Round Six of NAFTA negotiations has wrapped up and a quick scour of the landscape concludes a much more positive tone was achieved between negotiators from Canada, United States and Mexico.
That said there is more work to be done Canadian Chamber has been informing the dialogue since the beginning of the process and offers this insight:
“NAFTA Modernization is a reasonable goal: It’s a fact that NAFTA was negotiated more than two decades ago.
How to Modernize
We need to keep a few guiding principles in mind in order to succeed:
The latest round of negotiations included discussion around automobiles, dispute resolution and the proposed review clause.
Round 7 of negotiations will be in Mexico starting on February 26th.
Bill 148 has resulted in a significant number of changes to the Employment Standards Act and Labour Relations Act, from the amount of minimum wage to the calculation used in determining statuatory holiday pay to the definition of an independent contractor.
The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce wants to hear how your business has chosen to approach the changes that came into effect on January 1, 2018.
The answers will inform our continued advocacy efforts to the provincial government on this issue.
Thank in you advance for taking the time to fill out this brief survey of three questions. It should take you no more than five minutes.
On the Chamber's Advocacy Bill 148 page you will find links to:
You can access the survey through the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce Bill 148 Advocacy page.
Take the Survey
The City of Peterborough continues to be a city in transition. And that’s a good thing as new ideas and
processes have the potential to move our community forward in a positive way. That said, councillors will have some decisions ahead of them that will have an impact on our members. At the General Committee meeting of January 15th, councillors were presented with several reports on these issues including:
Legalization of Cannabis
Peterborough has been identified as one of 40 Ontario communities to have an Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation (OCRC) store open this year, with another 110 across the province by the end of 2020. The report by City Solicitor Patricia Lester outlines what is known about the role of the municipality under this new federal and provincial legislation. Lester highlights that as a creature of the province, the municipality cannot deny a business license and that the final location choice is in the hands of the OCRC.
Read the Report
E-Tendering and E-Bidding System
The City of Peterborough is planning to change its online tender and bidding system to a group called Bids and Tenders. In her report to council Director of Corporate Services Sandra Clancy states that "issuing the City’s procurement documents through Bids and Tenders will streamline the process for staff, create efficiencies within the departments and reduce the number of non-compliant bids being submitted by vendors.”
The new system, which will be implemented between June and September of this year, also comes with a lower annual membership fee of $165 compared to the current $250.
Read the Report
Brownfields Tax Assistance Program
The tax incentive only applies to properties requiring environmental remediation. During the length of the agreement with the property owner, the City does receive taxes based on the assessment of a clean property. However, the owner receives a rebate equal to the difference between the taxes of the clean and unclean property, to cover the cost of remediation. After the agreement the City then realizes the full amount of taxes based on the assessment of the cleaned up property.
The view is that there is more value in the long run to the City on a remediated property than one that stays as is. The Director of Corporate Services concludes that, “The BTAP program is having a positive impact on enabling development to happen at locations that are environmentally challenged that would otherwise likely not be redeveloped.”
Read the Report
Development Charges Amendment Study
The goal of the amendments is to encourage more development in the downtown core. Doing so will help the municipality on several fronts including meeting provincial Places To Grow targets and opening up a variety of residential opportunities.
The current by-law has a life cycle of five years before a full review is required. Therefore, any amendments
approved by Council will be in place until January 1, 2020. At the will of Council, they could continue in the next iteration of the by-law as well.
The study presented to Council examines the following:
A public meeting on the amendments will be held on Monday, February 5th, 2018 at 5:00pm at Council Chambers and a secondary report will be presented to Council sitting as General Committee on March 26th.
Read the Report
The next City Council meeting is Monday, January 29th, 2018.
The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce is a member of the Local Employment Planning Council (LEPC) Industry Business Engagement Working Group.
The LEPC is a provincial pilot project that is in the process of developing a clear picture of the workforce landscape in eight Ontario communities, including the City and County of Peterborough.
One of the projects is a study of Newcomer Employment Activity by Laridae and the Workforce Development Board (WDB).
Our Peterborough Chamber members can help out by completing a short survey on their views, concerns and needs with respect to recruiting and hiring newcomers to Canada.
Take the survey
The survey will be open until February 5th. It should take about ten minutes to complete. Your response will be anonymous. In addition, please share the survey with other employers.
Thank you for taking the time to provide input to this project. Your opinion is valued!
*About the Newcomer Employment Integration Project
The federal government released its long-awaited draft legislation on the federal carbon pricing regime. Provinces and territories must put into place carbon pricing systems that meet certain criteria, called a “benchmark”.
