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?
Ontario’s business advocate outlines key priorities for shared economic prosperity across Ontario
PETERBOROUGH, JULY 18, 2018 - With the legislative session resuming this week, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) and Peterborough Chamber wrote to each provincial Cabinet minister, outlining a blueprint to execute over the next four years that will help make Ontario open for business. The OCC’s blueprint includes both policy asks where immediate action is required to support business and foundational recommendations for long-term prosperity.
A key tool to making this province competitive is reducing red tape. The Peterborough Chamber and the OCC believes Premier Ford’s step to create a separate Deputy Minister for Red Tape and Regulatory Burden Reduction is an excellent start in lowering the administrative burden felt by Ontario businesses.
“We are providing all Ministers with a blueprint for steps that can be taken to ensure we are growing Ontario’s economy and building shared prosperity for all,” said Stuart Harrison, President & CEO, Peterborough Chamber of Commerce. “These suggestions are grassroots ideas endorsed by the Chamber network across Ontario. Each ministry has a fundamental role to play in making Ontario open for business and we look forward to working with Premier Ford as well as his cabinet in achieving the policy commitments that support businesses across the province.”
The themes that emerged in the OCC and Peterborough Chamber blueprint for making Ontario open for business include:
For more information please contact:
Policy Analyst/Communications Specialist
Peterborough Chamber of Commerce
By: Stuart Harrison, President & CEO, Peterborough Chamber of Commerce
I had an interesting lunch with a couple of Peterborough’s cooler customers, Neil Morton and Cody May, and the topic of the Chamber of Commerce came up, not surprisingly…
In the course of explaining everything we do here at the Chamber, especially around the content we create, the social media we utilize to distribute it, the staff we employ, the volunteers we attract, I said “this is not your grandfather's chamber”.
Remember that Neil and Cody are marketers and their reaction was along the lines of “OMG, YOU HAVE TO USE THAT AS A SLOGAN!!!!!!!!”
Being a grandfather, not to mention an old white guy, I have to admit that I was not immediately on board. However, perhaps it gives me the opportunity to lay out just who we are and what we do. First of all, we are indeed pretty damn old, having been around since March 21, 1889. (note to self, start planning 130th birthday party…)
We can put the Chamber’s name on many of the community’s accomplishments over the past century. There have been hundreds of women and men who, for no other reason than love of our city and county, have volunteered with The Chamber to make good things happen.
Like me, they believe that Peterborough will never be good enough for any of us until it’s good enough for all of us.
The Chamber is people. People doing work that is purposeful, transparent, accountable and strategic, all with the goal of strengthening the community. And it’s an organization that’s driven by the leadership of its members.
At our core, we’re a relatively small local non-profit, that runs lean. We don’t make willy-nilly policy
decisions based on the interests of a few. Rather, our positions on issues that impact your business and the community as a whole are based on a long-view and are based on fact, and broad input. Our members elect the peer representatives (our Board of Directors) each year who make those decisions.
Business advocacy is paramount to an economically vibrant city. And that effort is privately funded by our membership. We’re present in local government, at Queens Park, and in the Parliament of Canada to
influence policy and to ensure that the stage is set and maintained for business success right here in
Peterborough. Having a positive, productive relationship with government at all levels matters – and we’re often able to resolve challenges for our members through those relationships.
There are no dark, smoke-filled rooms. We work openly and account for our work, with a focus on two fundamentals; the ultimate success of our member companies, and prosperity for the community of Peterborough City and County.
There are a multitude of organizations involved in this work, representing everything from economic development, innovation, new Canadians, women, the downtown, the trades, the professions, etc., etc. We call them #TeamPtbo. But we feel that we represent all of those organizations, all of those sectors, all of that potential.
And, just like we’ve done for nearly 130 years, we leverage the passion, time, treasure and spirit of our
community to ensure that Peterborough remains strong in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.
