 4th to 22nd on the list of developed countries and ease of doing business. “Canada needs a comprehensive review of the tax system. The last time one was completed none of the current federal party leaders
had been born.” Jad Shimaly, Ernst & Young
“Energy projects take about 10 years to get shovels in the ground. However, the pace of technology means the project submitted originally is modified and the process slows even further,” Mark Little, Suncor. “We’re not looking for cash; we’re looking for a yes.”
“Regulation existed before the internet and yet there has not been much change to allow for the environment the internet created.” Phillip Jette, Cogeco. “We have done more investment in the US because of the regulatory burden in Canada.”
“We are not risk averse; we are looking for regulation that supports our growth,” Jette, Cogeco.
The session wrapped up with agreement on the main challenges nationally:
The group then heard from VP and Deputy Chief Economist at RBC Dawn Desjardins who left us with a few key points.
The morning wrapped up with a discussion about Canada in the global economy. The panel encouraged Canadian businesses to export their services and knowledge as much as products and that businesses need access to markets and help with the cost of risk which is where Export Development Canada can help.
The panel also noted the following:
Learn more about the Canada 360 event at chamber.ca
This set of numbers will probably raise a few eyebrows here in Peterborough, but that’s good because it’s a pretty good news story for our community.
Statistics Canada (Stats Can) has just released population estimates of the census metropolitan areas (CMAs) and in the age category of residents aged 20 to 24
Peterborough ranks number 1 with 8.04% of our population in that age group.
That’s right, 1st - up from 9th place in 2008. And this statistic does not include students!
So, who are those in the 20-24- year-old category? These are young people at the start of their careers, who are more educated than ever and more tech savvy than any other generation.
A Stats Can report called “A Portrait of Youth” released in February of 2018 identifies the education level of this group.
The report concludes the following about youth: “They are more diverse, educated, and
connected and socially engaged than past youth, and in many ways are well positioned to succeed in today's complex global society. But not all young people are sharing these benefits. Some youth are unemployed or are in temporary jobs. Some are
struggling with mental health challenges, addictions, and homelessness. And not everyone feels included.”
Peterborough Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Stuart Harrison recently did an interview with Jordan Mercier on Extra 90.5FM asking the question: “What is drawing people in this cohort to Peterborough and what is keeping them here?”
We’ll take a crack at answering those questions. Perhaps they are returning home or perhaps they attended Trent University or Fleming College or a private institution or the trades school and have chosen to stay in the community.
Comparatively Peterborough is relatively affordable, there is a vibrant arts scene and a multitude of ways to experience the community indoors and out. And it’s also an attractive place to raise a family.
Knowing we have this cohort in our midst, the question then becomes how do we keep them? What are the tools? One of Peterborough’s strengths is our entrepreneurial culture. Over the past decade a concerted effort by the private and public sector and not-for profit business organizations has turned Peterborough into an incubator for business in all areas of our diverse economy.
Employment is another tool. The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce believes there is many an opportunity to increase the job prospects here. In the Portrait of Youth report, only 5% of 21 year olds enrol in apprenticeship programs. This is an opportunity. Peterborough and other rural communities need our skilled tradespeople to build the
infrastructure that will help us grow. The Chamber is asking the provincial government to have a flexible ratio for apprenticeships in rural and small urban communities. The intended outcome of this request is so that more young people will have the opportunity to build their lives in the community of their choice and not have to move away.
Another way we are trying to open the door for youth is by encouraging more technology development and innovation by asking the federal government to create a nationwide “my first patent program”.
The Chamber is also excited about the beneficial impact of the VIA Rail High Frequency Rail project which is on track for continued development. This direct access to the world from Peterborough plays well with the characteristics of a diverse, connected and socially engaged youth.
And when we talk about the socially engaged and opportunities for employment and action, the Peterborough Chamber recently put forward a national policy resolution asking the federal government to consider forward thinking structures to achieve social financing for community projects, as well as a stream of funding through the Community Futures network to help support early stage social enterprises.
Being at the top of the list for most 20-24 year olds in terms of a percentage of population gives Peterborough the advantage in the war for talent. But that means we still have to fight to make sure the environment is in place so this talent can find gainful employment and a supportive community that wants to see them succeed.
