Advocacy on behalf of our Peterborough business community is a major pillar of work for the Peterborough
Chamber of Commerce. In fact, the concept is built directly into our reason for being under the word influence.
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.
This year, in 2020, your Peterborough Chamber Board of Directors has approved three policy resolutions to be put forward for the Ontario Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Timmins at the end of April.
The three are all very different, but touch upon three very important areas for our community:
improvements to the rules for craft distillers, accessing open data, and regional economic development and collaboration.
The resolution on improvements to the regulations around craft distillers is an area where the Peterborough Chamber weighed in several years ago and is re-submitting an updated version for consideration which includes a continued call for a level playing field in taxation for all categories of alcohol beverages as well as changes to the activities and tasting room allowances for distilleries.
The policy resolution on data was formulated out of a consultation the Peterborough Chamber of
Commerce hosted with the provincial government and local businesses and community
leaders. This resolution is asking for a dashboard that allows businesses and residents to ask a question and receive an answer from government data sets in a readable and easy to share format. During the consultations it was expressed that understanding data in the raw format is challenging and not as accessible as it could be. There are other examples of such dashboards that are working well such as the Workforce Development Board’s Help Desk which provides interested parties with the latest labour market information.
The third resolution being put forward examines how a municipality can account for the results of economic regional collaboration that crosses geographical boundaries. With the development of official plans, the challenges of meeting growth targets under the Places to Grow Act and the ability to be ready to accommodate new business growth, a new formula that recognizes the inputs of multiple municipalities (land or services for example) may help encourage more regional collaboration to the benefit of each individual municipality and the region.
The three resolutions will be submitted to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce in the coming weeks and will be vetted for provincial impact. Delegates to the AGM in Timmins will then have the opportunity to debate and vote on making the recommendations in the resolution part of the advocacy dialogue of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.
By: Ontario Chamber of Commerce
In early December 2019 when the provincial government passed Bill 132 the Ontario Chamber of Commerce issued the following statement:
“As the indispensable partner of business, we support the government’s efforts with Bill 132 to develop a modern regulatory environment that is flexible and easy to navigate, keeping Ontario an attractive place for businesses to invest, grow and create high-quality jobs,” said Rocco Rossi, President & CEO, Ontario
Chamber of Commerce.
Key measures supported by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce in Bill 132 include:
Reducing Red Tape for Drug Manufacturers and Pharmacies by digitizing and streamlining reporting
requirements for drug manufacturers and pharmacists. These changes will help bring down
administrative costs and help protect the competitiveness of Ontario’s health and life sciences sectors.
Expanding Alcohol Access in International Airports by permitting licenced bars and restaurants in certain commercial airports located after airport security to serve alcohol to customers 24 hours a day. We are pleased to see the Government of Ontario move forward in joining other airports around the world.
Improving the Regulatory Process for Ontario’sMining Industry by requiring the government to
acknowledge mine closure plan amendments within 45 days. This streamlined process will allow clients to merge mining claims and improve business certainty forproponents of the mining industry.
Streamlining Approvals for Ontario’s Forestry Industry by amending the Crown Forest Sustainability Act, 1994 to modernize the approvals process for cutting trees on Crown lands for non-forestry activities like electricity transmission lines and roads to far north communities.
“We look forward to continuing to work with government to improve and modernize Ontario’s
regulatory environment," adds Rossi.
The province has also released a 2019 Burden Reduction Report on Cutting Red Tape That Holds Back Investment and Job Creation.
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.
This is the last Voice of Business page for 2019 and the end of the year is a good time as any for reflection. Over the year our ultimate goal is to serve our members by developing and implementing programs, making connections and growing a supportive business community to meet our vision statement of strengthening business.
Influence. Profile. Knowledge.
The Power Hour receiving a national award
New ways to showcase our members (ChamberAM, LoveLocalPtbo Campaign, and I’m Here Campaign)
Influence. Profile. Knowledge.
