Today, the Burlington Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC), formally released its 2017 pre-budget submission containing recommendations to the Ontario legislature as it looks to begin its spring 2017 legislative session. The submission outlines four key budget priorities and 13 specific recommendations for Queen’s Park to adopt in order to restore fiscal balance and spur economic growth. Specifically, the Burlington Chamber is looking for immediate support for increased broadband infrastructure and for government to demonstrate fiscal prudence and sound budget management.
With more government services going digital, it is critical that citizens from all corners of the province have access to ultra-high-speed Internet. For some areas of the province, a lack of access to broadband has compromised Ontarians abilities to connect with essential government services, and has crippled businesses’ capacity to compete in the technology driven economy. As cited in the OCC’s submission, Government must “bridge the broadband gap” by considering this type of technology as a fundamental piece of infrastructure and address the inadequacy of ultra high-speed Internet in Ontario communities.
“The OCC, in partnership with our diverse Chamber Network, will continue to work with the provincial government to ensure that Ontario prioritizes reducing obstacles to business competitiveness,” said Allan O’Dette, President & CEO of the OCC. “By taking more authoritative action on this issue, we can ensure that Ontario remains an attractive environment for capital investment.”
In the submission, Ontario’s Chamber Network is also calling on the government to send a clear message of fiscal stability by balancing the provincial budget by 2017-2018. Such action would result in a more attractive environment for business investment and growth as well as confront the challenge of mounting input costs, such as electricity prices. As signalled last week in the OCC’s Ontario Economic Report, businesses are maintaining their operations and holding onto cash rather than expanding production or investing. This indicates that industry sees the Ontario economy as high-risk.
“The Government of Ontario must ensure that it addresses recommendations made by the Burlington Chamber of Commerce in their provincial budget in order to support economic growth for Ontario businesses,” said Keith Hoey, President & CEO of the Burlington Chamber of Commerce. “Government must focus on reducing the costs of doing business in Ontario, supporting strategic infrastructure development and strengthening its efforts to bolster business competitiveness that allows Burlington to thrive.”
Addressing the current fiscal context and achieving a balanced budget is an underlying theme throughout the pre-budget submission. Ontario’s Chamber Network is committed to working with the Ontario Government to ensure the future economic success of the province. The submission is largely comprised of policy recommendations that are supported by resolutions passed by Ontario’s Chamber Network at the OCC’s most recent Annual General Meeting.
Ontario Economic Report Forecasts Outlook for Local and Provincial Economy
February 8, 2017
Today, the Burlington Chamber of Commerc, in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC), released the inaugural Ontario Economic Report (OER), a landmark agenda aimed at shaping and informing future public policy. The OER includes entirely new economic analyses that demonstrate the difficult economic environment faced by Ontario businesses and consumers in 2017. The report also contains exclusive economic information pertaining to Hamilton. The report includes the results of the OCC’s new Business Confidence Survey conducted in partnership with Fresh Intelligence, a Business Prosperity Index developed by the Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis (CANCEA), and an Economic Outlook for 2017 prepared by Central 1 Credit Union. These datasets, viewed together, reveal broad challenges to Ontario’s economic health.
“Our research shows that Ontario’s economic climate is posing challenges to the businesses we represent and Ontarians more broadly,” said Allan O’Dette, President and CEO of the OCC. “Investment is being held back because of a high perception of risk. We need immediate action in order for our province to continue to grow and prosper.”
Economic outlook data reveal that the unemployment rate in the Hamilton census metropolitan area (CMA) is expected to drop to 5.8 percent (down from 6.2 percent in 2016) and the median residential housing price will be $410,000, reflecting a 4.6 percent increase over last year.
“The OER reinforces many of our policy priorities that arose from our 2016 Barriers to Business Survey” stated Keith Hoey, President & CEO, Burlington Chamber of Commerce. “Rising costs of doing business were the most significant factor impacting business cited by Burlington Chamber members.”
Additional key findings in the OER are from the Business Prosperity Index. This index shows that, despite total business prosperity increasing since 2000, prosperity is increasingly generated from asset and liability management rather than the production of goods or services. This means that Ontario businesses are less likely to earn income from actual business activity today than they have in the past.
While Ontario enjoyed an average 2.6 percent real GDP growth rate between 2000 and 2006, the source of wealth generated from the production of goods and services actually declined by 12 percent during that same period. Since the recovery from the “great recession”, production activities fell a further 12 percent over that period. Broadly, this means Ontario’s business prosperity is increasingly dependent upon non-production, financial activities.
This challenge is a result of the current economic environment, in which increased costs associated with production, regulation and housing have resulted in weak market and labour force activity. Businesses in Ontario are operating in a risk-averse environment in which they are disinclined to grow production by investing or hiring.
