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.
Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade from across the country have been busy advocating for the business community.
This past week was the virtual Canadian Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting and Convention. A key part of this annual event is policy debate. This is when chambers and boards of trade put together resolutions on local business issues that have national significance and put it to the Canadian Chamber’s membership to debate. The resolutions are vetted through committees before being taken to a vote at the debate. This year members discussed 69 resolutions over 7 hours on the debate floor.
The Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce had both its resolutions endorsed by the membership, which puts them on the books for the Canadian Chamber next three years to advocate directly to the federal
CEBA Loan Forgiveness for the Hardest Hit Businesses
The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loan program has been a lifeline for many businesses, offering generous terms with loans up to $60,000. Organizations that pay back two-thirds of their loan by Dec. 31, 2022 will get the remaining third forgiven. Those that don’t are ineligible for debt forgiveness and begin incurring interest at 5%.
The issue is that the pandemic has gone on longer with prolonged public health restrictions, well beyond what was being forecasted when the terms were drawn up. Our hardest hit businesses are going to need more time to rebuild themselves, boost consumer confidence, and begin repaying money back to all the places from which they’ve borrowed.
We are asking the Government of Canada to:
1. Extend the deadlines for repayment of the Canada Emergency Business Account program by two years.
2. Make the forgivable portion of the loan available to all business that continue to have operations
impacted by ongoing COVID-19 public health restrictions throughout 2021.
3. Allow businesses that continue to have operations impacted by ongoing COVID-19 public healthrestrictions in 2021 to be exempt from incurring interest prior to the balance of their loan being due.
High Frequency Rail (HFR) Project by VIA Rail Canada
The Chamber has been advocating for the return of passenger rail service to Peterborough for more than a decade. The current proposal from VIA Rail would see a dedicated passenger rail corridor connecting Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City with a stop in Peterborough.
The proposal would help us meet our climate change targets by removing 12.5 million tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of a carpool reduction of 2.8 million vehicles annually. It would open up access through eastern Ontario and Quebec, driving economic growth. Having dedicated passenger lines would allow VIA to provide frequent and reliable service, bringing it to profitability within a few years. The VIA HFR project directly impacts an area of the country with 19 million people and frees up bottlenecks for national transportation.
The federal government has begun investing in some of the infrastructure related to the project, but building the line itself has yet to get the green light despite being under consideration since 2016. The project is in the mandate letter on the desk of the Minister of Transport. This is why the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce teamed up with the Quebec Chamber of Commerce and Industry to bring this to the Canadian Chamber and its members.
We’re asking the Government of Canada to:
1. Approve the overall funding and urge VIA Rail Canada to proceed with the entire HFR project as
soon as possible.
2. Prioritize the HFR project and other passenger rail service as a key part of meeting our climate
3. Develop a strategy for expanding HFR service beyond the current Toronto – Quebec project
For the first time since the start of this pandemic, we have a path back to normal.
Last week, the Province of Ontario laid out its plan to safely reopen Ontario and manage COVID-19 for the long term. This includes lifting capacity limits this week for businesses that require proof of vaccination, including restaurants, bars, gyms, and arenas.
The really big news out of the announcement is seeing an end date. If all goes according to plan, on March 28, 2022, remaining public health and safety measures will be lifted. No more mask, proof of
vaccination or social distancing requirements.
Of course, the whole “if all goes according to plan” is a big if. Not much has gone according to plan for the last couple years. But it’s the first time our provincial
government has been confident enough to put a date on the end of this and, right now, that’s a big light at the end of what has been an awfully long tunnel.
Between now and then, the Province plans to gradually scale back public health restrictions. By mid-January, they’ll remove vaccine certificate requirements for lower risk settings like restaurants, bars and recreational facilities.
Of course, the end of March isn’t going to just be a big reset back to 2019. The lifting of mandatory public health measures won’t be a snap of the fingers back to whatever it is we each want normal to be.
It’s going to take a while to work through our habits and hesitations for social contact — and with good reason. Some of us are going to abandon our masks with great excitement and seek out physical contact. Others are going to want their space and thorough public hygiene.
