The Chamber of Commerce and others respond to Ont. Budget

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The Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce (SSMCOC) is commending the government for addressing business concerns’ with the cap and trade system, and is calling on government to take the same approach as it moves forward with the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP). As the province moves closer to fiscal balance by 2017-18, the SSMCOC worries that without true service delivery transformation, the government will be unable to meet its deficit elimination target.

“We are encouraged by the approach government has taken to the implementation of the cap and trade system,” said Monica Dale, SSMCOC President. “We’re also encouraged by the government’s commitment to ensure the proceeds from the new cap and trade system are not subsumed under general revenues. As this policy is implemented, government must ensure that SMEs are not adversely effected.”

In its 2015 report on cap and trade, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce had called on government to invest cap and trade proceeds in a way that helps businesses in the transition to a lower-carbon economy. The OCC notes, however, that the employer community is eager to help shape how the $1.9 billion in proceeds are spent.

“Government needs to work with the business community to shape how the funds in the Greenhouse Gas Reductions Account are allocated,” said Allan O’Dette, President & CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “This collaborative approach, working with the business community to transition into this new policy, is the same approach we have called on the government to take with the ORPP. On that front, more needs to be done to ensure that there are no short to medium term negative impacts on GDP and consumer spending.”

Regarding deficit reduction, the SSMCOC notes that despite prior pledges to do so, the government has not engaged in wholesale reform of any major programs or services over the past two years. The OCC is concerned that the government will not achieve its deficit reduction targets unless they work with the private sector to identify areas where an injection of private sector capital and expertise can improve service quality and/or lower service provision costs.

“Overall, the budget outlines a number of initiatives to stimulate business, advance the green economy, support education and assist those less fortunate, but it does little to address the Province’s increasing debt load and subsidizes its spending by increasing tax revenue and reducing tax credits across a number of spectrums,” said Rory Ring, Executive Director of the SSMCOC. “Overall, the cost of living and doing business in Ontario is on the rise and this concerns our members.”

Meanwhile, a release issued today from David Orazietti, Sault Ste. Marie MPP

Community leaders across the province are supporting Ontario’s 2016 budget which makes investments in healthcare, education, economic growth and infrastructure, announced David Orazietti MPP.

“In this budget our government builds on the progress we have made since 2003 in healthcare, education, infrastructure and strengthening our economy,” said Orazietti. “I am pleased that community leaders from across the province share in recognizing these positive measures in the provincial budget.”

JOE TIERNAY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ORGA
“Today’s announcement of $160 Billion of infrastructure investment over 12 years, coming on the back of the tripling of the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund and the doubling of Connecting Links that were announced at the OGRA/ROMA Combined Conference, the government is oriented in the right direction”

RAJEAN HOILETT, CHAIRPERSON, CANADIAN FEDERATION OF STUDENTS – ONTARIO
“For years, students have been sounding the alarm over rising tuition fees and student debt loads that block far too many Ontarians from accessing college and university education. The new Ontario Student Grant is a reflection of our advocacy and an affirmation that government has taken student concerns and suggestions seriously.”

SHARLEEN STEWART, PRESIDENT, SEIU HEALTHCARE
“Today we are pleased to see the 2016 Ontario budget fully realize a government commitment to raise the base wage for PSWs to at least $16.50.”

RICK FIRTH, PRESIDENT & CEO, HOSPICE PALLIATIVE CARE ONTARIO
Hospice Palliative Care Ontario commends the Government for its ongoing commitment to hospice care. The $75 million in additional funding in the Budget for community based hospice palliative care demonstrates both compassion and fiscal responsibility. Community based hospices provide high quality care and good value for the health system. We thank the Wynne Government for understanding the need and benefits, and in particular to MPP John Fraser for his tireless efforts.

GARY MCNAMARA, PRESIDENT, ASSOCIATION OF MUNICIPALITIES OF ONTARIO
“This (Budget)‎ is good for all municipalities, including the north”

TIM RICHTER, PRESIDENT & CEO, CANADIAN ALLIANCE TO END HOMELESSNESS
“It’s great to see the Government of Ontario making an important down payment on its commitment to end chronic homelessness. The investments in supportive housing and the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative are smart and potentially life-saving for vulnerable Ontarians.”

JOSEPH MCDONALD, PRESIDENT, AUTISM ONTARIO
“(Ontario’s 2016) budget announcement will change the course of history for so many deserving families. The calls for change from Autism Ontario have clearly been heard, and we applaud this government for standing with us in our efforts to build a brighter future.”

LINDA FRANKLIN, PRESIDENT & CEO, COLLEGES ONTARIO
“This budget demonstrates a strong commitment to helping more students acquire the qualifications and professional skills that lead to rewarding careers.”

THE DAVID SUZUKI FOUNDATION
The David Suzuki Foundation welcomes the establishment of a cap-and-trade system in Ontario because putting a price on carbon is key to an effective climate action plan. We are pleased with Ontario’s leadership today but recognize the system will need to be strengthened to reach the province’s carbon pollution goals.

DAVID MILLER, PRESIDENT & CEO, WWF CANADA
“WWF-Canada is pleased to see the Ontario government’s clear commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions expressed in today’s budget. Thoughtful carbon pricing such as this has the potential to help Ontario and Canada become a strong leader in tackling climate change.”