We’ve mentioned it before and we’re saying it again, business likes certainty. However, for a very long time certainty has been elusive for the business owner.
The Bill 148 legislation came into effect January 1, 2018. Before hand there was concern. Businesses had a very short time frame to institute some major changes. There was no economic analysis done by
government to understand the impact of so many changes all at once. Several independent groups , including the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, issued analyses that predicted job losses of between 50 -100,000 over the next two years because of the reforms.
A survey of the Peterborough Chamber membership painted a wide array of impacts and reactions, including increased prices, decreased hours, and a lot more automation. We also heard that businesses made the changes and well, got on with business. As always there are different levels of impact. The feeling from the economic analyses and those in business is that the true impact of the changes won’t be seen until one or two years after implementation.
With the change in government we've been asked what will happen with this legislation. The short
answer is, it will remain in place. That said, one of Premier Ford’s campaign promises was to stop the second minimum wage increase, from $14 to $15, in the Bill 148 legislation. In order to do so, the legislation must be brought forward to Queen’s Park and opened to make the change. In most cases, legislation is reviewed every five years or so, but now there is potentially an opportunity coming up to get in and make changes.
The Chamber’s number one concern with the Bill 148 legislation was the speed at which it came into effect and the depth and breadth of impact in the business community. We constantly speak about the piling on effect or cumulative burden. Bill 148 introduced a significant amount of new rules, regulations and costs, on top of increased hydro rates, gas prices, and various federal regulations. Bill 148 was also intended to improve the economic prospects for the most vulnerable members of society, but it placed the burden almost squarely on the shoulders of the business community, as though we are an endless source of wealth. In addition to a longer implementation of Bill 148, the Chamber lobbied hard for income tax measures for the lowest income earners, and the completion and consideration of the Basic Income Guarantee study. This study, which included the City of Kawartha Lakes has now been cancelled, a missed opportunity for significant change in how we treat our most vulnerable.
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce, along with several other organizations is calling for a full repeal of Bill 148. We are asking our members to provide us with some feedback as to how they are coping with the legislative changes, and the increased costs. What are some of the mitigation measures they’ve implemented, and what do they anticipate will be the long term impacts? We are also curious to know if there are specific areas that need to be changed or receive further consideration should the legislation be opened up.
The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce is looking for feedback on the impact of Bill 148 on the business community.
We've built a short two question survey that is looking for what has changed, if anything, in the past eight months since the legislation came into effect.
We are also asking for input to present to the provincial
government should they reopen or solicit feedback on potential changes to the legislation.
Businesses, please take a moment to fill out the survey. It will help us best serve the advocacy needs of our business community.
Thank you for taking our survey.
Questions about Bill 148? Check out our advocacy page.
In a few weeks, chambers of commerce and boards of trade from across Canada will be gathering in Thunder Bay to discuss and debate how to influence federal public policy. It’s fitting that this year’s Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC) Annual General Meeting is happening in a city that’s fairly close to being the middle of our country. Now more than ever Canada and Canadian businesses need to band together behind common values and ideals of how to move our economy forward.
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, regulatory regimes and the desire for business tax reform by the federal
government these are challenging times.
Earlier this year the CCC issued the 2018 version of “10 Ways to Build a Canada that Wins” and as our national meeting approaches, this document is worth revisiting as it will be a guide for advocacy.
In fact, a quick scan of the 10 ways and you can see how each could be connected to the economic climate in the City and County of Peterborough. Here’s a look at a couple of them as we profiled them earlier this year.
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. 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:
Helping SMEs Trade and Grow
We know and previous studies and research have told us that Canada, is really good at starting companies, but where we fall short is in our ability to grow those companies into medium or even large businesses.
In the CCC document we learn that 99% of all businesses are SMEs and that SMEs contribute 25% of all goods and services and yet exports less than a third of Canada’s GDP.
Encouraging companies to scale up and become global leaders requires a host of tools including funding programs, tax and regulatory policy that enable easy and low-cost compliance and programs that
continue to connect SMEs to domestic and international business opportunities.
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.
In just over three weeks, chambers of commerce and boards of trade from across the country will be meeting in Thunder Bay.
Overall there will be nine policy resolutions on tax policy, including one from the Peterborough
Chamber co-sponsored by the Chambre du Commerce du Montreal Metropolitan and the Port Hope & District Chamber of Commerce.
The resolution titled "Bridging the Digital Tax Divide to Ensure a Fair and Equitable Fiscal Environment for All Businesses" offers three recommendations to the federal government:
1. Examine how to apply VAT evenly and predictably across provinces and sectors in a digital world, including an assessment of potential revenue from foreign digital companies.
