2024 Provincial Policy Amplifier

Jun 5, 2024

2024 Provincial Policy Amplifier

Annually, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) provides the Ontario Chamber Network with an opportunity for regional chambers of commerce to elevate issues impacting business to the provincial level. Based on these policy resolutions, the Ontario Chamber Network will advocate to the provincial government, to enable the conditions that drive business and community success. Below we have highlighted some of the policy recommendations focusing on matters that are most relevant to our network and the Guelph community. To read more about issues such as accelerating student housing, growing airports, making Ontario more competitive for permanent residency, read the entire Ontario Chamber of Commerce compendium here.


Lack of Access to, and Affordability of Childcare Hurts Ontario Businesses Parents seeking childcare face significant affordability and availability challenges in Ontario. The childcare agreement between the Federal and Provincial governments was a step in the right direction but has resulted in an increased demand for childcare spots. Childcare solutions must bring potential employees to the workforce back into the workforce at a time when businesses are desperate for more workers. The OCC recommends that the Government of Ontario

  • 1. Monitor the effects of the ratification of the Early Learning and Child Care Agreement between the governments of Canada and Ontario to ensure issues are addressed quickly;
  • 2. Create a long-term plan for childcare that supports families in Ontario with an eye toward future economic prosperity; and
  • 3. Make the availability of an adequate number of affordable daycare, preschool and afterschool spaces a priority so that parents, particularly women, can return to the workforce to help address the labour shortage.


Strengthening Ontario’s Workforce and Innovation Ecosystem by Supporting a Financially Sustainable Post-Secondary Sector

Ontario’s post-secondary institutions are critical partners, as the province works to build a strong economic future by filling labour market demands in key sectors, building the capacity of local industries and developing its innovation ecosystem to hone its competitive advantage in emerging markets. As such, a financially sustainable post-secondary education sector is vital to achieving these goals and creating a better future for Ontario.

The OCC recommends that the Government of Ontario

  • 1. Invest in the postsecondary system by increasing multi-year base operating grants, immediately boosting operating grants by 10% and indexing them over time; and
  • 2. Lift the tuition freeze for general programs at post-secondary institutions, beginning in Fall 2024.
  • 3. Implement common sense changes to create the opportunity for students to study highdemand programs or to enrol part time.
  • 4. Implement the Blue-Ribbon Panel recommendations on tuition, while protecting lowincome students.
  • 5. Engage with the federal government and postsecondary institutions to establish clear and reasonable guidelines and timelines for the implementation of the federal cap on international study permits and determine how the cap aligns with previous commitments to develop a Recognized Institutions Framework.

Health Care

Funding for Mental Health Addictions Treatment Training of Front-Line Support Workers

Lack of funding available to municipalities to meet the ever-expanding demand concerning mental health and addictions treatment and the limited treatment centres along with limited resources available to train existing and new front line support workers inclusive of police and by-law officers, municipalities are not being able to effectively improve upon this widening failure to our most vulnerable citizens. Increased funding directly to the municipalities will allow for broader collaborative support mechanisms to be established in order to deliver focused and guided solutions to enhance education, training and creation of treatment programs and centres.

The OCC recommends that the Government of Ontario

1. Develop a provincial funding strategy for all municipalities to deliver more treatment resources, training for front-line staff, and capacity to hire more mental health professionals.

2. Develop an onsite overdose response policy across law enforcement and mental health facility employees.

3. Continue to provide business with yearly naloxone kits and training without any additional costs.

4. Expand mental health, suicide prevention training, and PTSD support to all first responders, those working in the mental health or substance use sector and shelter sectors.

5. Adopt a social determinant of health approach when aiding individuals dealing with mental health and/or addiction crises.

Increase Funding to New and Primary Care Teams to Address Critical Health Care Shortages in Ontario and the Health Human

Resource Crisis A health care crisis in Ontario has resulted in 2.2 million Ontarians without a family doctor and increased difficulties in accessing specialty and diagnostic care. Team-based primary care models continue to demonstrate patient health services benefits as the framework provides a holistic, wraparound approach by bringing together health care providers such as nurses, doctors, social workers, and dieticians. A team-based model to health care not only decreases the workload of family physicians, but allows for sustainable direct service delivery, support a larger patient population, and improve health care access, which positively impacts economic stability and productivity. The OCC recommends that the Government of Ontario

1. Strengthen Ontario health care by increasing the target number of Comprehensive Primary Care Teams, and expand the current number of Nurse Practitioner positions available in health team settings, to effectively address health care service gaps in underserved and unserved communities;

2. Build upon the $110-million investment to grow new and existing multidisciplinary teams through increased funding for new and existing Comprehensive Primary Health Care Teams, Nurse Practitioner Led Clinics, to drive sustainable health care services, including recruitment and retention support;

3. Allocate strategic investments to provide support for technology adoption for Primary Care Teams’, fostering innovation, improving efficiency, and enhancing patient care outcomes.

4. Increase base funding for existing community health centres so they can deliver primary care and attract and retain the necessary talent.


Support essential infrastructure in Ontario with a new municipal funding framework

Business growth and success depends on infrastructure, yet the state of infrastructure in the province is in an increasingly poor state of repair. Most infrastructure is municipally owned, but municipal governments do not have sufficient financial resources to maintain their current infrastructure stock, much less close the multi-billion-dollar backlog of infrastructure that has fallen into disrepair. It is imperative that a new funding model for municipal government be found so that the infrastructure that supports economic growth can be maintained.

The OCC recommends that the Government of Ontario

  • 1. Work with the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, and the Government of Canada and adopt the FCM Municipal Growth Framework model for municipal government funding and inter-governmental transfers.


Building Faster Fund and Housing Starts: Strong Mayors don’t pour foundations

Funding provided through the Building Faster Fund should be based on a municipality's efforts to approve permits (that lead to foundations) rather than the current measure of housing starts (poured foundations). The power of municipalities to control or meet housing targets is limited to the permit approval process while funding is currently based on the number of housing starts (poured foundation) which applies additional pressure on the private sector, currently impacted by multiple barriers within the building industry.

The OCC recommends that the Government of Ontario

1. Reassess how the performance of municipalities is measured in terms of housing starts to develop the most effective process to get more homes built.

2. Consult with One Ontario to streamline the development approval process to the benefit of all partners in the housing industry.

3. Provide an Ombudsman to the Building Industry to review disputes between municipalities and developers.

4. Improve the dispute resolution process between municipalities and developers.

Cost of Doing Business

Enforcing Fair Property Tax Ratios

Businesses in Ontario pay much higher property tax rates than residents, despite using fewer services. The Ontario Municipal Act requires municipalities to tax commercial and industrial properties at a ratio of 0.6 to 1.1, but many municipalities have no plans to comply.

The OCC recommends that the Government of Ontario

  • 1. 1. Enforce existing property taxation ratios set out in the Ontario Municipal Act Reg. 386/98: Tax Matters – Allowable Ranges for Tax Ratios by withholding provincial support — including access to provincial funding streams — to municipalities that:
    • a. Are not taxing commercial and industrial properties at the required rates or
    • b. Are not actively transitioning to the required rates based on a plan that specifies gradual decreases on a timeline approved by the Province.

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