For those jurisdictions that do not meet these criteria, the federal government will impose its own carbon pricing regime – referred to as a “backstop.” The backstop has two parts. First, is a carbon levy that distributors of fuel will have to pay. It won’t be charged at the pump, although it will increase the price of natural gas and petroleum and, in some places, electricity. Second, is a separate regulation that will only apply to facilities that emit a large amount of greenhouse gases.
Since provinces and territories have until September 1, 2018 to outline their approach to carbon pricing, it is not yet certain where exactly the federal systems will apply. However, carbon pricing systems in BC, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec are generally expected to meet the federal government’s criteria and won’t be subject to the federal law as well.
The chamber network has supported carbon pricing since 2011. However, as mentioned in a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau and signed by the CEOs of the provincial and territorial chambers, we are concerned that government is choosing to layer regulation on top of carbon pricing policies. This approach not only adds costs but negates one of the main benefi ts of carbon pricing: the fl exibility it offers to business.
We’ll continue to make the case that, as Canada moves forward with ambitious climate policies, government should consider lowering costs elsewhere. A good place to start is comprehensive review of the Canadian tax system.
If you have any questions on this policy file, please reach out to our Natural Resources Policy Director Katrina Marsh, firstname.lastname@example.org . If you do please cc Peterborough Chamber Policy Analyst Sandra Dueck email@example.com
PETERBOROUGH: On Tuesday, January 16th, the Chamber celebrated the inaugural meeting of the 2018 Board of Directors, under the direction of Jim Hill of James F. Hill Financial Management Services as Chair of the Board.
As Chair, his focus is on the impact our member-driven organization can have on the business community. “We will continue to create innovative and exciting forums and events for all our members,” says Hill. “It is our goal to attract businesses of all sizes and cohorts to the Chamber by eschewing the status quo and continuing to evolve the Chamber to meet the needs and expectations of today's business owners.”
Chair - Jim Hill, James F. Hill, Financial Management Services
Vice-Chair – Ben vanVeen, Century 21 United Realty Inc., Brokerage
Treasurer – Dawn Hennessey, Business Development Bank of Canada
Secretary – Stuart Harrison, Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce
Directors-at-Large – Joe Grant, LLF Lawyers LLP
– Allison Seiderer, Living Well Home Medical Equipment
Sofie Andreou, Sofie Andreou & Associates
Tim Barrie, Merit Precision Moulding Ltd.
Chris Calbury, Emmatt Digital Solutions
Gwyneth James, Cody & James CPAs Professional Corporation
Mary McGee, Little Lake Cemetery Company
Lorrie McMullen, The Venue Peterborough
Neil Morton, PTBOCanada.com
Amy Simpson, MicroAge Technology Solutions
Morgan Smith, Signarama
Mayor Daryl Bennett, representing the City of Peterborough
Sherry Senis, Selwyn Township Deputy Mayor, representing the County of Peterborough
Lorie Gill, representing Women’s Business Network
Paul Glenn, representing the Peterborough County Federation of Agriculture
PETERBOROUGH, Monday, January 15, 2018 – Today, the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) provided the Ontario government with 11 recommendations for the upcoming provincial budget that will help businesses manage costs and secure the province’s competitive advantage. The submission, presented to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs, calls on the government to implement taxation reforms and smart infrastructure and transportation spending to maximize growth and benefit all regions of Ontario.
As the cost of doing business in the province continues to increase, and Ontario employers take on one of the largest wage increases in recent history, Ontario’s Chamber Network is recommending the government reinstate the scheduled corporate income tax rate from 11.5 per cent to 10 per cent. The submission also calls on the harmonization of the Business Education Tax across the province, as well as targeted reductions to the Employer Health tax.
“Employers in the Peterborough area are feeling the pressure from rising costs,” said Stuart Harrison, President & CEO, Peterborough Chamber of Commerce. “The recent minimum wage and labour and employment standard changes will cost Ontario businesses an estimated $23 billion over the next two years. When HST was introduced so were measures to help mitigate the cost of changes. This is a similar situation where transitional support is needed for business.”
The pre-budget submission also recommends that the government create additional small business deduction tax brackets, as well as delay taxation on corporate income growth to overcome the scale-up challenge. Currently, all businesses with an annual income of $500,000 or less are taxed at a flat rate. A bracketed taxation system would give start-ups and SMEs more room to grow. Currently in Ontario, 71 per cent of private sector jobs can be attributed to the activities of small and medium sized enterprises.
“Ontario needs a competitive taxation system that encourages investment and minimizes red tape,” said Harrison. “As the U.S. pursues tax reform that would lower their federal corporate tax rate by 15 per cent, and with the uncertain future of NAFTA, we must find ways to keep Ontario competitive.”
