53% of Individual businesses still expecting to grow despite pessimistic economic outlook.
‘Productivity must be our priority,’ says Ontario Chamber CEO
(Bay of Quinte Region – February 7, 2024) – High inflation, interest rates and housing costs continue to drive pessimism in Ontario’s economic outlook, according to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s (OCC) eighth annual Ontario Economic Report (OER). Despite this, many businesses surveyed remain confident in their own outlooks, with 53 percent expecting to grow.
“Business confidence in the economy has plunged from 29 percent at the height of the pandemic to just 13 percent two years later – driven by the rising costs of living and of doing business,” said Daniel Tisch, President, and CEO of the OCC. “There are bright spots – particularly in growth sectors such as mining – thanks to strategic investments, population growth and improved labour market resilience. In 2024 and beyond, productivity must be our priority.”
The OER contains regional and sector-specific data on business confidence and growth, public policy priorities, regional forecasts, and timely business issues such as supply chains, employee well-being, diversity, equity and inclusion, economic reconciliation, and climate change.
“This important report identifies key vulnerabilities within our economy and provides decisions makers and community leaders with the understanding needed to find solutions that will drive our economy forward,” said Suzanne Andrews, CEO at the Quinte West Chamber of Commerce. “This year, the Ontario Chamber Network will continue to engage and advocate on behalf of Ontario’s business community to explore these issues and develop the necessary solutions for a more prosperous Ontario.”
“Businesses across Bay of Quinte are being faced with inflationary pressures, fluctuating consumer spending, and labour challenges, which are hampering their growth and recovery,” said Prince Edward County Chamber CEO, Lesley Lavendar. “This underscores the critical need for government to implement targeted and strategic measures to support businesses through policies such as tax reforms, buy local programs, workforce development and affordable housing.”
“Since 2020, locally and across the province, we have grown cautious and pessimistic about the things we cannot control and how that has impacted the cost of living,” said Jill Raycroft, CEO for the Belleville Chamber. “For those businesses that rely on disposable income, times are much tougher. Businesses who provide essential products and services are squeezed by the labour shortage and the costs of doing business. It creates a climate of uncertainty while I also see the resilience and strength of small business owners committed to overcome these challenges within their own operations. As our region continues to grow, we hope this will present a more positive outlook to the economy in the Bay of Quinte.”
– Small businesses are less confident (12 percent) than larger businesses (22 percent) due to challenges with repaying debt, fluctuations in consumer spending, inflationary pressures, and workforce-related challenges such as mental health.
– Simplifying business taxes is identified as a major policy priority of 50 percent of surveyed businesses.
– Confidence in Ontario’s economic outlook varies considerably across industries and is lowest within the agriculture sector (3 percent), non-profit (8 percent), health care and social assistance (8 percent), and retail (10 percent) sectors.
– Confidence is highest in the province’s mining (46 percent) and utilities (27 percent) industries, both of which benefited from strong growth and investments in the province’s electrification infrastructure and electric vehicle supply chains.
– Businesses in Northeast and Northwest Ontario exhibit the highest confidence at 23 percent, where the mining industry is a major employer.
This year’s report was made possible by the OCC’s lead partner, Hydro One, presenting partner, Bruce Power, and research partners, Golfdale Consulting and BMO.
The Bay of Quinte Chambers of Commerce collaborate as the regional voice for the Belleville, Prince Edward County and Quinte West Chambers of Commerce. Representing over 1200 businesses of all sizes and all sectors located in the Bay of Quinte riding, this regional voice advocates for fair government policies that allow businesses to thrive and prosper.
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce is Ontario’s Business Advocate.
About the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) is the indispensable partner of business and Canada’s largest, most influential provincial chamber. It is an independent, non-profit advocacy and member services organization representing a diverse network of 60,000 members. The OCC’s mission is to convene, align and advance the interests of its members through principled policy work, value-added business services and broad engagement to drive competitiveness and economic growth in the province.
For more information, please contact:
Lesley Lavender, CEO
Prince Edward County Chamber of Commerce
Suzanne Andrews, CEO
Quinte West Chamber of Commerce
T: (613) 392-7635
Jill Raycroft, CEO
Belleville Chamber of Commerce
T: (613) 962-4597
The eighth annual OER offers unique insights into business perspectives across Ontario. It is informed by data from our annual Business Confidence Survey (BCS) and economic forecasts for the year ahead. The BCS was conducted online by Golfdale Consulting from October 10 to November 21, 2023, attracting responses from 1,857 respondents across Ontario representing a broad cross-section of industries, regions, and types of organizations across the province.
The OER is designed to support evidence-based decision-making across the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors. The OCC looks forward to working with our partners to continue advancing policy solutions, informed by our policy councils and focused on the core priority areas outlined in the report, to support economic prosperity across the province.