If you want to dine indoors this weekend, you’ll need to provide proof of vaccination, which is now required to patronize businesses and activities deemed by the Government of Ontario to be higher risk.
The business community is once again being asked to take a leading role in our fight against COVID 19. We’re providing an overview of what the new rules and regulations mean for our local businesses. For more detail, visit covid-19.ontario.ca or check out the COVID-19 resources section at
What does fully
An individual is considered fully vaccinated if they have received:
• The full series of a COVID-19 vaccine authorized by Health Canada, or any combination of such vaccines, or
• One or two doses of a
COVID-19 vaccine not authorized by Health Canada, followed by one dose of a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine
authorized by Health
• Three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine not authorized by Health Canada; and
• They received their final dose of the COVID-19
vaccine at least 14 days before providing the proof of being fully vaccinated
Activities deemed higher-risk include:
• Restaurants and bars (excluding outdoor patios, as well as delivery and takeout)
• Nightclubs (including outdoor areas of the establishment)
• Meeting and event spaces, such as banquet halls and conference/convention centres
• Facilities used for sports and fitness activities and
personal fitness training, such as gyms, fitness and recreational facilities with the exception of youth
• Sporting events
• Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments
• Concerts, music festivals, theatres and cinemas
• Strip clubs, bathhouses and sex clubs
• Racing venues (e.g., horse racing)
The Province has set out a work sheet (available at peterboroughchamber.ca) that lays out all the rules and guidelines, but here is a more broad summary.
People with a doctor’s note indicating a medical
exemption and children 11 years and younger are largely exempt from vaccination requirements.
Until Oct. 12, people attending weddings and funerals can be permitted with a negative rapid antigen COVID-19 test from no more than 48 hours before the event. These rapid antigen tests must be privately purchased.Workers, contractors, repair workers, delivery workers, students, volunteers,
inspectors or others who are entering the business or organization for work purposes and not as patrons are exempt.
Vaccination requirements don’t apply to a patron who is entering an indoor area solely for the following purposes:
• to use a washroom;
• to access an outdoor area that can only be accessed through an indoor route;
• to make a retail purchase;
• while placing or picking up
an order, including placing a bet or picking up winnings in the case of a horse racing track;
• while paying for an order;
• to purchase admission; or
• as may be necessary for the purposes of health and safety
Additional exemptions apply for funerals and youth
participating in sports and athletics.
Checking proof of vaccination
Where the new program applies, patrons must prove that it has been at least 14 days since they received their second COVID-19 vaccination shot. That proof can come in the form of the printed or emailed receipt people received after getting their shot, they can download a copy of the receipt from covid19.ontariohealth.ca, or using a QR code when the Province releases its
upcoming mobile app. Patrols will also need to provide photo identification. The province is advising business to confirm the name and date of birth using the photo ID (from an institution or public body) and verify that the
receipt is from the Ontario Ministry of Health, signed by an Indigenous Health Provider, or from another jurisdiction showing full
Businesses are prohibited from keeping any of the
information provided as proof of vaccination.
What to expect
It’s going to be time
consuming, frustrating for patrons, and may lead to an initial decline in business for those most impacted by the program. Hopefully these measures will help avoid broader restrictions and lockdowns.
Please continue to patronize your local businesses in a safe and responsible manor with a little extra patience as we all adjust our routines for another new normal.
OHRC policy statement on COVID-19 vaccine mandates and proof of vaccine certificates
On September 1, 2021, the Ontario government announced that starting September 22, Ontarians will need to be fully vaccinated (two doses plus 14 days) and provide proof of vaccination along with photo ID to access certain public settings and facilities. By October 22, Ontario plans to develop and implement an enhanced digital vaccine certificate with unique QR (Quick Response) code that will verify vaccination status when scanned. A paper version of the certificate will be available for download or can be printed from the COVID-19 vaccination provincial portal.
The proof of vaccine regime currently applies to certain higher-risk indoor public settings where face coverings cannot always be worn. In addition to these settings, over the last few months many other organizations have begun to mandate vaccines for employees and service users.
Vaccination requirements generally permissible
While receiving a COVID-19 vaccine remains voluntary, the OHRC takes the position that mandating and requiring proof of vaccination to protect people at work or when receiving services is generally permissible under the Human Rights Code (Code) as long as protections are put in place to make sure people who are unable to be vaccinated for Code-related reasons are reasonably accommodated. This applies to all organizations.
Upholding individual human rights while trying to collectively protect the general public has been a challenge throughout the pandemic. Organizations must attempt to balance the rights of people who have not been vaccinated due to a Code-protected ground, such as disability, while ensuring individual and collective rights to health and safety.