Workforce and the building of workforce is one of the challenges of the current business landscape. Navigating the ecosystem for both employers and prospective employees is not always easy. The Workforce Development Board – Local Planning Council (WDB/LEPC) for Peterborough, Northumberland, Haliburton, and Kawartha Lakes has recently released a couple of products to help provide a narrative for our region. One is an Analysis of the Local Labour Supply and the other is a video that outlines the local ecosystem of employment services.
In the Labour Supply report, the WDB references a survey by the “Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) that indicated that 40% of employers in Ontario have had difficulty hiring over the previous 12 months. Small and medium-sized enterprises are most affected with aging populations, low participation rates, and seasonal work being potential drivers.
All are concerns in the WDB/LEPC region. Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) has developed the Canadian Occupational Projection System (COPS) to project future workforce trends. According to these projections, a national labour shortage is expected between 2017-2023. In total, there will be approximately 116,700 more job openings than job seekers. The sectors that will be most affected include the skilled trades, business and finance, and healthcare.”
The WDB developed eight recommendations in the following areas:
Attracting/Retaining Experience Workers
There are three recommendations identified here including
Recruiting from Outside your Local Business Area which suggests considering applications from people who have the skills and are interested in your community or already have ties to the community but are not living in the area.
Utilizing the Skills of Economic Immigrants can also be an untapped resource and there could be value in exploring and ensuring the credentials and experience match the needs of the employer.
With an aging population Succession Planning is key and companies are not only assessing their workforce needs but also the “actual supply of talent.”
The report identifies two recommendations in the Recent Graduates including asking how employers engage local students and encouraging more connections through experiential learning. Employers may also consider training supports for younger and current employees.
The report also offers recommendations that employers consider New Canadians and use available resources such as those offered through various groups such as the New Canadians Centre to connect with potential employees. There is also encouragement to consider under-utilized workers such as younger workers, displaced older workers Indigenous people, and people living with disabilities.
The final recommendations focus on the need for data sharing of labour market information between organizations to help employers understand the market better.
The second tool for employers and potential employees is a video that is worth watching if you are an employer looking to access the labour pool but are not sure where to start, or are looking for a better understanding of the resources in this space.
WDB says, “The goal of this video is to increase awareness among employers in our region about the range of programs, services, and training supports available to them, as well as to provide employers with information about our local employment services and training network.”
You can find it on their website wdb.ca
And we’ll leave you with a few Q4 facts on the labour market in Peterborough. Below are the number of online postings in the fourth quarter of 2019. These postings may or may not be filled, but you can see a direct correlation to the predicted workforce trends mentioned earlier in this article. Many of the postings are in health care and skilled trades two of the sectors anticipated to be impacted the most by a labour shortage.
Advocacy on behalf of our Peterborough business community is a major pillar of work for the Peterborough
Chamber of Commerce. In fact, the concept is built directly into our reason for being under the word influence.
Influence: We are committed to helping create the conditions for growth and to improving the
competitiveness of the Peterborough business community through our lobbying efforts at every level of government.
This year, in 2020, your Peterborough Chamber Board of Directors has approved three policy resolutions to be put forward for the Ontario Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Timmins at the end of April.
The three are all very different, but touch upon three very important areas for our community:
improvements to the rules for craft distillers, accessing open data, and regional economic development and collaboration.
The resolution on improvements to the regulations around craft distillers is an area where the Peterborough Chamber weighed in several years ago and is re-submitting an updated version for consideration which includes a continued call for a level playing field in taxation for all categories of alcohol beverages as well as changes to the activities and tasting room allowances for distilleries.
The policy resolution on data was formulated out of a consultation the Peterborough Chamber of
Commerce hosted with the provincial government and local businesses and community
leaders. This resolution is asking for a dashboard that allows businesses and residents to ask a question and receive an answer from government data sets in a readable and easy to share format. During the consultations it was expressed that understanding data in the raw format is challenging and not as accessible as it could be. There are other examples of such dashboards that are working well such as the Workforce Development Board’s Help Desk which provides interested parties with the latest labour market information.
The third resolution being put forward examines how a municipality can account for the results of economic regional collaboration that crosses geographical boundaries. With the development of official plans, the challenges of meeting growth targets under the Places to Grow Act and the ability to be ready to accommodate new business growth, a new formula that recognizes the inputs of multiple municipalities (land or services for example) may help encourage more regional collaboration to the benefit of each individual municipality and the region.
The three resolutions will be submitted to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce in the coming weeks and will be vetted for provincial impact. Delegates to the AGM in Timmins will then have the opportunity to debate and vote on making the recommendations in the resolution part of the advocacy dialogue of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.
