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CANADA VOTES 2021: Kitchener South-Hespeler Riding Candidates

 

There are many issues that have taken front and centre during this Federal election campaign, especially surrounding Canada’s economic future in wake of the pandemic.

 

The business community is looking for strong representation as it continues to forge a clear path towards toward recovery and ensuring more prosperous communities going forward.

 

We reached out to the federal candidates vying to represent Kitchener South-Hespeler – Liberal Party candidate Valerie Bradford, NDP candidate Suresh Arangath, Green Party candidate Gabriel Rose and People’s Party candidate Melissa Baumgaertner - with a series of questions to determine their priorities and goals.

 

(Conservative Party of Canada candidate Tyler Calver did not provide answers to these questions at publication time).

 

1. What type of leadership can members of our business community expect from you as our MP and why should they vote for you and your party?

 

Communication with the business community will play a key role for the candidates if they are elected to represent Kitchener South-Hespeler in Ottawa.

 

“I’ll be a strong voice for our business community, and a collaborative leader who wants to work alongside you to shape positive change in our community,” says Liberal Party candidate Valerie Bradford, adding as an economic development professional and Chair of the Manufacturing Innovation Network she has spent the last 15 years working to help bring jobs and investment to the region. “Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy, and we must do everything we can to support them.”

 

The same sentiment is shared by NDP candidate Suresh Arangath who, as a financial advisor and professional accountant, says he understands the intricacies of business.

 

“I understand and appreciate the role of small business who are the engine of job creation in Canada. As a Member of Parliament, I can relate to the needs of the business community and can be a bridge between the business, workers and the government.”

 

For Green Party candidate Gabriel Rose, a healthcare worker, listening to small business leaders will be imperative.

 

“My style of leadership is to listen and gather advice from community members and subject matter experts. As an MP, I would consult with small local business owners as well as workers on how the federal government could improve conditions for both employers and employees,” he says. “The Green Party has always been a supporter of small local businesses and believes that small local businesses are the backbone of a community’s economy.”

 

Listening to concerns from business owners is also important to People’s Party candidate Melissa Baumgaertner, who has roots in the wellness industry and is studying for her holistic nutrition designation.

 

“(Chamber) Members can expect me to go to bat for them to keep their doors open, and to fight against restrictions and mandates that can negatively impact their businesses,” she says. “They can always approach me with their concerns.”

 

She says a vote for her and the PPC is a good step towards fiscal responsibility.

 

“We understand that the best thing government can do for businesses is get out of the way. After we have balanced the budget and eliminated the deficit, we will begin cutting the personal income tax, corporation taxes, and capital gains tax,” says Melissa. “Excessive spending has created startling inflation, which impacts both businesses and consumers.”

 

Tackling issues related to regulatory process and lowering the small business tax, anything affecting the ‘bottom line’ for small businesses is on the radar for the NDP says Suresh.

 

“If elected, a New Democratic Party will be a government that helps small business access the services and infrastructure they need to thrive and expand, while investing in a health and talented workforce for overall success.”

 

The continued economic health of the community will also be important for Valerie and the Liberal Party she says.

 

“The Liberal government has had the backs of Canadian through the COVID-19 pandemic and a Liberal government will continue to support the business community as they get back on their feet and build back better,” she says. “They also delivered the vaccines we needed, ahead of schedule, bringing us closer than ever to brighter days. Now, we have a fully costed, action driven plan for Canada’s long-term care recovery across the economic board.”

 

2. What will be a top priority for you as our MP and what concerns are you hearing from the business community on the campaign trail?

 

When it comes to priorities, the candidates have a variety of issues in their sights which they hope to tackle while representing this riding in Ottawa.

 

“We need to finish the fight against COVID-19. This is a must if we are going to ensure that we secure people’s health, livelihood and prosperity,” says Liberal Party candidate Valerie Bradford, adding she’s ready to work the ‘fundamental’ priorities expressed by voters in this riding. “These entail supporting our local businesses and creating jobs, bringing in affordable childcare, taking action on the climate, and helping Canadians buy their first home sooner.”

