One of the benefits of membership with the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce is the opportunity to influence and be heard by government. While we set about this in a variety of ways, we recently opened our boardroom doors to two provincial government ministries in the same week.
At the beginning of the week we invited the President of the Treasury Board and Pickering-Uxbridge MPP Peter Bethlenfalvy to talk about and receive feedback on the government’s Smart Initiatives. And to cap off the week, employees of the Ministry of Consumer and Government Services hosted a consultation on the development of an Ontario Data Strategy.
As Minister Bethlenfalvy explained to a group of about a dozen members, the Smart Initiatives program has several goals, including to:
To accomplish this, the government’s first goal is to work toward digitizing the top 10 transactions by Ontarians and businesses.
Among the issues brought forward were to revisit the vendor of record process to ensure smaller business entities continue to have opportunities to complete contracts for government and to reduce the red tape on smaller projects so that they can be completed quicker. The thought was that many building projects
for government are undertaken so that government can offer services out of these buildings and so taking a decade to build these locations isn’t helping Ontarians get the services they require.
There were questions around legal aid and the ability to access it when needed. The Minister commented that the goal is not to turn people away.
On the post-secondary file, there was information about how institutions will now be funded on a performance and outcomes-based model.
The Minister also heard how Alberta is about a decade ahead of Ontario when it comes to
transactions around death certificates.
There were questions about the Eastern Ontario Development Fund which had funding available to businesses. The latest iteration of the program is the “Regional Development Program, which will invest more than $100 million over four years while taking a new approach to supporting business growth in eastern and southwestern Ontario communities."
"Under the program, businesses can get financial support through the Eastern Ontario Development Fund (EODF) and the Southwestern Ontario Development Fund (SWODF) and access to a range of complementary services and supports. As well, there is a clear 60-business day service commitment for when an applicant is notified of a funding decision, and on eligibility to receive additional complementary supports and services, so that applicants can plan their investments and know when to expect a decision.”
There was good commentary on transfer agreements and encouragement from members to create longer term agreements such as 3 years versus the current 1-year term. There was also encouragement to consider geography of some groups as digital access can be problematic.
On the issue of broadband, the government was commended for dedication to more digitization
but asked about the pace of broadband infrastructure to support that goal. The Minister referred to the Ministry of Infrastructure which has provincially dedicated about $300 million for this area. There was also an announcement earlier this spring to support the Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN)Cell Gap project which will help bring service to areas that currently do not have service.
There was a discussion around skilled trades and newcomers to Canada and how increasing the workforce will take a concerted effort by all involved. There was great interest from members around P3 (public private partnerships) opportunities when the conditions make sense along with more dedication to messages around the importance of financial literacy.
You can view the Minister’s entire opening remarks through our YouTube channel - www.youtube.com/PeterboroughChamber
For more information or to provide feedback on the Smart Initiatives connect with Ontario.ca/smart
The second roundtable was a public consultation on the ON Data Strategy. During the two- hour period, the group of about 30 answered four questions around data collection and business needs around data. Some of the topics were around increasing data literacy for employees in the private and |public sectors, building a talent pipeline that can easily translate data, and building a query dashboard that allows for businesses and the public to access open data sets.
There was discussion around privacy and security, how to use data to make life easier for Ontarians and ensuring that the infrastructure system exists in Ontario to be able to use data effectively for taxpayers and
Right now, legislation is being developed for a framework on how to collect data, what data should always be accessible and how to compile and communicate it so that it is easy to apply.
There is still time to contribute to the conversation through the government website engage.ontario.ca
1985 saw the birth of the original Macintosh (the computer not the apple), the SONY Discman, Nintendo NES and Tissot’s first digital watch. The wreck of the RMS Titanic was found and the pop music industry came together to sing “We are the World”.
Robert J. Barker was Peterborough’s Mayor. Nine Peterborough residents were inducted into the Peterborough & District Sports Hall of Fame including Cy Coombes and Sally Graham. VIA Rail operated train passenger service out of Peterborough.
726 businesses belonged to the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce – growth over both 1983 and 1984.