By: Ontario Chamber of Commerce
In early December 2019 when the provincial government passed Bill 132 the Ontario Chamber of Commerce issued the following statement:
“As the indispensable partner of business, we support the government’s efforts with Bill 132 to develop a modern regulatory environment that is flexible and easy to navigate, keeping Ontario an attractive place for businesses to invest, grow and create high-quality jobs,” said Rocco Rossi, President & CEO, Ontario
Chamber of Commerce.
Key measures supported by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce in Bill 132 include:
Reducing Red Tape for Drug Manufacturers and Pharmacies by digitizing and streamlining reporting
requirements for drug manufacturers and pharmacists. These changes will help bring down
administrative costs and help protect the competitiveness of Ontario’s health and life sciences sectors.
Expanding Alcohol Access in International Airports by permitting licenced bars and restaurants in certain commercial airports located after airport security to serve alcohol to customers 24 hours a day. We are pleased to see the Government of Ontario move forward in joining other airports around the world.
Improving the Regulatory Process for Ontario’sMining Industry by requiring the government to
acknowledge mine closure plan amendments within 45 days. This streamlined process will allow clients to merge mining claims and improve business certainty forproponents of the mining industry.
Streamlining Approvals for Ontario’s Forestry Industry by amending the Crown Forest Sustainability Act, 1994 to modernize the approvals process for cutting trees on Crown lands for non-forestry activities like electricity transmission lines and roads to far north communities.
“We look forward to continuing to work with government to improve and modernize Ontario’s
regulatory environment," adds Rossi.
The province has also released a 2019 Burden Reduction Report on Cutting Red Tape That Holds Back Investment and Job Creation.
The transition to a new decade lends itself to reflection.
The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce has had an active policy committee since, well, before the turn of the century. In fact, advocacy and making sure things "turn out right" is one of the founding principles of this chamber.
This committee is comprised of knowledgeable and dedicated Chamber members who offer feedback on the issues of the day and how to approach areas of concern to our membership.
And the decade of the 2010's was no different. We believe it's worth a scan of some of the topics that were discussed and continue to be discussed with regard to our Peterborough business community.
If you would like to know more about any on the list, don't hesitate to reach out.
A Decade of Advocacy
By: Canadian Chamber of Commerce
Are you ready to rewind to the start of 2010? A time where your radio boasted the Black Eyed Peas and boot cut jeans were fashionable. While this may sound like a dystopian past, it really wasn’t. The start of this decade was actually a sign of hope for Canadians as we weathered the financial crisis better than our G7 peers, and the economy started to rebound.
Following the financial crisis of 2008, Canada fell victim to a labour market downturn. With many employers cutting back on the number of hours that employees were working as well as their number of employees, the unemployment rate was the highest of that decade, reaching 8.4% in December 2009. But January 2010 marked a turning point with a slight increase in employment, kicking off a decade of robust job growth. For the majority of the decade, the unemployment rate for Canadians consistently declined and hit its lowest point in four decades at 5.5% in October 2019. But the following month also broke a record—this time a concerning one—when Canada lost 71,000 jobs in November, the largest monthly decline in employment in over 10 years. Going into the next decade, Canadians will be looking closely at employment numbers to see whether these jobs losses are simply a blip or a harbinger of things to come.
A decade of very positive employment gains also helped mask some underlying issues in the economy and labour market. Many of the jobs gains can be attributed to new Canadians filling open positions, helping to alleviate the burden on business of finding talent in a tight labour market. However, growth in labour productivity and GDP per capita has been anemic. Canadian productivity has been diverging from U.S. growth rates for the entire decade—year-over-year productivity growth was 0.3% in Canada in 2019 compared to 1.8% in the U.S. Meanwhile, Canada’s GDP per capita has decreased by 3% since 2010 while the U.S. saw a 35% increase over the past decade.
The core of the problem is deteriorating Canadian competitiveness. Canada was ranked in the top 10 in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Rankings in 2010. Since then, we have seen a steady decline falling to 14th in 2019. Many of our challenges are our own making, such as our broken regulatory system, inter-provincial trade barriers and an antiquated tax system. In particular, the latter has hurt our competitive position. In 2010, Canadian corporate taxes were 3.9% lower than the OECD average. Since then, Canada has refused to join a wave of global tax reform that has resulted in our corporate taxes now being 0.9% higher than the OECD average.
