OCC RAPID POLICY UPDATE:
Ontario's Chamber Network has reason to celebrate the outcomes of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce's (CCC) Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Kelowna, B.C. Ontario had considerable voting clout on the AGM floor, with 98 of the 347 voting delegates--a modern-day record for Ontario. Ontario used its significant presence to pass numerous resolutions sponsored by Ontario chambers of commerce and boards of trade, including:
• Increasing the GST/HST Filing Threshold (Sarnia-Lambton Chamber of Commerce), which would raise the exemption for small businesses earning $100,000 or less from filing GST/HST.
• Fair Tax Treatment of Limited Liability Companies (Tillsonburg Chamber of Commerce), which would create a level playing field for American and Canadian Limited Liability Companies, from a tax perspective.
• Electricity in Canada - Power for our Future Competitiveness (Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce), which would create an East-West electricity grid and enable Ontario to access more affordable Newfoundland energy.
• Applying the Accelerated Capital Cost Allowance for Oil Sands, Upgrading, Petrochemical, and Mining Industries (Sarnia-Lambton Chamber of Commerce), which would encourage new investment in these sectors.
• Facilitating Structural Change in Canadian Manufacturing (Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber of Commerce), which would encourage investment in manufacturing and speed the transition to advanced manufacturing.
• Addressing the Skills Crisis (Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce), which would improve the quality and availability of labour market information.
• Ending Homelessness in Canada (Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber of Commerce), which supports a "housing first" approach to addressing homelessness and a coordinated federal-provincial strategy to addressing the homelessness problem.
• Allowing the Provinces to Decide on Single Sports Betting (Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce), which would enable provinces to decide on single sports betting and enhance Ontario's ability to attract more American tourists to Ontario destinations.
• Improving Canada's Infrastructure Through Public-Private Partnerships (P3s) (Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber of Commerce), which would promote the greater use of P3 models in addressing Canada's vast infrastructure deficit.
The most contentious issue of the day related to the proposed Canada Job Grant. That said, delegates overwhelmingly backed a resolution that "the federal government, instead of implementing its own Canada Job Grant program, negotiate with the provincial/territorial governments to renew labour market agreements that are set to expire in 2014, in accordance with on-the-job training priorities."
The motion also calls for the federal government to meet with a new task force of federal and provincial chamber and board representatives to discuss how to make a job training program meet the needs of employers.
This is encouraging news for Ontario businesses, who have expressed reservations about the Canada Job Grant.
Congratulations to all Ontario chambers and boards that participated in this important process, including those who submitted their proxy votes. There is strength in numbers and the Ontario caucus was a force to be reckoned with at this year's CCC AGM.
A special thanks to the Chairs of the Ontario Caucus, Stu Harrison of the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce and Bill Stewart of the Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce.
A memo with all resolutions will be circulated to all chambers as soon as it is available.