Duty to accommodate for medical reasons
Some people are not able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine for medical or disability-related reasons. Under the Code, organizations have a duty to accommodate them, unless it would significantly interfere with people’s health and safety
Consistent with the duty to accommodate, the provincial proof of vaccine regime says that people who are unable to receive the vaccine must provide a written document, supplied by a physician (MD) or by a registered nurse extended class [RN(EC)] or nurse practitioner (NP) stating they are exempt for a medical reason from being fully vaccinated and how long this would apply. The OHRC’s position is that exempting individuals with a documented medical inability to receive the vaccine is a reasonable accommodation within the meaning of the Code.
Organizations that are not included in the list of settings but wish to mandate vaccines are encouraged to use the provincial proof of vaccine certificate with the written documentation showing medical inability to receive the vaccine as their way of meeting the duty to accommodate where needed.
The OHRC also stresses the need to make sure digital proof of vaccine certificates are designed to be fully accessible to adaptive technology, including for smart phone users with disabilities, in accordance with Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act regulations.
COVID testing as an alternative to vaccine requirements
Many organizations are not included in the list of settings. Organizations with a proven need for COVID-related health and safety requirements might also put COVID testing in place as an alternative to mandatory vaccinations or as an option for accommodating people who are unable to receive a vaccine for medical reasons. Organizations should cover the costs of COVID testing as part of the duty to accommodate.
Time limited requirements, privacy protection
The provincial proof of vaccine regime does not propose to limit access to any services for people who are unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons.
Proof of vaccine and vaccine mandate policies, or any COVID testing alternatives that result in people being denied equal access to employment or services on Code grounds, should only be used for the shortest possible length of time. Such policies might only be justifiable during a pandemic. They should regularly be reviewed and updated to match the most current pandemic conditions, and to reflect up-to-date evidence and public health guidance.
Policies should also include rights-based legal safeguards for the appropriate use and handling of personal health information.
Barriers in accessing COVID vaccines and testing
While the vaccine may be readily available across Ontario, barriers persist in equitable vaccine access and COVID testing. Some examples of barriers to vaccine access may include:
Under the provincial regime, organizations are responsible for making sure they meet the required proofs of identification and vaccination as outlined in the regulation. Service users must make sure any information they provide to the organization to show proof of vaccination (or proof of qualifying for an exemption like a doctor’s note) and if identification is complete and accurate. There are fines for both individuals and organizations that fail to comply.
As with any regulatory regime requiring enforcement, providing law enforcement or any organization with discretionary powers to assess proof of identification and vaccination may result in disproportionate application and impact on members of marginalized and vulnerable communities. Any regime that requires service users to present government-issued documents may also create barriers for people experiencing homelessness or who are undocumented.
The OHRC urges governments and organizations to take proactive steps to make sure any enforcement of vaccine mandates or proof of vaccination policies does not disproportionately target or criminalize Indigenous peoples, Black and other racialized communities, people who are experiencing homelessness, or with mental health disabilities and/or addictions.
Personal preferences and singular beliefs not protected
The OHRC and relevant human rights laws recognize the importance of balancing people’s right to non-discrimination and civil liberties with public health and safety, including the need to address evidence-based risks associated with COVID-19.
Receiving a COVID-19 vaccine is voluntary. At the same time, the OHRC’s position is that a person who chooses not to be vaccinated based on personal preference does not have the right to accommodation under the Code. The OHRC is not aware of any tribunal or court decision that found a singular belief against vaccinations or masks amounted to a creed within the meaning of the Code.
While the Code prohibits discrimination based on creed, personal preferences or singular beliefs do not amount to a creed for the purposes of the Code.
Even if a person could show they were denied a service or employment because of a creed-based belief against vaccinations, the duty to accommodate does not necessarily require they be exempted from vaccine mandates, certification or COVID testing requirements. The duty to accommodate can be limited if it would significantly compromise health and safety amounting to undue hardship – such as during a pandemic.
Read the OHRCs Policy on preventing discrimination based on creed for full explanation of creed-based discrimination and the duty to accommodate.
This week’s Voice of Business hits on a few pressing business issues, including the election of our next member of parliament, high-speed internet investments, vaccinations in the workplace, and vaccines to access businesses and events.
Election Day Election day is Monday, Sept. 20. We’ve provided a variety of information
regarding business issues, both through this Voice of Business column and online at peterboroughchamber.ca. But by far one of the most compelling and engaging ways to get to know your local candidates, the issues, and where people stand is by watching a local debate. This election most debates have been recorded and made available online.
The Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce partnered with the Peterborough Downtown Business Improvement Area, Peterborough and District Construction Association, Peterborough and the
Kawarthas Association of REALTORS® Inc., Peterborough & The Kawarthas Home Builders
Association, Kawartha Chamber of Commerce & Tourism, and YourTV to host our own business issues debate. Held Sept. 8 at the Peterborough Curling Club, the full video of the debate is available on our Facebook and YouTube channels. Additional debates were held locally, including debates focused on the arts, climate change, and community issues.
High Speed Internet
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce is calling on our next parliament to commit to making strategic investments in infrastructure, including broadband internet access, as a key part of our economic recovery.