While 2010 brought the hope of economic growth after a recession, 2020 brings fear of an economic downturn after a period of sluggish growth. So what is Canada’s economic strategy in this shifting landscape and how do we ensure businesses remain competitive?
In early December the provincial government announced that it would be ending the lottery system for private retail cannabis licenses and move towards an open allocation model. In Peterborough that triggered the announcement of a new business on George Street North just south of Sherbrooke.
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s (OCC) Ontario Cannabis Policy Council issued the following statement after the provincial decision:
“With Ontario home to more than half of the recreational licensed producers (LPs), the majority of cannabis employment, and the largest domestic consumer market, opening up Ontario’s cannabis retail market will have a positive effect on job creation, investor confidence, and the economy. More retail outlets also means improved consumer access, which is necessary for combating the illegal market and safeguarding public health.”
For the past year, the Policy Council and the OCC have been building the business case for a retail market that helps limit the underground and allows for economic advantage from the legalization of marijuana for the province.
In April 2019, the OCC released a report called “Supporting Ontario’s Budding Cannabis Industry”. In a press release, the OCC outlines Ontario’s competitive advantage and how to capitalize on Canada’s first-mover status in this fast-moving industry.
“With Ontario home to more than half the licensed producers of recreational cannabis in Canada and the majority of cannabis employment held right here in Ontario, we are positioned to lead Canada’s recreational cannabis industry on the world stage,” says Michelle Eaton, Vice President of Communications and Government Relations of the OCC. “Ensuring the private retail market is successful is critical to the long-term viability of the sector. As Ontario’s business advocate, we are committed to shaping responsible public policy to establish us as a competitive, global leader.”
This report provides a comprehensive analysis of Ontario’s cannabis market from the perspective of industry and the role public policy can play to ensure the legal market remains competitive by seizing economic opportunity, eliminating the illegal market, and safeguarding public health and responsible adult consumption.
It makes a number of recommendations on a wide range of issues impacting the
“The Province has a role to play in ensuring the legal market remains competitive and seizes the
opportunity to be a global leader in the recreational cannabis space,” added Eaton. “We are the first G7 country to federally legalize recreational cannabis use and other nations will look to us when developing their own regulations.”
While many questions remain, the OCC will be working with all levels of government, investors, entrepreneurs, business owners, and post-secondary institutions to establish balanced regulations that consider both public safety and economic growth.
Read the full report.
Employers, if you have questions about workplace policies on cannabis let us know and we can connect you to members with expertise in this area. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on cannabis rules and legislation go to:
Opinion Piece by: Stuart Harrison, President & CEO, Peterborough Chamber of Commerce
“We’re all in this together.”
J. Murray Jones, the Warden of Peterborough County is well known for uttering these words at virtually every public appearance. He’s even handing out pens now with his battle cry printed on them…
Warden Jones is correct, of course, but are we really all together?
I say no, not even close, and it continues to cost us more than we’ll ever know.
Municipal borders were laid out in a system that eventually led to some 18 townships within Peterborough County, with the City of Peterborough in the centre of it all. Amalgamation under the Harris Government resulted in half the townships, but solved none of the problems. The initial report included the recommendation that Cavan and Monaghan townships amalgamate with the City of Peterborough. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.
The result has been several decades of missed opportunities for this area. An untold number of businesses have had their expansion plans stymied, or have come here looking for a place to build and instead built somewhere else.
Why? I could point fingers at any number of targets and be partly right every time, including:
But pointing fingers accomplishes nothing. Doing something about it is what is needed.
Our current elected leaders, at the County, City, Provincial and Federal levels are under
increasing pressure to figure this out, and apparently a few discussions have been held. In 2019, Peterborough and the Kawarthas Economic Development started tracking the missed opportunities. There have been at least 14 since May of 2019 alone. And these are just the known, documented cases.
I’d suggest that if someone applied themselves, went back 20 years, talking to commercial real estate agents, developers, retired politicians and bureaucrats in the know, the economic impact of the missed opportunities would be absolutely staggering, not to mention appalling and unacceptable. And all because of manmade borders. Arguments over ownership, or costs, or who is getting a better deal.
As a community we’ve asked that our official plans from our city and county be bold and forward thinking. We cannot accomplish bold in a culture that constantly rejects possibility. I believe the solution lies in a commitment to a culture of yes, and in honest conversation between people who truly believe that indeed, we are all in this together.