Media Advisory - Ontario Chamber of Commerce available for budget reaction

    TORONTO, March 16 /CNW/ - Len Crispino, President & CEO of the Ontario
Chamber of Commerce (OCC), will be available on Monday, March 19th after the
release of the Federal Budget. The OCC represents 57,000 businesses through
160 Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade and has been Ontario's business
advocate since 1911.
    The OCC has been actively advocating for a solution to the fiscal
imbalance between Ottawa and the provinces. Having released two reports on the
subject, the OCC has called for the federal government to address the
imbalance with a framework based on the following principles:

    -   Provinces that receive equalization should not have a higher fiscal
        capacity than non-recipient provinces.
    -   Provinces that benefit from equalization should not have higher per
        capita program expenditures than the average of contributing
        provinces. The program should ensure a fiscal capacity to deliver
        reasonably comparable levels of services at reasonably comparable
        levels of taxation.
    -   Equalization growth rate should not be higher than the average real
        economic growth rate.
    -   Discretionary transfers from the federal government should be
        allocated on a per capita basis.
    -   All alternative financing solutions including Tax policy initiatives
        should be employed.
    -   Clearly define areas of Federal & Provincial jurisdiction. Provinces
        should commit to spending equalization funds/transfers on a
        reasonable level of public services.
    -   As the largest wealth transfer in the world, measurement standards to
        determine outcomes must be put in place.

    The OCC is part of a non-partisan coalition of leaders from the business,
non-profit and public sectors called the Fairness Coalition who, in January of
this year issued an open letter to Minister of Finance James Flaherty asking
for fairness for Ontario.
    In addition, the OCC provided pre-budget advice emphasizing the
importance of enhancing productivity growth in Canada. Recommendations

    -   maintain significant annual debt repayment and achieve a balanced
    -   harmonize Provincial Sales Tax and Goods & Services Tax,
    -   expedite funding for its labour market development agreement with
    -   continue to eliminate barriers to internationally-trained workers,
    -   adopt a national apprenticeship certification process,
    -   implement a national mental health strategy,
    -   and ensure the efficient, timely and secure movement of goods and
        people between Canada and the U.S.

For further information:

For further information: Amy Terrill, W: (416) 482-5222, ext. 241, C:
(416) 605-8205

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