High Speed Internet is a critical tool for business in terms of accessing resources, managing teams, hiring talent, and reaching larger markets.
Investments in broadband Internet are included in the Ontario Chamber of
Commerce Ontario Business Matters federal election campaign. Visit OCC.ca to see the full campaign.
Peterborough Public Health Recommends Businesses Develop a
As per Dr. Rosana Salvaterra, Medical Officer of Health:
"In an effort to save lives, reduce illness, and keep the economy strong, I am strongly recommending that all workplaces in the City and County of Peterborough develop (or enhance) their workplace policies to include a requirement that all employees receive a COVID-19 vaccine, unless otherwise medically exempt.
I urge employers to establish workplace COVID-19 vaccination policies that require, at a minimum:
• Workers to provide proof of their vaccination series approved by Health Canada or the World Health
• Unvaccinated employees to provide written proof of a medical exemption from a physician or nurse
practitioner that includes whether the reason for exemption is permanent or time-limited
• Unvaccinated workers to complete a vaccination education course on the risks of being unvaccinated in the workplace
Employers should also identify how workers’ vaccination status information will be collected and protected in accordance with privacy legislation and explain the level of risk posed by COVID-19 in each unique workplace setting."
For full details on the recommendation, visit peterboroughpublichealth.ca
Ontario to Require Proof of Vaccination in Select Settings
Starting Wednesday, Sept. 22, the Government of Ontario will require proof of
vaccination to access certain business and settings. Patrons will need photo ID and proof that they received their
second dose more than 14 days ago to access:
• Restaurants and bars (excluding outdoor patios, as well as delivery and takeout);
• Nightclubs (including
outdoor areas of the
• Meeting and event spaces, such as banquet halls and conference/convention centres;
• Facilities used for sports and fitness activities and
personal fitness training,
such as gyms, fitness and
recreational facilities with
the exception of youth
• Sporting events;
• Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments;
• Concerts, music festivals, theatres and cinemas;
• Strip clubs, bathhouses and sex clubs;
• Racing venues (e.g., horse racing).
More details at Ontario.ca.
GUEST COLUMN – Canadian Chamber of Commerce
Canadians everywhere want to look past the pandemic and know what comes next. While they can expect many spending announcements, lofty promises of jobs and boutique tax cuts during this election, what they’re looking for has been missing so far. Conspicuously absent in the election to date is a serious, sustainable and bold plan to grow our economy, despite the fact the economy is the number one concern for Canadians.
The need for strong, sustained economic growth is now beyond debate. Canada’s credit cards have been maxed with pandemic debt, and the cost of dealing with climate change and confronting other urgent issues will only increase for everyday Canadians and businesses. A serious, bold strategy to grow our economy is Canada’s only way forward, and Canadians have the right to know where the parties stand before they go to the polls.
We have outlined our recommendations for what it takes to grow an economy and challenge all parties to adopt them.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is Canada’s largest business association representing 450 local chambers of commerce and boards of trade, accounting for more than 200,000 member businesses from every Main Street in the country. These recommendations reflect the economic realities of Canada’s job creators and growth generators.
JOB ONE: Finishing the fight against COVID The sacrifices each of us has made have brought us a long way in our efforts to beat the pandemic. Now that the hope of more normal lives is finally in sight, we need to make sure everyone makes it safely to the shore.
Offering an extra hand for the hardest-hit Many small enterprises and businesses in the hardest-hit sectors, including tourism, travel and hospitality, will not recover until public health restrictions are lifted and economic activity returns to normal. Until that time comes, these fellow Canadians require ongoing support.
To help the hardest-hit return to growth:
Borrowing capacity is significantly more limited today. To protect our government finances and sustain public services, we need to get maximum mileage for every dollar spent. It is essential to restore a solid fiscal anchor.
To protect Canada’s finances:
JOB TWO: Getting the fundamentals right As Canada emerges from COVID, we must not mistake spending for economic growth. Even before COVID, Canada spent significantly but lagged in economic growth, in attracting investment and in creating good jobs for Canadians.
COVID-era recovery programs, while important, were not designed to address the fundamental problems plaguing Canada on infrastructure investment, regulatory burdens, taxation, SME competitiveness and internal trade barriers. Canada must get its house in order to fuel real growth that creates jobs for its citizens.
Supporting our SMEs Canadians are hardworking and innovative, so it is no surprise SMEs are Canada’s biggest employers. The next Parliament must ensure an environment that helps Canada’s entrepreneurs grow and create jobs.
To support Canadian entrepreneurship:
To build Canada’s growth-supporting infrastructure:
Growth must be inclusive
To achieve economic growth, we must include all Canadians, including those who have been left behind until now. Our shared prosperity depends on a strong business community that can innovate, attract talent and capital and expand into new markets. To create inclusive growth, Canadians from all sectors, regions and backgrounds must be able to participate in the workforce and share in the benefits.
