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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

Daily Update: March 23, 2023

In this edition:

This edition of the Daily Update was delayed in order to include details of the 2023 Ontario budget.

Ontario releases 2023 budget

The Government of Ontario today released details of the 2023 budget, Building a Strong Ontario.

Although able to capitalize on higher-than-expected revenues and a smaller deficit than forecast, the government still faces a number of challenges affecting the budget for 2023. Slower economic growth is expected, with real GDP growth of 0.2% forecast, although growth will recover to 1.3% in 2024 and 2.5% in 2025, the budget predicts. A strong employment recovery, ahead of US and Canadian averages, has helped to drive growth.

The government predicts a deficit for 2023, but is forecasting a surplus of $200 million in 2024, and a $4.4bn surplus the year after. However, future economic challenges, such as a possible recession this year, could affect this forecast.

Inflation is projected to hit 3.6% this year, higher than was expected in budget 2022, although expected to fall to 2.1% next year and to the historical norm of 2% thereafter. The Bank of Canada’s interest rate hikes, enacted to combat this inflation, have affected Ontario’s cost of borrowing as rates exceeded those forecast in the 2022 budget. $27.5bn in borrowing is forecast for this year, but that number will increase to $28.7bn next year.

The government has set a target net debt-to-GDP ratio (a measure of the public debt relative to the size of the economy and therefore, the ability to repay it) of 40%, down from last year’s target of 42%. Among the 22 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and European Union (OECD-EU) member states, for comparison, net debt-to-GDP ratios average 115%.

Spending highlights from the budget include:

  • $184.4bn over the next 10 years for highways, transit, and infrastructure projects, including $20.6bn for upcoming year. This includes the QEW Garden City Skyway Bridge Project and investments in GO Transit throughout the Greater Golden Horseshoe area, including stations in Niagara.
  • The Ontario Made Manufacturing Investment Tax Credit, which will offer a potential 10% tax credit for qualifying invesments, up to $2m per year. The total cost is estimated to be $780m over the next three years.
  • Expanded access to the small business Corporate Income Tax (CIT) rate by increasing the phase-out from $10-$15m of taxable capital to $10-50m, allowing more businesses to claim the rate.
  • $15m over three years for the Racialized and Indigenous Supports for Entrepreneurs (R.A.I.S.E.) program.
  • $4bn for high-speed internet infrastructure to ensure all Ontario communities have access to broadband by the end of 2025.
  • Extending gas tax and fuel tax rate cuts until December 2023.
  • A 50% reduction in child care fees for children aged 0-5 through a joint $13.2bn investment with the Government of Canada.
  • A harmonized liquor tax rate of 12%.

Other projects announced without funding figures included the creation of serviceable industrial sites to boost competitiveness in attracting high-value advanced manufacturing projects, exploring the introduction of an Urban Mobility Vehicle pilot program to allow urban mobility vehicles to operate on the roads of participating municipalities, and a review of the provincial tax system.

Click here to read more.

Folk Arts Centre to present A Social Enterprise Plan for Newcomers in Niagara

On March 30th, the Niagara Folk Arts Multicultural Centre invites the Niagara community to an evening addressing how IHEP Healthcare Navigators will serve the community. The program graduates will lead an informative presentation on “A Social Enterprise Plan for Newcomers to Niagara,” which was developed as part of a training program which included 12 weeks of in-class and hybrid sessions in: Ethics, Communication, Mental Health and Systems Navigation. Two months of practical community placements experiences were completed in over 20 organizations in the region. This program is being evaluated for future opportunities by Brock University’s Professional and Continuing Studies Unit.

The plan will be reviewed by an expert panel that includes: Emily Kovacs (Executive Director,  NFAMC), John Armstrong (President, Armstrong Strategy Group), Barry Wright (Dean, Goodman School of Business), Lorraine Hulley (Executive Director, Rose Cottage), Ed Unrau (Decision Architect, 3DM6) and Rachel Crane (Workforce Collective). The panel will provide organizational and strategic guidance and support to this forming social enterprise as part of the evening’s features .

The evening will conclude with a celebration acknowledging the hard work, dedication and success of the graduates and the supporting team.

Click here to read more (PDF link).

Open House for St. Catharines GO station to be held

Niagara Region and the City of St. Catharines are hosting an open house on March 30th to provide information about upcoming projects and how they will impact the area over the next couple of years.

​It will be a busy couple of years with many construction projects happening to improve multi-modal access to the St. Catharines GO Station and to make upgrades to the transportation network in Niagara.

Existing connections will be improved and new connections will be developed to provide safe and convenient access to the station and from the station into the downtown, employment areas, commercial areas, Ridley College and other key destinations.

Click here to read more.

St. Catharines invites residents to apply for Advisory Committees and Task Forces

The City is looking for applicants following a review and recent restructuring of its advisory committees and task forces.

All residents are encouraged to apply before applications close on April 21 at noon.

A recruitment fair/open house is scheduled to take place on April 5, from 3 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the St. Catharines Kiwanis Aquatics Centre at 425 Carlton St. This is a chance for the public to ask questions and learn more about the committees.

Click here to read more.

