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.