Everyone and every organization has a value proposition. At the Peterborough Chamber we completed a lot of work to streamline ours, which is to give your business influence, profile, and knowledge.
Influence means we are committed to helping create the conditions for growth and to improving the competitiveness of the Peterborough business community through our lobby efforts at every level of government.
One example of influence from 2019 is a successful policy resolution we worked on with Chamber member Park Place Financial asking for the same tax rate for the sale of a business to a family member as for the sale of a business to a third party.
Profile speaks to how we can help you build your brand and find new partnerships and
collaborations through our online directory, social media channels, marketing and advertising, sponsorship and events.
Knowledge is how we can help improve your business fundamentals, attract employees, and adapt to new technologies through reliable and relevant information, quality training and targeted programs.
These three words are reinforced through our website, branding, banners, and membership guide.
The Power Hour
The Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce won the annual Canadian Chamber of Commerce Competition at their Annual General Meeting in Saint John, New Brunswick on Saturday, September 21, 2019.
Each year the competition is focused on a different aspect of the Chamber operation, this year the competition was titled “Influence in Action - Advocacy through Events”, with an emphasis on events that create profile for the fundamental advocacy work of the Chamber Network. The Peterborough Chamber’s annual Power Hour event was chosen as the 1st Place Winner by some 300 delegates from across Canada. The Power Hour is an annual event bringing together the business community and our elected officials.
Attendees hear from our elected officials at all four levels of government - the MP for
Peterborough-Kawartha, the MPP for Peterborough-Kawartha, the Warden for the County of Peterborough, and the Mayor for the City of Peterborough. Also invited as guests are the elected councils for the City and County of Peterborough, First Nations Chiefs and the City and County CAOs.
The event features a Q&A session, moderated by Peterborough Chamber of Commerce Policy Analyst, Sandra Dueck, with questions provided by the audience. The questions and the discussion further inform the advocacy direction for the Chamber moving forward.
The Peterborough Chamber has been named as one of three finalists on four occasions in this competition, for membership initiatives, our use of video, the creation of the Kawartha Choice brand, and the Power Hour. Kawartha Choice received the National Award as the best Community Initiative in 2005.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the staff and volunteers of the Chamber”, said President and CEO, Stuart Harrison, “to have the opportunity to not only showcase our Chamber at the national level, but to be judged the best, is truly an honour.”
Showcasing our Members
Our members do it all … and we want to showcase the many ways they do business, and community. There are a couple of ways we formalize this idea:
The purpose of the yearly #LoveLocalPtbo campaign is simple - we want to celebrate and support businesses and organizations operating in Peterborough. Our local
businesses create jobs, support local charities, and contribute to the unique nature of our community. In Peterborough, the business community represents about 30% of the tax bill. This is tens of millions of dollars that goes directly back into our community!
In the I’m Here Campaign we are celebrating all the businesses within the Chamber of Commerce family. When looking for shops and services, people ask us for a Chamber member. It's where we go, you should too. This campaign highlights our members through pictures and uses our social media network to get the word out about a business.
After 25 years, the Chamber revamped its breakfast networking event from the
Breakfast Club to ChamberAM. The ChamberAM networking event offers members and
attendees an exciting talk on a topic intrinsic to business.
Speakers are also recorded and interviewed and that interview is then passed on and shared through our social media networks. All of this to showcase as many members as possible and reach as many members as possible.
If you read last week’s column you’ll know I ended by saying that the policy issues we deal with and write about is one way we support our mission. Providing opportunities for our members to share their knowledge and increase their profile is another way we strengthen business and strengthen community.
In any given year through the weekly Voice of Business article the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce pens or publishes some 26,000 words on advocacy-related business issues. 2019 was no exception. This year was dominated by budgets at the municipal, provincial, and federal levels of government, election platforms, policy resolutions, updates on policy councils of the Ontario and Canadian Chambers of Commerce, and more.
