The Government of Ontario recently released its fall economic statement, a document aimed at laying out how the government plans to move our province ahead through recovery and into prosperity.
The report covers investments in infrastructure, healthcare, skills training, and attracting increased investment.
Chambers of Commerce from across Ontario are advocating for more supports for small and medium-sized businesses.
“The Government of Ontario is taking reasonable steps to support healthy communities and economic development across the province as we emerge from the pandemic,” says Rocco Rossi, President and CEO, Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “We welcome the government’s focus on investing in healthcare,
infrastructure, and skills. However, ensuring a robust and inclusive economic recovery will not come
immediately, particularly in absence of clarity and predictability for business. Further supports for business are still required because workers and the economy at large are better off if business prospers.
Specifically, we would like to see the Province address businesses and sectors impacted by the unplanned minimum wage increase and Ontario’s labour crisis.”
The minimum wage hike, which includes a 20 percent increase for alcohol servers,
will have ramifications through an industry that has been greatly impacted by the pandemic and is still
struggling to recover. The Chamber supports fair wages and appreciates that wages need to increase, but that lack of consultation and the suddenness of the increase are problematic. A sudden hike in fixed costs should be rolled out with enhanced access to capital and relief programs for businesses being most impacted by the unplanned raise. The Ontario Chamber of Commerce is also advocating for targeted supports for small business that include energy efficiency and technology adoption programs.
The fall economic statement also includes new tax credits for Ontarians to travel
within the province, a move that will have local benefits for our tourism and
Another area of investment is a new Small Business Digitization Action Plan, which will see more targeted investment in helping our businesses pivot into the digital age.
At the heart of the issues facing a lot of businesses right now is labour. It’s a complicated issue with many factors. No one solution will pull us through, which is why we’re asking the Government of Ontario to develop a strategic plan to address it.
To address the current workforce challenges, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce is recommending that in the upcoming 2022 budget, the Government of Ontario:
• Extend regional
immigration pilots to bring more economic immigrants to rural and remote
• Provide new immigrants with more information upon arrival about employment opportunities in smaller
communities, particularly where there are jobs relevant to their skills.
• Work with other provinces and territories to remove
barriers to interprovincial labour mobility and trade.
• Implement the
Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care System as a critical component of
economic recovery and women’s participation in the labour force.
• Support workers by
platforms to contribute to flexible benefit funds and establish a committee of stakeholders to discuss the protections and needs of workers on an ongoing basis.
• Ensure the new service
delivery model for skilled trades is streamlined,
client-facing, and equitable, as outlined in the OCC’s
submission to the Skilled Trades Panel Consultation.
We’re also recommending the 2022 budget include targets, timelines, and investments in reducing greenhouse gas emissions while making investments in our
communities to manage the impacts of climate change and boost our local green economy.
We’re making progress in our economic recovery. Just as this pandemic is
unprecedented in recent times, so too will be our recovery. It’s imperative that we keep open dialogue as we shape what our recovery is going to look like and what future we want to build.