2. Require foreign digital companies to charge an appropriate provincial VAT (e.g. GST/HST) on sales related to the purchase of their services in Canada and remit the revenues from these taxes to the proper tax authorities.
3. Require foreign digital companies to register with the Canada Revenue Agency.
Delegates will be voting on the resolutions September 23 and 24.
The last time Canada undertook a comprehensive review of its tax system, humankind still hadn’t set foot on the moon. In the five decades since, a cut-and-paste approach has made Canada’s tax system more cumbersome and inefficient.
As the voice of more than 200,000 businesses, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce is launching a project that will build the case for a comprehensive review of Canada’s tax system.
“Our complex and burdensome tax system is driving away investment and eroding Canada’s competitiveness,” said The Hon. Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. “Canadian companies face serious competitive pressures from other jurisdictions that are aggressively acting to help their businesses grow and compete globally. To ensure Canadian businesses are not completely out of the game, our government needs to launch a comprehensive review of our taxation system to make it simpler and more modern, and to reduce compliance costs for business of all sizes.”
The project being launched today will be led by Dr. Trevin Stratton, the Chamber’s Chief Economist, and will include a series of roundtables that will bring together business leaders and other stakeholders to discuss the challenges Canada’s current tax system creates for businesses, innovators, and job creators.
“Canada’s declining tax competitiveness impacts all aspects of Canadian business, from cross-border supply chains, our ability to attract investment, to hiring and talent retention, as well as mergers and acquisitions,” said Dr. Stratton. “While we are focused on making the case for a comprehensive review of the tax system, we also recognize there are measures that government can implement right now to improve our competitive positioning.”
“For example,” Dr. Stratton added, “allowing businesses to fully expense the cost of new machinery and equipment in the tax year the investment is made or simplifying the delivery of benefit programs. Through this process we will also be advocating for changes like these that can help businesses now.”
The Chamber’s efforts will be supported by Canadian taxation experts, some of whom who will form the project’s Tax Advisory Panel. The panel will include:
Dr. Trevin Stratton – Chief Economist, Canadian Chamber of Commerce
Bruce Ball – Vice President, Taxation, CPA Canada
Fred O’Riordan – National Leader, Tax Policy, Ernst and Young
Guy Legault – President, Conference for Advanced Life Underwriting
Victor Gomez – Director of Government and Regulatory Affairs, Sun Life
The Chamber will issue a full report making the case for a comprehensive review of the tax system, along with recommendations for some immediate steps government can take to improve Canadian
competitiveness in advance of the 2019 election.
Learn more: chamber.ca
Business likes certainty. However, sometimes the only certainty is uncertainty. Business doesn’t want to operate in a stagnant environment, but rather one in which a business can flourish. An environment that offers certainty that they will have support through effective and evidence-based public policy that allows them to grow, to not be burdened by extensive red tape, to employ residents in their community and to benefit the economy.
That is not the world business is operating in today. Today there are trade tensions that are threatening to derail what has been built up over the past 30 years. The intertwined economies of Canada, the US and Mexico should be celebrated, not dismantled.
To further this cause, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, and by association your Peterborough Chamber of Commerce, has initiated a campaign called Keep Trade Free. The mission of the campaign is to advocate for freer trade within North America and around the world, as well as to ensure a successful renegotiation of NAFTA for continued economic prosperity for Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.
In a recent 5 Minutes for Business publication, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s Director of International Affairs Mark Agnew talks about how there are a lot of elements businesses have no control over in the current situation, but there are a few bright spots. One is refocussing on NAFTA with the Mexican presidential election over; and the second is to tackle our own interprovincial trade barriers and regulations that hold us back from truly being competitive.
In our local municipal circle, Douro-Dummer Mayor J. Murray Jones has been saying for years, “we’re all in this together” as a reason to work together across municipal lines and present a united front for the
Peterborough region. Simply put, the same concept applies to NAFTA.
As the coalition identifies there are some key facts about trade and the situation we’re in:
aluminum, Canada’s retaliatory measures in response to the U.S. tariffs, and now potentially the use of safeguard measures by our federal government to limit steel dumping.
For example, some of our members are telling us they are caught up in a situation that could have significant lasting impacts. The challenge is that Canada doesn’t manufacture some of the various products being considered for safeguard. This potentially limits Canadian business' access to products in certain industries, such as construction. Already tariffs and retaliatory tariffs have led to increased costs and prices; in some instances, up to 25%.
Another concern is that contracts Canadian companies have with U.S. companies are still in effect, so these tariffs end up hurting businesses on both sides of the border.