There are many reasons to belong to The Chamber, from promoting your business, to saving you money, to helping you gain a competitive edge. But the most important is the simple strengthening of your
business. I invite you, as always, to be a part of writing the next chapter. Your membership is not only an investment in your business, it’s an annual vote of confidence in ours.
The Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce is seeking members* interested in serving on the Board of Directors.
This is an exciting opportunity for members who have a keen interest in our organization, who have foresight, and are good at conceptualizing. Serving on the Board of Directors with fellow business leaders in the community will utilize your group and teamwork skills.
The Board of Directors plays a significant role in the development of Chamber policies and focuses on governance of the organization through policy governance.
Directors must be willing to make the appropriate time commitment (please see application form). Representing the Chamber Membership, Directors carry forward the "Voice of Business" to all levels of government.
For more information on the work of the Chamber, please visit www.peterboroughchamber.ca.
If you are interested, please complete the Board Application Form. The form must be completed in its entirety and submitted to the Chamber by Wednesday, August 15th, 2018 at either:
Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce, 175 George Street North, Peterborough, ON K9J 3G6
*Only members in good standing may apply.
The Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce is a member-based organization representing over 900 Peterborough and area businesses. Our main focus is to channel the collective strength of the business community to improve the economy. This includes providing representation on numerous committees, conducting surveys, issuing discussion papers and developing policy positions on issues of significance to our members.
Nomination Deadline is August 15, 2018
Earlier this year the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) sent a letter to Minister Marc Garneau.
"The OCC believes in the merit of VIA Rail’s HFR plan. As shared infrastructure becomes more congested and Canadians demand more of their rail service provider, VIA’s proposal for a dedicated passenger corridor will create significant economic development along the route, including providing an estimated 336,000 person-years of employment. The HFR plan will increase access to affordable housing in the new rail corridor and provide new residents with a transit option for commuting. Increasing rail service will also provide an avenue for alleviating some of the ever-increasing road congestion in the heavily travelled provincial roads.
Additionally, hybrid electric-diesel trains running on this route would dramatically reduce carbon
emissions by 12.5 million tons of CO2, the equivalent of a car-pool reduction of 2.8 million vehicles.
In addition to the benefits of more efficient and environmentally-friendly inter-city travel, dedicated tracks for high frequency trains between Toronto – Peterborough – Ottawa will also ensure the corporation can maximize ridership and revenue, and improve their on-time performance to over 95%."
Recently I attended a session hosted by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce called Shocking the
System: Ontario’s Energy Future Post-Election. Essentially, the gathered group was asking two questions:
What is the status of the energy file currently?
What should industry and business be asking of the next provincial government in this space?
To answer the first question, there are a number of projects underway including the modernization panel examining the Ontario Energy Board and the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) moving forward on a market renewal project that has the goal of finding $2.2 - $5.2 billion in efficiencies over the next 10 years. As Alexandra Campbell from the IESO told the group, it’s taking a long look at the processes in place and while cleaning up those processes may not lead to immediate results, it will translate into longer term savings.
The new cabinet was announced last week with Greg Rickford installed as the Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines as well as Minister of Indigenous Affairs. There is also a campaign promise by the Ford government to realize a 12 per cent reduction in electricity bills for residential and small business customers.
We also know that the provincial government under Premier Doug Ford will be dismantling the Cap and Trade regime.
There are fixed costs that limit the flexibility of the system while at the same time flexibility is required to ensure that the system is operating in an efficient manner.
The market doesn’t predict a day ahead and there is currently a two schedule system to determine price, which can lead to uncertainty for larger use customers.
So, given this brief overview of what’s going on, what are the questions business should be asking the government?
As the dismantling of the Cap and Trade program moves forward over the next number of weeks and months, business and industry will be looking for answers as to how currently owned credits (there are about $3 billion worth out there) will be dealt with. If any, what will be the downdraft impact into the economy in exiting some of the current obligations? Add in the federal government carbon tax regime and it’s a fluid situation.
