The annual Bell Let’s Talk Day took place this week. A day to raise awareness on mental health, promote discussion to erase the stigma and share resources for people in need of help. This day seemed more important than ever.
The pandemic has left so many feeling isolated, stressed and hopeless.
In December, Canadian Mental Health Association stated that according to a survey, 44 percent of Ontarians felt their mental health had deteriorated since the beginning of the
COVID-19 pandemic. The highest rate across Canada. Of those, 13 percent experienced suicidal thoughts.
How do we move forward from here?
A fellow employee once said, “We spend so much time together at work; we need to take care of each other”.
We are all in this together.
In the workplace, even working remotely, we can support and take care of each other.
Keep communication open. Talk about how coworkers are dealing with their new work environments. Be clear on expectations. Be open about personal struggles.
Keep flexible. Working from home might mean some staff are now working at home with children, limited internet access and other obstacles that wouldn’t be there in the workplace.
Make time for selfcare. Find time during the day to do something you enjoy.
Enjoy a good meal, read a book, revisit a hobby you may have been neglecting.
Keep active. Take a walk. Take advantage of the online fitness programs (Full Tilt is currently offering theirs free during the lockdown).
Reach out for support when you need it. To anyone struggling with mental health and addiction at this time, the Canadian Mental Health Association - Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge has programs and services that can be
accessed anytime. Four County Crisis can be reached 24/7 at 705-745-6484 or
Fortunately, mental health has become much easier to talk about and do something about. Thanks to initiatives such as Bell Let’s Talk Day, much of the stigma around mental health has been erased and there is much more support from employers.
81% of businesses believe that it is important to support their employees’ mental wellness in the workplace; however, only 35% of small business, 65% of medium sized business and 76% of large business have mental health strategies.
Bell Let’s Talk day is a remarkable initiative that to date has injected exactly $86,504,429.05 into the conversation on mental health. The campaign is focused on four pillars:
One of the biggest hurdles for anyone suffering from mental illness is overcoming the stigma attached to it. The annual Bell Let’s Talk awareness campaign and Day is driving the national
conversation to help reduce this stigma and promote awareness and understanding, and talking is an important first step towards lasting change.
Care & Access Bell supports a variety of organizations including grassroots agencies, local hospitals, and universities to help provide Canadians with support services when and where they need it.
Research holds the greatest promise to better understand treatments and cures. Bell is investing in best-in-class research programs with the potential to have a
transformative impact on the mental health and well-being of Canadians.
Workplace health Mental health is the leading cause of workplace disability in Canada and represents 15% of Canada’s burden of disease. Bell is committed to leading by example in their own workplace by adopting the voluntary Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace, and is encouraging greater corporate engagement across Canada.
As the pandemic continues, it’s important to know that one day we will be out of this, and look back at this nightmare for what it was. A time with struggle, but we were able get through it together. A time with sadness, but we were able to offer each other hope and inspiration. A time we were isolated from the world, but were able to offer support that brought us closer together.
Pivot. Adapt. Be resilient.
It’s been the mantra for businesses this past year. While it would be easy to be crushed under the avalanche 2020/21 has dumped on us, some have turned the tables and made this past year into one of opportunities.
During the Great Depression, General Motors changed their business model to offer more affordable cars to struggling citizens who could no longer afford their luxury automobiles. This lifted GM to tycoon status, leaving their competitors, in the proverbial dust. Presently, we have local inspirational stories like this.
Alicia Doris was laid off in early 2020 because of the pandemic. She had seen the idea of gathering local wares and selling them in a package, and thought the idea would do well in Peterborough. What started as a passion project quickly turned into a viable business: Living Local - subscription & gift boxes.
She credits the Innovation Cluster’s Starter Company Plus Program and community support for her success. During the Holiday season alone, she sold 300 custom boxes, delivering hem not only in Peterborough, but all across Canada.
“Peterborough has so much to share,” said Doris, happy that people are able to
appreciate the handmade products made in Peterborough.
Owners of The Boardwalk Board Game Lounge weren’t able to have customers in during the lockdown, so they quickly decided to take the games directly to their customers.
"With our dining and playing space closed, the Boardwalk Board Game Lounge is
offering curbside pickup and contact-free delivery to help everyone get their hands on games to help keep them occupied with their lockdown buddies. Every once in a while we offer a Game Night To-Go package, bundling food, drinks, snacks, and games together,"explained co-owner Dylan Reinhart.