To achieve inclusive growth:
Getting Canadians working
Particularly given its aging population, Canada needs its workforce to generate economic activity as productively as possible.
To build an inclusive, productive workforce:
Now, to grow we need to finally make Canada’s economy truly national. We must end the regulatory patchwork and interprovincial trade barriers that separate Canadians.
To reach Canada’s potential:
To have a tax system that meets the challenges of the 21st century:
JOB THREE: Creating 21st century opportunities The Canadian brand is strong. We are seen as ethical and rules-based. We are blessed with world-class cities, abundant natural resources and talented, entrepreneurial people. While our country and people have all the ingredients for success, our global competitors are working hard to attract investment that can create the next generation of opportunities elsewhere.
Canada must ensure the types of jobs and opportunities people want are being created here.
Digitizing our world In a digital world, Canadians are connected like never before. Our educated workforce and advanced digital infrastructure give Canada a strong starting point to be a leader in the global digital future, but our competitors are on the move.
Safely connecting Canadians and the world
As virtual activities increase, businesses and their customers must be confident that their data is protected. We also must help companies innovate to meet the digital needs of the world. In parallel, Canada needs to ensure it has the talent and skills in place to prepare Canadians through ongoing upskilling and reskilling.
To better support Canada’s digital ecosystem:
Achieving our net-zero future
We must ensure Canada’s pathway to net-zero allows our businesses to compete successfully, enhances investment, creates jobs for Canadians, promotes innovation and genuinely benefits the environment. How we get there matters. Canada’s business community wants to collaborate with government to develop solutions to our country’s greatest environmental challenges and enable economic opportunities for Canadians.
To achieve net-zero emissions and ensure the viability of Canadian businesses:
Canadian agriculture is part of the solution
Canadian agriculture and agri-food leads the world in the fight against climate change, and we have an opportunity to be a global leader in food production. From producers to processors, to manufacturers and everywhere in between, each is doing its part to feed the world sustainably.
With targeted investment programs and smart regulation, Canada can serve as a model to the world in reaching a net-zero future by unleashing the sector’s potential.
To champion Canadian agriculture:
Selling to the world
Ensuring Canadian interests are reflected in international trade rules will allow businesses to compete on a level playing field to support growth and create jobs.
To expand Canada’s market reach:
To allow Canada to sustainably supply the resources of the future:
Canada must end its inability to make vaccines and other life-saving medicines. We face the dual challenge of an aging population and a weak biomanufacturing capacity to produce vaccines and life-saving drugs domestically. Improving our country’s ability to host vaccine and medical technology supply chains is crucial to Canadians’ health and economic security. It will also improve Canada’s ability to help others around the world. Additionally, we need to modernize how we procure for our healthcare industry to protect the health of Canadians more effectively.
To create resilient health infrastructure:
Ontario is responsible for almost 40% of our national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and is home to roughly 40% of Canada’s small businesses.
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) and Ontario Chamber Network are calling on all political parties to take bold action to strengthen business competitiveness as the economy continues to reopen and recover. Its Ontario Business Matters federal election platform underscores longstanding issues that need to be addressed for our long-term resilience and recovery.
The three-pillar platform includes:
PILLAR I: Workforce Recovery and Business Competitiveness
1. Eliminate barriers to interprovincial labour mobility and trade. Economic activity in Canada is
hampered by inconsistent rules around transportation, the environment, securities, professional certification, agri-food marketing, food safety, and more. To ensure businesses can make the most of internal markets, Canada should work with provinces to accelerate harmonization efforts.
2. Enhance small businesses’ access to capital. In the short-term, a replacement program for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) would ensure businesses that were hardest hit by the pandemic are able to operate sufficiently. Further, government should consider debt relief measures, such as forgiving interest payments on COVID-related government loans, for small businesses that continue to feel the repercussions of the crisis.
3. Expand immigration to support labour market needs. Ontario’s allocation of
immigrants under the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program should be increased to reflect our growing labour market needs and supply gaps that have been amplified by the pandemic.
4. Reform the federal tax system. A comprehensive review of Canada’s tax
system, rooted in the principles of competitiveness, simplicity, fairness, and neutrality, is long overdue. Reforms should focus on streamlining the system and incentivizing increased business investments.
5. Increase support for the digital transformation. Introduce permanent funding streams to help businesses pivot online, reach customers, and tap into digital marketspaces.
6. Prioritize national privacy modernization.
Re-introducing Bill C-112 in the next parliament will set a single standard for privacy protection, preventing a
costly and confusing patchwork of rules across provinces.
7. Develop forward-looking natural resource strategies. Ontario’s mining and forestry sectors are well positioned to provide Canada and its
trading partners with a reliable source of primary resources required for electric vehicles, computer chip manufacturing, buildings, and more. Cohesive strategies and targeted investments in Northern Ontario will be
necessary to meet the growing demand for these products.
