With the provincial budget set to be released today (Thursday, April 11, 2019) there is a lot of speculation as to what exactly it will hold.
We know what our members have said to our MPP through a series of roundtable events earlier this year, including:
Among them is the request from our not-for-profit members to have the flexibility to be innovative in their programming by having budget buckets instead of line by line reporting. This would afford them the ability to future plan effectively.
Many of our employers spoke to the need for skilled and unskilled labour to fill their job openings in core Peterborough industries such as agriculture and construction.
Suggestions from the group included more high school specialist programs, reaching students at an earlier age to introduce them to different career paths, and retraining opportunities that are flexible enough to work for the employee and the employer, including a flexible apprenticeship ratio.
Generally, it was expressed that broadband should be a focus to connect communities and improve business competitiveness.
There was agreement to bring the marginal tax rate below 50% to leave more money in the pockets of Ontarians.
Government & Legislative Compliance
Participants at both roundtables expressed concern with the number of government touchpoints they must experience and encouraged goal-setting to reduce that number for businesses and not-for-profits. Legislative compliance has a cost and a productivity toll, particularly on smaller operations.
On the issue of improving government accountability, there was a desire to see less rebranding
of government ministries and programs, and the suggestion that an effective navigation or concierge service for business and not-for- profit organizations would improve communication between the
government and its constituents.
Peterborough Chamber Policy Resolutions
The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors has approved two policy positions for our advocacy program. Both are focused on the apprenticeship framework by encouraging more flexibility of ratios, particularly for businesses in smaller urban and rural centres, and keeping two parts of the Ontario College of Trades as that arms-length body is dissolved.
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce pre-budget submission includes a request from the Peterborough and Kingston Chambers of Commerce to increase the heads and beds levy on public institutions and then tie it to the Consumer Price Index. Doing so would help our municipalities achieve a more realistic return on providing services, which in turn would help the businesses and residents of impacted communities.
The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce recognizes that Ontario has debt and deficit challenges and that focused leadership through this time will be crucial to our overall competitiveness.
Ontario Chamber Debt Report
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce recently released a report that takes a look at the province’s $348 billion debt and the impact that debt has on our province. Currently the debt accounts for about 41 percent of the provincial GDP. Ideally, a province would like to have debt account for less than 40% of GDP to receive the best credit ratings from financial rating companies.
The challenge is that the large debt and deficits are holding the province back. Interest on our debt is the third largest expense of government. The question is how does the government go about reducing that debt and yet continuing to encourage growth in investment and competitiveness for business?
These are tough conversations, particularly when there are outside forces to consider including the fact that we are very much in a global economy. Then there are the areas that need our tax dollars to really work for us such as broadband internet, transit and transportation, health care and education.
We’ll be breaking down the budget over the coming days and assessing what it will mean for the
Peterborough business community.