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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

Daily Update: May 31, 2023

Economy grew 0.8% in Q1, fuelling rate hike fears, Canadian manufacturing industry risks falling behind on world stage, study reports, and more.

In this edition:

Economy grew 0.8% in Q1, fuelling rate hike fears

Real gross domestic product (GDP) rose 0.8% in the first quarter, after posting no change in the previous quarter. Favourable international trade and growth in household spending were moderated by slower inventory accumulations as well as declines in housing investment and business investment in machinery and equipment. Final domestic demand increased 0.7% in the first quarter of 2023 after remaining flat in the fourth quarter of 2022.

After two quarters of minimal growth, household spending rose for both goods (+1.5%) and services (+1.3%) in the first quarter of 2023. Meanwhile, coinciding with higher borrowing costs and slowing mortgage borrowing, housing investment fell 3.9% in the first quarter of 2023, the fourth consecutive quarterly decrease.

“Overall, the headline reading, composition of growth and handoff to Q2 were all slightly stronger than we had expected, raising the odds of another Bank of Canada rate hike,” CIBC Capital Markets senior economist Andrew Grantham wrote in a note on Wednesday.

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Canadian manufacturing industry risks falling behind on world stage, study reports

A shortage of skilled workers is threatening Canadian manufacturers’ ability to adopt necessary technologies to scale and compete globally, according to a national survey by Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME).

As the business landscape becomes more complex and competitive, manufacturers are looking to technology to improve profits, but are thwarted by ongoing skills shortages, high purchase costs, and the ability to finance these new innovations.

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Canada to become first country in the world to require health warnings on individual cigarettes

The new Tobacco Products Appearance, Packaging and Labelling Regulations will be part of the Government of Canada’s continued efforts to help adults who smoke to quit, to protect youth and non-tobacco users from nicotine addiction, and to further reduce the appeal of tobacco. Labelling the tipping paper of individual cigarettes, little cigars, tubes, and other tobacco products will make it virtually impossible to avoid health warnings altogether. In addition, the regulations will support Canada’s Tobacco Strategy and its target of reaching less than 5% tobacco use by 2035.

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Ontario Chamber CEO: Government and industry must work together to address mental health action gap

As Mental Health Awareness Month draws to a close, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) has issued a call for ongoing collaboration between government and industry to bridge the gap between the number of businesses that believe investing in mental health is important and those that take concrete action.

“Our 2023 Ontario Economic Report shows that close to 80 per cent of businesses consider employee mental health as essential to their organizational success,” said Rocco Rossi, President and CEO, Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “At the same time, there remains a mental health action gap, with only 37 per cent of organizations saying they have a formal strategy to support employee mental health and well-being.”

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Niagara Health reduces hours at Urgent Care Centres in Fort Erie and Port Colborne

Niagara Health has announced that two Urgent Care Centres (UCCs) in Port Colborne and Fort Erie will operate exclusively from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week. These changes will come into effect on July 5. In a statement, Niagara Health said the decision was not easy, but was made by their Board of Directors in response to a staff recommendation made in order to ensure staffing levels were adequate at regional emergency departments.

The Town of Fort Erie said that it was “deeply concerned” by the announcement, and called on the Government of Ontario to take action and avoid further consequences and failures of our provincial health care system.

“The Provincial government and Niagara Health need to step up and meet the needs of residents,” said Port Colborne Mayor Bill Steele. While Mayors Steele and Redekop expressed sympathy for the difficulties Niagara Health was experiencing, both stressed the need that their residents had for these services and that long-term solutions needed to be found.

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St. Catharines takes step towards creation of municipal development corporation

St. Catharines city council has approved in principle the creation of a municipal development corporation to handle city real estate, though some councillors balked at the estimated $400,000 to $900,000 annual price tag.

The corporation concept, used in Oakville, Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary and other cities, would see a dedicated body look at underutilized city land and the best ways to maximize its potential.

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Regional Councillor Diana Huson reappointed to FCM board of directors

At their Annual General Meeting on May 28, 2023, Pelham Regional Councillor Diana Huson was reappointed for a third term to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Board of Directors.

FCM has been the voice of local government across Canada for over 120 years and plays an important role in advocating for municipalities. FCM works to ensure the needs of the nation’s cities and towns are reflected in federal policies and programs.

As part of the board, Councillor Huson contributes to setting policy priorities that reflect the concerns of municipal governments around the country.

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St. Catharines property taxes going up $400 on average

After debating who’s at fault for a 10.51 per cent increase about to hit St. Catharines property tax bills, city council narrowly voted to approve the 2023 tax rates Monday night.

Mayor Mat Siscoe cast the deciding 7-6 vote on the issue that saw some councillors trying to reopen the operating budget approved in January to cut more out of it.

Council was finalizing property tax rates — which include all city, school board and Niagara Region taxes — following regional council’s approval of its 2023 tax rates and related bylaws on May 18.

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E.S. Fox partners with Aecon to help build first grid-scale small modular reactor

Niagara Falls-based fabricator and constructor E.S. Fox is partnering with Aecon to assist in building North America’s first grid-scale small modular reactor.

The Ontario-based supply chain partnership was announced Tuesday at E.S. Fox’s Port Robinson facility.

Alongside Energy Minister Todd Smith and Ontario Power Generation (OPG) officials, Aecon Group said it reached an agreement with E.S. Fox to jointly construct steel components at its fabrication facility in Cambridge and at E.S. Fox’s Port Robinson site.

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Apple Hill Apothecary bringing a medicinal herb farm and apothecary to Niagara-on-the-Lake

Apple Hill Apothecary, owned by sisters Melissa and Jennifer Schooley, officially opened their doors on Saturday, May 27. The apothecary sells natural health products, natural skin care products and culinary products.

The apothecary has a “carefully curated selection of sustainably sourced Canadian-made products for home, body, wellness, and joy,” she added.

“Every single thing in our store is sourced from a Canadian company. The majority of those companies are women-owned,” noted Melissa.

She said opening the store was the first phase of their plans — the next step is to install a medicinal herb garden.

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Educational resources developed to support Anishinaabe Giizhigad held every June 6

The Kinoomaadziwin Education Body and Anishinabek Nation have jointly developed lesson plans surrounding Anishinaabe Giizhigad on June 6 and the preamble to the Anishinaabe Chi-Naaknigewin (Constitution), Ngo Dwe Waangizid Anishinaabe (One Anishinaabe Family), which are culturally relevant and connect to the Ontario Curriculum.

The three Ontario curriculum connections will help support teachers who are also learning about Anishinaabe Giizhigad.

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Did you know?

Only 0.007 percent of Earth’s water is available for drinking.

Focus on Climate

Earth’s health failing in seven out of eight key measures, say scientists

Human activity has pushed the world into the danger zone in seven out of eight newly demarcated indicators of planetary safety and justice, according to a groundbreaking analysis of the Earth’s wellbeing.

Going beyond climate disruption, the report by the Earth Commission group of scientists presents disturbing evidence that our planet faces growing crises of water availability, nutrient loading, ecosystem maintenance and aerosol pollution. These pose threats to the stability of life-support systems and worsen social equality.

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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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