Owners of Full Tilt Cycle, a boutique cycling studio in Peterborough, also had the idea to bring their services directly to their customers. Their channel, @fulltiltvirtual on Instagram, is currently offering over 100 classes for free during the lockdown.
“Everyone wants home fitness right now,” explained co-owner Erin Marshall. Marshall – who had already displayed her business mogul feathers by launching Full Tilt with her partner in
Peterborough, has expanded her wingspan again. She is now the sole Canadian distributor of the RealRyder Canada bikes.
Traynor Farms, a family-owned beef farm, decided to offer online sales and delivery last year. They were overwhelmed with the response.
"It really boosted our sales," said Grag Traynor.
These are just some examples of how businesses were able to adapt and change during these challenging times.
And just as our local businesses are doing their best to survive in these struggling times, we as a community must stand behind them. Order takeout. Purchase for curbside pickup. Love them on social media. Share their stories. Invest in businesses that have invested in the economy of
Guest Editorial – Peterborough Chamber 2021 Board Chair Joe Grant, LLF Lawyers
If you are like me, all those internet memes we consumed over the last six months trashing 2020
convinced you on some level that flipping the calendar January 1 was going to herald in a great change and that all the frustration, isolation, and uncertainty that we ascribed to last year would somehow disappear – or that at least the troll’s foot would ease off the gas a little.
While there is certainly cause for optimism, it is apparent a couple of weeks into 2021 that a new calendar has done little to alter our state of frustration, isolation, and uncertainty. I would argue that our level of uncertainty is at an all-time high.
As members of the public, we are all unsure about:
The virus itself – How fast it will spread and if it will mutate again;
Rollout times and long-term efficacy of the various vaccines;
The long and short-term impact of lockdowns on the economy; and
When our children will return to school.
Arguably, nowhere is uncertainty more prevalent than in the business community. In addition to the uncertainty felt by the public, the business community faces additional layers of
Uncertainty surrounding government support for business; uncertainty about whether your
sector is going to be supported, to what extent and for how long;
Uncertainty surrounding employees – Whether or not laid-off employees will still be available
after restrictions affecting the business have been lifted; and Rapid changes to our regulatory environment – In Ontario a colour-coded tiered system of progressively stricter measures based on trends in Covid numbers was instituted. Many businesses adjusted and expended a lot of money based on our region’s colour, only to be put in a lockdown with little warning – a lockdown with an uncertain end.
Uncertainty is compounded by the fact that our faith in our ability to predict the path of the virus and its effects has been tested. Some prognostications in March had the pandemic petering out after a brief lockdown, but also had the stock market tanking, house values falling by 20% around this time and our economy falling into a deep and wide recession.
Despite all the uncertainty and challenges, we are seeing a lot of examples of
resiliency from business owners. Owners are
adapting quickly by adopting new business models,
tweaking service delivery, or even starting new ventures.
I spoke with a local bar owner on one of the last days before the latest lockdown and I asked him for his thoughts about the impending restrictions. His response was a shrug while he exclaimed, “Hey, it’s a new business every month”: from a bar with glass partitions to operating exclusively as an outdoor patio to a takeout restaurant and beer delivery service. This is the type of drive that needs to be supported.
My vision for 2021 is not sexy – but these are not sexy times. I want our members’
businesses to be as resilient as possible and I want the Chamber to be there to support them as much as possible.
Resilience and overcoming uncertainty in this environment begin with good information. In an era with easy access to so much
misinformation and partial truths, and with the
constantly, it is imperative that our members have
access to accurate and timely information so they can make important decisions about their businesses.
The COVID-19 Business Portal on the Chamber’s website is an excellent resource. It
contains information about compliance that is factual and easy to understand. We need to ensure this is maintained and additional information and resources are added as the events and
trends of this year dictate. We also need to absorb the feedback of our
membership to ensure any gaps are addressed.
The programs that we
provide may also be altered as this year plays out. The topics we explore, for example, may need to be tailored to issues and
challenges that we are not aware of yet, but will be important to helping our members to be as resilient as possible.
I would like to commend Stu and the Chamber staff for doing such a great job of leading by example. We have been able to put the government wage subsidy program to its intended and proper use; we have pivoted to online meetings; and we have tweaked our Business Excellence Awards to a virtual platform in spectacular fashion. Our business model has not fundamentally changed, but we have shifted where we have needed to shift and from my vantage point have done so very smoothly.