And this article, which was recently dug out of our archives, titled “The Importance of Being a Member of the GPCC” was written and published by the Peterborough Chamber of 1985:
“…why your business should become a member of the Greater Peterborough Chamber of
Commerce is the first question an astute business person will ask. Because of the complexity of bureaucracy and the information overload that assails everyone in business, an advocate is essential. Your Chamber speaks for you at all levels of government.
At the local level the Chamber provides a full range of member services which respond to the specific needs of the community. A common ground on which local businesses meet to discuss issues of concern to their community and to promote their shared objectives, is supported by the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce. The group health plan, dissemination of information and a forum for business concerns are all provided through the Chamber.
Provincially, government has grown not only in size but also in impact on the business community, and it is essential that business people have a strong voice to protect their interests. The Chamber at the provincial level interprets, monitors and provides comment on legislative issues affecting business.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is the nation’s largest business association, and the only national group that speaks for every size and segment of business. This results in an effective lobby for business
interests in Ottawa, and a strong voice for business to the news media and the public on issues ranging from energy to employment, pensions to patents, competition to capital gains. Included in this are educational projects to promote competitive enterprise, seminars and conferences designed to teach management techniques and to encourage public discussion of key issues and programs to facilitate and promote international trade.
There are many reasons to belong to the Chamber, but the most significant factor must be the strength provided by numbers of people with a common goal. If business intends to compete on an equal footing with other forces in the community, it must combine its voices and strengths – and it does, in the Chamber of Commerce.
The Chamber of Commerce network in Canada is unique. Each level of the Chamber system is autonomous and financially independent, the joint development of local, provincial and national Chambers has
required the co-ordination of activities, policies and programs among the three, and this co-operative spirit has made the Chamber movement the powerful force it is today.
It all adds up to a nation-wide partnership serving your interests. The Chamber can be counted on to speak for your interests. Now, doesn’t it make sense to become a member of the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce?”
Flash forward to 2019 and the consistency of message between the past and the present is
evident. Currently, we present businesses with three value propositions as they relate to why they should become a member – influence, profile and knowledge.
Influence: We are committed to helping create the conditions for growth and to improving the competitiveness of the Peterborough business community through our lobbying efforts at every level of government.
Profile: We can help you build your brand, and find new partnerships and collaborations, through our online directory, our social media channels, marketing and advertising, sponsorships and events.
Knowledge: We can help improve your business fundamentals, attract employees, and adapt to new technologies through reliable and relevant information, quality training, and targeted programs.
All together they culminate in our strengthening business Vision statement and builds upon the idea expressed in 1985 of strength in numbers and the end goal of nurturing a strong and impactful business community for Peterborough.
October is national cyber security month. The federal government has put together a toolkit, which can be found online at www.getcybersafe.gc.ca/cnt/rsrcs/csam-tlkt-en.aspx
Each week of the month highlighted a different aspect of cyber security including:
Most recently, delegates at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting in Saint John, New Brunswick passed a resolution asking for more government integration to punish cyber criminals as well continued investment in the national cyber security centre to ensure Canada is investigating and warning the public about new and emerging cyber threats.
A policy resolution in 2017 authored by the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce sparked by MicroAge Technology with the recommendation that the federal government allow SMEs to write off 100% of their business investments in cybersecurity-related software, equipment and other costs (support services and outsourcing costs) in the year those investments are made.
This is the week that is set aside nationally to celebrate small business in Canada.
The statistics speak for themselves as to the importance of small business in our national, provincial and local economies.
Here are a few:
“We need our small businesses to thrive and be successful and to have an environment in which there are fewer barriers, so that they can create more jobs and have more opportunities to give back,” says Stuart Harrison, President & CEO, Peterborough Chamber of Commerce. “The strength of the community is reflected in the strength of the business community.”
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) has also launched Small Business Too Big To Ignore, a campaign
highlighting the important contributions of small businesses to communities across the province.