Earlier this week, the Trump Administration also announced that a report examining potential tariffs on the auto sector would not be ready for the end of August, and no new timeline for the report’s release was given.
The end result is that protectionism on top of protectionism doesn’t help anyone.
The provincial government has announced that they intend to introduce a combination of online and regulated private retail to address the upcoming legalization of cannabis. It’s a move that is supported by the Chamber Network. The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) has advocated for a private-sector, licensing-based, and locally-oriented approach for the distribution of recreational cannabis since commitments for legalization were made by the federal government in 2016.
“We would like to stress that safety and social responsibility must be the first and overwhelming priorities of any distribution system, taking into account larger concerns about the underground economy, health and safety, and the administrative impact on municipalities,” says Rocco Rossi, President & CEO, Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “We look forward to continuing to work with the government during their consultation process with all stakeholders to ensure this approach is carefully designed to grow Ontario’s economy and build shared prosperity for all.”
Ministers Vic Fedeli and Caroline Mulroney state that under the new plan private retailers will have to follow a series of provincial rules, such as prohibiting the sale of cannabis to anyone under the age of 19.
Online sales will begin immediately following the legalization on October 17th, with the private retail model to follow on April 1, 2019. Leading up to that date the government will be conducting a series of consultations. Consultations will include municipalities, Indigenous communities, businesses, law enforcement, and public health advocates. The consultations will also be used to determine specific rules including the types of eligible businesses that will be able to sell cannabis, the roles of municipalities and First Nations and how to protect children.
Ontario is not the first province to go this route; Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta are also choosing to implement a private retail model, while the private retail model has yielded economic benefits in several US states.
In the 2016 approved policy resolution, the submitting chamber details the economic benefits to Colorado and Washington since they legalized cannabis. In 2014, Colorado retailers sold $386 million USD of medical and $313 million USD of recreational marijuana, totalling nearly $700 million USD in sales. These sales generated $63 million USD in tax revenue and an additional $13 million USD collected in licenses and fees. The state’s Department of Revenue projected that marijuana sales in the state would exceed $1 billion USD in 2016.
Blueprint Letters for Making Ontario Open for Business
In July, the OCC wrote to each provincial Cabinet minister, outlining a blueprint to execute over the next four years that will help make Ontario open for business. In these letters, we asked that the current plan for distribution be re-evaluated prior to the October 17 legalization date, and that the government consider the following principles in the process of policy design:
Recreational cannabis use will not be allowed in any public spaces, workplaces or motorized vehicles. The province is also planning to give municipalities a one-time window to opt-out of permitting a physical
cannabis store within their boundaries.
The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce has held several sessions on marijuana and the workplace and the responsibility of employers and employees. A recap of a panel from our 2017 Business Summit is available on our YouTube channel – Peterborough Chamber.
We would like to hear from our members and business community about their thoughts on the
Reach us at: email@example.com
The core work of the Chamber is to represent our members, but just as significant is to be the catalyst that strengthens our entire community. We believe that a strong business sector lifts everyone up and makes the community a better place to live, work and play. We may advocate for our members, but that advocacy affects everyone – other businesses, community groups and charities, all three levels of government through fair taxation, and the poorest among us. A strong economy provides for a strong community.
Recently, we were asked if our messaging to government had changed since the election and the Conservative Party winning the majority. As the advocacy group for business, our message will continue to centre around four pillars:
These pillars set the course for our advocacy during the provincial election and we anticipate they will fuel our discussion during the upcoming municipal election campaign.
At the provincial level, Ontario is in a time of transition, the government that guided us through almost a decade and a half is no longer in power. It’s an adjustment period as we learn and understand the position of Premier Ford and his government. The main messaging is around improving life for Ontario’s residents, which is not dissimilar to the goal of the previous government, but from a different path.
Since the return of the legislature on July 9th there have been commitments of improved trade between provinces as a result of the Council of Federation meetings and continued connections made to our trading partners to the south.
There are more discussions to be had and most likely, there are still changes to come, just as there would had the election results been different. This is where the Chamber commitment to our four pillars benefits our advocacy as we are dealing policy not politics.
Already there have been a number of significant changes from the cancellation of the cap and trade program to the management changes at Hydro One to a re-examination of the sexual education curriculum. And most recently, the cancellation of the Basic Income Guarantee trial in Lindsay, Thunder Bay etc. which was an eyebrow raiser. It’s not immediately clear what the benefit is of cancelling this program before it’s complete - a short three-year trial, which we are almost half way through.