On the other side of this, whether that is somehow April, or sometime past my term as Chair, I want our Chamber to be viewed as an organization that helped our membership and our
community be as resilient as possible. Whether that is simply surviving, altering business plans or taking advantage of new opportunities that these unprecedented times may present.
MP Maryam Monsef released an op-ed earlier this week titled “Looking forward to 2021”.
It’s a thoughtful piece, touching on a number of topics of importance to the business community, so I thought I would share both the op-ed, and my own personal reactions (in italics)
In difficult times we look to one another, to our friends, neighbours, and community, to pull each other up and ensure that everything is going to be okay. We needed each other more than ever in 2020, and this community responded with the kind of resiliency and compassion that makes me so proud to call Peterborough-Kawartha home.
Indeed, I think we can all be proud of our community, from the thorough response of Peterborough Public Health, to the way we (generally) followed their advice. From the way local businesses adjusted to the lockdown, to the way the community rallied support for those local businesses. And while we are back in lockdown, the fundamentals are in place for most businesses to survive.
As we work towards rebuilding, we know that some things cannot go back to business as usual. The pandemic has given us the unique opportunity to fix the vulnerabilities in our societies that have been exposed.
Seniors living in long-term care homes have been immensely affected during this pandemic, and we will work to ensure that something like this never happens again. We'll work with the provinces and territories to set new, national standards for long-term care, so seniors get the best care possible.
Let’s hope the lessons we didn’t learn from the SARS outbreak are being relearned and will stick this time…
While our robust health care system has managed the pandemic well, it has made the need for things like access to a primary care physician, mental health services, virtual healthcare services, and universal pharmacare more obvious. We look forward to working with the provinces and territories to achieve these goals and strengthen our healthcare system.
The multi-jurisdictional mess we call a health care system, will unfortunately take a lot of work to fix. However, perhaps the table has been set.
Working from home has been a possibility for many sectors of the economy, thanks to a world-class internet infrastructure. Unfortunately, some rural Canadians haven't been able to fully participate in this evolution in the same way. That's why we're accelerating timelines and ambitions of the Universal Broadband Fund, so every Canadian, no matter where they live, can have access to reliable high-speed internet services.
Kudos to all levels of Government for continuing to treat this important piece of business infrastructure as a priority. Organizations like the Eastern Ontario Regional Network have led the way. And while broadband is specifically mentioned, it’s important to realize that the pandemic has changed everything. While we all long for a return to “Normal”, I think we’ll find that it won’t be there, not really. Several business fundamentals have changed. From how we reach our customers through marketing, to how we reach them through product and service delivery. It doesn’t matter if you are stamping out widgets, putting on a rock concert, serving up a burger, selling boats, raising money, you name it, it won’t be the same.
The future is green. Long-term competitiveness will be achieved through clean growth while fighting climate change. The time is now to transition away from fossil fuels and invest in clean energy, increased energy efficiency, and reliable public transportation options.
Emphasis on transition…
Despite the challenges put in front of us in 2020, we continue to move forward with our vision for Peterborough-Kawartha. Today, more affordable housing is being built, major infrastructure projects like the Causeway and EORN Cell Gap Project are progressing, Peterborough is getting an upgraded bus fleet and a new composting centre, Curve Lake is closer to clean water than it has been in 50 years, and we now have two federally-funded teams of frontline workers on the streets fighting the opioid crisis 24/7.
While this list is obviously federal, it serves to illustrate the relationship between all levels of Government, the service delivery agencies, the business community, and various stakeholders. Politics aside, the Pandemic has forced partnerships and cooperation that simply didn’t exist before. It will take vision and strategy to maintain some of these new relationships.
There is much more work to do, but know that as we move forward, we move forward together - as fellow Canadians, neighbours, and as a community. Wishing you and yours all the best in 2021 and beyond.
“All the best” is a good choice of words. Community leaders, and not just our elected leaders, were thrown into the deep end, nearly a year ago. I can say from personal experience, and having shared multiple conversations with my counterparts from the business community, multiple community agencies, and first nations, municipal, provincial and federal elected leaders, that everyone did their best, and will continue to do so.
You can’t turn around without hearing a buy local message these days, or in the case of the Chamber of
There is a good reason for it. This pandemic has been unfairly harsh on small local companies, and the more we can do to support them, the better. I thought this week I’d provide a mash-up between the top ten reasons to support local business, and 12 specific ways to do it, a riff on the 12 days of Christmas.