While some things seemed to have been on hold throughout this public health crisis, others have moved ahead by leaps and bounds. Business went online in a big way and we’re going to continue shopping, ordering and booking online. Committee, board, and team meetings that can be done over video will continue to be.
The hybrid workplace is going to continue to evolve. Some people like working in a
physical office, others like working from home, but it’s expected that quite a few people will maintain a hybrid setup that involves a bit of both. According to Statistics Canada’s third quarter Canadian Survey on Business Conditions, 15% of businesses anticipate shrinking their physical office locations. This also impacts neighbouring businesses who have depended on office staff grabbing lunch or picking up a few things on their way home.
Working from home has also opened people up to work opportunities well outside our region.
Then there are some big items that are going to take strong leadership to sort out. Pressure is mounting on our federal and provincial governments as well as employers to offer paid sick days. The days of workers showing up sick and powering through are over. Neither are schools likely to accept a coughing or
snotty-nosed kid, keeping a parent home to look after them. Some of us can make it up by working from home. However, for many workers, there isn’t a lot of choice if not showing up means not getting paid.
Employers are passing the pressure from employees on to the upper levels of
government to create permanent sick day reimbursements through programs like employment insurance.
We have new cohorts of people getting retrained and reinvesting in their skills. Our post-secondary institutions are taking a renewed look at their role in developing the skills and qualifications needed for a new, modernized workplace.
We have a lot to sort out as far as what 2022 and beyond is going to look like, both in personal and business terms. But getting serious about what a post-COVID world is going to look like is
Small businesses are the heart of our communities.
They create jobs, drive innovation, and generate wealth for our community. As we conclude Small Business Week, we’re encouraging people to shop and support local.
The Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce joined the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and more than 155 chambers of commerce and boards of trade across the province to encourage Ontarians to support local businesses in their
community as well as amplify on-going advocacy and
initiatives to promote and protect small businesses who have been hardest hit by the crisis.
As part of our celebration of local business, we held our annual Business Excellence Awards. Check out our website and social media channels to see the video presentation of all our award winners. Our local business community is resilient and inspiring.
Where did they go?
According to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce,
long-term unemployment numbers are still nearly double what they were
pre-pandemic. Despite being in a labour shortage, 27.3% of unemployed Canadians are unaccounted for.
“We can speculate all day, but the fact is, we currently have no data to tell us why nearly 400,000 Canadians haven’t been able to rejoin the workforce after 27 weeks or more,” says Leah Nord, Senior Director of Workforce Strategies and Inclusive Growth with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. “Is it a skills issue? Compensation? Life re-evaluation? This is critical information that we need to find out if we are to come up with effective,
evidence-based policy solutions. Canadians want to work, most are not
unemployed by choice, so we need to dig down and find out exactly what’s holding them back so we can make evidence-based decisions. Our full economic recovery depends on it.”
We hear regularly about unemployment numbers as a benchmark for our economic success, but it’s not that simple. The Local Labour Market Planning Report from the Workforce Development Board notes that tracking our workforce through unemployment numbers misses out on other issues. Unemployment rates don’t differentiate between full-time and part-time work, reductions in hours, and it doesn’t include people not looking for work due to certain barriers. Our region typically has a lower
workforce participation rate due to its older population.
Between unemployment numbers and labour market participation, there are still a lot of unknowns that need more research to get a better handle on our workforce struggles.
Despite an initial quick recovery, the supply of homes is drying up and impacting the real estate industry. According to the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), the real estate sector accounts for 13% of Canada’s GDP.
Meanwhile, BDC reports that with more things open this summer, more Canadians
traveled. This meant people spent less on home renovation projects, decreasing demand and prices for building products, dropping lumber retail sales by 7.3% and wholesale by 12.4%.
As of the end of August, BDC estimates our economy to be running at 98.8% of its
It’s a worker’s market
The Business Development Bank of Canada reports 55% of Canadian entrepreneurs are struggling to hire workers, leaving them working more hours as well as delaying or refusing orders. More than a quarter report difficulty retaining employees and 30% of companies report difficulty hiring new employees because the
salaries are too low. BDC doesn’t expect the labour shortage to end any time soon.
Wages are expected to go up an average of 2.7% for 2022, the highest in the last five years. This comes after 36% of companies froze wages in 2020, 12% in 2021, and only 3.3% expect to in 2022.
