Where did the summer go? It seems this year the issues just kept coming and there was no summer slowdown for the Chamber Network. Changes to Federal and Provincial legislation happens with startling regularity just lately and none of it is necessarily good news for business.
The three biggest issues the Chamber Network is working on this fall are:
- The renegotiation of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement)
- Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces Better Jobs Act
- Federal Tax Changes for Incorporated Businesses
The Chamber has been asking our members to send letters and sign petitions to protest against some of these changes. It is important that politicians understand the impact to your operations as changes intended to target the wealthy will in reality hurt the middle class business owners the most. The OCC fall Policy Survey will be released September 5 and I would ask everyone to complete it as this data will be used by the Chambers leading up to the June Ontario election.
The Canadian Chamber has been extremely active on the NAFTA file and is undertaking a campaign of business-to-business visits in selected states across America including Virginia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. The goal of the campaign is to raise awareness in key states among business leaders and legislators about how important the Canada-U.S. relationship is to businesses on both sides of the border.
The Ontario Chamber and the Keep Ontario Working coalition have been leading the argument against the rapid implementation of Bill 148. They recently released the first and only independent economic impact analysis of Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces Better Jobs Act. Conducted by the Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis (CANCEA), the study revealed that if the legislation is implemented as currently drafted, there will be significant, sudden and sizable uncertainty for Ontario jobs, economy and communities. The analysis and other information on this issue can be found on our website www.quintewestchamber.ca
Proposed federal tax changes will restrict small business owners from sharing income with family members; limit certain forms of saving in the business; and change capital gains rules which could make it more difficult for business owners to transfer their business to the next generation. “In 10 years at the Canadian Chamber, I’ve never seen an issue that has generated greater concern among our members. To make matters worse, allotting only 75 days for comment in the midst of the summer holidays is not a consultation; it is a stealth attack on farmers and family businesses, these proposals must be scrapped and replaced with measures that support Canada’s entrepreneurs,” added Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
It is not all doom and gloom, despite business concerns, Canadian economic data continues to surprise economists as growth has been strong and so has the labour market. The housing market continues to be a major driver of GDP and many wonder how long it can continue, as a rise to our low interest rates will probably happen before the end of the year. The 4.5 per cent annualized growth pace is 50 per cent higher than the pace at which the U.S. economy is growing. Some still have a glum outlook after such a positive report because there are legitimate questions about sustainability and the long-term ability of the Canadian consumer to shoulder the weight of economic growth.