Starting with the Top Ten:
1. Discover interesting things & people - One-of-a-kind shops and restaurants are part of what makes our community a great place to live!
2. Support for Not-For-Profits – Support local business owners, who in turn provide significant support for not-for-profits and charities!
3. Reduces environmental impact - By shopping locally, you're contributing to less pollution, traffic congestion, habitat loss and resource depletion!
4. Personal Connection - Getting to know the store owners and employees is a great reason to shop local.
5. Make a Personal Investment in the Community - When you shop locally, you're making a personal investment.
6. Support Future Growth - Shopping locally is the best way to show pride in your community and help protect the businesses that make our City and County unique!
7. Keep Money Local - Local businesses are more likely to shop with other local
businesses, keeping money in our local economy longer.
8. Local Businesses Invest in our Community - Local businesses are owned by people who live in this community, are less likely to leave, and are more invested in the community's welfare and future.
9. Competition & Diversity leads to more consumer choices - Local competition and diversity lead to more product choices for customers.
10. Locally Made Products - When you shop at local businesses, you're likely getting something that's unique and exclusive!
And here are 12 specific ways to support local businesses, sing along if you are really into it!
12 days of a local Christmas...
On the first day of Christmas: buy a gift card from a local business.
On the second day of Christmas: leave a positive google review of a local business.
On the third day of Christmas: share a social media post of a local business.
On the fourth day of Christmas: reward yourself with a holiday treat from a local coffeehouse or bakery for shoveling the driveway yet again.
On the fifth day of Christmas: shop the e-commerce site of a local business.
On the sixth day of Christmas: send a handwritten thank-you note to a local business who has supported a community group, team or cause close to your heart.
On the seventh day of Christmas: tag a friend in a local business' post if you see something they might like.
On the eighth day of Christmas: Follow or friend a local business on social media.
On the ninth day of Christmas: buy stocking stuffers from local artisans.
On the tenth day of Christmas: leave a positive personal review on a local business' Facebook page.
On the eleventh day of Christmas: share - through word of mouth or on social media - some of your
favourite local businesses.
On the twelfth of Christmas: enjoy some take-out from a local restaurant to reward yourself for wrapping all those presents!
Guest Editorial – Peterborough and District Construction Association (PDCA)
From commercial buildings to residential homes — and everything in between — the PDCA is literally building our community and preparing our region for a prosperous future.
The Peterborough District Construction Association was established in 1960 with its main objective: to foster and advance the construction industry in East-Central Ontario by representing its members, promoting suitable legislation and unifying the various branches of the industry.
Sixty years years later, it’s clear that the positive impact of the PDCA extends far beyond their world-class
projects and has a positive ripple effect on our economy as a whole. The PDCA consists of over 140 members from a range of disciplines and backgrounds in the industrial, commercial, institutional and residential construction industries. All members are passionate about quality, integrity, and raising the proﬁle of this region’s capabilities and workmanship.
The PDCA is committed to growth and maintenance and believe that supporting the local industry and
advocating for rules and regulation that beneﬁts our members also supports a healthy local economy. Given the current COVID-19 climate, harnessing local industries to lift our local economies is more important than ever. The buildings and infrastructure the members are responsible for not only prepare our cities for a successful and prosperous future, they support each worker and that worker’s family every step of the way.
On average, the PDCA creates over 150 projects each year, which includes hiring over 3000 workers for those projects. When you think about it, that’s a lot of money going back into the local economy and
supporting other local businesses. And the numbers don’t lie, in 2014, the PDCA’s payroll was over 130 million dollars, with an impact on the local economy hitting 250 million dollars. Keep in mind that these numbers are from over 5 years ago and since then, our region has seen a signiﬁcant boost in population (mostly from people in the GTA). So, it’s safe to assume that these numbers have gone up signiﬁcantly, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. On the other hand, whenever companies from in and around the GTA work on projects within our region, the amount of money that stays within the local
economy drastically decreases. This is one of the main reasons the PDCA is continuing to raise the proﬁle of its member companies and tradespeople. The PDCA will work to ensure that their proven track record within our own community is a known entity and becomes top of mind with those investing in the local infrastructure.