“Small businesses of 100 or fewer employees are the core of our membership and employ nearly 3 million Ontarians. They are powerful economic drivers in local communities and across the province. That is why for Small Business Week, we’re identifying the challenges small business owners face and celebrating everything they give back to our province,” said Rocco Rossi, President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has also triggered its #iheartsmallbiz campaign which includes testimonials such as this one from Matthew Strentse, Co-founder and COO of Iversoft:
"If you want to see true creativity and innovation, ask an SME to solve a problem. SMEs in Canada are the ones taking risks, pushing boundaries, developing new and disrupting all industries. We are not afraid of tech, we are not afraid of change and we embrace it all to create the advantages we need to compete - and win.”
The encouragement and promotion of small business is not limited to just one week of the year, in fact it’s the Chamber’s concern year-round.
We know from a report by the OCC titled Obstacles and Opportunities: The Importance of Small Business in Ontario, that the top three obstacles for small businesses in Ontario are:
In Ontario, small businesses make up 30% of provincial GDP and at the national level small business contributes 41% of GDP.
Recently, the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce celebrated over 50 businesses at the Peterborough Business Excellence Awards night. The videos profiling all finalists are available on YouTube and are a shining example of the great work and workplaces we have in Peterborough.
Often the most telling part of that evening is the comments from the recipients. The first people to be thanked are usually the team and it goes without saying that the work team is crucial. However, we’d like to broaden the thank you to the owners and franchise owners and say thank you for taking the risk. Thank you for making the conscious decision to give back to your community in the form of employment
opportunities and sponsorship of community events, sports teams, the arts and so much more.
Check out the #ExcellencePtbo finalists and recipients and learn more about the businesses in our community.
There was a yellow school bus touring Peterborough’s main manufacturing area recently. However, it wasn’t a bus full of high school students, but rather their co-op teachers, guidance counsellors, and student success teachers. For over a year, Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development, Workforce Development Board, Kawartha Manufacturers Association and the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce along with the Kawartha Pine Ridge School Board (KPRDSB) and Peterborough, Victoria, Northumberland, Clarington Catholic District School Board (PVNCCDSB) have worked together to host an event called “Manufacturing Doors Open”.
The premise of the event was to connect industry and local high school educators. This was accomplished during a full day of visiting three local manufacturers (AVIT Manufacturing, Flying Colours, and Siemens Milltronics). Then, while travelling between those businesses, we completed a driving tour to introduce the educators to about 25 more companies. The event culminated in a 90-minute facilitated discussion about what the educators learned, what they needed from business and what business needed from them to build the workforce of the future.
Manufacturing is an industry that has deep roots in Peterborough. It is a foundational industry to this community and yet in the past decades it has not stayed stagnant, but has changed and developed with the times. It hasn’t been easy and the adjustments have had an impact. That said, the manufacturing sector of today is a thriving group of companies spanning Major Bennett Industrial Park, Neal Drive, Technology Drive, other pockets of the city and soon enough Cleantech Commons at Trent University.
One of the most pressing issues facing employers and business owners is access to talent or finding the right people for the jobs that are open. This situation is particularly prevalent in the skilled trades and by extension the manufacturing industry.
“When manufacturers are asked what challenges they face, finding and retaining skilled trades people is always near the top of the list. Hopefully initiatives like this one will help encourage students to explore manufacturing as a long-term career opportunity,” says Tom Sayer, President, Kawartha Manufacturers Association
An important takeaway from the day was that at each stop, each business in their description of the skills they look for spoke about looking for employees that fit their company culture in attitude, energy, and flexible skill sets. Each also expressed an interest in providing on the job training, as well as opportunity.
"It’s important for educators to interact with industry first-hand, to see the technical skills required in today's manufacturing sector,” says Rhonda Keenan, President & CEO, Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development. “There is large growth potential for this sector and in this region. By introducing our educators to these opportunities and showcasing the value that STEM skills provide, we’re confident this message will be passed along to local youth and will equip them to become ready for the future.” Jennifer Lamantia, CEO, Workforce Development (WDB) echoes that sentiment: “WDB/LEPC was pleased to support and participate in the Manufacturing Doors Open Tour as it provided local educators with the opportunity to learn about the scope of job opportunities in manufacturing in Peterborough. The manufacturing sector as a whole is expected to grow over the next five years and in combination with the aging manufacturing workforce this increased demand for talent will ideally be filled by our local youth as they plan their careers.”