Ontario is going to need 1 million new homes over the next 10 years, according to the report Baby Needs A New Home: Projecting Ontario’s Growing Number of Families and Their Housing Needs. The report is from the Smart Prosperity Institute, funded by the Ontario Home Builders’ Association.
Our populations is growing dramatically. From 2011 to 2016 the population of Ontario grew by 600,000 people. From 2016 to 2021 that number grew to 1 million. Over that same time, the rate of building new homes stayed about the same. Over the next 10 years, our province is expected to grow by 2.27 million people.
Currently, the report states Ontario is short 65,000 homes and without changes in our approach to
building housing, that gap will continue to grow.
In the Peterborough census division (which includes the City of Peterborough and the townships of Selwyn, Cavan Monaghan, Otonabee-South Monaghan, and
Douro-Dummer), the population is expected to grow by 15,400 people over the next 10 years. This is projected to add 6,601 additional households needing a home to live in.
This housing crunch has hit new levels over the last couple years. According to the Peterborough and
Kawarthas Association of Realtors, there is typically less than a month’s worth of housing inventory on the market, far lower than it has been over the last decade. All this has driven housing prices through the roof. The average house in Peterborough this year is selling for over $700,000. We’ve seen headline after headline about record house prices. The average house price has increased nearly 170% over the last decade.
It’s not just difficult to find a place to buy, but rental vacancy has been hovering just above 0% for a few years now.
It’s supply and demand.
While some people can afford to compete for the limited housing available locally, others are being left out of the market altogether.
Building wealth through real estate can be an effective economic driver, but there needs to be balance. Our community needs people from all walks of life to grow effectively and efficiently. If we’re going to welcome 6,601 new households in our community, whether that’s new residents coming to the region or our children growing up and establishing their own lives — they all need places to live.
To realize our potential growth and provide the quality housing our community needs, it’s going to require investment and cooperation. The City and its neighbouring townships as well as the provincial
government need to work together to provide the infrastructure, planning, and conditions to build more homes while growing our community in a responsible way that sets us up for
success down the road.
The City is also nearing the end of its decade-long Official Plan Update. This document guides all planning and growth for the City. There’s a public open house planned for Oct. 21 before the
document heads to a public meet at the City’s General Committee on Nov. 1.
It’s important that we get this right. It’s going to take leadership from our
governments, our community, and our business leaders. Right now the balance of supply and demand is heavily in the demand category and left unchecked it will continue to swing further. We know our community needs more supply. Ultimately, people need a place to live.
We are in the midst of a period of economic growth as we head into the fall. It’s good news for most
businesses and industry
sectors. We’re not in the clear by any means, but an upward trend is a good sign for what is a critical time of year for many businesses.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce and Deloitte Canada took a deep dive into Statistics Canada’s third
quarter Canadian Survey on Business Conditions, coming back with some key
Over the next three months, 82% of business expect sales to increase or stay about the same. Optimism that things will increase or stay the same over the next three months hits 85% for demand for products and services, 91% for selling price of goods and services, and 93% for the number of employees. All of these figures have increased quarterly throughout the year. Expectations are up that operating income and
profitability will rise this fall with operating expenses declining slightly.
However, uncertainty is on the rise in terms of viability, with 39% of businesses unsure how long they can continue to operate at current revenue and expenses before they have to consider closing.
With demand and sales expected to increase, businesses have shifted their concerns toward
supply-related obstacles. This includes rising product costs and the ability to hire/retain skilled employees.
Rising sales also increases cashflow and confidence,
allowing businesses to be able to take on more debt. Confidence that a business could take on more debt jumped from 23% to 55% between the second and third quarters of this year.
Additional debt capacity helps businesses invest in their facilities, workforce, inventory and production capacity to help them grow and thrive. It’s also a sign of recovery if fewer businesses are at the limit of what they can borrow.
There has been a lot of talk about workforce challenges over the last few months. One route that businesses are taking to address this is through third-party platforms, often called ‘gig’ workers, freelancers, and contractors. The services businesses use third-parties for changes depending on the sector, but the leading services are website or software development, professional services like accounting or law, and graphic design/audio-visual production.
