Ontario Needs a Strategy for GrowthMay 18, 2018
(Toronto, May 18, 2018) – Today, the Honourable John Manley, President and CEO of the Business Council of Canada and Rocco Rossi, President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) released the following joint statement on strengthening business competitiveness in the upcoming provincial election.
“Ontarians expect and deserve high-quality public services, but the province’s ability to pay for those services depends on a strong private sector – and right now that is at risk.
“Our economy is experiencing a protracted period of change and disruption. Low-skilled jobs are disappearing while the demand for highly trained workers continues to increase. In major urban centres, affordability is a serious concern for many citizens. Across the province, employers are struggling to cope with rising input costs and a high regulatory burden. Meanwhile, the United States has slashed its corporate tax rate, weakening Ontario’s ability to compete for new business investment.
“This election therefore comes at a pivotal moment in the history of the province. As citizens, we have an obligation to consider whether the policies brought forward by our political leaders will spur the economic development that is needed to protect and enhance Ontarians’ quality of life.
“Ontario needs a strategy for growth. The cumulative regulatory and cost burden borne by employers in the province poses a serious risk to investment and job creation, threatening the prosperity of future generations.
“According to a recent survey by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, only one quarter of Ontario businesses feel confident about the province’s economic outlook. In every region and industry, employers are dealing with a wide array of challenges: high energy prices, the rising cost of labour, the trickle-down impact of the province’s cap and trade system for greenhouse gases, and the ongoing burden of operating in one of the most heavily regulated jurisdictions in Canada.
“While Ontario’s unemployment rate, now sitting at 5.6 per cent, is slightly below the national average, this trend can be attributed primarily to a drop in the number of young people participating in the labour market. The labour force participation rate among those aged 20 to 24 has declined from 73.5 percent in 2004 to 66.7 percent now – a sign that many have opted to stay in school rather than search for work.
“With manufacturing exports chronically weak in recent years, Ontario has become more reliant on the housing sector to sustain economic growth. But the outlook for the housing market is now in question, given rising interest rates, new restrictions on mortgage lending and historically high levels of consumer debt.
“At the same time, higher interest rates will add to the burden of Ontario’s $350 billion government debt. Even when rates were at record lows, debt service payments were the government’s fastest-growing expense, crowding out spending on other priorities. As interest rates continue to climb, higher debt service costs will limit the province’s ability to fund a wide range of vital public services, including education and health care.
“That is why we are calling on all parties to bring forward a strategy for economic growth. On behalf of the many thousands of small, medium and large companies in Ontario, we believe it is time for a serious conversation about the need for policies that will encourage companies to invest and grow in this province. Employers and investors need assurances that Ontario’s government is committed to a fiscally responsible path and to shaping a more competitive tax and regulatory environment.
“A thriving private sector is the best guarantee of rising living standards and a brighter future for our children. Regardless of which party wins on June 7, Ontario will win only if our political leaders recognize the vital connection between business confidence and a healthy, growing economy.”
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For more information please contact:
Ceara Copps – Edwards, Communications Advisor, Ontario Chamber of Commerce
647-243-3562 | firstname.lastname@example.org