Investing in your hometown
It’s hard to miss the messaging this holiday season when it comes to where to spend your
Among the various campaigns to support local businesses, the four local chambers of commerce
recently launched our Hometown Holiday campaign.
Thanks to local advertising agency Outpost379, you will be hit with promotion for shopping local when you listen to the radio, watch television, read the newspaper, or go online. It’s on billboards and at local events.
We’ve been asking a lot of this community when it comes to supporting local businesses and we have been blown away by the response. Local support is critical.
But supporting local businesses is not just a temporary measure to do our part locally in a global health crisis.
Our Hometown Holiday campaign is just the beginning as we build momentum with our new regional partnership between ourselves, Kawartha Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, Havelock Chamber of
Commerce, and Millbrook & District Chamber of Commerce. We also have the support of local
agencies and organizations that work to enhance the local business community.
We’re kicking things off with a holiday shopping campaign, but supporting local means much more. Our community is full of amazing opportunities to be entertained with a vibrant arts and culture scene, relax with a staycation, and enjoy some of the finest culinary offerings out there. We have some amazing locally manufactured goods, locally grown and raised food, and creative makers. We have local trades and
homebuilders, local real estate agents and automotive dealers, and local accountants and lawyers. This list goes on, but supporting local covers everything from picking up presents to taking courses to building a house.
Small and medium-sized business:
• Employ almost 90% of Canada’s private sector workforce
• Account for 30% of Canada’s GDP
• Are twice as likely to be lead or co-lead by a woman (1 in 3)
Thanks to the rapid adaption and reinvestment of businesses, supporting local has grown to have a
significant online presence.
In a time of supply chain disruptions, shipping delays and travel restrictions, the opportunity to spend
locally offers a less-hassle approach to getting what you want when you want it.
More than anything, supporting local business is an investment. It’s estimated that $68 of every $100 spent at a locally owned business stays in the community. That’s money that goes into taxes to pay for our services and infrastructure. It goes into wages that circulate back into spending on local goods and services. It goes into business supports from legal and accounting work to repairs and renovations. It is reinvested in cultural events, sports teams and social programs in our community.
There are different degrees of local and opinions on what defines it. Not every business and product can have a regional supply chain. Opinions aside, we can say definitively that spending your money with a business that employs people locally — whether it’s an independent, franchise or chain — is better for the community than the alternative.
Shop local and make this a hometown holiday.
The recent United Nations Climate Change Conference, known as COP26, has brought important
conversations to the forefront.
There’s a lot of speculation about whether the targets set will be met and whether world leaders are serious
about tackling climate change. Looking past the skepticism and rhetoric, progress is being made and part of that is the tone and urgency with which we discuss climate issues.
Let’s take a look at some of the key conversations facing the Canadian business community coming out of COP26.
Fossil Fuel Industry
Canada’s continued investment in and use of fossil fuels is having an impact on climate change. As a country with cold temperatures and vast distances between communities, we use a lot of fossil fuels to stay comfortable and connect socially and economically. We’re also the fourth largest oil producer and exporter in the world.
The Government of Canada recently pledged to:
• Commit to ending public financing of fossil fuel projects
• Implement a cap on oil and gas sector emissions
• Reduce methane emissions
The big conversation here is that our best bet at fighting climate change is to leave our oil in the ground and
significantly scale back resource extraction, but that comes at a huge cost. It’s an initiative that is only effective if people also reduce our use of fossil fuels, otherwise we just offset our production with imports.
To what degree are we willing scale back the sector that has pushed a lot of economic growth and prosperity in country?
The death of gas-powered cars
Jumping on the idea that reducing fossil fuel
production is most effective if people reduce their use of fossil fuels, Canada upped its commitment on phasing out gas-powered vehicles. Our government committed to working toward
making up 30% of new truck and bus sales by 2030 and 100% by 2040. They have also committed to having the sales of all new cars and vans be zero emissions by 2040, or no later than 2035 in leading markets.
Right now, fully electric
passenger vehicles (EVs) account for a little over 3% of total sales in Canada. While the market share of EVs is increasing, it’s still a relatively small niche at the moment.
The provincial government recently affirmed its commitments to building electric cars and battery systems in Ontario, but reiterated that they also have no intention of bringing back rebates for electric car purchases.
There are a lot of points to debate regarding the high purchase price compared to lower cost of ownership of EVs, but it’s going to take focused investments to pull us away from our gas-powered vehicles. There’s an economic win in it if we make the transition right.
Canada was lauded for championing the merits of carbon taxes at COP26, calling for 60 per cent of all global emissions to be covered by a carbon tax by 2030.
The big issue when it comes to solutions like carbon taxes — and really, most of the other environmental
commitments our governments make — is competitiveness. Are we resolute enough to see these initiatives through, even if our trading partners don’t? It’s fair to say our largest trading partner, the United States, doesn’t share the same values as our nation on a number of things, including our plans to fight climate change. The same goes for other trading partners like China.
It’s unlikely that we can meet our climate goals without driving up domestic costs for production, transportation, and innovation. How do we deal with importing goods from countries that don’t
share our values and are able to produce goods at a lower price but a higher
environmental cost? If our producers are paying carbon taxes but their competitors aren’t, how do we remain competitive?
If nothing else, COP26 highlighted the giant game of chicken our world leaders are playing. There is a lot of promising and posturing, but no one wants to be the first to lead in implementing and accomplishing the tasks set out. The goal is to get
everyone making the same goals and moving forward
together, but that’s a stretch at best. So, as Canadians, where does that leave us? What are our priorities and what sacrifices are we okay with? Because everything, whether progress or the
status quo, comes at a cost.
Moving through recovery and into prosperity
The Government of Ontario recently released its fall economic statement, a document aimed at laying out how the government plans to move our province ahead through recovery and into prosperity.