To accomplish the deep structural changes it was noted that it would require great balance between the tax base and rate base. Does the government access different funding envelopes to accomplish their goals?
The business community is also looking for balance and a commitment that a reduction for one group doesn’t mean an immediate increase for another group. What are the existing assets and fixed costs that are part of the equation around energy? What is the required mix of energy going forward and what will be the forecast demand?
How do local utilities live under the new government? What decisions will be theirs and will the mandate encouraging consolidation still exist?
The IESO is currently exploring how to move to a day-ahead market to allow for more flexibility and certainty.
Does having the Ministry of Energy combined with others allow for more synergies or will it add to the complexity of the file?
Technology will play a big role in the future of the energy file. This statement led to a discussion around Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) which are behind the meter options for business. Is there an appropriate way to coordinate these resources? What are the options for energy storage? Will new programs replace those currently under the Cap and Trade regime? If transportation is the sector that will require the most energy in the next two decades how will that be fed? How can the return on investment for new storage options be fast-tracked?
Ultimately, the group felt that the time was upon us to disrupt the energy system to recognize that one size fits all rarely applies and that more than ever we must look beyond the poles and wires to
solutions that are creative and sustainable.
By: Dr. Tom Phillips, Trent University and Rhonda Keenan, Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development
Having a skilled workforce is the number one concern of industry. As Peterborough & the Kawarthas
Economic Development (PKED) meets with the region’s business leaders a common theme has emerged: a skills gap. Businesses have job openings but there doesn’t appear to be anyone available with the right skills to fill the open positions. At the same time, highly-skilled university graduates are starting to job search and finding that they lack the applied experience that employers are looking for.
Businesses know that access to talent and workforce is the key to their ongoing success. Innovative communities throughout North America are growing their local economy by tapping into and
collaborating with their educational institutions to develop the next generation of talent.
Whether they are growing from within the community, or relocating to the region, companies will look at the talent pipeline first and foremost before they will begin to look at other variables. Business will invest where talent lives.
Trent University is developing exciting new plans that will see future Trent students engaged in more work-integrated and experiential learning placements to improve their employability and assist students in their transition to employment.
New Canadians, youth and spouses of employed workers all have something in common. They have experienced barriers to entering the local workforce and many are considering entrepreneurship as a great alternative.
In markets such as Peterborough, over half of our businesses are owner-operated. The Kaufman Foundation cites research that indicates 80% of all new jobs will come from companies that are less than 5 years old. This same research also shows that immigrants were nearly twice as likely to start new businesses. Adding in the robust business support system with services offered by organizations including: Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development, the Innovation Cluster, Startup Peterborough, Community Futures Peterborough, the Chambers of Commerce, and others, it is clear that our community punches above its weight. There is real opportunity for both established and aspiring entrepreneurs to grow in Peterborough & the Kawarthas. Entrepreneurship can be an incredibly strong way to retain our local youth, while also providing an inclusive and supportive environment for New Canadians.
It was timely that Trent University partnered with PKED to host a Community Leaders Breakfast on June 25 to hear how entrepreneurship and experiential learning can benefit our region.
This event brought together business leaders, academia, community leaders and economic development partners to engage in facilitated discussion on the following topics:
The conversations and feedback were invaluable. Trent University is a world-class academic institution and we have world-class businesses operating in our communities that are looking for their future
workforce. Trent University will compile the input from this Community Leaders Breakfast to produce a publication and final report that will guide their new programming and identify new opportunities for collaboration between Trent and the business community.
The potential synergies are remarkable. The collaboration between academia and business will be key to developing a prosperous region into the future, with opportunities for students, businesses, and the community-at-large to succeed.
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) and Peterborough Chamber released a report in June 2017 which identifies ten recommendations that will better align the skills acquired by Ontarians with those required by employers.
The report, which was developed in partnership with leading officials in the private and educational sectors, explores the research and general sentiment toward skills development: