Niagara, May 4, 2018 – The Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce (GNCC) has released its 2018 provincial election platform. The suite of policy proposals, built after extensive research and consultation with members, industry leaders and the Ontario Chamber network, aims at building business competitiveness in both Niagara and Ontario and at sustaining a vibrant, healthy community.
The platform is built on four pillars: strengthening business competitiveness, fostering job creation, building healthy communities, and improving government accountability.
Niagara-specific proposals include a call for a recommitment to daily year-round GO train service to Niagara and to funding a single integrated Niagara public transit system. Recognizing that healthy communities are prosperous communities, the GNCC also asks for a firm commitment for a new Niagara Falls hospital, with attached funding, for the Welland hospital to remain open.
The cost of doing business is targeted, with a call for inquiries into the global adjustment charge and time-of-use billing to find ways to bring electricity bills down, and an accounting of the true cost of doing business in Ontario against other jurisdictions. The GNCC also calls for the liberalization of inter-provincial trade, in light of the Supreme Court of Canada’s recent ruling on alcohol purchasing, to unlock the true potential of Niagara’s wineries, breweries, and distilleries.
Small businesses are challenged by new legislation around paid emergency leave, shift changes, staffing laws etc. Previous small business exemptions existed precisely because so many of these businesses do not have the resources or flexibility to meet some of the requirements and remain competitive at the same time. Ontario needs to reinstate the small business labour law exemptions which existed before 2017.
Niagara has also found itself with an affordable housing crisis, with rapidly increasing prices and rents, and an alarmingly low vacancy rate. The GNCC has called upon the Province to fund more affordable housing and to seek out innovative solutions that could help relieve the pressure.
Recognizing the threat that climate change poses, not just to businesses and the future economy but to our entire community, the GNCC has called for an approach to greenhouse gas emissions which will mitigate the risk to business competitiveness and avoid penalizing Ontario citizens financially. New infrastructure stock must reflect the realities of climate change as well, and the GNCC asks for a modernization program that accounts for future changes.
Ontario’s public debt, although not yet at crisis levels, requires a specific plan for repayment. Paying down the debt rapidly is economically risky, so the GNCC asks the next government to come up with a realistic, long-term plan to reduce the public debt and the costs of servicing it.
Perhaps most importantly, the GNCC asks the next Government of Ontario to re-examine the way that governments produce and implement policy. A key pillar of the GNCC’s entire advocacy philosophy is to be data-driven and evidence-based, and it calls upon the government to do the same. Policy must be based on sound, public data and research. It must aim at specific and measurable targets, and it must include milestones so that our progress towards those targets can be assessed and the efficacy of our policies measured. Government must break down barriers between departments and ministries and treat its services as an interconnected whole, directing resources where they will be the most effective at solving our problems and building prosperity.
The GNCC is a non-partisan organization, focused solely on supporting the success of its membership. It asks all candidates and parties seeking a provincial mandate in 2018 to consider and adopt its proposals in the interests of fostering economic success. It wants to see a Niagara and an Ontario that keeps its economic momentum going, which accounts and plans for future challenges, and ensures that our community is prosperous for decades to come.
The full Vote for a Prosperous Niagara platform can be reviewed HERE. Details of the policies mentioned above and many more are laid out in the document.
The Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce is the largest business organization in Niagara and the third-largest Chamber of Commerce in Ontario, with 1,600 members representing 50,000 employees. More information on the GNCC is available at gncc.ca.
Mishka Balsom, President & CEO
Mishka@gncc.ca or 905-684-2361