“For many years, the voice of Ontario business has cautioned that regulatory burdens, high input costs, and government policies not attuned to innovation have hampered economic growth,” added O’Dette. “The findings in the OER reinforce this, and indicate that there are also structural issues impeding our province’s potential.”
The results of the OER highlight the key policy issues that the OCC intends to prioritize in 2017, including workforce development, infrastructure, energy, and health care. Central to the organization’s work is the notion that industry and government tackle these issues together, in order to grow economic prosperity and drive positive change for all Ontarians.
Taxation Letter a Win for Business
February 7, 2017
Earlier this year, your Chamber of Commerce actively lobby against the federal government’s proposal to tax-employer-sponsored health and dental benefit plans. In addition to hundreds or thousands of dollars that would be added to Canadians' tax bills, this proposal could have meant that many employers could no longer provide coverage to employees. Your chamber lobbied Local MPs Gould and Damoff citing our opposition (see story below). Last Wednesday in the House of Commons, the Prime Minister announced that the government will not be moving forward with the tax. Our message has gotten through and we believe this is a step in the right direction to protect both employers and employees from further tax increases. We will continue to monitor developments, but this is very positive news. The chamber network has a powerful voice when we all work together.
Burlington Chamber of Commerce Announces Business Excellence Award Finalists
February 2, 2017
After months of interviews, meetings and deliberations, the Burlington Chamber of Commerce has announced the finalists for its 2016 Business Excellence Awards.
The Chamber has named 22 local organizations as potential winners of awards in a variety of categories. Award nominations are based on overall business excellence and the criteria include excellence in business leadership, community contributions, entrepreneurship, environment, employee welfare, innovation and market growth.
The finalists are:
- Innovation Plus Power Systems
- Laurel Steel
- Xiris Automation Inc.
- Edge Imaging
- Burlington Orthotic Centre
- ABL Employment
- RE/MAX Escarpment Realty Inc, Brokerage
- Bartimaeus Inc.
- CSN Cars Auto Collision
- OKD Marketing
- Danyliw & Mann CPAs
- Errington Integrated Marketing
- StarFish Learning
- Kimberly Calderbank (Yellow Robot)
- Rob Lyell (Budget Exhaust & Automotive Inc.)
- Eric Rodgers (Direct Access Digital)
- Food for Life
- Halton Learning Foundation
- Sound of Music Festival
- The Centre for Skills Development & Training
“The Chamber was faced with some very tough decisions to choose finalists and winners this year” said Keith Hoey, President & CEO of the Burlington Chamber of Commerce. “The calibre of the companies seems to be getting better every year. This is a clear indication of the world-class organizations that carry on business in Burlington and the Chamber of Commerce is pleased to be able to recognize all these organizations.”
While the list of finalists is now public information, the names of the winners remain a closely guarded secret. The winners will be announced at the Chamber Business Awards Gala set for April 6 at the Burlington Convention Centre. This star-studded affair proves to be one of the most anticipated business events of the year.
Also being presented at the Chamber Awards Gala will be Tourism Burlington’s Ambassador Award, and Mayor Rick Goldring’s Sustainable Green Business and Community Service Awards.
The federal government is considering taxing employer-paid health and dental benefits. Along with adding hundreds or thousands of dollars to Canadians’ tax bills, this proposal could cause many employers to stop offering coverage to employees. When Quebec introduced a similar tax, 20% of employers dropped health and dental benefits for employees.
Read the letter that the Burlington Chamber of Commerce sent out to Hon. Karina Gould, MP Burlington and Pam Damoff, MP Oakville North-Burlington copying Hon. Bill Morneau, Minister of Finance.
There’s been a lot of talk about Ontario’s Cap and Trade system but it can be hard to decipher how it will impact your business. The Ontario Chamber Commerce recently released a document for Ontario businesses outlining the Cap and Trade Program and how businesses will be impacted. Read it here.
On Wednesday, January 25 the Burlington Chamber of Commerce will host Mayor Rick Goldring’s State of the City Address. The event is open to all Burlington residents.
The 2017 State of the City Address is Mayor Rick Goldring’s seventh address to Burlington residents. The Burlington community can expect this year’s State of the City Address to be a check-up on our city. More specifically, Burlington residents and the business community will hear an update on key indicators of our city, including economy, growth, transportation and our people.
The breakfast event will be held at the Burlington Convention Centre, 1120 Burloak Drive, with registration and breakfast beginning at 7:30 am.
Seating is limited and all attendees must register in advance. For those interested in attending the event, please visit www.burlingtonchamber.com or call 905-639-0174.
