Sault Ste. Marie, ON – The Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce has joined with Chambers from across Ontario to launch a major province-wide letter writing campaign urging the business community to encourage local provincial candidates to support the Chamber network’s election platform, Vote Prosperity.
“Our local members have made it clear that the ever-rising costs of doing business from all levels of government have hindered their ability to prosper and grow their business,” says Don Mitchell, Acting President of the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce. “A thriving private sector is the most important source for a high standard of living for everyone. Businesses provide Saultites and Ontarians with employment opportunities, contribute to the development of skills, and promote technological innovation that advances Ontario’s growing economy.”
Vote Prosperity, launched in October of last year, outlines the Ontario Chamber network’s priorities for the upcoming 2018 provincial election and provides a series of proactive recommendations aimed at spurring growth for the province’s economy.
The 18 specific recommendations included in Vote Prosperity come from the recommendations made by Ontario’s local Chambers and are categorized based on four aspirational pillars for Ontario:
1. Strengthen business competitiveness
2. Foster job creation
3. Build healthy communities
4. Improve government accountability
The letter-writing campaign is the next phase of this advocacy effort, building on ongoing government relations activities. The Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce is calling on all local candidates to review Vote Prosperity and engage our local business community to ensure business concerns and priorities are heard before and after the election.
Rory Ring, CEO of the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber notes that the collective of local businesses will be looking for more from candidates than generic talking points about support for business during, and after, the next election campaign. He suggests that while Ontario’s government regularly touts the importance of small and medium-sized business, the actions of the government during the last few years have sharply contrasted those claims and as a result, business confidence is at an extreme low.
“Small and medium-sized businesses have been feeling the mounting pressure of increasing costs and legislation over the last year,” says Ring. “Increased energy costs, the introduction of cap-and trade, the false start on the Ontario Pension Plan and most recently, an un-planned and significant increase in minimum wage coupled with a myriad of additional changes to employment legislation, have all been wreaking havoc with Ontario’s businesses.”
He adds that data from the recently released Ontario Economic Report clearly shows that local businesses have lost significant confidence in the province’s economy and if this can’t be rectified, the Sault and other communities across the province, are going to be faced with businesses tightening their spending and slowing expansion, thereby putting further strain on an already volatile economy. “Engaging the business community will be an imperative in the upcoming election,” states Ring.
Over the next 12 weeks, as each of the provincial parties cement their pre-election platforms, Ontario’s Chamber network will be advocating Vote Prosperity with local provincial candidates through meetings, social media activation and with the letter writing campaign.
Some of the recommendations from Vote Prosperity include:
· Modernizing the apprenticeship system.
· Working with industry and post-secondary institutions to ensure that program offerings remain responsive to the changing labour market dynamics and the regional and sectoral needs of Ontario’s business community.
· Allowing Ontario businesses to purchase surplus electricity at rates equal to or better than the exported price to other jurisdictions;
· Allocating resources to focus support on high growth firms and those with high growth potential, by delaying taxation on corporate income growth to overcome Ontario’s scale-up challenge;
· Regardless of public policy approach chosen, pursuing efforts to reduce Ontario’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in a manner that effectively mitigates risk to business competitiveness.
· Creating a meaningful plan to tackle the debt and move towards balanced or surplus budgets.
To read more about the Vote Prosperity platform and to send a letter encouraging candidates to carefully consider the Vote Prosperity recommendations and engage our local business community during the upcoming election visit, www.occ.ca