WDB provided the educators with a number of significant statistics about the skilled trades such as that the average age of one-third of workers in the skilled trades is 55+ and that wages can range from $19-$45 per hour. These tell us that there will be well-paying jobs to be had in areas such as precision painting, electrical
engineering, upholstering, welding and many other skilled trades.
The reaction of the educators to seeing manufacturing in the 21st century in Peterborough was positive and by all accounts an eye-opening experience that they will be able to take back to the students. One educator found it useful to learn that there are positions available for every level of student from high school to university while another commented on the precision and cleanliness of all operations.
The learning from this event will continue through the production of a video that will be distributed throughout the schools and a white paper on the facilitated discussion. The long term goal is to mimic this event in other sectors such as agriculture and construction.
Ontario statistics from Workforce Development Board
The cost of mental illnesses to the Canadian economy is estimated at over $50 billion annually, with $20 billion of that stemming directly from workplace losses. On average, mental health issues cost businesses almost $1,500 per employee, per year.
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce has developed a toolkit to help employers put policies and strategies in place.
According to the report, a mentally healthy workplace features:
Recently, the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce, Kawartha Manufacturers Association, Peterborough Downtown Business Improvement Area, Peterborough & the Kawarthas Association of Realtors, Peterborough & the Kawarthas Homebuilders Association, Women’s Business Network and Peterborough & District Construction Association collaborated to host a federal candidates debate on business & the economy.
In the 2.5 hour time frame, the candidates for the Liberal, Conservative, NDP, People's Party and Green Party presented their position on about 15 issues. Among the issues discussed were trade, small business taxation, environment, innovation, housing, agrifood, debt, workforce, diversity of workforce, mortgage stress test, the carbon tax, and infrastructure.
The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce also sent the candidates a survey based on the Canadian
Chamber's Vote Prosperity platform.
The above chart is the candidate's answers to three of the seven questions.
You can learn more about the candidates and the Vote Prosperity Platform at peterboroughchamber.ca
Candidates for the Peterborough-Kawartha Riding:
Maryam Monsef - Liberal Party of Canada
Michael Skinner - Conservative Party of Canada
Candace Shaw - NDP
Andrew MacGregor - Green Party of Canada
Alexander Murphy - People's Party of Canada
Ken Ranney - Stop Climate Change Party
Robert Bowers - Independent
Candidates for the Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock Riding:
Jamie Schmale - Conservative Party of Canada
Judi Forbes - Liberal Party of Canada
Barbara Doyle - NDP
Elizabeth Fraser - Green Party of Canada
Gene Balfour - People's Party of Canada
Candidates for the Northumberland-Peterborough South:
Kim Rudd - Liberal Party of Canada
Philip Lawrence - Conservative Party of Canada
Mallory MacDonald - NDP
Jeff Wheeldon - Green Party of Canada
Frank Vaughan - People's Party of Canada
Several policy resolutions authored by the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce were approved by the over 300 delegates at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC) AGM in Saint John, New Brunswick recently.
The policy resolution process sets the advocacy agenda for the CCC for the coming year. They take these positions from Chambers such as ours to the federal government on our behalf. This is a significant part of the work a chamber does. Through the policy resolution process we are able to bring the voices of our 900 members along with the rest of the Chamber Network to government as one voice. The influence of our voice helps create the conditions for growth and improves the competitiveness of our business community.
This year the Peterborough Chamber introduced two new policy resolutions.
The first, titled Addressing Barriers to Succession Planning calls for a level playing field for those looking to pass their business on to a family member. The resolution was developed in conjunction with Chamber member Park Place Financial.