 

Green Party candidate Gabriel Rose also says addressing the ‘climate crisis’ will be a priority, along with healthcare system improvements, creating affordable housing and providing more supports to the most vulnerable, including seniors and those with mental health and addiction issues.

 

Creating affordable housing will also be a priority for him, says NDP candidate Suresh Arangath who would like to work with developers and community builders about his party’s plan to build 1.7 million affordable houses in Canada. As well, he says helping small businesses is imperative.

 

“A priority is to mitigate the effects of debts accumulated by small business through financial incentives and supporting hiring, rehiring and/or retraining the current employees,” he says. “Additionally, we should think about extending the CRHP and the CEWS until small business are able to get stronger to stand up on their own.”

 

For People’s Party candidate Melissa Baumgaertner, she says the rights and freedoms of Canadians have been “under attack” for the past 18 months and that restoring them is a priority.

 

“In these 18 months, we went from ‘two weeks to flatten a curve’ to a segregated society,” she says. “This is the issue at hand, and it seems the other parties are aligned with each other on endorsing restrictions and also trying to ignore the elephant in the room.”

 

In terms of concerns, Melissa says how vaccine passports will affect their business is a key issue.

 

“People are wondering how they’re going to be able to keep their doors open if lockdowns persist,” she says. “I’m deeply concerned about the struggles that small and medium businesses are facing right now. It’s time to get back to business as usual.”

 

The struggles of trying to maintain their businesses is something that Suresh says he’s hearing from business owners.

 

“They are accumulating debts and left with no more room to grow or survive another crisis,” says the NDP candidate. “They ask the support from the government to continue the programs like CRHP and the CEWS for a period to help them pass through the post pandemic time.”

 

For Gabriel, pandemic uncertainties about the future and improving government supports for employees, including health and childcare, are things the Green Party candidate says he has been hearing from residents. As well, he says worries about labour shortages also tops the list.

 

Labour shortages and economic uncertainties are also things Valerie says she’s come across while campaigning for the Liberal Party and promoting its recovery plans.

 

“We have a real plan to manage the concerns of the present, while addressing the recovery of the future,” she says. “This includes direct support and relief programs, more good jobs and the community investments that help everyone get ahead and back out supporting the economy.”

 

3. What supports will you champion to assist businesses and sectors that continue to struggle due to the pandemic?

 

When it comes to aiding businesses and sectors struggling with the effects of the pandemic, candidates are looking at various ways to assist.

 

For NDP candidate Suresh Arangath, he says during his discussions with many business owners who’ve continue to survive the pandemic it’s apparent the need to mitigate accumulating debt is vital.

 

“Among those who survived, more than 40% of businesses with less than 20 employees reported that they did not have the ability to take on more debt,” says Suresh, adding providing financial incentives and to support hiring, rehiring and/or retraining current employees, is something his party champions. “The NDP’s plan to include the pharma care, dental care, and mental health care in our Medicare system will help employers to hire qualified and quality workers without spending on benefits to those workers.”

 

Skills training and development is a target he and the Green Party will be championing, says candidate Gabriel Rose.

 

“There is a huge shortage of skilled tradespeople, and I would be an advocate and encourage young people to choose a career in the skilled trades,” he says, adding holding taxation at no more than 9%, plus reducing paperwork for small businesses by eliminating duplicative tax filings and red tape, are other causes he will support. “I would also support a Made in Canada strategy and prioritize Canadian companies in any public sector contracts.”

 

Re-tooling the workforce is one of several issues Valerie says she will champion on behalf of the Liberal Party.

 

“The pandemic has also had the impact of changing the nature of my many jobs, and we’ll make sure no Canadians are left behind,” she says, adding shifting to virtual work or creating new career opportunities will be part of the plan. As well, she says creating more green jobs is something else they will promote.

 

“We don’t have to choose between fighting climate change or growing the economy,” says Valerie. “Through new initiatives like a Net-Zero Accelerator Fund, we’ll capitalize on the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit already present in the riding. I will be a champion for our riding and help stimulate investment and opportunity from both the public and private sectors.”

 

Ending all federal measures that support lockdowns is something People’s Party candidate Melissa Baumgaertner says she will champion as MP.