In the coming months, the PDCA will be taking steps to ensure more people know which members are
associated with the PDCA, so decision-makers can easily make more locally conscious choices that employ more local people, keep more money within our region, and directly stimulate the economy. Understandably, it’s hard to choose companies with a local connection, if you’ve never heard of them in the ﬁrst place. That’s why the PDCA will build awareness with the general public and create a groundswell highlighting the need to secure more contracts that directly impact everyone who lives in and around our region. To make up from all the losses that took place during the COVID-19 lockdowns, the PDCA plans to do whatever it takes to ensure this happens. The PDCA will advocate, petition and lobby for changes in all levels of government and push for the recognition and opportunity our highly skilled workforce so greatly deserves. In this day and age, any steps we can take to help put (and keep) more dollars in the pockets of those who have a direct connection with the region that we eat, sleep and play in, is a step in the right direction and something we should all be championing.
To learn more about the PDCA and their members, feel free to visit
On Monday (November 30), the Government of Canada announced its 2020 Fall Economic Statement, offering the clearest picture of federal finances and economic assumptions in over a year. The Statement reaffirms the economic road ahead remains long and challenging even after a vaccine for COVID-19 is approved and deployed in Canada.
The numbers can be startling:
Here is a summary of some of the key new features:
Targeted Stimulus to Jumpstart Recovery
For full details on the Fall Economic Statement, visit our website peterboroughchamber.ca
The Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to all locally elected leaders, including City and County Councils, First Nations, our MPP and MP, and senior staff. The letter was endorsed by Peterborough & The Kawarthas Home Builders Association, Peterborough and the Kawarthas Association of Realtors, Peterborough Downtown Business Improvement Area, Kawartha Manufacturers Association and the Kawartha Chamber of Commerce & Tourism.
The perspectives and suggestions captured in the letter had been discussed on various levels previous to the pandemic, but especially since.
The letter suggests a Regional Plan for Recovery, and features nine recommendations that these business organizations feel would guide Peterborough through recovery and beyond.
Letter RE: Regional Plan for Recovery
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced change upon us, and a regional strategic plan for recovery is needed.
Many discussions have been held over the last six months, including the Mayor and Warden’s Economic Taskforce, weekly calls with Minister Monsef, and MPP Smith, the Chamber of Commerce Policy Committee, the Housing Action Task Force Working Group, the Homebuilders Association, meetings with other business organizations, and individual meetings with business owners.
Several common themes have emerged. While some may appear to be specific to either the City or County, we have copied all elected leaders, City, County, MPP and MP, First Nations and senior staff.
Pandemic recovery will take many forms, but one of the ways to emerge from an economic slowdown is to build. Growth not only provides our municipalities with development charge revenue and an increased tax base, but development also creates local jobs and economic spinoffs for local business.
Recognizing that there are serious financial constraints facing the City and County of Peterborough we, the undersigned, put forward the following recommendations around building back better from COVID.
Zoning & Planning
- Cancel the hiring freeze for departments, such as planning, building and engineering, that will be integral to COVID-19 economic recovery.
- Further streamline the development, zoning, and planning approvals process to reach a goal of a six month turnaround time (including public engagement). Flag for specific review, any project approval that goes beyond six months. While the City is to be commended for adding staff and creating a
pre-consultation process, further refinement and
investments in staff and
technology will more than pay for themselves with increased development.
- Consider innovative and adaptive zoning practices that allow for the emergence of new business models
being presented by the business community. (e.g., in Peterborough County, new on-farm uses and in City of Peterborough, mixing traditionally commercial and industrial uses).
- Complete the final year of the tax ratio reduction program for the industrial class.
Strategic Land Use
- Develop integrated strategies to build out and maximize economic growth areas such as the Peterborough Airport and Cleantech Commons.
- Map, build a strategy, and identify required investments (e.g. rezoning, environmental, servicing needs) for available commercial and industrial lands.
- Pilot a project that identifies a section of the city e.g. south end of downtown where development approval is given based on broader zoning principles.
- Identify lands for regional collaboration and then create and apply a regional development approach for each (e.g. cost-sharing, zoning and planning agreements) for these lands.
- Commit to quarterly meetings with developers and associated stakeholders (architects, PKED, Business organizations such as Chamber, PKHBA, PDCA) to review the process and any changes as a result of provincial requirements. This meeting could also be used to discuss builds that require partnerships to access federal and provincial dollars.
These principles were appropriate guiding goals before the pandemic and now they are even more relevant as municipalities, businesses and organizations steer Peterborough through COVID-19 recovery.
While we recognize and respect the various limitations and restrictions faced by municipalities, we also know that building these nine recommendations into a proactive approach would create a culture of yes and provide significant opportunities for Peterborough City and County.
If there was ever a time to spend your dollars in Peterborough, it's now. #LoveLocalPtbo has always been our mantra, but now because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it means even more.
Our current situation in the city and county of Peterborough is one of tenuous stability. We’ve worked hard, our local businesses have worked hard. But we know in watching other parts of the province and country that it could change on a dime.
Over the past eight months, Statistics Canada has been conducting the Canadian Survey on Business
Conditions. This partnership with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce is designed to understand the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic as the economy moves through the various stages of recovery.
Most recently, information was released on how businesses are faring entering the fall.
Dr. Trevin Stratton, Chief Economist and Vice-President of Policy at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce states, “Today we learned 30% of businesses still operating in October no longer know how they can continue to operate under the existing conditions, and a further 11% indicate they can only operate for three more months.
The news is quite grim for 40% of Canada’s businesses looking forward, particularly for those businesses operating in sectors at the bottom of a K-shaped recovery.
We know that our economy will not recover until at least 2022, the most optimistic scenario assuming widespread vaccine deployment by then. The reality is we are in this for the long haul, and we need to start thinking long-term.
With finite public resources available, we need to look carefully at the return on investment of government spending. Some programs are more beneficial than others. Some policies will contribute more to economic growth. Let’s make sure federal spending is focused on quality over quantity.
Policy makers must be laser-focused on the nature of fiscal spending, and those programs must focus on addressing issues in specific sectors. The one-size-fits-all approach to support programs is not sustainable through 2022, and it may not be particularly useful at this stage of the pandemic.
Consider the following data points:
• Close to three-fifths (57.0%) of businesses in the accommodation and food services sector reported that they were unable to take on more debt
• Approximately one-third of businesses in the arts, entertainment and recreation (29.4%) and accommodation and food services (29.2%) sectors reported that they could continue to operate at their current level of revenue and expenditures for less than six months before considering further staffing
actions, closure or bankruptcy
• Over half of the businesses in the accommodation and food services (55.6%) and arts, entertainment and recreation (54.9%) sectors did not expect their revenues to be higher over the next three months than over the previous three months
• Over one-quarter of businesses in the arts, entertainment and recreation sector (28.9%) and almost one-quarter of businesses in the accommodation and food services sector (22.5%) expected to reduce their number of employees over the next three months, the highest proportions among all sectors With the second wave of the virus now in full force, keeping our fiscal powder dry for the longer run and tailoring supports for the most severely affected individuals and businesses should characterize the second wave of support programs.”
From what we are hearing from our Peterborough Chamber members we know that programs need to provide the stability that doesn’t exist right now. We know that costs such as increased insurance and the potential for increased taxes are weighing heavily along with the concern of having to take on more debt.
More results from the Canadian Survey on Business Conditions indicate the majority of employers are expecting to retain the same number of employees over the next three months. However, that statement doesn’t apply to industries hardest hit by the pandemic such as arts, entertainment and recreation.
So where there is a bit of light, there is also great concern. The amazing part is that you can help. You can help by supporting our local businesses, by safely visiting the wonderful gems in our city and county, and by following the safety protocols in place.
Together, let’s #LoveLocalPtbo
On November 5, 2020, the Government of Ontario released its 2020 Budget, “Ontario’s Action Plan:
Protect, Support, Recover.”
Budget 2020 contains both measures to protect against the immediate impacts of COVID-19 (including new funds for testing and reducing the surgical backlog) and measures intended to lay the groundwork for economic recovery (such as electricity and tax reforms).
“Ontario’s business community welcomes the budget. It is an impactful response to the current crisis, and demonstrates the beginning of a long-term plan for economic growth,” said Rocco Rossi, President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “This budget addresses many of the actions we, on behalf of Ontario’s business community, have been asking for. We believe that when business prospers,
Key highlights include:
Reducing Costs of Doing Business
Laying the groundwork for long-term economic growth by advancing critical broadband infrastructure, smart taxes to enhance business competitiveness, efficient regulation, workforce training, and opportunities for public-private partnerships.
Reducing commercial and industrial electricity rates will make Ontario businesses more competitive and enable them to invest in recovery and growth. For years, Ontario businesses have paid more for electricity than most other jurisdictions in North America, and the pandemic has only increased electricity system costs.
Starting January 1, 2021, a portion estimated at approximately 85 per cent of high-cost wind, solar and bioenergy contracts will be funded by the Province, not ratepayers. This is expected to create an average reduction of 16% for Class A customers and 14% for Class B customers.
Business Education Tax Rate (BET) Reduction and Regional Equality
BET rates vary throughout Ontario; as a result, businesses in London, Waterloo, Hamilton, Toronto,
Windsor/Middlesex, and Kingston are paying higher taxes than those in other regions. The government has announced it will both reduce the BET rate and address regional variance within that rate, both of which the OCC has advocated for in the past. The City of Peterborough is at the same rate as London while the County of Peterborough rate is slightly less for commercial businesses over industrial tax class businesses.
Employer Health Tax (EHT)
The province has committed to making the threshold of $1 million permanent, meaning some businesses will no longer have to pay this tax. The decision to make the higher EHT threshold permanent is a welcome one that will free thousands of businesses from having to pay this tax.
The EHT exemption will provide an estimated $360 million in relief in 2021-22.
Reskilling is essential to the rapid re-employment of workers that were displaced during the COVID-19 crisis, particularly given the permanent restructuring expected in hard-hit sectors such as retail, hospitality, and tourism. Creating a common understanding and validation of micro-credentials for employers through the
development of a micro-credential framework will be critical to get people reskilled and back to work.
Small Business Tax Relief
The move to allow municipalities to target property tax relief specifically to small business is a creative and important tool to grant communities, given that small business has been hardest hit by the pandemic.
Broadband is a basic infrastructure requirement in today’s economy, but the ongoing pandemic has made it even more essential to public health and economic resilience. We are very pleased to see the government take this seriously with an additional investment of $680 million (for a total of nearly $1 billion) over six years.
“The Peterborough Chamber was happy to hear about a focus on broadband, electricity price improvements for businesses and making the higher tax threshold for the Employer Health Tax permanent,” says Stuart
Harrison, President & CEO, Peterborough Chamber of Commerce. “All of these changes will increase competitiveness for our local businesses.”
The Chamber Network is a shining example of how to express the needs of the business community to government. This includes consistent messaging and solutions-based suggestions. To that end recently, about 300 chambers and boards of trades gathered virtually to debate this year’s slate of resolutions to present to the federal government.
Your Peterborough Chamber of Commerce had two policy resolutions directly related to small business. These resolutions have become even more relevant because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Driving Innovation in Canada received 100% support of voting delegates. This resolution calls for the following to be implemented:
Thank you to our Chamber members for your help informing us of the need for these changes.
The past week has also seen a number of updates to government programs:
Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy
Providing direct and easy-to-access rent and mortgage interest support to tenants and property owners until June 2021 for qualifying organizations affected by COVID-19. The new rent subsidy would support businesses, charities, and non-profits that have suffered a revenue drop by providing support up to a maximum of 65 per cent of eligible expenses until December 19, 2020. The government is proposing to allow claims retroactively for the period that began September 27 and ended October 24, 2020.
which would provide an additional 25 per cent through the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy for qualifying organizations that are subject to a lockdown and must shut their doors or significantly limit their
activities under a public health order issued under the laws of Canada, a province or territory (including orders made by a municipality or regional health authority under one of those laws). Combined, this would mean that hard-hit businesses subject to a lockdown could receive rent support of up to 90 per cent.
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Extension
Extended until June 2021, to help employers keep employees on the payroll and re-hire their workers. The wage subsidy would remain at the current rate of up to 65 per cent of eligible wages until December 19, 2020.
Selwyn Business Re-Opening Program Phase 2
This program provides grants of up to $2,500 to eligible businesses located within Selwyn Township to go towards #COVID19 urgent / additional expenses, such as PPE, shields, hand sanitizer stations, etc. Applications can be submitted to Community Futures Peterborough until March 31, 2021.
Digital Main Street
Assists main street businesses with their adoption of technology. Offered locally by Peterborough DBIA & Kawartha Chamber of Commerce.
Student Work Placement Program
Through this program employers hiring students can receive up to $7,500 in wage subsidies. Connect with Si at the Peterborough Chamber to learn more 705-748-9771 x206.
RAP – Program
This program is about providing you with a digital blueprint for your business. Receive immersive training, mentoring and support to assist with digital modernization – at no cost to you.