Chamber urges province to take action to support businesses in times of change

Local business group made submission at pre-budget consultations

Pictured, from left, are Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP Monte McNaughton; Shirley de Silva, CEO of the Chamber; Monica Shepley, the Chamber's manager of Advocacy and Policy Development; and Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey.

The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, on behalf of its members, participated in the Ontario government’s pre-budget consultation process with a submission last week in Windsor where the Ontario Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs held its hearings.

Both Shirley de Silva, president and CEO of the Chamber, and Monica Shepley, manager of Advocacy and Policy Development, were at the hearing.

Stability and certainty are key to businesses in our area, said de Silva in her presentation.

Entrepreneurs are used to taking on risk and sound businesses have the power to develop strategies that deal with such changes, however, success depends on having enough time, stability and a supportive government to implement changes.

The major concerns of its members, including the 71% hike in electricity costs that have occurred between 2008 and 2016 were highlighted along with the minimum wage increase of 31.6%, carbon pricing which is estimated to increase extra costs, and a combination of higher provincial and federal income taxes.

We are advocating for an analysis that would show the real costs of doing business in the province.

The government should also:

—lower of the Corporate Income Tax rate that would help businesses in Ontario compete with those in Michigan and New York;
—allow Ontario businesses to purchase surplus electricity at rates equal to or better than the exported price;
—recognize companies that have already adopted the most advanced carbon reduction technologies prior to the introduction of Cap and Trade; and
—dedicate carbon tax revenues to R&D where such technologies are non-existent in traditional Energy-Intensive, Trade-Exposed sectors.

We are also advocating for IMMEDIATE action on supporting additional investment for infrastructure, including funds that would support “last kilometre” connections to homes and businesses for natural gas and fibre internet.

Investment in other infrastructure renewal was brought forward at the hearing along with a provincial framework in support of Sarnia-Lambton’s emerging bioeconomy.

“Our members would like to see more equitable, stable and formula-based funding for municipalities that are linked to asset management plans,” said de Silva in her presentation. “This would allow communities to plan ahead and decide on their own projects, based on local, non-political priorities.”

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