Another popular workforce subject is teleworking with employees working from home. Businesses in urban areas are more than twice as likely to be planning to shrink physical office locations with 15% anticipating doing so. That number goes up in more dense urban areas like
Toronto, where 24% of
businesses are looking to reduce their office space by having staff work remotely.
For those looking to recall their workforce back from the home office, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce
partnered with Abacus Data back in March to survey employed adults. They found just under half of those
surveyed would be comfortable returning to the workplace for most of their work. Within that, the survey showed women are less comfortable returning to in-person work and people 30 to 59 had more reservations than their younger or older colleagues. The survey identified interacting with customers/clients and use of public transit to commute as the biggest safety concerns. Top actions an employer can take to make their workers more comfortable with working in person include daily cleaning of the
workplace, strict distancing rules, and having everyone where masks.
We’re still a long way from being back to “normal,” or whatever that is going to mean down the road, but it’s encouraging to see more optimism in the business community. For some, this amounts to a shift in stress points from inability to serve their customers due to health restrictions to inability to meet demand due to supply limitations. There are still many challenges to overcome. But we’re moving forward.
Transportation is a fundamental part of our community. It affects nearly every part of our lives. It’s how we shop, commute, visit friends and family, get to school, and get the supplies our businesses need to produce and sell their goods. It impacts safety in front of our homes, our ability to exercise outdoors, and climate change. It’s also an area where we spend many millions of dollars every year.
The City of Peterborough is currently undertaking a new Transportation Master Plan. This an opportunity to take a closer look at our priorities. Not just the opportunities for the municipality, but for ourselves. This isn’t about wishful thinking, but setting concrete goals and objectives that will guide City spending for years to come.
Peterborough is growing and some parts of our transportation network are feeling the strain. But solving congestion and wear-and-tear issues isn’t just about expanding our road networks.
At the core of the plan is the balance between different forms of transportation, including passenger cars, buses, bicycles and pedestrians.
The vision statement reads:
"As the City grows, Peterborough’s transportation network will be enhanced to create a low emissions, responsive system where people of all ages and abilities can move safely, sustainably and
efficiently, no matter how they choose to travel, today and in the future."
The objectives council set
out for the Transportation Master Plan are:
Continually improve travel choices for people and goods by providing an
increased number of
reliable, equitable, and
accessible options that support the health and well-being of our growing community.
Plan the transportation
network to support the growth of vibrant
communities in the region.
Improve safety of
transportation systems for all users. Ensure that
enhance equity and
accessibility by expanding access to jobs, services and
amenities regardless of age, ability or travel choice.
Climate Mitigation &
Protect against negative impacts to the natural environment and reduce vehicle emissions to achieve Council’s Climate Change targets.
Economic & Financial
Enhance access to jobs, services and amenities to support a more resilient regional economy. Invest strategically in new capital projects that will provide long-term benefit to the City, while ensuring that existing assets are maintained and supported.
Shifting people from cars to alternative transportation
can have some huge
benefits for community health and safety, reducing
our impact on climate
change, and less spending on expensive road networks.
But this only works if the right investments are made that make people want to choose options other than their car.
Transportation is a topic that brings out some strong opinions. We’ve seen the debates over new roads, bridges, bicycle lanes, street parking, busing, and street widening. The Transportation Master Plan will help guide this and future councils on how they make those
The City of Peterborough is currently looking for your input through an online survey available until Oct. 8. This is an opportunity to take a look at how you
interact with your
community, how you would like to do so in the future, and provide your
perspective on your
If you want to dine indoors this weekend, you’ll need to provide proof of vaccination, which is now required to patronize businesses and activities deemed by the Government of Ontario to be higher risk.