 

“We will not bail out provincial governments that choose to close down their economies,” she says. “We must learn to live with this virus – the sooner we recognize this, the sooner we can get back to regular business.”

 

4. Will you support a national vaccination passport plan and national childcare strategy?

 

When it comes to implementing a national vaccination passport plan, the candidates are split, with the Liberal and NDP hopefuls in favour.

 

“Many businesses have already established policies that reflect this sentiment, as it is simply good business practice to do everything possible to keep customers and employees safe,” says Liberal Party candidate Valerie Bradford.

 

Her NDP counterpart Suresh Arangath concurs, explaining it ‘would just make life easier.’

 

People’s Party candidate Melissa Baumgaertner says having such a passport is a “gross infringement on the rights and freedoms of Canadians.”

 

“Vaccination should be a personal choice of every Canadian, with informed consent, not something you are coerced into so that you can travel to another province or enter the supermarket,” she says.

 

Green Party candidate Gabriel Rose also does not support a vaccination passport but supports people getting vaccinated.

 

“It’s important to realize that fully vaccinated individuals are still able to acquire mild and asymptomatic infections of COVID-19 and are still able to transmit the disease to others,” he says. “For that reason, I do not support mandatory vaccination or a vaccine passport plan. I support the proven gold standard method of eliminating COVID-19: test, trace and isolate.”

 

Gabriel, like Valerie and Suresh, does support a national childcare plan.

“The Liberal plan for $10/day childcare will allow parents, particularly women, to fully participate in the workforce,” says Valerie, adding every dollar invested in childcare returns $2.50 to the economy.

 

Suresh says the NDP’s plan to invest $20 billion in childcare over four years will help.

“There’s no recovery without the support for women and for many this includes childcare,” he says. “Childcare is fundamental to restarting our economy.”

 

His PPC counterpart says her party is standing firm on its decision not to institute any new social programs in effort to get the budget under control and eliminate the deficit in one term.

 

“Healthcare is within provincial jurisdiction, and realistically any childcare strategies should fall within their responsibilities,” says Melissa.

 

5. Do you see the possibility of collaboration between the Federal and Provincial levels of government on finding solutions to the growing shortage of doctors/nurses due to the impact of COVID-19 and mental health?

 

This is something most of the candidates would like to see occur.

 

“This is a crisis. During a crisis, issues should be addressed immediately by close coordination between the provincial and federal governments,” says NDP hopeful Suresh Arangath.

 

Liberal Party candidate Valerie Bradford agrees.

 

“That is a collaboration I would like to see,” she says. “Re-electing the Liberal government means continued work with the Provinces and Territories to make our healthcare system even stronger. That includes investing $10 billion to eliminate waitlists and another $3 billion to hire 7,500 family doctors, nurses and practitioners over the next four years.”

 

Green Party candidate Gabriel Rose says as a healthcare worker himself, he’s experienced burnout due to the pandemic and believes both levels of government can do more to address not only the shortages of frontline staff, but other health professionals such as respiratory therapists, diagnostic imaging technologists and medical laboratory technologists.

 

“Governments also need to provide much more funding to colleges and universities to create more seats in healthcare programs across the country, as well as abolish tuition fees so that more potential students have access to education in healthcare.”

In terms of any collaboration between both levels, PPC hopeful Melissa Baumgaertner says since healthcare is a provincial matter, the provinces would have to ask the Federal Government for guidance.

 

“Far too many problems in Canada have arisen from the Federal Government interfering with provincial matters,” she says.

 

6. What inspired you to run in this election?

 

When it comes to the key reason why these candidates decided to throw their hats into the ring, the majority say the need for change is imperative.

 

“Parliament is currently broken. There is too much negativity and cynicism in federal politics, and we need more loving and caring MPs that are interested in helping people above all other considerations,” says Green Party hopeful Gabriel Rose. “I am passionate about being part of this change.”

 

Wanting to help the most vulnerable in our society is what NDP candidate Suresh Arangath says inspired him.

 

“I am not convinced when the government cuts the benefits for the common man citing limitation on the availability of the funds,” he says, adding the housing crisis and climate crisis need to be addressed. “I think I can be part in expediting the whole process to make the lives of Canadians better.”

