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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

The 2022 provincial election finds us in a transitionary phase, as we move out from two years of pandemic and set our sights on recovery and growth. There are still many economic issues facing our province, some of which existed before, and some of which are new, but there are also opportunities to seize, and many reasons to be optimistic about our future.

Problems such as a lack of daycare and a lack of housing are reducing our potential for growth, and while some progress has been made, it is clear that much work is still needed before we can declare these crises to be over. Many industries are still suffering from the effects of the pandemic, and while the era of blanket support programs may be over, it is still clear that the next Government of Ontario will have to help many businesses if it is to save jobs and commerce.

The next government will also have opportunities to shape the province in the way that we want. Our population is diverse, and to embrace and show pride in that diversity, our institutions must reflect it. Solving many of our problems will require the cooperation of different levels of government, and we can build mechanisms for cooperation that will benefit us for generations to come.

On behalf of Niagara’s business community, the GNCC is pleased to offer these policy suggestions to candidates for the provincial election of 2022. We hope that they will prove a useful tool to those elected as they seek to build prosperity for our region and our province, and we are ready and willing to assist in those efforts.

 

Support business recovery and growth

Financially support recovery and growth by:

  • Directing financial support towards the hardest-hit sectors with targeted grants, loan guarantees, and tax credits.
  • Expanding programs that support small businesses with technology and online marketplace adoption.
  • Targeting more support towards “scale-up firms” (small, innovative businesses demonstrating rapid growth) to encourage entrepreneurship in innovative and in-demand industries.
  • Supporting small businesses owned by women, Indigenous, and racialized entrepreneurs with financing, legal advice, mentorship, training, and supplier diversity programs.
  • Offering investment such as a second round of the Investment in Culture and Infrastructure Program (ICIP) to allow venues and business premises to retrofit for greater public safety.

Create an economic environment for success by:

  • Conducting an economic cost-benefit analysis of electricity rates and time-of-use billing.
  • Removing remaining barriers to interprovincial trade, particularly on beverage alcohol.
  • Improving access to public sector procurement opportunities for small businesses by addressing financial and informational barriers.
  • Developing an insurance subsidy or rebate program for businesses to defray rapidly increasing insurance costs, and work with the insurance industry to develop affordable policy options for event cancellation, performance interruption, and other eventualities currently uninsurable at any reasonable cost.

Support a strong workforce by:

  • Investing in childcare worker training and wages to deliver a workforce that will support the joint federal-provincial childcare program.
  • Offering training and financial support programs that empower employers to tackle social issues such as the gender pay gap, truth and reconciliation, or equity, diversity and inclusion.
  • Developing a comprehensive youth employment strategy with programs to meaningfully incentivize the long-term and permanent hiring of youth.

 

Build stronger communities

Support more and better housing by:

  • Incrementally adapting building codes to support net-zero energy adoption and climate resilience, and accelerate building retrofits.
  • Requiring municipalities to end exclusionary zoning and tackle the “missing middle” in housing to tackle the housing crisis.
  • Align development charges to make multi-unit dwellings more competitive with single-family homes for developers.
  • Investigating a public transit funding system that ties funding levels to density of land use to encourage more efficient development.

Build for a sustainable future by:

  • Developing a zero-emission vehicles strategy that integrates electric, hydrogen, renewable natural gas, and hybrid vehicle technologies.
  • Fast-tracking broadband investments, incentivize private sector investments in broadband infrastructure, particularly in underserved rural areas, and improve public-private coordination to ensure government funding is addressing gaps in coverage rather than competing with the private sector.
  • Improve upon both the speed and breadth of Ontario’s open data system, using open contracting and proactive disclosures of completed freedom of information requests.
  • Commissioning an independent study of Ontario’s healthcare system to identify areas in which greater private-sector involvement could result in cost savings and/or better service delivery.

Support municipal government by:

  • Committing to the ‘pay-for-say principle’ which dictates that, if an order of government has input into the operation of a service, it has a corresponding responsibility to fund that service.
  • Commissioning an independent review of municipal responsibilities to assess, in terms of cost and service delivery, whether residents and taxpayers are better served by these responsibilities residing with the federal, provincial, or municipal governments.
  • Encouraging municipalities to share resources and collaborate on regionally significant infrastructure projects. This can be done by establishing shared reporting mechanisms and financial incentives.

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