The business community is once again being asked to take a leading role in our fight against COVID 19. We’re providing an overview of what the new rules and regulations mean for our local businesses. For more detail, visit covid-19.ontario.ca or check out the COVID-19 resources section at
What does fully
An individual is considered fully vaccinated if they have received:
• The full series of a COVID-19 vaccine authorized by Health Canada, or any combination of such vaccines, or
• One or two doses of a
COVID-19 vaccine not authorized by Health Canada, followed by one dose of a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine
authorized by Health
• Three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine not authorized by Health Canada; and
• They received their final dose of the COVID-19
vaccine at least 14 days before providing the proof of being fully vaccinated
Activities deemed higher-risk include:
• Restaurants and bars (excluding outdoor patios, as well as delivery and takeout)
• Nightclubs (including outdoor areas of the establishment)
• Meeting and event spaces, such as banquet halls and conference/convention centres
• Facilities used for sports and fitness activities and
personal fitness training, such as gyms, fitness and recreational facilities with the exception of youth
• Sporting events
• Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments
• Concerts, music festivals, theatres and cinemas
• Strip clubs, bathhouses and sex clubs
• Racing venues (e.g., horse racing)
The Province has set out a work sheet (available at peterboroughchamber.ca) that lays out all the rules and guidelines, but here is a more broad summary.
People with a doctor’s note indicating a medical
exemption and children 11 years and younger are largely exempt from vaccination requirements.
Until Oct. 12, people attending weddings and funerals can be permitted with a negative rapid antigen COVID-19 test from no more than 48 hours before the event. These rapid antigen tests must be privately purchased.Workers, contractors, repair workers, delivery workers, students, volunteers,
inspectors or others who are entering the business or organization for work purposes and not as patrons are exempt.
Vaccination requirements don’t apply to a patron who is entering an indoor area solely for the following purposes:
• to use a washroom;
• to access an outdoor area that can only be accessed through an indoor route;
• to make a retail purchase;
• while placing or picking up
an order, including placing a bet or picking up winnings in the case of a horse racing track;
• while paying for an order;
• to purchase admission; or
• as may be necessary for the purposes of health and safety
Additional exemptions apply for funerals and youth
participating in sports and athletics.
Checking proof of vaccination
Where the new program applies, patrons must prove that it has been at least 14 days since they received their second COVID-19 vaccination shot. That proof can come in the form of the printed or emailed receipt people received after getting their shot, they can download a copy of the receipt from covid19.ontariohealth.ca, or using a QR code when the Province releases its
upcoming mobile app. Patrols will also need to provide photo identification. The province is advising business to confirm the name and date of birth using the photo ID (from an institution or public body) and verify that the
receipt is from the Ontario Ministry of Health, signed by an Indigenous Health Provider, or from another jurisdiction showing full
Businesses are prohibited from keeping any of the
information provided as proof of vaccination.
What to expect
It’s going to be time
consuming, frustrating for patrons, and may lead to an initial decline in business for those most impacted by the program. Hopefully these measures will help avoid broader restrictions and lockdowns.
Please continue to patronize your local businesses in a safe and responsible manor with a little extra patience as we all adjust our routines for another new normal.
OHRC policy statement on COVID-19 vaccine mandates and proof of vaccine certificates
On September 1, 2021, the Ontario government announced that starting September 22, Ontarians will need to be fully vaccinated (two doses plus 14 days) and provide proof of vaccination along with photo ID to access certain public settings and facilities. By October 22, Ontario plans to develop and implement an enhanced digital vaccine certificate with unique QR (Quick Response) code that will verify vaccination status when scanned. A paper version of the certificate will be available for download or can be printed from the COVID-19 vaccination provincial portal.
The proof of vaccine regime currently applies to certain higher-risk indoor public settings where face coverings cannot always be worn. In addition to these settings, over the last few months many other organizations have begun to mandate vaccines for employees and service users.
Vaccination requirements generally permissible
While receiving a COVID-19 vaccine remains voluntary, the OHRC takes the position that mandating and requiring proof of vaccination to protect people at work or when receiving services is generally permissible under the Human Rights Code (Code) as long as protections are put in place to make sure people who are unable to be vaccinated for Code-related reasons are reasonably accommodated. This applies to all organizations.
Upholding individual human rights while trying to collectively protect the general public has been a challenge throughout the pandemic. Organizations must attempt to balance the rights of people who have not been vaccinated due to a Code-protected ground, such as disability, while ensuring individual and collective rights to health and safety.