As a society, we are measured by how we can effectively empower our most vulnerable, and we need to consistently ask ourselves how we measure up. This was a good opportunity to look and gain data on a possible alternative to the existing social safety net, which we think we can all agree needs to be improved. We’ve now lost that opportunity to a vague promise of “something different within 100 days”. At this point, it’s impossible to say whether or not that “something different” will pan out to be a better solution and that uncertainty presents valid cause for concern for many.
The Chamber network fought hard against Bill 148, which many viewed as the business community against the lowest income earners. The truth of our argument, which is well documented, was that we thought it was unfair for the business community to share the entire burden of lifting our most vulnerable up. We recommended three things: a longer runway for the implementation of Bill 148, the completion of the Basic Income Guarantee study, and income tax measures to help low income earners.
Basic Income Guarantee may not have proven to be the right solution, but cancelling the trial guarantees that the option is off the table. The Chamber published an election platform for the Provincial election that called for an evidence-based approach to public policy. Cancelling a trial before it’s finished certainly doesn’t meet that criteria.
The importance of evidence-based public policy should not be lost on anyone. Just as a business doesn’t move forward on a project until it has examined the pros and cons, the possible outcomes, and the various ways to achieve the end goal, so too should the public policy that guides government decisions. This belief is what elevates government decisions above politics, but it requires certainty, consistent thought and a clear and well-communicated path.
Trade is the subject of much debate. Perhaps given the past 18 months that’s an understatement, but from the renegotiations around NAFTA to recent discussions at the Council of the Federation around
interprovincial trade to CETA and CPTPP agreements, not only the act of trade, but the core value of why we trade is being called into question.
How do we incorporate values in the midst of looking for solutions to continue with and expand the integrated economies of the world? The values question adds another layer to the debate and the truth of the matter is that both the trade itself and the reason why we look to trade in the first place are intended to achieve the same goal – prosperity. Many technologies such as the Internet, social media platforms, e-commerce and more have created connections that were beyond imagination even just a few decades ago. These connections and technologies allow for easier and faster trade, but then what is the human impact? And how do we adjust training and skills to adapt to a changing reality?
The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has been formulating a position on why #TradeMatters for a while now. ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton AO, in an interview with MSNBC, spoke to why trade was encouraged over 40 years ago, identifying that multi-lateral, non-discriminatory trade in abundance achieved the desired prosperity for effort. The challenge today, he went on to say, is that “talk of the aggregate benefits of trade was of little comfort to someone who has lost their job or is working for less" and that he is “genuinely worried about those who are no longer in favour of the open economy. Investing in skills and development is only part of the answer. It also requires looking at what the jobs of the future are, and how you prepare people for lifelong learning to participate in that is not just a government issue. It should obsess businesses everywhere.”
It’s an interesting perspective that encapsulates the debate around trade as a whole and separates the role of country from the actual act of trade.
The ICC also writes the following:
“Evidence shows that well over 80% of job losses in advanced economies are not due to trade, but increased productivity through technology and innovation. As the world’s largest business
organization ICC urges governments at the national level to work with business to shape policies and
partnerships that address labour market dislocations.”
Labour market questions are of huge concern to communities of all sizes. In Peterborough city and county there are businesses who are unable to find the workers they need and this inhibits growth, competitiveness and prosperity.
Through our Leaders Lunch series which is focused on market access, the Peterborough Chamber has found itself bringing together local business leaders as well as educators and institutions around building and providing a workforce that can help those businesses interested in trade stay competitive in our global economy.
“There is an issue that we are confusing job losses as a consequence of trade or as a consequence of shifts in economic power or from technological advances,” Mr Denton said in the MSNBC interview. “Decisions about how you skill people up to confront new realities of new jobs that are being created are domestic issues.”
Since the recession of 2008 diversifying our trading partners has been a focus of our federal
government. This is seen with the signing of CETA and CPTPP. And while there has also been
considerable discussion around upskilling and the skills mismatch, that discussion in the context of trade has not been as loud. It is a good place to start though. If as a country we are encouraging more trade with new partners, having an understanding of the job requirements those new trade agreements could foster is crucial. If technology has sped up the time it takes to produce a widget then what are the skills required of
employees in the new process? How do they fit in? What is the willingness and ease of returning to school to ensure business competitiveness and relevance?
The fact that the US tariffs on steel and aluminum and the reciprocating measures from these countries
(except Japan) is in the billions - $37B on China, $13B on Canada, $8B on the European Union, $3B on Mexico, and $2B on Japan - highlights the prosperity that has been created through trade, but what’s missing is the human impact. From a blog by the US Chambers of Commerce we know that the
integration of economies goes beyond monetary value to the millions of jobs currently dependent on trade.