“The core value of the Chamber of Commerce lies in the strength of our voice,” says Stuart Harrison, President & CEO, Peterborough Chamber of Commerce. “As a member-based organization we speak for over 900 local businesses who all share a common mission, the creation and maintenance of a strong business eco-system. From hyper-local to national issues, we pride ourselves on the evidence-based, solution-focused advocacy work we do on behalf of our members.”
We are going to take this week and next to recap some of the highlights from 2019 and provide any updates.
High Frequency Rail (HFR) Project – VIA Rail
The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce has been a strong proponent for the HFR project for over a decade. We were pleased to host Peterborough-Kawartha MP Maryam Monsef and VIA Rail in June of 2019 to announce the next steps in the project. The federal government committed $71 million to create a project team that would complete several important engineering and design studies required before any construction could start. In late November, VIA Rail launched a dedicated HFR website identifying the project as one of three major pillars of their future planning. It was also announced that the project team lead had been hired and was starting to set up the office and build the team. In mid-December, the new federal mandate letters were released and the Transportation Minister has been tasked with working “with the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities to create high frequency rail for the Toronto-Quebec City Corridor”.
We have been consistent in our messaging about the importance of the HFR project to the
Peterborough region. In our 2019 pre-budget letter to our MP, this project remains a top priority for several reasons: the economic benefits it will bring during construction and beyond, the ability to more efficiently connect our residents to the world and the world to us, along with the inherent environmental benefits of the project, such as reducing car trips.
Recently we celebrated full opening of the 407 to the 35/115. This opening was the result of multiple governments at multiple levels. At the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce, we played a part in this achievement for if there was ever a story that explained the advocacy process this would be it:
From Chamber President & CEO Stuart Harrison: "16 years ago (2004), I attended my first Ontario Chamber of Commerce AGM in Thunder Bay. One of the Policy Resolutions up for approval was from the Oshawa Chamber, recommending that the provincial government extend Hwy 407 to Harmony Road. We (Stuart and then-Board Chair Dan Stanford) introduced an amendment to the motion changing the wording from Harmony Road to Hwy 35/115. Over the subsequent years we never missed a chance to slide that policy resolution (PR) across the desk of every Transportation Minister, every MPP, everyone we could. Because it was an approved PR, it carried the weight of the entire business community across the province. Full credit to Jeff Leal, who championed the full extension of the Highway his entire time in office, a succession of city and county councillors, mayors, and more."
This road link is a piece of infrastructure that will help open up our economy and our region to new opportunities. It is not the only solution, but one of many to help us move our goods and people to and from Peterborough.
Investing in Building Community
Community building was very much a top of mind topic this past year and there was a great deal of dialogue on how that can be done. When it comes to getting projects built there can be a variety of challenges, especially for not-for-profit organizations. With that in mind and an idea from Chamber Member Paul
Bennett of Ashburnham Realty we authored a policy resolution that was approved by the Canadian business community in September at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting in Saint John, New Brunswick.
The policy resolution titled “Investing in Building Community” presents the following recommendations to our federal government:
All of these topics and issues are directly related to our vision statement, which is strengthening business. And the best part is that by strengthening business we are also able to help strengthen our community.
As the 43rd parliament begins its new mandate, and ministers are settling into their portfolios, we take the time to put forward the business case for Canada.
After the December 5th Throne Speech, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce released the following statement: “We have consistently advocated a focus on economic growth as a critical mechanism of national unity, one that can only be successful if it works for all Canadians in every part of the country.
The business community understands that the Speech from the Throne is meant to be a high-level overview of the government’s plans. We will be looking for much greater detail in the ministerial mandate
letters about how the government proposes to address Canada’s numerous economic challenges.
The Canadian Chamber will also be looking for greater detail on how the government plans to engage and work with Canada’s entrepreneurs and job creators to shore up our rapidly declining competitiveness. Accordingly, we call on the government to make all ministerial mandate letters public.
Finally, we ask all members of the House, regardless of party, to support a serious effort to develop a national economic strategy. The 200,000 businesses the Canadian Chamber represents stand ready to do our part by creating jobs and making important investments, but we need the 43rd Parliament to be a willing partner to Canadian businesses.”