PILLAR II: Health, People and Prosperous
1. Advance reconciliation with Indigenous peoples of Canada. Since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada issued its 94 calls to action in 2015, only a handful of those recommendations have been implemented. The next Parliament – along with businesses – must do better to confront Canada’s racist legacy and the enduring implications of the residential “school” system.
2. Increase health
transfer payments to Ontario. Pandemic measures have resulted in limited cancer screening and a surgical backlog. The increased
pressures on Ontario’s health care workers and
infrastructure highlight the need for funding to address growing healthcare needs, support the province’s aging population, and prepare for future crises.
3. Work with Ontario to improve accessibility and affordability of childcare. Women and minority groups have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic with many continuing to stay at home to care for young children. To ensure a strong post-pandemic recovery, the federal government must work with Ontario to reach an agreement as soon as possible to reduce childcare costs and improve access for families.
4. Advance opportunities for women and equity seeking groups in economic
recovery. Enhance reskilling and education programs for those displaced by
technology adoption and pandemic-related job losses.
5. Develop a national life sciences strategy. A life sciences strategy that builds on Ontario’s competitive advantages in biomanufacturing and therapeutics will ensure Canada is prepared for any future health crisis, while facilitating new jobs, investment, and innovation.
PILLAR III: Resilient Infrastructure
1. Accelerate investments in digital infrastructure. As more services and workplaces become digital, digital
infrastructure must be expanded and enhanced to ensure people and businesses across Ontario can access the future of jobs, education, and health care. Broadband investments should be coordinated with the private sector to avoid duplication and maximize the impact of public programs. Further, the internet of things and smart city technologies should be developed to increase living standards, maximize cost-efficiencies, and reduce carbon emissions.
2. Electrify and expand public transit. Support provinces and municipalities with the expansion of transit systems and the shift to electric fleets.
3. Partner with industry to confront climate change. The federal government can advance both
decarbonization and economic recovery by partnering with industry to de-risk sustainable
innovation. Ontario’s competitive advantages include cleantech, nuclear energy, electric vehicles, renewable natural gas, and biomass.
Our economic recovery is going to require attention and investments to specific business sectors.
We have been advocating for years for changes to taxation and regulation for our local breweries, distilleries, and wineries. Now is the time for the Government of Ontario to take a new look at these local businesses and their connections to local retail and food service businesses.
We have several resolutions on the books, including one with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce titled “Changes to Alcohol Retail in Ontario Need to Support Local Industry and Jobs in the Wine and Grape Sector.”
Recently, Jeff Leal penned a guest column for iPolitics highlighting some of the current issues facing with wine and grape industry. We’re going to let Jeff explain it here as a guest columnist.
Excerpts from “Canada’s award-winning grape and wine industry is at risk” — Aug. 9, 2021
Jeff Leal is a former City of Peterborough councillor (1985 – 2003), Member of Provincial Parliament (2003 – 2018), and Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (2013 – 2018)
After many months of patience and caution, it seems Ontario is slowly emerging from the pandemic — and its businesses are trying to seize opportunities to make up for lost time, as the federal relief programs that buoyed them begin receding.
But as a former provincial cabinet minister, I have a few words of advice for leaders in Ottawa at this critical juncture: While urgent triaging and government relief have been essential for the last 18 months, complex sectors will require a closer look, and precise help to ensure their contributions to our economy remain secure for the future.
In fact, one sector has been on my mind on the most: grape and wine producers, and the small and medium businesses whose purely Canadian wine the sector depends on for its continued growth in Canada. Allow me to explain.
One of the things that struck me during my time as Ontario’s minister of agriculture is how much agriculture contributes to the provincial economy, not to mention the country.
In 2014, its contribution to the GDP was roughly $37 billion, and more than 800,000 people were employed in what is a very dynamic and innovative sector in Ontario.
A fraction of the population is feeding the vast majority of the province, yet the importance of the agricultural sector is often overlooked.
Ontario has one of the most diverse agricultural sectors in the country today, including the dynamic segment that is Ontario’s grape and wine industry.
Over the last 40 years, VQA 100 per cent Ontario grape-based wine has cemented my home province’s international reputation for growing unique grapes and producing award-winning wines that the best experts in the world recognize for their importance and quality.
It’s a very competitive industry, and the margins are challenging. On the shelves here at home, Ontario’s best bottles are competing against products from jurisdictions with established and excellent industries in their own right: the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe (with a slightly accelerated influx, thanks to the Canada-European trade deal). Furthermore, they’re competing against behemoth companies that import juice to blend with a low ratio of Canadian grapes, which is often confused as local product.
The agreement at the World Trade Organization last summer to end Canada’s excise-tax exemption on 100 per cent Canadian-grown wine came when the focus was on the pandemic and keeping everyone afloat. But the reality of Ontario’s wine sector is that the legacy of past trade agreements means smaller businesses enjoy fewer advantages on their own home turf. A replacement program is critical, but it needs to be rooted in equity, not equality.