 

For PPC candidate Melissa Baumgaertner, she says the “fearmongering” and the “divisive and abusive” narrative of the current government inspired her to run.

“Watching small and medium businesses get crushed by these absurd lockdowns, while large corporations are allowed to remain open and reap massive benefits has been a major concern to me,” she says. “This isn’t right, and I’m ready to stand up against it.”

 

Standing up for the community is why Liberal Party hopeful Valerie Bradford decided to join the race.

 

“It’s important to me that you have someone in Ottawa who understands this riding, has experience building up the community and strengthening businesses,” she says. “Much of the region has transformed, but with change comes challenges, including the unprecedented time we’ve been living through during the pandemic.”

 

 

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CANADA VOTES 2021: Cambridge Riding Candidates

 

The Cambridge business community is seeking strong representation as it continues to forge a path towards toward economic recovery and ensuring more prosperous communities going forward in wake of the pandemic.

 

We reached out to the federal candidates vying to represent Cambridge – Liberal Party incumbent candidate Bryan May, Green Party candidate Michele Braniff and People’s Party candidate Maggie Segounis - with a series of questions to determine their priorities and goals.

 

(Conservative Party of Canada candidate Connie Cody and NDP candidate Lorne Bruce did not provide answers to these questions at publication time).

 

1. What type of leadership can members of our business community expect from you as our MP and why should they vote for you and your party?

 

Service and collaboration, plus challenging the ‘status quo’ were some of the sentiments expressed by the candidates.

 

Liberal Party incumbent candidate Bryan May says local business leaders can expect the same level of service and support he’s been providing the riding for the past six years helping them pursue federal grants, programs and supports to grow their business.

 

“Our government has been providing assistance through grants for innovation and research, export and import support through EDC, and direct support through FedDev here in Ontario,” he says.

 

Green Party candidate Michele Braniff says she will focus on a shared values and strong relationships for collaboration.

 

“I’m an entrepreneur and have both practical and academic experience and training in social innovation to explore creative solutions and win/win results,” says Michele, whose had a varied career as a lawyer, mediator, and non-profit mental health service provider, and currently teaches social justice courses. “The business community needs to rely on the federal government to create conditions for: stability in the markets; consistency/predictability in regulations, laws and taxation; and conditions that promote well-being for employees and their families. The climate crisis is urgent and government leadership is essential.”

 

For People’s Party candidate Maggie Segounis, avoiding “unnecessary” lockdowns is something the esthetician and former restaurant manager says will be key.

 

“Over the course of one mandate, we (PPC) are going to reduce the corporate income tax rate from 15% t0 10% and ultimately get rid of the personal capital gains tax,” she says. “Meaning, businesses will have more control over where their profits go, and more money will be going into the pockets of Canadians.”

 

For Bryan and his party, he says their recovery plan offers businesses the best option.

 

“Our plan seeks to continue the programs that helped businesses through COVID-19 and pave the way for a more sustainable and profitable economy in the coming years,” he says. “We were there for businesses when they needed us.”

Re-imaging the future is key for the Green Party, says Michele, adding she aims to challenge the status-quo.

 

“During the Second World War, Canada had an all-party war-time cabinet; what if we had a Climate Crisis All-Party Cabinet? We need to be innovative, and we need to take an entrepreneurial approach to the climate crisis,” she says. “Vote for me to ensure a voice in Ottawa for a sustainable prosperous, healthy, and happy Cambridge now and for the future.”

 

2. What will be a top priority for you as our MP and what concerns are you hearing from the business community on the campaign trail?

 

There are several priorities the candidates have on their radar, including housing, the climate crisis and mandated lockdowns.

 

“We will lobby against all COVID-19 related mandates because we believe Canadians can make their own informed decisions and are responsible for their own health,” says PPC candidate Maggie Segounis.

 

For Liberal Party incumbent candidate Bryan May, affordable housing tops his priority list.

 

“Businesses must have talented employees that are willing to move to our area,” he says. “Life must be affordable so that people can continue to grow and expand the local economy. Affordable housing connects to every other aspect of people’s lives, our business community, our social fabric, and the strength of our region in the coming decade.”

