By: Trevin Stratton, Chief Economist, Canadian Chamber of Commerce
There is no “old economy” or “new economy.” There is just the economy and it is constantly evolving based on new technologies, discoveries, and innovation.
Tech is not a sector, it is the application of scientific knowledge that, for practical purposes, is transforming all sectors. It is a horizontal that cuts across sector verticals. Artificial intelligence, for instance, will be ubiquitous, changing everything from telecommunications to health care to natural resources.
It is a mistake to assume that economic changes are leading to a shift from the legacy sectors that have historically driven growth in Canada – energy, mining, forestry, agriculture, and manufacturing – to new emerging sectors like quantum computing and big data. We need to recognize and capitalize on the incredible innovations taking place in the very sectors in which Canada has traditionally been competitive. Failing to do so will be a huge missed opportunity.
Canada’s economic strategy should leverage our top talent and high education levels to apply the power of technology regardless of sector. This should include leading the remarkable technological advances taking place in our legacy industries. The advanced manufacturing, oceans, and proteins superclusters are a good start, but there is much more work to be done.
Take precision agriculture for example. This established and enduring industry is leveraging new technologies to do everything from increasing crop yields to decreasing environmental risks and the footprint of farming. Drones and satellite imagery are being used to track nitrogen and moisture levels to determine varying conditions across a single field. Big data is being used on the farm to provide predictive planting advice, as well as providing real-time updates on air and soil conditions during the crop cycle. Applying more precise amounts of water, fertilizer, and pesticides not only improves productivity and maximizes yields, but is also a cornerstone of sustainable agriculture.
Or, for another example, take a look at the remarkable changes taking place in Canada’s mining and energy sectors. 3D visualization and imaging are being used to locate deposits far beneath the Earth’s surface and review safety alerts. Autonomous e-vehicles are making smart mining a reality, lowering emissions and costs while boosting productivity. And advanced sensor technology is enabling real-time monitoring of temperature, pressure and flow in pipelines and wells to automatically print replacement parts using 3D printers and deliver them to the site using delivery drones. Through these technologies, scientific discoveries like carbon scrubbing, and new financial models like cleantech funds, our natural resources industries are driving the innovation that will help us transition to a lower-carbon economy.
Canadian policy makers should approach the false dichotomy between a ‘new economy’ and an ‘old economy’ with reservations. Our legacy sectors will have an expanding role in the digital economy after the federal government’s recent Budget announcement to connect all of Canada to high-speed internet by 2030. Realizing the full potential of smart cities and towns will involve harnessing the power of 5G and the Internet of Things to connect—and collect data on—our natural environment. This is a growth area where Canada can be a global player and that can have significant positive impacts on our rural economies.
Geography has been one of our greatest economic advantages throughout Canadian history. Canada should strategically invest in applying new technologies to the areas where we have continuously been competitive to ensure we remain at the forefront of invention in our legacy sectors. We would be foolish to let this advantage fritter away by failing to recognize the opportunities for innovation sitting right under our noses.
The policy resolution process is how grassroots ideas are inserted into the thinking and policy making of government. These researched, solution-oriented recommendations to government come from the
businesses in communities across the country. The goal is to make suggestions that help our economy, businesses, and communities at the local, provincial, and federal levels.
This year, the Peterborough Chamber has a direct hand in four policy resolutions. Two are resubmissions from 2016 and two were newly developed with members.
The Resubmission Resolutions:
Advancing Canadian Competitiveness Using Short Line Rail which asks the federal government to:
a. Create a dedicated short line rail capital funding
program that is accessible to all short line rail companies.
b. Establish a tax credit
program to assist short line rail companies in making capital investments.
Restoring Canada’s Innovation Competitiveness asks the federal government to:
a. Restore the SR&ED tax credit to 20%, as it was before 2014
b. Simplify the process of the SR&ED application so that Canadian companies of all sizes can move forward with confidence to bring their
innovations to market
c. Create an innovation environment that encourages private sector investment in R&D and technology
The New Resolutions:
Level the tax playing field to allow for more family run businesses to stay in a family asks the federal government to:
a. Adjust the Federal Income Tax Act, so that the sale of a business to a family member is taxed as a capital gain.
Investing in Building Community asks the federal government to:
a. Create a new stream for assessing social enterprise through the Community Futures Network.
b. Allow those who invest in the Community REIT structure to receive a tax credit of up to 5% on their investment.
c. Increase the allotment for TFSAs to allow for socially responsible investments.
The family business tax resolution was developed in conjunction with the team at Chamber member Park Place Financial and is in response to the growing reality that in the coming years more and more baby boomers will be developing exit strategies. Therefore, it is imperative that all options available to sell a business are success driven.