Duty to accommodate for medical reasons
Some people are not able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine for medical or disability-related reasons. Under the Code, organizations have a duty to accommodate them, unless it would significantly interfere with people’s health and safety
Consistent with the duty to accommodate, the provincial proof of vaccine regime says that people who are unable to receive the vaccine must provide a written document, supplied by a physician (MD) or by a registered nurse extended class [RN(EC)] or nurse practitioner (NP) stating they are exempt for a medical reason from being fully vaccinated and how long this would apply. The OHRC’s position is that exempting individuals with a documented medical inability to receive the vaccine is a reasonable accommodation within the meaning of the Code.
Organizations that are not included in the list of settings but wish to mandate vaccines are encouraged to use the provincial proof of vaccine certificate with the written documentation showing medical inability to receive the vaccine as their way of meeting the duty to accommodate where needed.
The OHRC also stresses the need to make sure digital proof of vaccine certificates are designed to be fully accessible to adaptive technology, including for smart phone users with disabilities, in accordance with Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act regulations.
COVID testing as an alternative to vaccine requirements
Many organizations are not included in the list of settings. Organizations with a proven need for COVID-related health and safety requirements might also put COVID testing in place as an alternative to mandatory vaccinations or as an option for accommodating people who are unable to receive a vaccine for medical reasons. Organizations should cover the costs of COVID testing as part of the duty to accommodate.
Time limited requirements, privacy protection
The provincial proof of vaccine regime does not propose to limit access to any services for people who are unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons.
Proof of vaccine and vaccine mandate policies, or any COVID testing alternatives that result in people being denied equal access to employment or services on Code grounds, should only be used for the shortest possible length of time. Such policies might only be justifiable during a pandemic. They should regularly be reviewed and updated to match the most current pandemic conditions, and to reflect up-to-date evidence and public health guidance.
Policies should also include rights-based legal safeguards for the appropriate use and handling of personal health information.
Barriers in accessing COVID vaccines and testing
While the vaccine may be readily available across Ontario, barriers persist in equitable vaccine access and COVID testing. Some examples of barriers to vaccine access may include:
Under the provincial regime, organizations are responsible for making sure they meet the required proofs of identification and vaccination as outlined in the regulation. Service users must make sure any information they provide to the organization to show proof of vaccination (or proof of qualifying for an exemption like a doctor’s note) and if identification is complete and accurate. There are fines for both individuals and organizations that fail to comply.
As with any regulatory regime requiring enforcement, providing law enforcement or any organization with discretionary powers to assess proof of identification and vaccination may result in disproportionate application and impact on members of marginalized and vulnerable communities. Any regime that requires service users to present government-issued documents may also create barriers for people experiencing homelessness or who are undocumented.
The OHRC urges governments and organizations to take proactive steps to make sure any enforcement of vaccine mandates or proof of vaccination policies does not disproportionately target or criminalize Indigenous peoples, Black and other racialized communities, people who are experiencing homelessness, or with mental health disabilities and/or addictions.
Personal preferences and singular beliefs not protected
The OHRC and relevant human rights laws recognize the importance of balancing people’s right to non-discrimination and civil liberties with public health and safety, including the need to address evidence-based risks associated with COVID-19.
Receiving a COVID-19 vaccine is voluntary. At the same time, the OHRC’s position is that a person who chooses not to be vaccinated based on personal preference does not have the right to accommodation under the Code. The OHRC is not aware of any tribunal or court decision that found a singular belief against vaccinations or masks amounted to a creed within the meaning of the Code.
While the Code prohibits discrimination based on creed, personal preferences or singular beliefs do not amount to a creed for the purposes of the Code.
Even if a person could show they were denied a service or employment because of a creed-based belief against vaccinations, the duty to accommodate does not necessarily require they be exempted from vaccine mandates, certification or COVID testing requirements. The duty to accommodate can be limited if it would significantly compromise health and safety amounting to undue hardship – such as during a pandemic.
Read the OHRCs Policy on preventing discrimination based on creed for full explanation of creed-based discrimination and the duty to accommodate.
This week’s Voice of Business hits on a few pressing business issues, including the election of our next member of parliament, high-speed internet investments, vaccinations in the workplace, and vaccines to access businesses and events.
Election Day Election day is Monday, Sept. 20. We’ve provided a variety of information
regarding business issues, both through this Voice of Business column and online at peterboroughchamber.ca. But by far one of the most compelling and engaging ways to get to know your local candidates, the issues, and where people stand is by watching a local debate. This election most debates have been recorded and made available online.
The Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce partnered with the Peterborough Downtown Business Improvement Area, Peterborough and District Construction Association, Peterborough and the
Kawarthas Association of REALTORS® Inc., Peterborough & The Kawarthas Home Builders
Association, Kawartha Chamber of Commerce & Tourism, and YourTV to host our own business issues debate. Held Sept. 8 at the Peterborough Curling Club, the full video of the debate is available on our Facebook and YouTube channels. Additional debates were held locally, including debates focused on the arts, climate change, and community issues.
High Speed Internet
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce is calling on our next parliament to commit to making strategic investments in infrastructure, including broadband internet access, as a key part of our economic recovery.
High Speed Internet is a critical tool for business in terms of accessing resources, managing teams, hiring talent, and reaching larger markets.
Investments in broadband Internet are included in the Ontario Chamber of
Commerce Ontario Business Matters federal election campaign. Visit OCC.ca to see the full campaign.
Peterborough Public Health Recommends Businesses Develop a
As per Dr. Rosana Salvaterra, Medical Officer of Health:
"In an effort to save lives, reduce illness, and keep the economy strong, I am strongly recommending that all workplaces in the City and County of Peterborough develop (or enhance) their workplace policies to include a requirement that all employees receive a COVID-19 vaccine, unless otherwise medically exempt.
I urge employers to establish workplace COVID-19 vaccination policies that require, at a minimum:
• Workers to provide proof of their vaccination series approved by Health Canada or the World Health
• Unvaccinated employees to provide written proof of a medical exemption from a physician or nurse
practitioner that includes whether the reason for exemption is permanent or time-limited
• Unvaccinated workers to complete a vaccination education course on the risks of being unvaccinated in the workplace
Employers should also identify how workers’ vaccination status information will be collected and protected in accordance with privacy legislation and explain the level of risk posed by COVID-19 in each unique workplace setting."
For full details on the recommendation, visit peterboroughpublichealth.ca
Ontario to Require Proof of Vaccination in Select Settings
Starting Wednesday, Sept. 22, the Government of Ontario will require proof of
vaccination to access certain business and settings. Patrons will need photo ID and proof that they received their
second dose more than 14 days ago to access:
• Restaurants and bars (excluding outdoor patios, as well as delivery and takeout);
• Nightclubs (including
outdoor areas of the
• Meeting and event spaces, such as banquet halls and conference/convention centres;
• Facilities used for sports and fitness activities and
personal fitness training,
such as gyms, fitness and
recreational facilities with
the exception of youth
• Sporting events;
• Casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments;
• Concerts, music festivals, theatres and cinemas;
• Strip clubs, bathhouses and sex clubs;
• Racing venues (e.g., horse racing).
More details at Ontario.ca.
GUEST COLUMN – Canadian Chamber of Commerce
Canadians everywhere want to look past the pandemic and know what comes next. While they can expect many spending announcements, lofty promises of jobs and boutique tax cuts during this election, what they’re looking for has been missing so far. Conspicuously absent in the election to date is a serious, sustainable and bold plan to grow our economy, despite the fact the economy is the number one concern for Canadians.
The need for strong, sustained economic growth is now beyond debate. Canada’s credit cards have been maxed with pandemic debt, and the cost of dealing with climate change and confronting other urgent issues will only increase for everyday Canadians and businesses. A serious, bold strategy to grow our economy is Canada’s only way forward, and Canadians have the right to know where the parties stand before they go to the polls.
We have outlined our recommendations for what it takes to grow an economy and challenge all parties to adopt them.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is Canada’s largest business association representing 450 local chambers of commerce and boards of trade, accounting for more than 200,000 member businesses from every Main Street in the country. These recommendations reflect the economic realities of Canada’s job creators and growth generators.
JOB ONE: Finishing the fight against COVID The sacrifices each of us has made have brought us a long way in our efforts to beat the pandemic. Now that the hope of more normal lives is finally in sight, we need to make sure everyone makes it safely to the shore.
Offering an extra hand for the hardest-hit Many small enterprises and businesses in the hardest-hit sectors, including tourism, travel and hospitality, will not recover until public health restrictions are lifted and economic activity returns to normal. Until that time comes, these fellow Canadians require ongoing support.
