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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

Daily Update: March 21, 2023

Inflation slows to 5.2% in largest deceleration since April 2020, GNCC delivers webinar on Niagara labour market, and more.

In this edition:

Inflation slows to 5.2% in largest deceleration since April 2020

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 5.2% year over year in February, following a 5.9% increase in January. This was the largest deceleration in the headline CPI since April 2020.

The year-over-year deceleration in February 2023 was due to a base-year effect, for the second consecutive month, which is attributable to a steep monthly increase in prices in February 2022 (+1.0%).

Excluding food and energy, prices were up 4.8% year over year in February 2023, following a 4.9% gain in January, while the all-items excluding mortgage interest cost rose 4.7%, after increasing 5.4% in January.

Food purchased from stores rose 10.6% year over year in February, marking the seventh consecutive month of double-digit increases. Continuing to put upward pressure on grocery prices are supply constraints amid unfavourable weather in growing regions, as well as higher input costs such as animal feed, energy and packaging materials.

Shelter costs rose at a slower pace year-over-year for the third consecutive month, rising 6.1% in February, after an increase of 6.6% in January. The homeowners’ replacement cost index, which is related to the price of new homes, slowed on a year-over-year basis in February (+3.3%) compared with January (+4.3%).

Click here to read more.

GNCC delivers webinar on Niagara labour market

The GNCC delivered a webinar on the latest developments in Niagara’s labour market, with guests Blake Landry, Manager of Economic Research & Analysis at Niagara Region Economic Development; Shanthi Rajaratnam, Senior Director of Service Quality at Fedcap Canada; and Vivian Kinnaird, CEO of Workforce Collective.

A wide-ranging discussion touched on unemployment, pandemic trends and work-from-home, diversity in the workforce, pay gaps among equity-seeking peoples, and more.

The session was powered by Niagara Economic Development and FedCap Canada.

Click here to view the webinar recording.

Ontario to invest $224m in training centres

To help tackle the province’s labour shortage and get more people into careers in the skilled trades, the Ontario government is investing $224 million more to build and upgrade training centres. The province also plans to invest $75 million more over the next three years to support the operations and programming at new and existing centres to prepare workers for in-demand careers like electricians, welders and mechanics.

Applications for the new Skills Development Fund (SDF) capital stream are expected to open in late spring and will provide eligible applicants, including unions, Indigenous centres, businesses and industry associations, with funding to build new training centres or to upgrade or convert their existing facilities into training centres with state-of-the-art design and technology. This includes facility renovations, retrofits, expansions, repairs and building construction.

Since 2020, the government has invested close to $700 million in the Skills Development Fund to support innovative training projects.

Click here to read more.

Federal minimum wage will rise to $16.65 on April 1

To keep pace with inflation, the federal minimum wage will increase from $15.55 to $16.65 per hour on April 1, 2023. This adjustment is based on the Consumer Price Index, which rose 6.8% in 2022. This increase will affect approximately 26,000 Canadian workers who earn less than the current rate.

The federal minimum wage applies to the federally regulated private sectors, including banks, postal and courier services, and interprovincial air, rail, road, and marine transportation.

For more information, consult Pay and minimum wage, deductions, and wage recovery or contact the Labour Program at 1-800-641-4049.

Click here to read more.

Job vacancies fell by over 78,000 in Q4 2022

Job vacancies decreased by 78,600 (-8.2%) in the fourth quarter, according to new data released today by Statistics Canada, while the job vacancy rate declined to 4.9% (-0.5 percentage points).

Job vacancies declined in 16 of 20 broad industrial sectors, particularly in accommodation and food services (-21,400) and administrative and support, waste management and remediation services (-15,800). At the same time, the job vacancies edged up in educational services (+3,200).

Job vacancies also fell in 7 of 10 broad occupational groups in the fourth quarter, including trades, transport and equipment operators and related occupations (-22,200) and sales and service occupations (-20,100).

There were 147,300 job vacancies in health occupations in the fourth quarter, little changed from the record high reached in the third quarter.

Payroll employment increased 0.9% (+144,400) in the fourth quarter, the seventh consecutive quarterly increase. According to the Labour Force Survey (LFS), the unemployment rate was 5.1% in the fourth quarter, little changed from the third quarter and just above the record low of 4.9% reached in June and July of 2022. Employment has continued to increase in 2023, with strong growth in January (+150,000; +0.8%) followed by little change in February (+22,000; +0.1%).

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Niagara College awarded global development contracts in Peru, Chile

Niagara College has been awarded two new contracts for global development projects due to its unique approach to applied research and support of the Pacific Alliance Education (PA) for Employment program.