“We are firm believers in the legacy of family businesses and are committed to doing all we can to grow and preserve them,” said Terry Windrem, President of Park Place Financial. “We aren’t asking for a different playing field, but rather a level playing field.”
Chamber member Paul Bennett brought forward the idea of a community Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) at a social financing session hosted by the Mount Community Centre earlier this year.
“With so many social and environmental issues affecting our world right now our governments will not be able to support the needed services and initiatives,” said Paul Bennett, Ashburnham Realty. “This highlights the need to engage the private sector to contribute and partner with the public sector to create the needed change.”
All resolutions were discussed and vetted by the Peterborough Chamber Policy Committee and approved by the Board of Directors. They have been submitted to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce to be considered at the Annual General Meeting in St. John, New Brunswick in September. In all, the delegates will have about 80 new and resubmitted resolutions to debate and vote on.
After the Canadian Chamber AGM, the resolutions that receive the support of the delegates will make up the advocacy agenda to the federal government.
On Monday, June 24, 2019 the City will be hosting a public meeting to discuss development charges (DC) in nine new development areas including Lily Lake, Cold Springs and Lift Lock.
The DC report for Peterborough Utilities Commission looks at the water servicing needs and the cost-recovery for new development.
The study proposes: Area-specific development charges that are calculated for the recovery of water services in the City of Peterborough. This approach results in ten different charges that vary by planning area.
In the 10 planning areas, only development charges for the Lift Lock and Cold Springs are
increasing (by 2% of the current rate) while non-residential development charges will decrease across all 10 by 12 percent. The decreases are due to higher development forecasts than in the last study.
Over the planning period from mid-2018 to build-out, the total number of new residential units in the growth areas will increase by approximately 19,615 which translates into a population in new units of approximately 50,811. The planning area with the largest proportion of growth is Coldsprings, with over 4,700 approved and potential units.
Of the 19,615 new units, 3,929 units have been approved by the City, and the remainder are
potential new units.
The non-residential space forecast prepared for development charges purposes is the basis for the non-residential development charge calculation. About 854,000 square metres of building space is
forecast to come on-stream over the planning period to build-out. Keeping the City’s activity rate consistent with historical trends, the employment to build-out is forecasted to grow by 21,340 jobs.
Did you know that Ontario’s Environmental Assessment Act was the first of its kind in Canada when it was enacted in 1975?
The provincial government is looking to modernize Ontario’s Environmental Assessment Act. There are three key changes they are looking to make “to ensure strong environmental protections, while eliminating duplication, streamlining processes, providing clarity to applicants, improving service standards to reduce delays, and better recognize other planning processes that have evolved over the past four decades.”
At the local level, the proposed changes could have positive impacts with the exemption of low-risk activities such as bike lanes. The City is currently
planning to add more bike lanes on Charlotte Street as part of that street’s redevelopment. Clarifying the Minister’s authority could also have an impact on the Parkway, which is currently under a Ministerial order.
The following are being proposed as amendments to the Environmental Assessment Act:
"The OCC is broadly supportive of the proposals in the paper as measures to ensure a more efficient and streamlined Environmental Assessment (EA) process is welcomed by the Ontario business community.
Traditionally, regulations are often seen as necessary to reduce risk, however, in practice, poorly designed and complex regulations stifle entrepreneurial activity, often with minimal benefit to the public. As Ontario businesses evolve and grow, it is of critical importance that our regulatory environment is reflective of our ever-changing industry and economy. This is particularly significant with respect to Ontario’s EA process.
The OCC has continually heard from our members as to how the current EA process significantly impacts a variety of significant projects from progressing. For example:
economic development potential. This is of concern when seeking foreign investment in our province, as business will be deterred by an out-of-date EA process when
compared to that of other jurisdictions.
With respect to the discussion paper, the OCC is supportive of the proposed changes.
As our economy advances, so too must our regulatory environment. A modern regulatory regime that is flexible, simple, and easy to navigate will help ensure Ontario continues to be an attractive place for businesses to invest, grow, innovate, and create high-quality jobs.
Providing clarity and carrying out impact assessments throughout the process will inspire business confidence and investment—key drivers of Ontario’s economic prosperity."
While the comment period on these proposed changes is closed, the government says there will be consultations on any regulations developed as a result of the changes.
I was reading a book by Alexander McCall Smith wherein he captured the essence of “local” while describing Scottish clans and why a local identity is important. His eloquent words include:
Peterborough has a very strong love of all things local, from the historic, to the burgeoning entrepreneurial culture, to a strong downtown, and more. Where does it come from? Is the desire to localize more connected to humanity, to a desire to belong to something, to a feeling of supporting something or
someone you know?
Sure, I can order a pair of boots from my phone and have them sitting in a box on my porch tomorrow morning, but I’d rather try them on at a local shoe store, owned by someone I know, someone who supports my chamber, or my kids soccer team, and someone who knows a thing or two about boots.
Our strong entrepreneurial culture comes from a desire to not only create something local, but to support those who do. It’s a remarkable movement triggered and amplified by people who are relentlessly positive,
supportive and generous.
The Chamber has been using a catchy little hashtag #LoveLocalPtbo as a way of profiling local businesses. The United Way campaign this year gave it a handsome twist, asking people to show their “local love”.
The Chamber, the Innovation Cluster, PKED, WBN, Venture North, JA, DBIA, NCC, and other organizations are all providing programming and opportunities to nurture a love of local. The list of initiatives is endless:
a. The Business Excellence Awards
b. The Business Hall of Fame Awards
c. 100 Women Peterborough
d. The Business Woman of the Year and the Judy Heffernan Award
e. Win This Space, The Bears Lair/Cubs Lair, Ignite 100
f. Multiple breakfasts, lunches, dinners, networking events, workshops, round tables, seminars, webinars and more, all serving to help local people connect and succeed.
Most importantly, local people - thought leaders, influencers, entrepreneurs, young/old, female/male, new to the area or not, but all with a positive attitude - are creating a culture of “community” that supports all of the above.
As author Margaret J. Wheatley said, “There is no power for change greater than a community
discovering what it cares about."
Infrastructure Minister Monte McNaughton along with MPPs David Piccini (at microphone), Laurie Scott and Dave Smith, dropped in to Robins General Merchant in Roseneath recently to talk about investing in mobile broadband.
The Chamber was pleased to hear about the commitment of $71M to the Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) cell gap project. We have been advocating for many years for expanded broadband access for businesses.
Peterborough County Warden and Chair of EORN J.Murray Jones also spoke about the first EORN project, which along with multiple layers of government and the private sector built a 5,000km digital highway through Eastern Ontario.
It's an important view as digital highways are just as important as our physical highways.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC) has launched its election policy website, Vote Prosperity, to highlight the needs of Canadian businesses to all parties in the upcoming federal election.
Every day, the businesses that drive our economy are making hard decisions about how to preserve jobs or create new ones, whether to invest here or abroad and how to respond to competition that grows more intense by the day. The decisions they make determine the future of our communities and our country. Without a thriving business sector, Canada’s economic growth suffers, our prosperity declines and our governments lack the resources to build roads, hospitals and schools and provide social services. In short, for Canada to succeed, our businesses must also be successful.
An open letter formally challenged all party leaders and caucuses to embrace all seven priorities and 45 recommendations outlined in the document.
“We have published an open letter to all of Canada’s federal party leaders, challenging them to give our 200,000 business owners what they must have: a fighting chance to compete and grow. Canada’s businesses have every right to expect a level playing field with the countries they compete against. We call on all party leaders to build their business policy proposals around the Vote Prosperity checklist, which outlines what Canada’s job creators themselves have identified as mission critical,” said the Hon. Perrin Beatty, PC, OC, President & CEO, CCC.
The Vote Prosperity website focuses on a small number of big issues that are crippling the ability of Canadian businesses to compete, grow, and innovate. While our economy faces many headwinds that are out of our control, there is much we can, and should, do.
Some of the solutions outlined by the Canadian Chamber include:
“Without a thriving business sector, Canada’s economic growth suffers, our prosperity declines, and our governments can't afford roads, hospitals, and schools. When business succeeds, Canada succeeds. Our businesses needs the next government to be a forward-looking partner that helps them build a stronger and more innovative Canada for all,” added Beatty.
The platform was developed in partnership with Canada’s provincial and territorial chambers of commerce. The entire network of 450 chambers of commerce, including your Peterborough Chamber, will be working together throughout the election period to keep our nation’s political leaders focused on taking bold steps to protect and strengthen Canada’s competitive position.
The Canadian Chamber is strictly apolitical, and its policy analysis should never be taken as partisan or endorsement. The Canadian Chamber bases its analysis solely upon whether a policy aligns with the Canadian Chamber’s existing platform.
As the Chamber Network, we will be taking action by writing letters to candidates and providing direct links to voter information and locations.
Follow the discussion on social media through #VoteProsperity
The Ontario Government has a series of public consultations underway that could have an impact on business.
Industrial Electricity Prices
The government wants to hear from businesses about the design and effectiveness of industrial
electricity pricing and programs. The sectors of interest are:
Regional Government Review
This review involves eight regional governments (Durham, Halton, Muskoka District, Niagara, Oxford County, Peel, Waterloo, York), Simcoe County and their lower-tier municipalities.
The goal is that these municipalities are: working well and supporting the future economic prosperity of residents and businesses working harder, smarter and more efficiently
Ontario's Aggregate Reform
Ontario’s aggregate industry contributes almost $1.4 billion to Ontario’s economy and supports almost 20,000 direct and indirect jobs. Aggregates are the raw materials (such as sand, gravel and clay) that help build schools, hospitals and bridges, and are the foundation of many of Ontario’s industries.
A survey will remain open until May 31, 2019 to allow for additional feedback and help inform future actions.
Representatives from the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce have just returned from the Ontario Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting hosted by the Muskoka Lakes and Gravenhurst
Chambers of Commerce.
At the conference delegates voted in favour of two policy resolutions put forward by the Peterborough
Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors in the area of skilled trades.
The first was a new resolution entitled “Keeping the Best of the College of Trades in the Wind Down”, which recommended that the government:
In introducing the resolution, President and CEO Stuart Harrison emphasized to the delegates that, “while the opposition to the College of Trades was loud and clear, when it was announced that it would be repatriated into the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, we heard from some of our members about a couple of things they would like to see maintained. For example, having a public registry for skilled trades people allows consumers to know whether the person you called is actually qualified to fix your
plumbing. The companies that play by the rules use trade certifications as a competitive advantage. So, we feel that maintaining a public registry is important.
Secondly, we feel that one of the ways to narrow the skills gap is to have clear pathways for
international skilled trades people. We have a welding school in Peterborough that trains people in the Philippines so that they arrive in Canada as economic immigrants, fully certified as welders able to work in Canada.”
The second was the reintroduction of a resolution originally submitted in 2016 asking that the provincial government:
Board Chair Ben vanVeen, Team vanRahan, Century 21 presented the following reasoning for continuing to have the policy on the books - “while the recent significant changes to the apprenticeship ratios were
welcomed by small businesses across the province, in some cases 1 to 1 still isn't enough. Businesses
in smaller urban and rural communities are telling us that more work needs to be done to address the skills gap. A flexible apprenticeship system is available in other provinces and that should also be the case in Ontario. This resolution offers a way to do that.”
The group also discussed issues around financial literacy, immigration, and infrastructure. The Premier and all opposition parties delivered remarks to the delegates.
Perrin Beatty, President & CEO, Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC) also provided an update from identifying seven areas (regulation tax regimes, innovation, pharmacare, trade deals and small medium
enterprises) as those they will focus on as we approach the October federal election.
It’s that time of year when the Ontario Chamber Network comes together to set the lobbying priorities and agenda.
Over the past several months, chambers of commerce and boards of trade have been researching and developing suggestions on how to help improve the business climate and ultimately the Ontario economy. These issues rise from the grassroots of individual communities and land on the provincial stage at the Ontario Chamber Annual General Meeting.
This year’s meeting is being hosted by the Muskoka Lakes and Gravenhurst Chambers of Commerce and is themed “Stronger Together”. Attending for the Peterborough Chamber will be President & CEO Stuart Harrison, Chair of the Board of Directors Ben vanVeen, and Policy Analyst Sandra Dueck.
The policy debate will feature 29 policy resolutions including 23 new resolutions.
The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce has a recurring resolution around creating flexibility in the apprenticeship system to allow for larger ratios in smaller urban and rural communities. The needs of rural and small urban communities in the apprenticeship realm are different from the GTA. Our member businesses have told us they have to turn people away because of the ratios. With a major gap in workforce in the skilled trades, our area is missing opportunities to keep people local and fill jobs in our community.
The Peterborough Chamber Policy Committee and Board of Directors also approved submitting a
resolution around the transition of the Ontario College of Trades back to the Ministry of Advanced Education.
We learned from our members that two programs developed through the college were valued and
important to keep. The first is to keep the public registry of businesses and status of their membership with the government. Members indicated they used this feature to promote and encourage potential clients to be aware of their standing and record in the skilled trades.
The second recommendation is to ensure new Canadians with skilled trades can easily access the Ontario economy. Other topics that will be discussed during the policy debates include addressing high electricity prices, how government deals with private sector contracts, highway connectivity, strengthening the connections between the business community and our post-secondary institutions and creating a stronger business/commerce curriculum.
In our workshop sessions, we will be discussing the advocacy plan for red tape and continued advocacy around the cannabis legislation.
This work is a signifcant part of the work a Chamber does. Through the policy resolution process we are able to bring the voice of our 900 members along with the rest of the Chamber Network to government as one voice. This influence helps create the conditions for growth and improves competitiveness of our business community.
Stay tuned as we will update our members on the results of the conference!