Ontario Chambers submit pre-budget recommendations to Province

February 16, 2017


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Drawing specifically on the resolutions recently passed by Ontario’s Chamber Network at its annual general meeting, a 2017 Provincial Pre-Budget Submission outlining four key budget priorities and 13 specific recommendations has been presented to the Government of Ontario to restore fiscal balance and spur economic growth for the economy.

Four Budget Priorities:

1.  Demonstrate fiscal prudence and sound budget management

2.  Address the infrastructure deficit by investing funds strategically

3.  Foster conditions for increased Ontario business competitiveness

4.  Improve conditions to allow municipalities to thrive

"In regards to infrastructure costs specifically, municipalities have historically shouldered almost 50 percent of the total cost of a project while having the least fiscal capacity of all three levels of government. The shift of responsibilities adversely affects the fiscal sustainability of municipalities. The current system, in which municipalities collect eight cents of every tax dollar, creates a fiscal imbalance which erodes Ontario competitiveness, while placing a growing burden on taxpayers, straining local services, and forcing municipalities to delay essential infrastructure projects".

 The Government of Ontario must ensure that it utilizes the budget as a tool for economic growth and to support Ontario business.

This requires removing the costs of doing business in Ontario, emphasizing strategic infrastructure development and working to foster business competitiveness that allows municipalities to thrive.

The pre-budget submission outlines many opportunities for business and government to work together to develop a coordinated response to these challenges.

The recommendations outlined in the submission are expected to strengthen Ontario’s economy and ensure that Ontario remains an attractive environment for capital investment.

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 years, a lack of access to broadband, particularly in rural Ontario, has been compromising Ontarians abilities to connect with essential government services, and has been crippling businesses’ capacity to compete in the technology driven economy.

As cited in the 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.

As highlighted in the Small Business "Too Big to Ignore" campaign, broadband shortcomings throughout the province are weighing on the ability of small businesses to compete in the technology-driven knowledge economy

"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."

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Saugeen Shores Chamber General Manager, Joanne Robbins notes, “Of particular interest for our business community are the recommendations noted below”:

  •  Broadband shortcomings throughout the province that are weighing on the ability of small rural businesses to compete in the technology-driven knowledge economy
  • Allowing small business owners’ children access to student loans
  • Improving conditions to allow municipalities to thrive – the recommendation to provide a one-time, $30-million enhancement of the Connecting Links fund as a transitional measure to assist affected communities in addressing the two-year gap in which the program was discontinued along with a suggestion to develop a strategy to annually revise the Connecting Links funding envelope and criteria would certainly be welcomed changes for our municipality
  • Amend the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act, 2002 to allow real estate sales people to incorporate - this is long overdue, as real estate salespeople are currently prohibited from incorporating due to restrictions under the. REBBA Act. They are one of the few regulated professions in Ontario who are subject to such restrictions.

 "The Government of Ontario must ensure that it addresses these recommendations in their provincial budget in order to support economic growth for Ontario businesses," says Pier Donnini, Saugeen Shores Chamber President. "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 Saugeen Shores to thrive."

Addressing the current fiscal context and achieving a balanced budget is an underlying theme throughout the pre-budget submission.

Full submission

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Thursday, February 16, 2017