Over the past five years, NC was involved in projects in Colombia, Peru, Mexico, and Chile as part of the PA program, a global development investment managed by Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan). Focusing on sustainable development and skills for employment in Latin America, the program is funded by the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada.

Through the two most recent contracts, NC collaborated from April to June 2022 with Honorio Delgado Espinoza Institute in Peru, and Centre for Education and Training of the Universidad Catolica del Norte (CEDUC UCN) in Chile, by providing training in Applied Research for 120 teachers – 60 in each institution. The main purpose was to provide training and support for creating and implementing applied research centres to advance their innovation agendas.

Click here to read more.

Federal study won’t delay Greenbelt housing plans, Ford says

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says an environmental study the federal government is reportedly planning on launching shouldn’t slow down work to develop housing on lands the province recently removed from the Greenbelt.

Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault has previously voiced concerns about Ford removing about 7,400 acres from 15 different areas in the protected Greenbelt lands, while adding more parcels elsewhere, in order to build 50,000 homes.

The Toronto Star reports today that Guilbeault is set to announce he is launching a study to assess the biodiversity, ecological connectivity and other natural features in Rouge National Urban Park, which is next to part of the Greenbelt lands earmarked for housing.

Ford says he was not given a head’s up on the announcement by Guilbeault’s office, but he is “not too concerned about it” because the park is adjacent to land set to be developed, not part of it.

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St. Catharines calls on province to fund social housing in Niagara

St. Catharines City Council will send a letter to the Ford government asking them to make a pledge to increase funding to Niagara Regional Housing. This follows a request from the province for the city to commit to building 11,000 homes.

Councillor Greg Miller says the city had agreed to that, but that more needs to be done. “If the only plan is to address supply, which is basically what the province asked of us, we are going to continue to struggle as a city and as a region to address the crisis,” said Miller.

The letter asks the province to make the pledge no later than September 30th.

Click here to read more.

Ontario labour market records another strong year in 2022: FAO

The Financial Accountability Office of Ontario (FAO) today released its update on Ontario’s labour market performance in 2022. Strong post-pandemic job creation continued last year, with employment increasing by 338,300 jobs (or 4.6 per cent). When combined with the rise in 2021, this marks the strongest two-year period of job gains on record. The annual unemployment rate in the province dropped to 5.6 per cent, the same as the pre-pandemic rate observed in 2019.

Ontario’s job gains were broad-based across all major age groups and genders. The share of the core-aged population (25-54) that was employed reached a record in 2022, with the rate for females climbing to an all-time high.

The majority of job gains in 2022 were concentrated in full-time, private sector, and permanent positions. Self-employment in Ontario increased modestly following two years of decline – this weakness may reflect record job openings in paid employment as well as a shift in people’s willingness to pursue self-employment.

Click here to read more.

Indigenous bookshop in Fort Erie hoping to create community space

At Barn Swallow Tea and Bookshop, visitors can find a variety of books, teas and other products all made by Indigenous people or telling stories about Indigneous people.

“Having a centre where people can come and read Indigenous content and learn about Indigenous culture in a non-judgmental way and in a safe environment, I think, is really important,” said owner Nichole L’Hirondelle.

She grew up in West Lincoln, where, despite being surrounded by people, she struggled to connect with parts of her family heritage since family members gave up their Indian status in exchange for full Canadian citizenship.

“My father is from the Callihoo Michel band, which is from Alberta. We’re actually the only nation to be completely enfranchised. So I grew up without an Indigenous community myself,” L’Hirondelle explained.

She hopes that others in similar positions without an Indigenous community will be able to use her store as a way to begin learning about their own culture and roots.

Click here to read more.

Focus on Finance & Economy

What Canada can learn from the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank

The sudden collapse of Silicon Valley Bank left its investors reeling, shocked and unsure of what had happened to their funds. SVB was one of the top 20 banks in the United States, and many had trusted their money with the bank, unaware of the crisis that was brewing.

The U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) intervened to guarantee all deposits to customers, even those above the $250,000 limit. Silicon Valley Bank’s failure was technically due to a liquidity crisis — a lack of sufficient cash inflows to sustain it during a period of significant cash outflows.

However, its downfall was also a culmination of several factors such as poor risk management, materialized interest rate risk, inadequate regulation and the aforementioned liquidity issues.

The collapse of a medium-sized financial institution like Silicon Valley Bank serves as a reminder of the importance of robust risk management, sound regulatory oversight and effective liquidity management to prevent such incidents from happening in the future.

Click here to read more.

Through the Daily Updates, the GNCC aims to deliver important business news in a timely manner. We disseminate all news and information we feel will be important to businesses. Inclusion in the Daily Update is not an endorsement by the GNCC.

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