Today, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) with the support of the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce (SSMCOC), sent an open letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne calling on the government to take action through Budget 2017 to contain the costs of the cap and trade system to better support Ontario’s business community. At a time of low business confidence across the province, and increasing competition from the United States, rising input costs for Ontario business risk negatively impacting jobs and investment in Sault Ste. Marie and across the province.
In the letter, the OCC warns that the province must measure the impact of cap and trade among other input costs to fully understand the cumulative burden facing Ontario’s business community. Because businesses are directly affected by the costs associated with cap and trade, the Government of Ontario must ensure that the revenue and design of the system is allocated and developed in a way that supports Ontario’s business community.
“We know that cap and trade is going to hurt Ontario business and we know that it’s going to hit both businesses and consumers in Sault Ste. Marie and the north especially hard,” says Rory Ring, SSMCOC CEO. “Along with the OCC, we are calling on the Premier to take action and support our businesses and local economy.”
According to the SSMCOC, cap and trade will remove approximately $30 million from the Sault Ste. Marie economy including upwards of $5 million from residential consumers; that’s $30 million not being spent locally on wages, on business expansion, on new products, on research and development or by consumers on goods and services.
The Sault Ste. Marie Chamber maintains that despite repeated calls by the province’s network of Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade, the Ontario Government has not provided a sector-by-sector economic analysis on the expected impact of cap and trade implementation.
SSMCOC President Paul Johnson states that “cap and trade revenues should be reinvested into the business community to help businesses transition into the lower carbon economy and to stimulate research, innovation and technology commercialization to reduce emissions. As northern businesses and institutions will be participating and paying heavily into the system, we recommend that the north also receive its fair share of revenues to mitigate risk in our communities and industries.”
The OCC has identified four priority actions that would assist the business community to better navigate the cap and trade system:
Prioritize the allocation of cap and trade revenue for businesses, in addition to other efforts to offset the cost of cap and trade. Making the process to access resources as quickly as possible will be important, especially for smaller businesses who have little time or money to dedicate to program applications.
Prioritize innovation funding. Many Ontario businesses have already taken steps to reduce their carbon footprint. Achieving further reductions could be difficult and will often require the implementation of new technologies.
Create greater post-2020 design certainty. Post-2020 certainty is important for businesses looking to make long-term investments in Ontario.
Monitor and respond to regional impacts. To ensure the strategic allocation of cap and trade revenues, government should conduct a regional analysis of the impacts.
“Increased input costs imposed on the private sector mean that Ontario risks losing out on jobs and investment, and risks an economically and environmentally damaging shift in production to jurisdictions that are not taking action to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions,” said Graham Henderson, Chair of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “More action must be taken. In all policy decisions, the provincial government must consider how we can prevent exporting jobs while importing pollution.”
The letter is aimed at impacting government policy in Budget 2017, and builds on the OCC’s meetings with senior government officials. These meetings have emphasized the need to ensure Ontario’s businesses remain competitive and confident in the face of a changing economy.
The Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce and Ontario’s Chamber Network have engaged in significant advocacy on the cap and trade issue since 2015. This letter builds on the OCC’s earlier communications to government calling on the Ontario Energy Board to disclose cap and trade costs to taxpayers as a line-item on natural gas bills. Last year, the Ontario Chamber Network also called on the government to delay the implementation of the cap and trade system until 2018.
The full letter can be read HERE.