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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

Daily Update: March 8, 2023

Bank of Canada holds interest rate as inflation slows, Canadian trade surplus widens to $1.9 billion, and more.

In this edition:

International Women’s Day: Roundup

Canadian Chamber of Commerce releases International Women’s Day 2023: A Conversation Starter (PDF link)

Ontario Chamber of Commerce asks province to rally behind She-Covery Project

Charmaine Williams, Ontario Associate Minister of Women’s Social and Economic Opportunity, releases statement on behalf of Province

Government of Canada supports women entrepreneurs in Ontario

Sean Fraser, Federal Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, releases statement on International Women’s Day

Mary Ng, Federal Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development, announces recipients of funding under the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES)

Marci Ien, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, releases statement on International Women’s Day

Mélanie Joly, Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs; Harjit S. Sajjan, Federal Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada; and Mary Ng, Federal Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development, release statement on International Women’s Day

Minister Marci Ien announces funding for women’s organizations on International Women’s Day

Bank of Canada holds interest rate as inflation slows

The Bank of Canada today held its target for the overnight rate at 4½%, with the Bank Rate at 4¾% and the deposit rate at 4½%. The Bank is also continuing its policy of quantitative tightening.

In Canada, economic growth came in flat in the fourth quarter of 2022, lower than the Bank projected. With consumption, government spending and net exports all increasing, the weaker-than-expected GDP was largely because of a sizeable slowdown in inventory investment. Restrictive monetary policy continues to weigh on household spending, and business investment has weakened alongside slowing domestic and foreign demand.

The labour market remains very tight. Employment growth has been surprisingly strong, the unemployment rate remains near historic lows, and job vacancies are elevated. Wages continue to grow at 4% to 5%, while productivity has declined in recent quarters.

Inflation eased to 5.9% in January, reflecting lower price increases for energy, durable goods and some services. Price increases for food and shelter remain high, causing continued hardship for Canadians. With weak economic growth for the next couple of quarters, pressures in product and labour markets are expected to ease. The Bank expects that this will moderate wage growth and also increase competitive pressures.

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Canadian trade surplus widens to $1.9 billion

In January, Canada’s merchandise exports increased 4.2%, while imports were up 3.1%. As a result, Canada’s merchandise trade surplus with the world widened from a revised $1.2 billion in December 2022 to $1.9 billion in January 2023.

Total exports rose 4.2% in January to reach $67.0 billion. The increase was widespread in January, with all product sections increasing except energy products. Farm, fishing and intermediate food products, motor vehicles and parts, and metal and non-metallic mineral products all contributed roughly equally to the increase, and were responsible for more than two-thirds of the gain in total exports.

Following its first decrease in four months in December, exports of farm, fishing and intermediate food products increased 11.9% to reach $5.9 billion in January, a record level slightly higher than the one observed in November.

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DSBN and CUPE reach deal affecting 2,000 workers

A collective agreement between CUPE 4156 and the District School Board of Niagara was officially ratified yesterday, covering maintenance, trades, office, clerical, technical, and instructional staff members. It will be in place until 2026.

CUPE 4156 represents approximately 2,000 members who work for the District School Board of Niagara.

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Shortfall of 33,000 nurses and PSWs expected by 2027-28: FAO

The Financial Accountability Office of Ontario (FAO) today released a special report on the Ontario health sector, and warned that, even with government measures to increase the supply of nurses and PSWs, the FAO projects a shortfall of 33,000 nurses and PSWs by 2027-28. These nurse and PSW shortages will jeopardize Ontario’s ability to sustain current programs and meet program expansion commitments.

From 2022-23 to 2027-28, the Province has allocated $21.3 billion less than will be needed to fund current health sector programs and deliver on its program expansion commitments in hospitals, home care and long-term care, the report found.

Challenges are expected to persist across Ontario’s health care system, the FAO reported, citing that the Province’s capacity expansion commitments in hospitals, home care and long-term care will not meet growth in demand for these services from Ontario’s growing and aging population, the Province has not allocated sufficient funding to the health sector to support its programs and commitments, and the Province has not taken sufficient measures to supply the nurses and PSWs needed to deliver on its expansion commitments.

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CRTC launches review of approach to Internet services competition and lowers some wholesale rates effectively immediately

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today announced the launch of a consultation on the Internet services market to increase competition, create more choice and lower prices.

The CRTC recognizes its current approach is not meeting its objective of encouraging more competition in the Internet services market, and will re-examine the rates competitors pay large telephone and cable companies for access to their networks. While it carries out this review, the CRTC is imposing an immediate 10% reduction on some wholesale rates.

The CRTC will also examine on an expedited basis whether large telephone and cable companies should provide competitors with access to their fibre-to-the-home networks, thus enabling faster Internet speeds to their customers.

The CRTC welcomes comments until April 24, 2023 on the question of mandating access to fibre-to-the-home networks. Canadians can participate by filling out the online form, writing to the Secretary General of the CRTC, or sending a fax to (819) 994-0218.

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Ontario announces measures to speed entry into skilled trades

The Ontario government has announced that it will allow students in grade 11 to transition to a full-time, skilled trades apprenticeship program. Upon receiving their Certificate of Apprenticeship, these young workers can apply for their Ontario Secondary School Diploma as mature students.

In the construction sector alone, the government estimates that 72,000 new workers will be needed by 2027 to fill open positions because of retirements and expected job growth. To help deliver the province’s infrastructure plans, including building 1.5 million homes by 2031, more people are needed in the skilled trades.

Additionally, the government will begin consultations in fall 2023 with employers, unions, education stakeholders, trainers, parents, and others about ways to make it even easier for young people to enter a career in the trades. This includes the potential of lowering entry requirements for some of the 106 skilled trades that currently require a grade 12-level education.

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Focus on Finance & Economy

The Bank of Canada held interest rates. What happens next?

The Bank of Canada announced Wednesday it would hold its key overnight rate at 4.5 per cent after eight consecutive interest rate increases – and experts said the pause could last throughout 2023 as the bank watches the economy responds to its policy moves so far.

Economists told the months ahead will reveal how economic indicators – in particular, inflation and the labour market — react to the dramatic series of hikes that began last March at a pandemic-low interest rate of 0.25 per cent.

“The question now is how strongly Canada’s debt-saddled economy responds following months of aggressive monetary tightening,” Marc Desormeaux, principal economist of Canadian economics at Desjardins, told in a Wednesday phone interview.

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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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