“We want to help family business owners plan properly for the exit of their business. The problem is right now it is more tax favourable to sell the business to a third party than a member of their own
family,” Darrell Wade, co-founder and Family Business Advisor, Park Place Financial. “What does that do for the long term of our economy? It changes the landscape of our Canadian economy. Think about the framework our country has been built on and the foundation of the business owners today; it’s all been small and medium sized businesses that have been able to pass on, in their families, from generation to generation. Those family businesses are at risk because it is becoming unsustainable to sell to a family member.”
The resolution also presents three other recommendations around succession planning, including expanding the scope of existing small business financing programs to incorporate succession planning as a legitimate reason for business financing. The Peterborough Chamber worked with the BC Chamber of Commerce on these recommendations.
The second titled Investing in Building Community addresses the rise of social enterprise and the importance of supporting these companies. The resolution was developed in conjunction with Chamber member Ashburnham Realty. The second part of the resolution offers suggestions to develop structures that can help with the financing of community building projects and property development to reduce pressure on government and its limited resources.
Peterborough also worked with several chambers in Ontario and Alberta to reintroduce a 2016 policy resolution titled Restoring Canada’s Innovation Competitiveness. The Red Deer Chamber of Commerce brought the resolution to the floor. It passed as presented and included the following suggestions to the federal government:
A policy resolution titled Advancing Canadian Competitiveness Using Shortline Rail that the Peterborough Chamber worked on with the Cape Breton Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Regina Chamber of Commerce was also reintroduced and passed. The resolution calls on the federal government to create a dedicated short line capital funding program (low interest loans/matching funds, etc.) that is accessible to all short line companies and to establish a tax credit program to assist short line rail companies in making capital investments.
The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce co-sponsored on a policy resolution from the Tillsonburg & District Chamber of Commerce that asks the government to expedite the process by which business obtains the duty drawback on tariffs. The resolution titled Enhancing Tariff Claims Process to Address Business Needs & Encourage Trade Growth was passed as presented.
In all, 76 resolutions were debated with 8 failing. The 2020 AGM will be held in Ottawa next September.
The report titled: The Great Mosaic: Reviving Ontario’s Regional Economies outlines how government at all levels can work with industry to unleash the potential of Ontario’s regional economies and reinforce the competitiveness of the province as a whole.
“We urge policymakers to take a modern and comprehensive approach to economic development by leveraging the existing competitiveness advantages of Ontario’s regions, and implement deliberate strategies to support long-term growth in communities across the province,” Rocco Rossi, President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.
In all, the report offers 17 recommendations directed at the Governments of Canada, Ontario, and/or municipalities within Ontario:
Along with a half-dozen pictures of the area by Justin Soule for Peterborough & the Kawarthas
Tourism, the collaborative nature of economic development in Peterborough is highlighted in the report:
"Peterborough and the Kawarthas Economic Development (PKED) delivers economic development services through a Memorandum of Understanding with the City and County of Peterborough.
To achieve its mandate, PKED partners with the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce, Community Futures Peterborough, the Innovation Cluster, the Downtown Business Improvement Area, the Workforce Development Board, and various other organizations in the region.
This collaboration has resulted in several joint projects and a new atmosphere of cooperation. Since 2016, many of these agencies have moved their offices to Venture North, a three-story business hub, giving them a level of physical proximity that will help foster even more collaboration in years to come.
In 2017, PKED entered into a multi-year partnership with two First Nations and nearby municipalities to pursue economic development projects of mutual benefit. This unique partnership is part of the Community Economic Development Initiative (CEDI) implemented by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the
Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers."
"One thing we've come to realize is the need for municipal, provincial, and federal commitments to regional economic development planning that highlights the possibilities rather than the borders," says Stuart Harrison, President & CEO, Peterborough Chamber of Commerce. "Finding ways to work across borders
benefits all local communities."
This is also the time to have those conversations as the City, County and Townships are in the process of developing and feeding into official planning documents. These
documents will outline development in our area for the next 25 years and how the City and County plan to achieve population and job growth targets set by the province.
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce and Peterborough Chamber are hosting the Associate Minister for Small Business and a panel discussion on Scaling Up Business as a part of the report launch.
The event is Friday, September 27th, 2019 at Venture North from 11:30 AM to 2 PM.