 

Safeguarding the planet for future generations will be one of her main priorities as MP, says Green Party hopeful Michele Braniff.

 

“Some politicians talk as if we must choose between the economy and the environment, but the best prospect for Canadians is a Green Economy,” she says. “We have broad consensus for an economic recovery plan and so it most opportune to develop a fully costed, sustainable Green Recovery Plan that is evidence-based with a clear government action plan ensuring social justice and sustainable economic development.”

 

Michele says resilience is imperative and that she has heard stories of hardship from business owners and those in other sectors, many of whom have had to ‘pivot’ quickly to survive.

 

“We need serious federal investment in the social infrastructure which keeps us healthy and resilient,” she says. “At least some of the billions of dollars currently dedicated to fossil fuel subsidies and buying a pipeline would be far more wisely invested in the health, education and care of Canadians.”

 

Staff shortages is something Maggie says she’s been hearing a great deal about from business owners, adding the current government has made people reliant on government funds and has used “scare tactics” to keep them away from work.

“We will open up businesses and get people back into the workforce,” she says, adding drug injection sites is another concern businesses and residents have raised. “We want to promote clean and health living; we don’t want to encourage drug use; we want to end the problem not perpetuate it.”

 

Recovery, says Bryan, is something at the front of the minds of many business owners who fear what will happen in the next six to 12 months.

 

“With the U.S. going through an uneven recovery and still struggling with COVID-19, as well as some businesses here in Canada experiencing outbreaks and lower-than-normal customer orders, business owners are concerned about the coming fiscal year,” he says. “In order to combat this, we need to do two things: increase vaccinations and create a workplace standard for vaccinations and ensure that businesses are able to weather an uneven recovery.”

 

3. What supports will you champion to assist businesses and sectors that continue to struggle due to the pandemic?

 

In terms of supports for businesses, the candidates offered several views.

“The pandemic has been a crisis in which business, provincial, local and federal government have collaborated at an unprecedented level. Government leaders must continue these highly effective, efficient, evidence-based ways of working together to accomplish mutual goals,” says Green Party hopeful Michele Braniff. “Businesses and community need government leadership with respect to standardized requirements for masking, COVID-testing, vaccines and other safety precautions.”

 

For Liberal incumbent candidate Bryan May, the continuation of current support programs for businesses – CEWS, CERS and CEBA - will remain important.

 

“We provided over $1.5 billion through the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund to help more businesses and organizations in sectors such as manufacturing, technology, tourism that are key to the Region,” he says. “We are going to keep up this work by providing direct financial support – for employees, and subsidies for rent and operating costs. These supports help businesses stay open, bounce back fast and expand as the economy recovers.”

 

Keeping businesses open will play an important role for her as MP says PPC candidate Maggie Segounis.

 

“We will allow businesses to operate at full capacity with no restrictions at their own discretion,” she says. “This will help our economy flourish and return to where our businesses were thriving pre-pandemic.”

 

4. Will you support a national vaccination passport plan and national childcare strategy?

 

The candidates offered a few different opinions regarding these two issues.

Liberal incumbent candidate Bryan May is in full favour of a national vaccination passport plan.

 

“The federal government has already mandated federal employees be vaccinated, and is requiring vaccination for federal travel (aircraft, trains, cruise ships etc),” he says. “We’re also providing funding for provinces that create their own vaccine passport plans and implement them.”

 

For Green Party hopeful Michele Braniff, an evidence-based decision-making approach when it comes to public health recommendations is crucial.

 

“In the same way that mandatory masks made it easier for businesses to keep their premises safe, I believe that a passport plan standardizes expectations for customers and clients,” she says. “The details and specifics of such a plan would be crucial to its success.”

 

PPC candidate Maggie Segounis is adamant no such plan should be imposed.

“Absolutely not,” she says. “We believe that nobody, but your personal healthcare professional should know or have access to your medical privacy.”

 

In terms of a national childcare plan, Maggie says her party’s focus is to get more children back into school.

 

“We will create more jobs, get parents back to work and build a stronger economy therefore Trudeau’s $10 a day daycare won’t overpopulate and overwhelm the childcare system and it won’t be an issue.”