This year’s event is sponsored by Bell Canada, Scotiabank (Brant Street), The Centre for Skills Development and Training, and the Realtors Association of Hamilton-Burlington.
Cost is $45 + HST for Chamber members and $55 + HST for non-members.
The Premier of Ontario, The Honourable Kathleen Wynne, will speak at a luncheon hosted by the Burlington and Oakville Chambers of Commerce on Friday, January 13. The Premier will be presenting on “A Balanced Plan to Build Ontario Up for Everyone”, outlining the Ontario government’s plan to grow Ontario’s economy and create jobs.
“Our members represent a cross section of businesses of all sizes and sectors. This demonstrates their desire to be engaged within the community and to hear our political leaders first hand” stated Caroline Hughes, Chair of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce. “We are very pleased the Premier has accepted our invitation to meet with our members.” Ms. Hughes further commented “Leaders tell us they very much appreciate speaking directly with our members. It gives them an opportunity to listen and interact with people in the real world who face the day-to-day challenges of operating a business.”
Over the course of the summer both the Oakville and Burlington Chambers, along with Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade across the province, engaged in the Small Business: Too Big to Ignore campaign, which highlighted the important contributions of small businesses to our communities and investigated the top barriers to small business growth. Following the campaign, the Ontario Chamber Network released their report Obstacles and Opportunities for Small Business in Ontario. The report identified and offered solutions to the most pressing challenges that Ontario small business owners face; including infrastructure deficits and the rising cost of doing business in Ontario.
“A key role for Chambers of Commerce is to bring people together and ensure there is meaningful dialogue” stated Marty Staz, Chair of the Burlington Chamber of Commerce. “This is why both the Burlington and Oakville Chambers of Commerce are pleased to be able to offer this unique opportunity for our members and their guests to hear the Premier speak. I am sure they are keen to hear directly from Ms. Wynne about her vision for the province and how it will affect the business community.”
Date: Friday, January 13, 2017
Time: 11:30am – 1:30am; The Premier speaks from 12:00pm – 12:30pm followed by a moderated Question and Answer forum
Location: Oakville Conference Centre (2515 Wyecroft Road)
Tickets: Members $35; Non-members $55
Chamber Office Closed
Please note the Burlington Chamber of Commerce office will be closed from Monday, December 26 inclusive until Monday, January 2, reopening at 8:45 a.m. on Tuesday, January 3. On behalf of the Board of Directors and staff at the Chamber, have a happy holiday season and a prospersous new year.
Chambers of Commerce across Ontario continue to push for deferral in provincial cap & trade program to prevent jobs and investment from leaving Ontario.
(Burlington, Ontario) Today Chambers of Commerce across Ontario are continuing the call for a deferral of the Provincial Government’s cap and trade program scheduled to be implemented January 1, 2017, citing high costs of the program layered on top of skyrocketing electricity prices, lack of sector by sector economic impact analysis and a potential change in the policy direction of the United States.
In Ontario, since 2004, electricity prices have increased by 383%, from a flat rate of 4.7 cents a kilowatt hour to 18 cents a kilowatt hour at peak times. The introduction of the cap and trade system will add further charges on natural gas, gasoline and diesel fuel that will be felt by every individual and business in Ontario, both large and small.
A recent Auditor General’s report cites that cap and trade will cost businesses and households about $8 billion between 2017 and 2020. The report also indicates that cap and trade is expected to bring higher electricity prices and outlines that electricity prices are projected to increase by 14% for businesses and 25% for households.
A coalition of Chambers of Commerce is seeking a sector by sector economic impact analysis of cap and trade. “There are many regulatory details that are still unknown about the cap and trade system. We need an understanding of the long-term impact of cap and trade in order to avoid unintended consequences on jobs, investment and electricity prices in the province,” said Keith Hoey, President & CEO of the Burlington Chamber of Commerce.
Chambers of Commerce are also concerned about the uncertainty in the United States and especially those states that are main trading partners with Ontario. With a new President Elect, it is unclear whether or not a majority of states will participate in the cap and trade program. Deferring the program would allow for an analysis of any new policies that may come from the Trump administration in the United States. The United States is our number one trading partner so it is important that we examine what other states are doing to ensure we remain competitive.
The Chamber network passed a resolution at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting in May, 2016 with a number of recommendations on how to mitigate the risk of cap and trade on business. The first recommendation was that the program be deferred until 2018. The resolution cites the compressed timeframe the province is using to implement the system as a concern. While other jurisdictions such as Quebec and California took several years to develop their cap and trade systems, Ontario has fast-tracked the design and implementation of this system. We feel that we are moving too fast, particularly in a challenging economic time.
As a result, Chambers of Commerce across Ontario request that the Ontario government delay the implementation of the cap and trade program for at least one year.