Canadian leaders have an obligation to support, in a very direct way, our smaller producers — to make sure they continue to thrive and are completing the research and development that’s so important for the future of the many businesses that make up our sector. The wine segment of Ontario’s agricultural economy is constantly evolving, and it’s incumbent on governments to do their part to ensure that locally grown wines continue to enjoy the sterling reputations they have around the world.
There’s been a legacy of investment in land and vineyards, both by Ontario growers ($684 million), and by the federal ($17.3 million) and provincial ($18 million) governments. Without forward-looking, long-lasting, planned investments, the next generation won’t have a domestic grape and wine industry to work in.
So, while we slowly shift back to normal, let’s not forget the details. The federal government needs to continue supporting the smaller players in the industry — the ones with the smallest margins, who contribute enormously to their local economies, and whose futures are critical to the sector as a whole.
My parting advice: Take the time to get it right. Ontario farm families who produce 100 per cent local grapes and wine, and their communities, are counting on it. In the meantime, we can vote with our dollars and look for the VQA label when grabbing that bottle to enjoy this summer.
Your local businesses have been through a lot over the last year-and-a-half. And the pandemic isn’t over.
It’s going to take strong leadership, both locally and nationally, from the
government of Canada to see to the end of this health crisis and move us toward a future where people, businesses and communities can thrive.
This election is the ideal time to take a hard look at what is the best path to get us there.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has put forward its own platform as a guide to assist candidates in understanding the needs, issues and opportunities at the forefront for the business community. Check it out at chamber.ca.
Canadians must collectively decide which party offers a plan that has what it takes to grow:
1) Finishing the fight against COVID
2) Getting the fundamentals right
3) Creating 21st century
Job One: Finishing the fight against COVID
Though some things seem “back to normal,” many small enterprises and business in the hardest-hit sectors, including tourism, travel and hospitality, will not recover until public health restrictions are lifted and economic activity returns to normal. Until that time comes, these fellow Canadians require ongoing support.
Helping the hardest hit businesses includes creating a replacement program for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy. We’re asking the federal government to introduce debt relief by forgiving interest payments on COVID-related government backed loans for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the hardest-hit sectors.
Job Two: Getting the
COVID-era recovery programs, while important, were not designed to address the fundamental problems plaguing Canada on infrastructure investment, regulatory burdens, taxation, SME competitiveness and internal trade barriers.
SMEs are Canada’s biggest employers and our next
parliament must ensure there is an appropriate
environment to help our entrepreneurs grow and
• Modernize the tax system so it works for SMEs
• Develop a Small Business Net-Zero Strategy
• Continue facilitating the secure digitalization of SMEs
• Investing in infrastructure, including the National Trade Corridors Fund
• Speed up the Indigenous reconciliation process
• Create new opportunities for diversity-owned
business and those with diverse workforces to access federal contracts
• Remove tax barriers for childcare expenses
• Investing in building an
• Create flexible, accessible, navigable upskilling and reskilling options
• End the regulatory
patchwork and interprovincial trade barriers that separate Canadians
Job Three: Creating 21st century opportunities
Canada must ensure the types of jobs and
opportunities people want are being created here.
To do this, we need to invest in cybersecurity, privacy protection, and broadband internet. We need to invest in a net-zero future including a strategy that allows
businesses to compete
successfully, including a strategy for low carbon exports, common standards for sustainable finance, and work with our trade partners on carbon offsets.
Canada can serve as a
model to the world on
reaching net-zero through targeted investment
programs and smart
championing our agriculture sector to be a global leader in the fight against climate change.
Our businesses would benefit from expanded market reach, including a renewed
relationship with the U.S., increased agriculture exports, and a focus on multilateral trade efforts on key issues.
This last year-and-a-half has also shown us that we need to invest further in
healthcare, including implementing a national life sciences strategy and
creating a strategy for
It has been less than two years since the last
federal election, but a lot has changed. Everyone wants to be done with this pandemic and rebuild our communities and economy, but there are different paths and methods to get us there. This is an
opportunity to reflect on where we’ve been, where we want to go, and work with our local candidates to shape the future we want to build.
Governments spend a lot of money. Our federal and provincial governments spend in the hundreds of billions of dollars annually. Even the City of Peterborough spends hundreds of millions.
A lot of that spending goes directly into government resources like staffing, but a significant amount goes to outside purchases through the procurement process for everything from major
construction projects to catering.
How we see the value of that spending is changing as the governments move toward social and sustainable procurement processes.
The government procurement process typically follows a very direct set of evaluation criteria that seeks the best value-based price and the bidder’s previous experience with similar projects. It’s a process designed to minimize costs and maximize output. For the most part, it’s what people expect our
government to do with hard-earned tax dollars.
But there’s a growing movement that the value of our spending isn’t just dollars and cents. Changing how we spend can increase our quality of life and address social, cultural, economic, and environmental issues. It’s not a new concept. However, it’s not so simple for governments to pick and choose who they buy goods and services from. We have strict rules for government spending that take into account international trade agreements, interprovincial agreements, industry regulation, and government policy.