 

Bryan, on the other hand, says the Liberal Party’s plan has already seen support from many of the provinces.

 

“This is critical to getting our workforce back to the workplace, and particularly supporting more women to enter the workforce, as we recover from the pandemic,” he says. “Childcare costs are a major financial burden for families, particularly with more than one child, and they prevent many women from entering the workforce.”

Michele supports a federally funded universal childcare system.

 

“What we need is ‘upstream thinking’: going to the source of the problem and investing in resilience and wellness for children,” she says. “Affordable childcare supports families and ensures stability and diversity in the workplace now and in the future.”

 

5. Do you see the possibility of collaboration between the Federal and Provincial levels of government on finding solutions to the growing shortage of doctors/nurses due to the impact of COVID-19 and mental health?

 

In terms of finding solutions to this issue, all three candidates are looking at different approaches.

 

“Federal-provincial, non-partisan collaboration is essential if we want to resolve this complex problem,” says Green Party candidate Michele Braniff, adding national standards and guidelines are essential due to shortages which are creating burn-out and compassion-fatigue for healthcare workers. “The healthcare profession has an international employment market, and we need to ensure efficient, accurate and fair national accreditation of foreign-trained professionals and also create working conditions and career paths that retain Canadian health professionals in Canada.”

Liberal incumbent candidate Bryan May says his government will continue to invest in healthcare, including providing $3.2 billion towards hiring 7,500 new family doctors, nurses and NPs nationwide, plus boosting the salary of PSWs and expanding virtual healthcare services.

 

“Millions of Canadians face problems accessing primary care,” he says. “We want to help solve this problem and improve Canadians’ access to universal, public healthcare.”

 

For People’s Party of Canada hopeful Maggie Segounis, she says shortages will only continue and increase with “mandates” and “unconstitutional decisions”.

 

“Eighteen months ago, the nurses and doctors were considered our ‘frontline heroes’. Now, due to the provincial vaccine mandates, the government considers those working in the medical field who are unvaccinated ‘super spreaders’ and are releasing those frontline heroes because they decided not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.”

 

6. What inspired you to run in this election?

 

A desire to make our community a better place now and in the future is one of the reasons the candidates have their sights set on representing Cambridge in Ottawa.

“Our rights and freedoms are at stake, and I believe Cambridge needs the right representative to tackle the important issues. I am that representative,” says PPC candidate Maggie Segounis. “The younger generations need to have access to all the information, and they need to get excited about the democratic system.”

 

A better and greener future is important for Green Party candidate Michele Braniff, who is representing her party for the third time in this riding.

 

“I want to see politics done differently with proportionate representation and evidence-based decision-making with fully costed platforms where public funds are invested in programs that improve public welfare and community well-being,” she says. “The Green Party values, priorities, fully costed accountability, and its evidence-based policy information align with my values.”

 

For Liberal incumbent candidate Bryan May, his desire for re-election centres on continuing to build a better community for his children.

 

“I want to build an economy and community that they will be happy and healthy to live in,” he says. “They are my inspiration for running, and a big reason I want to make sure all our children and youth have every opportunity and option available to them.”

 

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The Cambridge Chamber of Commerce and Ontario Chamber of Commerce release second pillar of their ‘Ontario Business Matters’ federal election campaign: Healthy People and Prosperous Communities

 

The Cambridge Chamber of Commerce and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) called on the next Parliament to take decisive action to support healthy and prosperous communities as the foundation of a robust and inclusive economic recovery.

 

In its Second Pillar of its Ontario Business Matters federal election platform, released today, Healthy People and Prosperous Communities, the Cambridge Chamber and OCC underscore the importance of strategic investments in health care, childcare, reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, and reskilling opportunities for those hardest hits by the pandemic.

 

“The COVID-19 crisis has strained Ontario’s health care system and the economic impacts of the pandemic have been disproportionate for women, Indigenous peoples, newcomers, and racialized peoples,” said Cambridge Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Greg Durocher. “Targeted policies – such as making childcare more accessible and affordable for families as well as advancing re-skilling opportunities for those hit hardest by the pandemic – will be critical to Canada’s rapid recovery and long-term growth.”