The recommendations outlined in the OCC’s pre-budget submission all come directly from Ontario’s Chamber Network through policy resolutions at the OCC’s AGM. Among them is one from the Peterborough and Kingston Chambers to increase the levy paid by post-secondary institutions, hospitals and jails in lieu of taxes.
are struggling with a multitude of financial pressures and the current levy of $75 per head and bed no longer accurately reflects the cost of delivering services,” said Jim Hill, Chair of the Board of Directors, Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce. “For Peterborough, adjusting the levy to $100 per head and bed would see $274,000 in additional funds each year in the municipal budget.”
Read the full submission and all 11 recommendations here.
For more information please contact:
Sandra Dueck, Policy Analyst/Communications Specialist
705.748.9771 x215 or firstname.lastname@example.org
There has been much discussion in recent weeks about the unintended consequences of Bill 148, the legislation that introduced a higher minimum wage in Ontario and extended numerous labour and employment standards provisions.
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) along with the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce and our members understand the intent of the legislation. But we also understand that evidence-based public policy must be fundamental in a properly functioning democracy.
For months, the OCC has forewarned that any objective analysis of these changes will lead to significant job loss, a 50% increase in inflation over and above what would otherwise be expected in the next few years, and an acceleration toward automation.
Now we are seeing these consequences come to fruition as businesses take extra-ordinary actions.
The implementation was too much too fast. It is clear that the Government of Ontario must take further action to mitigate the unintended consequences of Bill 148.
We will continue to call on government to provide offsets in the upcoming budget that will help employers manage this drastic increase in labour costs. We must ensure that we are doing all we can so that Ontario remains competitive.
Let’s lower the rhetoric, on all sides, and ensure that we are collectively helping to shape an inclusive and shared prosperity here in Ontario.
Advocacy: Bill 148 Information Page
A fellow employee once said, “we spend so much time together at work; we need to take care of each other”. Wise words…
Whether it’s physical health, mental health, having a safe workplace, or just getting along with each other, it’s increasingly important for employers to be proactive when it comes to the health of their employees.
You can support physical health in a number ways:
Fortunately, mental health has become much easier to talk about and do something about.
Thanks to initiatives such as Bell Let’s Talk Day, much of the stigma around mental health has been erased and there is much more support from employers. Full confession - I just wrote the word “tolerance”, then changed it to “support”, proving that there is still work to be done…
81% of businesses believe that it is important to support their employees’ mental wellness in the workplace however only 35% of small business, 65% of medium sized business and 76% of large business have mental health strategies.
In response to the gap, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce has developed a toolkit based on three principles:
Bell Let’s Talk day is a remarkable initiative that to date has injected exactly $86,504,429.05 into the conversation on mental health. The campaign is focused on four pillars:
Letstalk.bell.ca is a rich resource of stories, testimonials, toolkits and more. This year Bell Let’s Talk Day is January 31.
It seems like every day there is another high profile example of sexual harassment in the workplace. However, social media campaigns such as #MeToo and #TimesUp reveal that sexual harassment in the workplace is far more common than most people would like to admit. There is only one bottom line – employers need to have training programs in place so that everyone understands the issues, and rock-solid policies and procedures so that incidents are reduced and victims can be safely empowered.
The Chamber will be working closely with the Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre in the coming months to
develop strong programming for local employers. Meanwhile, I’d encourage all employers to be
proactive. There is lots of helpful information online to get you started. Just google it. Furthermore, a workplace can be the scene of bullying, stress, physical danger, violence, discrimination and more. The same rules apply – training, policies and procedures.
As employers, we lead by example. Are you eating a fast food lunch in front of your computer, telling off-colour jokes in the lunch room, criticizing your employees in front of their co-workers? Or are you taking care of yourself and your employees, supporting the vulnerable, providing training and opportunities, and
generally making sure that your place of work is a good place to work?
My New Year’s resolution was to lose 15 pounds last year… Only 20 to go!
Turning the page on the calendar year is always a good opportunity to take stock of where you’ve been and where you are going.
The Chamber is no different. Under the banner of “Strengthening Business” there are five key reasons to belong to the Peterborough Chamber:
2017 was a challenging year for business, and it’s likely that this year will be no different with everything from increased costs to increased governance to test the small business person.
Thus, on behalf of our Board of Directors and the Chamber staff, here is what we resolve for 2018:
Just visit peterboroughchamber.ca and follow the links to join, or give Stuart Harrison a call at 705-748-9771 ext 202 and he’ll get you connected.