Number of EI claimants in January was lowest on record

In January, 375,000 Canadians received regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits, Statistics Canada revealed today, down by 20,000 (-5.0%) from December 2022. This was the lowest number of regular EI beneficiaries on record since comparable data became available in 1997, outside of the period when the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit was in place from March to September 2020.

On a year-over-year basis, the number of regular EI beneficiaries fell by 294,000 (-43.9%). The largest proportional decline was observed among young women aged 15 to 24 years (-73.0%; -27,000), followed by young men aged 15 to 24 years (-59.9%; -31,000).

Click here to read more.

United Way Niagara celebrates record fundraising year

United Way of Niagara is celebrating a record fundraising year, with $5.2M raised in its fall campaign.

The campaign, led by Campaign Chair and President of Niagara College Canada, Sean Kennedy, raised $5,270,000, surpassing the $5 million-dollar goal set in September.

“It has been my pleasure to serve as the 2022 Campaign Chair,” said Niagara College President Sean Kennedy. “I am inspired by the generosity of the donors and volunteers who have not only met the challenge of our five-million-dollar fundraising goal, but who dug deep to exceed it substantially. Thank you to each and every one of you for your commitment to making Niagara a better place for everyone who lives here.”

The number of people accessing United Way-funded programs is on the rise with 175,000 people helped for the first time ever last year.

Click here to read more.

Hoverlink needs more time to float Toronto-St. Catharines rapid transit

Plans to launch a hovercraft service between St. Catharines and Toronto this summer have been postponed.

Hoverlink Ontario Inc. said it has delayed the launch of the 30-minute rapid hovercraft service because time lines to complete the project are “running longer than anticipated.”

In a statement, the company said due to the complexities involved in the project, it is presently re-evaluating its time line for completion.

“We want to assure the communities we intend to serve that we are continuing to move forward through the requirements necessary for operational success,” founder and chief executive officer Christopher Morgan said in the release.

In September, Hoverlink announced that after 10 years of work it was in the final approval stages to launch a rapid transit route between Port Weller in north St. Catharines and Ontario Place in Toronto.

Click here to read more.

Citizen task force to study St. Catharines councillor pay

St. Catharines city council is forming a citizens task force to let residents determine if councillors are being paid enough.

After narrowly rejecting a pay raise that was recommended by staff last May, this term’s council is getting a second opinion.

St. George’s Coun. Kevin Townsend, who made a motion to establish the task force, said other municipalities, such as Kingston, Barrie, Milton, Burlington and Oakville, took a similar step before the last municipal election.

“I’m asking for us to have a look at this and allow residents to partake in the discussion and determine what the city should be doing,” he said.

But Port Dalhousie Coun. Carlos Garcia said council already had an extensive staff report about remuneration last year.

“I just can’t support this because we already spent a lot of time on this and a lot of staff time.”

Click here to read more.

Affordable housing pitched for City of Thorold-owned land

Thorold city councillors have called for a staff report outlining a housing advocacy group’s hopes of having affordable housing units built for people struggling in the rental housing market.

Thorold Housing Group, a part of One Thorold — a group of organizations, businesses and faith groups — spoke to council Tuesday.

The group is hoping a city partnership would assist in building a housing project for a potential 40 to 60 units on land near the corner of St. David’s Road and Wellington Street.

Member and business owner Bill Vanderklippe said city land is needed as bidding on property the size necessary would make the project unfeasible and rents, therefore, unaffordable.

“This property should remain in the city’s hands and for a long-term lease agreement, which has been done in other communities,” he said.

Click here to read more.

Focus on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Female-owned businesses on the rise, but barriers persist: study

The number of businesses owned by women is on the rise in Canada, but female entrepreneurs still disproportionately face barriers such as lack of access to capital from financial institutions, according to a new study.

The Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub’s 2023 State of Women’s Entrepreneurship in Canada report, released Monday, suggests the proportion of majority women-owned businesses is increasing.

The study estimated 18 per cent of businesses are majority-owned by women, up from 16.8 per cent in 2020 and 15.6 per cent in 2017.

Lead researcher Wendy Cukier, the founder of Toronto Metropolitan University’s Diversity Institute, said she is also encouraged that the gender gap related to early interest in entrepreneurship and innovation is shrinking.

Click here to read more.

Number of hate crimes increased 72% from 2019-2021: Statistics Canada

The number of hate crimes reported by police in Canada rose from 2,646 incidents in 2020 to 3,360 in 2021, a 27% increase. This finding follows a 36% increase in 2020. The number of police-reported hate crimes rose by 72% from 2019 to 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated experiences of discrimination in Canada—including hate crimes—and underscored an increase in discourse around issues of systemic discrimination.

Higher numbers of hate crimes targeting a given religion (+67%; 884 incidents), sexual orientation (+64%; 423 incidents), and race or ethnicity (+6%; 1,723 incidents) accounted for most of the reported increase from 2020 to 2021. All provinces and territories reported increases in the number of hate crimes in 2021, except for Yukon, where it was unchanged. When population size is accounted for, the rate of police-reported hate crime in Canada rose 26% in 2021, to 8.8 incidents per 100,000 population. As in previous years, more than half (56%) of police-reported hate crimes were non-violent offences, primarily mischief.

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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