Starting today (Thursday, April 26th) the provincial chamber network of about 130 chambers of commerce and boards of trade will gather in Hamilton for the Ontario Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting (OCC AGM).
The event will feature a lunch with Canada’s Ambassador to the US David McNaughton, break out
discussions on a variety of topics that will help guide chambers in helping their members, and the policy resolution debate which sets the policy agenda for the network.
This year the Peterborough Chamber is putting forward three resolutions for consideration.
Mitigating the Impact of Bill 148
This resolution offers 10 recommendations to government to help mitigate the impacts of the Bill 148 legislation. Among the suggestions is a tax credit to help businesses cover additional costs that were required for a business to prepare for the changes including extra human resources advice, accounting and legal fees. It also asks for compliance issuances before fines with regard to the 170+ legislated changes in the bill, and improvements to Business Education, Scale Up and Charitable tax credits. It asks to create a
bracketed small business deduction to encourage growth and that the government take a "reward the good players" approach to recognize employers who have consistently demonstrated positive employment and labour practices. Finally, it asks the government to create defined implementation timelines for legislation that has an economic impact on small business.
Maximizing Growth in Built Areas
This particular resolution is aimed at helping property owners and municipalities understand the needs and amount of unused space in urban growth areas. The Places To Grow Act identifies density and job targets, but there remains a lot of unused space in urban growth areas with older buildings. Creating a climate to explore these spaces and understand the needs associated with them is crucial to meeting density targets.
The recommendation is to use the Mainstreet funding envelope to help fund these studies.
Unrealized Heads and Bed Levy Hurts Ontario’s Economic Competitiveness
This levy applies to post-secondary, correctional institutions and hospitals and has not been adjusted in 30 years. The levy is paid in lieu of taxes by these organizations. We are asking that the per bed/head amount be increased to $100 and then tied to the Consumer Price Index. This type of action will increase the amount received by municipalities and is more reflective of the cost of providing services to these locations.
In all, chambers will be discussing over 50 such policy papers over the course of the weekend. Other resolutions include asking the government to return to the previous calculation of statutory holiday pay, to complete a sector by sector assessment of the new scheduling legislation, to examine and report publicly on time of use electricity pricing, to close the gap on financial literacy, to address the skills mismatch, and to improve digital services for Ontario businesses.
Delegates will also hear from the Premier, the Conservatives and the leader of the NDP; and talk about cross-border initiatives, how to work with municipal governments, and mental health in the workplace.
The OCC AGM is also a time to celebrate business and community leadership across Ontario. Flying the flag for Peterborough will be President & CEO Stuart Harrison, Board of Directors Vice Chair Ben vanVeen, and Policy Analyst Sandra Dueck.