The report covers investments in infrastructure, healthcare, skills training, and attracting increased investment.
Chambers of Commerce from across Ontario are advocating for more supports for small and medium-sized businesses.
“The Government of Ontario is taking reasonable steps to support healthy communities and economic development across the province as we emerge from the pandemic,” says Rocco Rossi, President and CEO, Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “We welcome the government’s focus on investing in healthcare,
infrastructure, and skills. However, ensuring a robust and inclusive economic recovery will not come
immediately, particularly in absence of clarity and predictability for business. Further supports for business are still required because workers and the economy at large are better off if business prospers.
Specifically, we would like to see the Province address businesses and sectors impacted by the unplanned minimum wage increase and Ontario’s labour crisis.”
The minimum wage hike, which includes a 20 percent increase for alcohol servers,
will have ramifications through an industry that has been greatly impacted by the pandemic and is still
struggling to recover. The Chamber supports fair wages and appreciates that wages need to increase, but that lack of consultation and the suddenness of the increase are problematic. A sudden hike in fixed costs should be rolled out with enhanced access to capital and relief programs for businesses being most impacted by the unplanned raise. The Ontario Chamber of Commerce is also advocating for targeted supports for small business that include energy efficiency and technology adoption programs.
The fall economic statement also includes new tax credits for Ontarians to travel
within the province, a move that will have local benefits for our tourism and
Another area of investment is a new Small Business Digitization Action Plan, which will see more targeted investment in helping our businesses pivot into the digital age.
At the heart of the issues facing a lot of businesses right now is labour. It’s a complicated issue with many factors. No one solution will pull us through, which is why we’re asking the Government of Ontario to develop a strategic plan to address it.
To address the current workforce challenges, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce is recommending that in the upcoming 2022 budget, the Government of Ontario:
• Extend regional
immigration pilots to bring more economic immigrants to rural and remote
• Provide new immigrants with more information upon arrival about employment opportunities in smaller
communities, particularly where there are jobs relevant to their skills.
• Work with other provinces and territories to remove
barriers to interprovincial labour mobility and trade.
• Implement the
Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care System as a critical component of
economic recovery and women’s participation in the labour force.
• Support workers by
platforms to contribute to flexible benefit funds and establish a committee of stakeholders to discuss the protections and needs of workers on an ongoing basis.
• Ensure the new service
delivery model for skilled trades is streamlined,
client-facing, and equitable, as outlined in the OCC’s
submission to the Skilled Trades Panel Consultation.
We’re also recommending the 2022 budget include targets, timelines, and investments in reducing greenhouse gas emissions while making investments in our
communities to manage the impacts of climate change and boost our local green economy.
We’re making progress in our economic recovery. Just as this pandemic is
unprecedented in recent times, so too will be our recovery. It’s imperative that we keep open dialogue as we shape what our recovery is going to look like and what future we want to build.
Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade from across the country have been busy advocating for the business community.
This past week was the virtual Canadian Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting and Convention. A key part of this annual event is policy debate. This is when chambers and boards of trade put together resolutions on local business issues that have national significance and put it to the Canadian Chamber’s membership to debate. The resolutions are vetted through committees before being taken to a vote at the debate. This year members discussed 69 resolutions over 7 hours on the debate floor.
The Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce had both its resolutions endorsed by the membership, which puts them on the books for the Canadian Chamber next three years to advocate directly to the federal
CEBA Loan Forgiveness for the Hardest Hit Businesses
The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loan program has been a lifeline for many businesses, offering generous terms with loans up to $60,000. Organizations that pay back two-thirds of their loan by Dec. 31, 2022 will get the remaining third forgiven. Those that don’t are ineligible for debt forgiveness and begin incurring interest at 5%.
The issue is that the pandemic has gone on longer with prolonged public health restrictions, well beyond what was being forecasted when the terms were drawn up. Our hardest hit businesses are going to need more time to rebuild themselves, boost consumer confidence, and begin repaying money back to all the places from which they’ve borrowed.
We are asking the Government of Canada to:
1. Extend the deadlines for repayment of the Canada Emergency Business Account program by two years.
2. Make the forgivable portion of the loan available to all business that continue to have operations
impacted by ongoing COVID-19 public health restrictions throughout 2021.
3. Allow businesses that continue to have operations impacted by ongoing COVID-19 public healthrestrictions in 2021 to be exempt from incurring interest prior to the balance of their loan being due.
High Frequency Rail (HFR) Project by VIA Rail Canada
The Chamber has been advocating for the return of passenger rail service to Peterborough for more than a decade. The current proposal from VIA Rail would see a dedicated passenger rail corridor connecting Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City with a stop in Peterborough.
The proposal would help us meet our climate change targets by removing 12.5 million tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of a carpool reduction of 2.8 million vehicles annually. It would open up access through eastern Ontario and Quebec, driving economic growth. Having dedicated passenger lines would allow VIA to provide frequent and reliable service, bringing it to profitability within a few years. The VIA HFR project directly impacts an area of the country with 19 million people and frees up bottlenecks for national transportation.
The federal government has begun investing in some of the infrastructure related to the project, but building the line itself has yet to get the green light despite being under consideration since 2016. The project is in the mandate letter on the desk of the Minister of Transport. This is why the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce teamed up with the Quebec Chamber of Commerce and Industry to bring this to the Canadian Chamber and its members.
We’re asking the Government of Canada to:
1. Approve the overall funding and urge VIA Rail Canada to proceed with the entire HFR project as
soon as possible.
2. Prioritize the HFR project and other passenger rail service as a key part of meeting our climate
3. Develop a strategy for expanding HFR service beyond the current Toronto – Quebec project