Focus spring legislative session on strategic infrastructure and lowering business costs to foster confidence: Ontario Chamber of Commerce

TORONTO, Feb. 16, 2017 /CNW/ - Today, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) formally released its 2017 pre-budget submission containing recommendations to the Ontario legislature as it looks to begin its spring 2017 session. The OCC's submission outlines four key budget priorities and 13 specific recommendations for Queen's Park to adopt in order to restore fiscal balance and spur economic growth. Specifically, the OCC is looking for immediate support for increased broadband infrastructure and for government to demonstrate fiscal prudence and sound budget management.

With more government services going digital, it is critical that citizens from all corners of the province have access to ultra-high-speed Internet. For some areas of the province, a lack of access to broadband has compromised Ontarians abilities to connect with essential government services, and has crippled businesses' capacity to compete in the technology driven economy. As cited in the OCC's submission, Government must "bridge the broadband gap" by considering this type of technology as a fundamental piece of infrastructure and address the inadequacy of ultra high-speed Internet in Ontario communities.

"The OCC, in partnership with our diverse Chamber Network, will continue to work with the provincial government to ensure that Ontario prioritizes reducing obstacles to business competitiveness," said Allan O'Dette, President & CEO of the OCC. "By taking more authoritative action on this issue, we can ensure that Ontario remains an attractive environment for capital investment."

In the submission, Ontario's Chamber Network is also calling on the government to send a clear message of fiscal stability by balancing the provincial budget by 2017-2018. Such action would result in a more attractive environment for business investment and growth as well as confront the challenge of mounting input costs, such as electricity prices. As signalled last week in the OCC's Ontario Economic Report, businesses are maintaining their operations and holding onto cash rather than expanding production or investing. This indicates that industry sees the Ontario economy as high-risk.

"The Government of Ontario must ensure that it utilizes the budget as a tool for economic growth to support Ontario businesses," added O'Dette. "Government must do more to reduce the costs of doing business in Ontario, support strategic infrastructure development and strengthen its efforts to bolster business competitiveness that allows communities to thrive."

Addressing the current fiscal context and achieving a balanced budget is an underlying theme throughout the OCC's pre-budget submission. The business advocacy organization and the Ontario Chamber Network are committed to working with the Ontario Government to ensure the future economic success of the province. The submission is largely comprised of policy recommendations that are supported by resolutions passed by the organization's provincial Chamber Network during their most recent Annual General Meeting.

SOURCE Ontario Chamber of Commerce

For further information: Media Contact: Rachel Strong, Media Relations and Public Affairs Lead, Ontario Chamber of Commerce, e. rachelstrong@occ.ca, t. 416.482.5222 ext. 2470

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