While some businesses are leading our economic recovery and will be well positioned for a potential economic slowdown, others continue to face significant challenges.
The Government of Ontario recently released the 2022 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review titled Ontario’s Plan to Build: A Progress Update.
As a Chamber of Commerce, we support the government’s emphasis on fiscally prudent investments targeted towards businesses and individuals in most need of relief. Directing assistance toward the specific businesses and sectors that most need it will help the government to focus on some key issues Ontario’s economy needs urgent action on, like healthcare.
For budget 2023, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce is urging the Province to introduce measures around:
Health: Develop a robust strategy to tackle the health human resources crisis (e.g., by leveraging technology and innovative scope of practice and patient care approaches). Implement Ontario’s life sciences strategy. Address the surgical backlog and deferred cancer treatments, diagnostics, procedures, and routine immunizations. Address the mental health action gap (including the opioid overdose crisis). Continue to expand virtual care and digital health. Support the aging population (e.g., through innovative models of care).
Housing affordability: Preserve and build affordable housing options along the housing continuum. Safeguard sustainable growth. Plan infrastructure around complete communities. Address regional challenges in housing supply. Attract and retain skilled workers. Streamline the development and permitting process.
Transportation and supply chains: Invest in land, air, rail, and marine infrastructure to support the efficient movement of goods and services, reduce gridlock, and protect against extreme weather events and other disruptions. Provide financial support to help small and medium-sized businesses adopt supply chain risk management and diversification strategies.
Transit: Support municipalities in filling transit gaps and adjusting transit services based on long-term changes resulting from the pandemic. Address gaps that have resulted from the withdrawal of regional bus service by expanding GO transit, partnering with the private sector, and re-establishing Ontario Northland transit service.
Broadband: Work with municipalities, the telecommunications industry, and local distribution companies to urgently address barriers to private sector broadband deployment (e.g., by exploring “dig once” strategies, future-proofing infrastructure, and identifying opportunities for better data sharing).
Procurement: Modernize broader public sector procurement to focus on long-term value creation over short-term costs. Introduce more flexibility in contracting arrangements to attract more investments. Help small businesses access procurement opportunities.
Energy planning: Adopt a more proactive approach to building transmission and distribution infrastructure. Optimize existing clean energy assets in the procurement and siting of new generation. Integrate low-carbon fuels and electricity solutions within the energy system.
Climate adaptation: Implement a climate adaptation strategy and commit to providing communities with adequate and sustained funding for climate resilience. Support the federal Task Force on Flood Insurance and Relocation.
Decarbonization: Support cleantech research and innovation at post-secondary institutions. Adopt a bold strategy for low-carbon exports. Support municipalities and businesses with electrification of their fleets. Fast-track investments in electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
Energy efficiency: Expand conservation and demand-side management programs that help reduce energy costs and consumption for households and businesses, with a focus on small businesses.
Small businesses: Help small business owners with succession planning as they age out of the workforce. Expand and scale small business digitization programs.
Municipal fiscal capacity: Commission an independent review of municipal responsibilities to assess which order of government is best placed to manage them. Undertake a comprehensive review of the province’s property tax system. Commit to funding all municipal services in which the Province controls some aspect of the operation (i.e. the pay-for-say principle).
Economic reconciliation: Support Indigenous partnerships, procurement, education, employment, and entrepreneurship by building on the innovative Three Fires Nations‐Ontario Southwestern Ontario Infrastructure and Economic Opportunities Table.
Cannabis: Provide a comprehensive update on the implementation of the recommendations in the Auditor General’s 2021 value-for-money report on the Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation. Allow licence holders and retailers to enter into direct commercial relationships with each other to negotiate their own product mixes, prices and delivery terms.
Mining: Work with industry and Indigenous communities to develop critical mineral supply chains in Ontario. Further, streamline mining regulations. Increase the Ontario Flow-Through Tax Credit.
We’ve been through a lot of unprecedented situations and there’s no playbook for the path ahead. We’re on the road to recovery from a world-wide pandemic while heading into a possible global recession. What we need from Ontario’s government is a clear and predictable path towards long-term growth, productivity, resilience, and competitiveness.