Yesterday, the Provincial government released the 2019 Ontario Budget, Protecting What Matters Most. The Timmins Chamber of Commerce’s overview finds Budget 2019 reaffirms the government’s commitment to restoring a balance of fiscal sustainability and critical investments in skills and infrastructure will promote long-term economic growth, especially in Northern Ontario.

“The Timmins Chamber is pleased to see to see numerous suggestions from our Pre-Budget Submission included in the Provincial Budget, and that they are taking reasonable steps to build a stronger, more sustainable Northern Ontario,” said Nancy Mageau, President of the Timmins Chamber. “The proposed investments in broadband infrastructure, skills development, and investment attraction will create real value for many in rural and remote regions across the north.”

“Our message to the government in advance of Budget 2019 had been clear: bring down the deficit, focus on competitive taxation, and choose strategic investments that contribute to Ontario’s long-term economic growth,” said Mageau.

These sentiments were shared by Rocco Rossi, President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC). “With the government already moving swiftly with a number of measures aimed at reducing red tape and growing the economy such as the Making Ontario Open for Business Act, 2018, the Access to Natural Gas Act, 2018, and the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2019, Budget 2019 will help to ensure Ontario businesses have as many opportunities as possible to compete on the global stage.”

Key items from Budget 2019 supported by the Ontario business community include:
• Skills and workforce development: Understanding the ability to recruit and retain talent is a critical factor to their competitiveness, Timmins Chamber and OCC have long advocated on behalf of its members to address the province’s skills mismatch. Modernizing Ontario’s apprenticeship system, improving the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program, and addressing the North Ontario’s skilled workforce shortage are all critical steps to create the workforce of the future.

Divided into two streams: a skilled-labour internship and an Indigenous internship,
the Northern Ontario Internship Program will be available to new entrants into the workforce, people transitioning careers, and the unemployed and underemployed.

• Infrastructure: The Timmins Chamber and the OCC are pleased by the government’s $315 million investment in critical broadband and cellular infrastructure over the next five years. Access to high-speed internet is an essential requirement to ensure Northern businesses can remain competitive, much like our roads, bridges, and electricity.

Regarding the government’s planned investments of $14.7 billion in the province’s infrastructure over the next ten years, the Chamber network hopes to see more details on the plan.

The Timmins Chamber and OCC will continue to press the government to support the economy in Northern Ontario, and the prospective repeal of the Far North Act and amendment of the Public Lands Act in order to reduce red tape and restrictions that are blocking important economic development projects in the Far North of Ontario including the Ring of Fire, all?season roads and electrical transmission projects for communities.

• Industry: The government has announced the creation of a Mining Working Group to focus on reducing red tape and attracting major new investments. The group- which will include members from mining and exploration companies, prospectors and Indigenous business organizations- will provide the Province with input on important issues affecting the minerals sector, while identifying opportunities to ensure future growth, competitiveness and prosperity.

• Competitive taxation: Building a more competitive tax environment is critical to fueling investment, innovation, and economic growth across Ontario, particularly in times of fiscal limitation. The Ontario Job Creation Investment Incentive will provide much-needed tax relief for industry while promoting investment and job growth.

The Timmins Chamber and OCC also continue to urge the government to help small businesses scale-up by creating a variable small business tax rate.

“While Northern Ontario communities, especially Timmins, experienced employment growth last year, there is more to be done. Communities like ours face unique economic and demographic challenges to growth, including a lack of economic diversification, aging populations, out?migration, and gaps in infrastructure,” added Mageau.

“We’re pleased the government recognizes the significant contribution that rural and Northern Ontario communities make to the economy and that this budget aims to put Northern Ontario at the forefront to help ensure our communities can improve our competitiveness and attract investment.”

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