To help the hardest-hit return to growth:
Borrowing capacity is significantly more limited today. To protect our government finances and sustain public services, we need to get maximum mileage for every dollar spent. It is essential to restore a solid fiscal anchor.
To protect Canada’s finances:
JOB TWO: Getting the fundamentals right As Canada emerges from COVID, we must not mistake spending for economic growth. Even before COVID, Canada spent significantly but lagged in economic growth, in attracting investment and in creating good jobs for Canadians.
COVID-era recovery programs, while important, were not designed to address the fundamental problems plaguing Canada on infrastructure investment, regulatory burdens, taxation, SME competitiveness and internal trade barriers. Canada must get its house in order to fuel real growth that creates jobs for its citizens.
Supporting our SMEs Canadians are hardworking and innovative, so it is no surprise SMEs are Canada’s biggest employers. The next Parliament must ensure an environment that helps Canada’s entrepreneurs grow and create jobs.
To support Canadian entrepreneurship:
To build Canada’s growth-supporting infrastructure:
Growth must be inclusive
To achieve economic growth, we must include all Canadians, including those who have been left behind until now. Our shared prosperity depends on a strong business community that can innovate, attract talent and capital and expand into new markets. To create inclusive growth, Canadians from all sectors, regions and backgrounds must be able to participate in the workforce and share in the benefits.
To achieve inclusive growth:
Getting Canadians working
Particularly given its aging population, Canada needs its workforce to generate economic activity as productively as possible.
To build an inclusive, productive workforce:
Now, to grow we need to finally make Canada’s economy truly national. We must end the regulatory patchwork and interprovincial trade barriers that separate Canadians.
To reach Canada’s potential:
To have a tax system that meets the challenges of the 21st century:
JOB THREE: Creating 21st century opportunities The Canadian brand is strong. We are seen as ethical and rules-based. We are blessed with world-class cities, abundant natural resources and talented, entrepreneurial people. While our country and people have all the ingredients for success, our global competitors are working hard to attract investment that can create the next generation of opportunities elsewhere.
Canada must ensure the types of jobs and opportunities people want are being created here.
Digitizing our world In a digital world, Canadians are connected like never before. Our educated workforce and advanced digital infrastructure give Canada a strong starting point to be a leader in the global digital future, but our competitors are on the move.
Safely connecting Canadians and the world
As virtual activities increase, businesses and their customers must be confident that their data is protected. We also must help companies innovate to meet the digital needs of the world. In parallel, Canada needs to ensure it has the talent and skills in place to prepare Canadians through ongoing upskilling and reskilling.
To better support Canada’s digital ecosystem:
Achieving our net-zero future
We must ensure Canada’s pathway to net-zero allows our businesses to compete successfully, enhances investment, creates jobs for Canadians, promotes innovation and genuinely benefits the environment. How we get there matters. Canada’s business community wants to collaborate with government to develop solutions to our country’s greatest environmental challenges and enable economic opportunities for Canadians.
To achieve net-zero emissions and ensure the viability of Canadian businesses:
Canadian agriculture is part of the solution
Canadian agriculture and agri-food leads the world in the fight against climate change, and we have an opportunity to be a global leader in food production. From producers to processors, to manufacturers and everywhere in between, each is doing its part to feed the world sustainably.
With targeted investment programs and smart regulation, Canada can serve as a model to the world in reaching a net-zero future by unleashing the sector’s potential.
To champion Canadian agriculture:
Selling to the world
Ensuring Canadian interests are reflected in international trade rules will allow businesses to compete on a level playing field to support growth and create jobs.
To expand Canada’s market reach:
To allow Canada to sustainably supply the resources of the future:
Canada must end its inability to make vaccines and other life-saving medicines. We face the dual challenge of an aging population and a weak biomanufacturing capacity to produce vaccines and life-saving drugs domestically. Improving our country’s ability to host vaccine and medical technology supply chains is crucial to Canadians’ health and economic security. It will also improve Canada’s ability to help others around the world. Additionally, we need to modernize how we procure for our healthcare industry to protect the health of Canadians more effectively.
To create resilient health infrastructure: