With the 2019 Federal budget coming down on Tuesday and the recent announcement that the provincial budget will be released on April 11th we thought it worth a look back at our pre-budget requests.
The Chamber represents about 900 members in the city and county of Peterborough. These members employ approximately 25, 000 residents. We had the unique opportunity to bring together our membership for roundtable sessions at the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce on November 16th, 2018 (federal), January 25th and February 7th (provincial). From those sessions, it’s clear that there are number areas with business impact.
Federally, members participating in the roundtable discussed:
At the provincial roundtables the following issues were mentioned by our members.
Among them is the request from our not-for profit members to have the flexibility to be innovative in their programming by having budget buckets instead of line by line reporting. This would afford them the ability to future plan effectively.
Many of our employers spoke to the need for skilled and unskilled labour to fill their job openings in
core Peterborough industries such as agriculture and construction.
Suggestions from the group included more high school specialist programs, reaching students at an earlier age to introduce them to different career paths and retraining opportunities that are flexible enough to work for the employee and the employer.
Generally, it was expressed that broadband should be a focus to connect communities and improve business competitiveness.
There was agreement to bring the marginal tax rate below 50% to leave more money in the pockets of Ontarians.
Government & Legislative Compliance
Participants at both roundtables expressed concern with the number of government touchpoints they must experience and encouraged goal-setting to reduce that number for businesses and not-for-profits. Legislative compliance has a cost and a productivity toll, particularly on smaller operations.
On the issue of improving government accountability, there was a desire to see less rebranding of government ministries and programs, and the suggestion that an effective navigation or concierge service for business and not-for profit organizations would improve communication between the government and its constituents.
Peterborough Chamber Policy Resolutions
The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors has approved two policy positions for our advocacy program. Both are focussed on the apprenticeship framework by encouraging more flexibility of ratios, particularly for businesses in smaller urban and rural centres, and keeping two parts of the Ontario College of Trades as that arms-length body is dissolved.
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce pre-budget submission includes a request from the Peterborough and Kingston Chambers of Commerce to increase the heads and bed levy on public institutions and then tie it to the Consumer Price Index. Doing so would help our municipalities achieve a more realistic return on providing services, which in turn would help the businesses and residents of impacted communities.
The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce recognizes that Ontario has debt and deficit challenges and that focussed leadership through this time will be crucial to our overall competitiveness.
The federal budget will be released on March 19th and the provincial budget on April 11th.