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  • 2017 Federal Budget Analysis

    March 23, 2017

    On Wednesday, March 22, the Government of Canada tabled its budget for 2017. Some highlights include: Skills $2.7 billion over 6 years in increased funding through the Labour Market Transfer Agreements and $1.8 billion to expand EI training $1.8 billion over 6 years to expand EI training programs Creation of a body that will work with employers to identify skills gaps More grants for co-op placements and adults wishing to return to school Our response: New funding for training workers and the unemployed is needed to maintain a highly skilled and adaptable workforce in order to remain competitive, but we are concerned that these investments are mainly funded through EI premiums, which are effectively a tax on salaries. Innovation $950 billion over 5 years on a competitive basis for business-led “superclusters” that are driving innovation and economic growth $400 million in more funding over 3 years through the Business Development Bank of Canada $200 million over 3 years in new funding to simplify business innovation programming $1.4 billion towards a new Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative to help businesses grow Focus on clean tech, agri-food and digital industries Our response: The federal government’s focus on clean tech and agri-food sectors presents real opportunities for innovation, resource and business development in Sarnia-Lambton. The Chamber has urged more support for these sectors in the past. We are also pleased to see improved venture capital funding, a policy change we have been calling for.  Infrastructure $10.1 billion over 11 years to modernize transportation corridors $21.9 billion towards green infrastructure investments $11.2 billion towards a National Housing Strategy A commitment to launch the $35 billion (over 11 years) Canada Infrastructure Bank in 2017 to support large, transformative projects through loans, guarantees and equity. $300 million over 11 years towards a smart cities challenge fund. $2 billion over 11 years to reduce transportation bottlenecks. $867 million over 3 years towards VIA Rail Our response The Chamber has been calling for more investment from the federal government in local infrastructure projects, like the oversized load corridor, which will create jobs, boost productivity and economic development. We are pleased to see more investment in transportation corridors, and roads, bridges, etc. We are also pleased to see more investment in VIA Rail; however this budget commits only a fraction of the total investments needed. Debt and Deficit The budget deficit is expected to be $28 billion this year and next and $21 billion in 2020.  Our response The lack of a plan to return to balanced budgets or tackle the rising debt is concerning. This leaves Canada vulnerable to unexpected economic downturns.   What’s missing in the budget Details on the government’s approach to carbon pricing - Last year the federal government announced it would require all provinces and territories to have some form of carbon pricing by 2018. We are disappointed that Canadians will have to wait months before the government releases a consultation paper on the technical details. Reduction of the small business tax rate – In the 2015 budget, the Conservative government set a timeline for reducing the small business tax rate gradually to 9 per cent by 2019. The Liberal government deferred the reduction in last year’s budget and again for 2017. There was no timeline given for how long small businesses will have to wait.

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  • High electricity costs discussed with NDP leader at Chamber meeting

    March 2, 2017

    Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath was in Sarnia earlier this week attending an informal roundtable discussion that was organized by the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce. Horwath received a clear-cut message from those attending, including Mehru Malik, Chamber member and owner of Versatile Inn Hotel.  Malik spoke about her specific economic hardships that she said are largely due to the high cost of electricity. Horwath also heard from other Chamber members, including Karen Sanders, a pork producer and Rick Perdeaux, president of Toolrite Engineering who highlighted the impact high electricity costs are having on their businesses and that of other Chamber members. Horwath summarized her party’s proposed response to what is one of the biggest issues facing Chamber members. Those proposed initiatives would include eliminating time-of-use pricing, a leveling of delivery charges (typically higher in rural areas than in urban locations), and a “buy back” of Hydro One shares that the Liberal government is intending to sell to pay for infrastructure investment. Horwath is asserting that the savings to electricity customers would be between 20 and 30 percent. Chamber President & CEO Shirley de Silva told Horwath that Chamber members have consistently pointed to the issue of electricity pricing in the province as being one that directly impacts their competitiveness. Michael John Kooy, Chair of the Chamber’s board of directors, echoed that sentiment, telling Horwath that the business community is deeply concerned over the impact the issue has on the long-term competitiveness of business. “We know the message is one that needs to continually be told,” said Kooy, adding that Horwath’s visit was appreciated by all in attendance. Other topics discussed at the roundtable include climate change, cap and trade, immigration and the Oversized Load Corridor project.

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  • Annual General Meeting

    February 23, 2017

    Great news at the Annual General Meeting including our new website launch with more details to come. Click here to see the annual report 2016  

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