'Back to Balance' In Sight, But Business Community Must Continue to be Part of the Solution: Ontario Chamber of Commerce

Service Transformation Should be a Key Part of Deficit Reduction Strategy
Support for SME Transition to Cap and Trade Appropriate, Approach Must be Extended to ORPP

TORONTO, Feb. 25, 2015 /CNW/ - The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) is commending the government for addressing business concerns with the cap and trade system, and is calling on government to take the same approach as it moves forward with the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan. As the province moves closer to fiscal balance by 2017-18, the OCC worries that without true service delivery transformation, the government will be unable to meet its deficit elimination target.

"We are encouraged by the approach government has taken to the implementation of the cap and trade system," said Allan O'Dette, President & CEO of the OCC. "We're also encouraged by the government's commitment to ensure the proceeds from the new cap and trade system are not subsumed under general revenues. As this policy is implemented, government must ensure that SMEs are not adversely effected."

In its 2015 report on cap and trade, the OCC had called on government to invest cap and trade proceeds in a way that helps businesses in the transition to a lower-carbon economy. The OCC notes, however, that the employer community is eager to help shape how the $1.9 billion in proceeds are spent.

"Government needs to work with the business community to shape how the funds in the Greenhouse Gas Reductions Account are allocated," said O'Dette. "This collaborative approach, working with the business community to transition into this new policy, is the same approach we have called on the government to take with the ORPP. On that front, more needs to be done to ensure that there are no short to medium term negative impacts on GDP and consumer spending."

Regarding deficit reduction, the OCC notes that despite prior pledges to do so, the government has not engaged in wholesale reform of any major programs or services over the past two years. The OCC is concerned that the government will not achieve its deficit reduction targets unless they work with the private sector to identify areas where an injection of private sector capital and expertise can improve service quality and/or lower service provision costs.

The OCC was pleased to see the government restate its commitment to the Going Global Export Strategy by investing an additional $30 million in the strategy over the next three years. The Export Market Access program, delivered by the OCC, is a key part of the government's Going Global strategy and has helped 423 Ontario companies generate $89 million in export sales over the past two years.

The OCC is also eager to partner with government on a newly announced financial literacy initiative. Budget 2016 committed $650,000 in matching money to a chamber-led program for high school students that uses humour to educate youth about money management, credit, debt and savings to empower students with the knowledge they need to make good financial choices.

Learn more about the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.

SOURCE Ontario Chamber of Commerce

For further information: Media Contact: Rachel Strong, Senior Communications Advisor, Ontario Chamber of Commerce, e. rachelstrong@occ.ca, t. 416.482.5222 ext. 2470

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http://www.occ.on.ca

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