It’s encouraging to see the City of Peterborough hosting public engagement sessions on a new social procurement process. The next information session is online on Aug. 16 from 11 am to 12:30 pm (more details at connectptbo.ca).
The City invites people to:
Join the conversation on how the City of Peterborough can use social procurement to
leverage its existing purchasing activities to contribute to the success of the community’s economic, environmental and social goals.
Social procurement can help shape an inclusive, vibrant, and healthy community. Social procurement can create new revenue streams for local businesses and social enterprises, leverage local know-how and assets, and facilitate new ways of
working together for
The federal government has been exploring options for years, including a
comprehensive study to look into its own opportunities for socially responsible
procurement launched last year. The Government of
Ontario launched its own
Social Enterprise Strategy back in 2016. Municipalities across the country have begun to follow suit.
It’s not about charity. It’s about taking a good look at the current “lowest bidder” system and realizing that we can do things better.
For local businesses, this offers a new opportunity to compete on municipal contracts. No one knows our community like its locals when it comes to addressing specific needs and
opportunities. The City of Peterborough is not able to legally prefer local bidders — government policy dictates this, plus we have trade agreements that require a level playing field for
everyone. But those local businesses who are willing and able to adapt can get a leg up on the out-of-town competition by either taking on social enterprises
themselves or partnering with our vast network of local non-profits and charities.
It’s important that we engage with the City to provide meaningful input. Efficient and effective spending should be the priority for government — but it’s time to re-evaluate and expand our idea of what that means. We can build a stronger, more vibrant community when we use our resources to work toward a more inclusive set of goals, aspirations, and ambitions. It’s time to include social procurement in government policy.
Property taxes isn't the most exciting subject, but it’s one that affects us all in various ways. It’s also a system in need of an overhaul.
Municipalities across Ontario have made public statements over the last year regarding the impact of COVID-19 on their budgets. The weaknesses of the current system have been brought to light through this crisis.
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce recently issued a report titled Better Budgets: Bolstering the Fiscal
Resilience of Ontario’s Municipalities. It lays out 14 recommendations for the Province of Ontario for overhauling the property tax system. The full report is available at occ.ca.
This pandemic has hit all levels of government in different ways, but the challenges for municipalities is that they are structured and governed by the Province, which has left them inflexible and vulnerable to market fluctuations. And the market has fluctuated.
Federal Accountability Office of Ontario figures show municipalities across Ontario are facing a budget shortfall of $4.1 billion in 2020 and an additional $2.7 billion in 2021 due to lost revenue and increased costs. Despite cost-saving measures and reserves, it’s believed municipalities don’t have the revenue to absorb the costs of this health crisis nor are they allowed to run the deficits needed to make up the difference.
Stuck between a rock and a hard place, municipalities are being forced to make some difficult budgetary decisions that likely aren’t to the benefit of the community.
Municipalities depend on attracting and retaining businesses to maintain their financial health and
sustainability. Businesses depend on municipal
investments in transportation, utilities, housing, facilities, and the local labour market.
The property tax system was meant to share the costs based on the services used. Larger properties would be used by larger families or businesses. However, there is a disconnect in the real estate market between the resale value of land from its actual economic value to the
community. A hot real estate market drives up taxes regardless of whether
municipal service costs go up.
Businesses require a level of stability to flourish,
especially when it comes to large financial considerations. The current property tax
system is unpredictable for commercial properties, with taxes varying significantly throughout a four-year
assessment increment period. Speeding up the assessment appeals process, creating more frequent assessments, or partially indexing
assessments to a
benchmark like inflation could increase confidence. Business confidence leads to more investment, which leads back to greater tax revenues for the government.
The current commercial
property tax assessment
system assigns value based on the highest and best use for the property. That means it doesn’t matter if the
current businesses on a
property happen to be a small café and a hair studio — they’re paying the taxes of a commercial office tower that the site is zoned for.
The report from the Ontario Chamber of Commerce
outlines numerous other
recommendations that impact the effectiveness of the
property tax system,
• A review of user fees, permits, licenses and fines to better reflect changes in demand
• Reforming the arbitration system for police services to include the capacity of municipalities to pay
• Improving accountability with the Municipal
• Reviewing the transfer system and cost-sharing programs
• Adhering to a pay-for-say principle when deciding what level of government is responsible for funding the service
• Having municipal
governments issue modified accrual budgets at year-end
• Identifying and
championing opportunities where municipalities can work together with shared needs and priorities
There is only one taxpayer, regardless of which
government body is collecting it — but how we are taxed is just as important as the amount.
How we are taxed ensures that we are all paying our appropriate share. It should maximize efficiency for the taxpayer. It should also make sure government
organizations have the funds and tools they need to do their job effectively.
Effective and efficient
government should always be the goal when collecting our tax dollars.
Municipal governments are by far the most hands-on in our day-to-day life. The flaws of the property tax system are going to impact the services in our community, hold back business investment, and ultimately, hold back our economic recovery.
Rapid testing is one of several tools that will help us beat COVID-19. While several countries are bracing for a devastating fourth wave, Ontario appears positioned to continue its positive momentum in reopening as vaccination rates rise and cases drop.
To help keep our workplaces as safe as possible and hopefully avoid local outbreaks, the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce and Kawartha Chamber of Commerce and Tourism have partnered with MPP Dave Smith to provide rapid test kits to businesses in the City and County of Peterborough.
The COVID-19 Rapid Screening Initiative was launched by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Government of Ontario, and Government of Canada as an additional tool to help keep workplaces safe.
The program is for people who feel healthy, but are part of a busy and active workplace. The latest
information from Health Canada suggests that up to one third of people carrying the virus are asymptomatic, with over 50% of known cases transmitted by an asymptomatic carrier. This makes it incredibly important to find asymptomatic carriers in order to combat the spread and get to a more normalized community life.
“The rapid testing kit
program is a very effective way for businesses to further protect their staff and
customers, and stop any further spread in the parking lot. We are grateful that MPP Dave Smith was able to help us with the logistics," says Stuart Harrison, President & CEO of the Greater
Peterborough Chamber of Commerce.
The test can be done at work and results typically take less than 10 minutes. This program is free for all
Peterborough City and County business with less than 150 employees. Larger employers can access rapid testing kits directly from the provincial and federal
The rapid tests aren’t a replacement for the standard PCR COVID-19 tests
Peterborough Public Health, but rather are used to quickly identify potential
asymptomatic carriers for further testing. Anyone who tests positive or inconclusive through the rapid tests will be referred to Peterborough Public Health for a PCR test.
We have a simple six step registration system at PeterboroughChamber.ca that includes designating someone to supervise the screening (they do not need any prior medical or clinical experience), watch a 6-minute training video, fill out some basic business information, and order kits. Business can order a two-week supply of kits based on the number of employees. Pickup is coordinated with MPP Dave Smith’s office with a location next to his constituency office.
The whole rapid testing process has minimal impacts for daily operation of a business, costs only a bit of time, and can help avoid outbreaks that impact the health of people in our community, create costly business shutdowns, and risk further outbreaks and health restrictions in our region.
If your workplace involves people working in close proximity, consider signing up for the rapid testing initiative and use one more tool to keep our community safe, healthy, and open for business. Get the details at PeterboroughChamber.ca
Pressure is mounting on the Ontario government to lay out its plan for working with the federal government on childcare funding.
Back in April, the federal government unveiled its 2021 budget, which includes $30 billion toward cutting
childcare costs in half in the next 18 months and down to $10 per day per child within five years — all in
partnership with provincial and territorial governments.
Two weeks ago, British Columbia signed the first childcare funding agreement with the federal government. B.C. will work with the federal government to cut fees in half by the end of 2022 and reach an average of $10-per-day childcare in regulated spaces for children under six before 2027, creating 30,000 new spaces over the next five years.
Since then, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island have signed similar agreements.
Parents, educators, and employers are anxiously waiting to hear what Ontario plans to do. Ontario has
potentially the most to gain from a strong partnership with the federal government, with many Ontario cities ranking at the top for most expensive places in Canada for childcare.
It’s not just needed from a social perspective — it’s a key business issue. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is on the record with multiple resolutions advocating for more accessible childcare services.
It’s no secret that our business community is facing critical workforce shortages
in some sectors. It’s a complicated issue with a multitude of factors including workplace safety,
opportunities to retrain, wages, and government supports.
Though we’ve made progress in the form of modernizing traditional gendered parental roles with men taking on a larger share of child rearing, COVID-19 created a
situation where many families had to pick one parent to work and the other to stay home with the kids as schools and daycares closed. Some households found ways to try and manage both parents’ careers while taking care of and teaching their child, whether it meant burning the candle at both ends or getting grandparents involved. But the numbers show that women have taken on the largest share of the childcare burden.
Back in March, RBC published a report that nearly 100,000 women had left the
workforce altogether. That was before we hit our next round of lockdowns and school closures as we rode the third wave.
Even the childcare centres themselves are struggling to maintain the staffing levels they require. They’ve gone through the ups and downs of closing, reopening and restricted capacity, creating a high level of anxiety and
uncertainty for workers. Much of their workforce is comprised of women who are trying to balance their own childcare needs.
Workers debating whether it’s worth going back to lower paying jobs will have more financial incentive if a large part of their pay isn’t going straight to childcare,
providing a boost both for families and for businesses struggling to hire a new workforce.
Childcare costs and
availability were a big issue before this pandemic. Now, it’s a critical part of our economic recovery. While workforce issues aren’t going away overnight, making it accessible and affordable to pay for childcare will go a long way.