The Canadian Chamber also sent the federal government a “Road Map to Prosperity: Minority
Parliament Guide to Economic Growth”. The document highlights platform commitments from the federal election, including two Liberal commitments that could have great impact on rural communities such as ours. These commitments are a Municipal Nominee Program that would allow communities to address specific workforce needs and a program to help Red Seal apprentices get the work experience to finish their
With Peterborough-Kawartha MP Maryam Monsef now the Minister for Rural Economic Development along with continuing as the Minister for Women and Gender Equality, there is an opportunity to have direct conversations about the impact such ideas would have on rural areas.
Broadband access is also an important topic for business. Access increases opportunities and competitiveness, allows businesses to stay and thrive in smaller communities while reaching world markets. Both the Canadian and Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) emphasize that public funding for broadband should be “targeted, coordinated, and streamlined” so that private investment in broadband can work with the public funding available to achieve the goals.
The OCC report, Business Priorities for the Incoming Federal Government, also suggests “adapting federal business supports to the realities of small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).” This includes the high cost of regulatory compliance and administrative requirements to apply to federal programs. The report identifies that these hurdles may be the reason that government programs are not used to the fullest.
Another area the Chamber Network along with the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce is interested in
seeing a reduction in is regulatory barriers between provinces and territories. According to the OCC these barriers cost the Canadian economy between $50 and $130 billion per year and include limits on labour mobility through occupational licensing standards and prohibitions on the free movement of goods.
Other topics include a pharmacare program that fills in the gaps for Canadians, labour market information and creating circular economies to help reduce waste and improve how businesses use their resources.
Whether it’s in the CCC’s Road Map document or the OCC’s Business Priorities for the Incoming Federal Government, the reports recognize the need to reach all Canadians, find common ground and work
together to grow Canada’s economy.
Are you ready for some holiday shopping? (Sung to the tune of the Monday Night Football theme song. Thanks, Hank Williams, Jr. …)
This week is the official unofficial kick off to the holiday retail frenzy.
According to the Retail Council of Canada, in 2019 Canadians are estimating to spend about $790 on their holiday purchases, but in reality, will most likely spend over $820. The same survey also showed that 85% of Canadians are interested in buying from a retailer within Canada this year.
So how can our local community benefit? The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce recognizes local as being any business within our geographical boundaries of the City and County of Peterborough. This includes locally-owned businesses as well as franchises that are in our local communities. All businesses contribute to the tax base through their property taxes and contribute to the economy through employment
opportunities for local residents. In fact, retail is the second highest industry for employment of local residents behind the health care industry according to Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development.
Consumer information on how and where to spend your dollars is key. Research for a group out of British Columbia by a company called “Civic Economics” found that there is a sliding scale to dollars spent in community and that for every $100 spent at a locally-owned business $68 stayed in the community. $100 spent at a franchise would see about $43 stay in the community. In both business models, donations to community causes, and payment of taxes and wages were the bulk of the dollars returned to the community.
Breaking it down further, locally-owned businesses tend to source local business support services such as marketing and accounting along with choosing more local suppliers.
That said, the choices in today’s age simply don’t stop at in-store. Online sales according to the Retail Council of Canada will make up about 28% of holiday shopping. But online doesn’t necessarily mean only large and corporate. It’s important to know that more and more of our local retailers have their products on their own e-commerce websites and/or platforms such as Amazon and Shopify. In essence, that online purchase has the potential to be a local buy.
A scan of literature and articles on shopping local leads you to find a few common themes beyond the positive economic impact:
For these reasons, and to highlight our members, the Peterborough Chamber built its own
#LoveLocalPtbo campaign several years ago under the motto of “Keep our town (Ptbo) in business by keeping your business in town (Ptbo).”
For us the main message is, be informed. Know what you are buying. Know where it’s made or grown. Then choose, but choose local if you can.