The question should not be how to scale back or adjust the amount of trade to achieve prosperity, but how to encourage a workforce that can meet the trade demands that the world wants to see.
International Chamber of Commerce Blog
By: Sandra Dueck, Policy Analyst, Peterborough Chamber of Commerce
I often find myself travelling to Toronto for roundtable and consultation events. This past week was no different, as I headed out to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s (OCC) Transportation Report
consultation kick-off event. My journey is usually the following: drive to the Oshawa GO station (about one hour), hop on the train (another hour) and then walk to my final destination from Union Station. The appeal of train service directly out of and returning to Peterborough grows with each of these journeys.
As I was on my way to attend the transportation consultation event, I was hyperaware of my trip - how I used the system, the connections I made, the municipalities and regions I travelled through and how most have both urban and rural components, as does Peterborough.
Transportation is an issue that is critically important to the city and county of Peterborough, particularly
as officials work to meet government growth and settlement mandates around the Places to Grow Act. The predicted increase in residents and workers leads to questions as to how our communities will move those people in and around our municipal boundaries, as well as across the region and then into adjacent trading areas such as Durham, City of Kawartha Lakes, the GTA and to the east.
Recently, I was part of a committee that attempted to take a peek into the future to understand where
our connectivity falls short and perhaps plant the seeds for future solutions. This particular group was formed out of Minister Monsef’s Jobs and Quality of Life Summit. Ultimately, the group agreed that
supporting the VIA Rail High Frequency Project should be a federal government priority, as well as consideration for funding for identified local pilot projects to help test creative solutions for our local communities.
Fresh off the discussions of that committee, the OCC project is very timely.
One of the key messages around transit is that in order to encourage participation the mode and its schedule needs to be frequent, reliable, convenient and, from an operational view, financially
sustainable over the long term.
There were four sessions at the consultation:
Role of Governance in Transportation Planning
For me this discussion led to more questions than answers. Who does what and how do we plan to meet the needs and goals of municipalities, the province and the federal government? How does our ability to be weather resistant impact our infrastructure needs and funding of projects? Will linking funding to
outcomes be more efficient? How do we start to harmonize movement?
It’s also important to ensure that the officials in the right departments are talking to each other and aware of projects and needs.
Rail’s Role in Transportation Solutions in Ontario
Rail is an economic enabler because of its ability to move a lot of people/product fairly quickly over a distance. An example of the efficiency of rail, as one speaker told us, is trains have the capacity to move 50,000 people per hour and in order to move that number of people on a highway that highway would have to be 25 lanes wide. Stations become transit and economic hubs by default, providing opportunities to transition from rail to other modes of transportation, as well as other economic options such as retail or office uses. Trains provide productivity time, are able to run in all weather, and help decrease greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Some of the challenges of trains are the crossing of many geographic boundaries; the need for multi-level government cooperation; intense capital needs, particularly at the beginning of a project; and the role of the private sector.
Creative Transit Solutions
This was an interesting conversation about how people get to those transit hubs we’ve created. How can technology help with first/last mile options? Will there be varying options from bikes to scooters to carpooling along with the traditional transit bus and taxi option? What are the bylaws required by
The example of the Municipality of Innisfil collaborating with Uber to help solve its transit challenges is now legendary. What can other communities take away from that example? Is Uber interested in expanding that model?
How interconnected can transit systems be with fares between different modes and an increasing number of regions. For example, instead of trying to figure out and fund moving people from one of
our northern townships to Peterborough, can we more easily solve getting those folks to a slightly larger community such as Buckhorn and then from Buckhorn get them to Peterborough? This way transit,
especially in more rural communities, potentially has a better opportunity to meet the requirements of frequency, reliability, and convenience.
Autonomous Transit Solutions
This line of thinking worked its way into all three of the other discussions as well, but not necessarily in the way I imagined. There is definitely opportunity to see the benefits, but there was also discussion about how an increased use of autonomous vehicles could also create more traffic if the technology is not applied smartly.
One of the most interesting pieces of information around autonomous solutions was on the headway of trains. By safely decreasing the distance between trains, operators can increase the number of trips a train can make in a day, making train options and timing more efficient.
Riding the train and driving back to Peterborough offered more opportunity for reflection. Our population is aging and a portion of our younger generations is finding ways to live without automobiles, so the opportunity for transit to fill a need is there. How do we become more interconnected in our
movement of people, students, employees and employers between rural, suburban, and urban, as one speaker put it? How does the new 407 factor in? How do we finance and fund our solutions?
I look forward to hearing from you on this issue.
What do you think? How do you see transportation being used in the future?