2023 Provincial Pre-Budget Submission

Feb 9, 2023

The Guelph Chamber of Commerce knows business success is critical to our community well-being, and in turn, the health of our community is directly related to business success.   

On behalf of our member businesses and the local community at large, we are advocating for a budget that effectively establishes a meaningful plan for promoting business success through responsible investment with a promising ROI. Ontario must focus on creating the right environment for business predictability, competitiveness, and growth. 

After extensive consultation with local businesses of all sizes and sectors as well as a variety of community stakeholders, we respectfully submit the following recommendations to the Standing Committee on Finance & Economic Affairs for consideration in the 2023 Provincial budget.  

Labour shortages are one of the greatest challenges facing businesses today. In some instances, shortages are exacerbated by what is known as a “skills mismatch,” a dynamic in which employers’ needs do not align with the skill sets of job seekers. Ensuring businesses find employees with the right skills is vital to our overall competitiveness.  

Workforce development strategy recommendations:  

  • Continue taking steps to recognize foreign credentials, enhance online training, fast-track in-school credentials, and develop financial support for underemployed populations to access training opportunities. 
  • Consider additional pathways to permanent residency for public post-secondary students. 
  • Work with the federal government to increase Ontario’s allocation of immigrants under the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program and make regional immigration pilots permanent in small, rural, and remote communities. 
  • Revise the current journeyperson-to-apprentice ratio to allow for greater flexibility and continue promoting the skilled trades as a viable career option for young people through applied learning and training.  

Housing availability and affordability is a monumental challenge in attracting and retaining workers. Every effort must be made to ensure that we have the housing supply available to newcomers, recent graduates, and vulnerable populations. Recognizing that no one sector can resolve this crisis on their own, it is essential to find ways of encouraging cross-sections of industry partners to collaborate in order to solve the housing crisis.  

Housing recommendations 

  • Preserve and build affordable housing options along the housing continuum to ensure access to housing for all households, including by leveraging innovative solutions from all levels of government and the private and non-profit sectors (e.g., public-private partnerships, mixed-income/use buildings, community land trusts, etc.).  
  • Optimize existing settlement areas and minimize disruption to natural assets and agricultural lands to help safeguard sustainable growth over the short- and long-term, including by planning infrastructure around complete communities and encouraging densification. 
  • Investment in low-carbon public transit systems and inter-regional transportation alternatives to increase options for Ontarians in choosing where to live and for businesses to choose where to invest. Guelph businesses and residents continue to await the long-promised Two-way, all day Go. 

Removing unnecessary barriers to growth. The pandemic has exasperated many challenges for businesses and there must be a focus on eliminating outdated regulations, red tape and obstacles to interprovincial trade and labour mobility. Therefore, we feel its incumbent the government focuses on making it easier to do business in the province.  

Recommendations on red tape and regulation and making it easier to do business in Ontario.  

  • Commit to undertaking thorough consultations prior to introducing regulations or legislation that significantly impact the business community. 
  • Modernize regulations and ensure timelines and consultations are transparent and give sufficient time for businesses to plan for the future.  
  • Ensure proposed changes are focused on outcomes and supported by cost-benefit analyses. 

Help to build healthy and resilient communities. Ontario needs to continue to address challenges within our health care system, particularly as our population continues to age.  

Health care recommendations:  

  • Develop a robust strategy to tackle the health human resources (HHR) crisis by leveraging technology and health innovations, collecting HHR data to improve health services and planning, supporting the next generation of health care professionals, and continuing to address immediate workforce shortages, including through innovative scope of practice and patient care approaches. 
  • Address the backlog of surgeries and routine immunizations, as well as deferred cancer treatments, diagnostics, and procedures to reduce reliance on over-burdened hospitals and emergency departments. 
  • In addition to prioritizing and funding healthcare infrastructure and building capacity through expanded training & recruitment programs, we encourage the provincial budget to fund and efficiently address problems in mental health supports. 

The past few years have been characterized by tremendous uncertainty: a prolonged pandemic, record-high inflation, supply chain disruptions, labour shortages, rising cost of doing business and geopolitical turmoil. If we want our economy and people to emerge stronger amid so much uncertainty, Ontario must continue to focus on creating the right environment for business predictability, competitiveness, and growth. The next few years will be critical in determining the future of Ontario’s business community and overall economic success. Short-term measures must be balanced with long-term investments to fuel economic activity and growth.  It is incumbent upon the leaders in the province to create the conditions for businesses to thrive and to build desired community outcomes.