 

The campaign also notes the need to address growing health care needs, support the province’s aging population, and prepare for future crises. It also calls on federal parties – along with businesses to do better to confront Canada’s racist legacy and the enduring implications of the residential “school” system.

 

“When people are healthy and prosperous so too is the economy and business. We all must do better when it comes to advancing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, including the business community, as outlined in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations on Business and Reconciliation,” added Rocco Rossi, President and CEO of the OCC.

 

Recommendations under this pillar include:

 

  • Advancing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples by implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.
  • Increasing health transfers to Ontario to address growing healthcare needs such as the surgical backlog and limited cancer screening, support the aging population and prepare for future crises.
  • Improving accessibility and affordability of childcare by working collaboratively with the province to reduce childcare costs and improve access for families.
  • Advancing opportunities for women and equity seeking groups in economic recovery such as enhancing reskilling and education programs for those displaced by technology adoption and pandemic-related job losses.

Through the Ontario Business Matters federal election campaign, the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce and OCC, along with over 155 local chambers and boards of trade, are sharing pressing policy issues related to Ontario business that need to be front and centre in the federal election.

 

For more information about the Ontario Business Matters campaign, please visit website.

 

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While COVID-19 has created a uniquely difficult situation for Ontario’s municipalities, it has also exposed areas to improve municipal fiscal governance.

 

Local governments do not have the fiscal autonomy they need to make them competitive and maintaining the status quo could be devastating for communities in a post-COVID economic recovery. The impact of the virus and the resultant public health measures have meant that most municipalities are seeing a decline in revenue and increase in expenditures.

 

In response, as all levels of government look to balance debt and deficits while protecting the well-being of our communities, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) released its latest report, Better Budgets: Bolstering the Fiscal Resilience of Ontario’s Municipalities, which identifies 14 recommendations for both the Province and municipalities which can bring immediate and long-term relief to communities across Ontario.

 

“Municipalities in Ontario are facing a triple threat this year: an ongoing pandemic that has been devastating to local economies, reduced revenue from closed or limited services, and increased spending on public health and human services. The Financial Accountability Office estimates the pandemic will collectively cost municipalities $2.7 billion in 2021, on top of the expected $4.1 billion impact of 2020,” said Cambridge Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Greg Durocher. “In Budget 2021, the Government of Ontario committed to a long‐term economic growth plan. It is imperative public policymakers do everything they can do to ensure communities like ours do not get left behind in recovery.”

 

During the June 28 edition of our Chamber Chat, Cambridge City Manager David Calder and CFO Sheryl Ayres took a closer at the report and provided some great insight on the merits and viability of some of these recommendations, while identifying misconceptions relating to others.

 

“I commend the Ontario Chamber of Commerce on their work on Better Budgets,” said David, adding the report contained some ‘old chestnuts’ municipalities having been trying to change for many years when it comes managing finances. “It’s a good variety. Some we can support and some that might not be as supportable.”

 

Greg said for many years there has been ongoing discussion centred on the ‘restrictiveness’ of municipalities’ ability to raise revenue, noting changes are clearly needed, especially when it comes to Ontario’s property tax system.

 

“We have to undue to the system so to speak and make sure taxes are applied appropriately,” he said.

 

Sheryl agreed the current property tax system, which has been in place since the 1990s, is need of a full review.

“In doing that, they also need to look at other revenue tools that municipalities can use in addition to property taxes,” she said, noting that 91% of tax dollars go to the Provincial and Federal governments, leaving the remainder for municipalities. “Yet, we’ve got the greatest portion of expenses related to the assets that we own, and we are closer to the people in terms of the local services we provide. I believe we need a comprehensive review of the whole tax system and how it’s allocated across three levels of government, ensuring there is transparency and equity in how the funds are raised from the residents of Canada.”

 

David said the downloading of services to municipalities is an important issue that needs to be addressed.

 

“We need to review who should be providing what services and whether there are ways to be more cost efficient in the supply of those services,” he said. “It’s a very complex conversation but one that needs to take place.”

David said municipalities have been looking for ways to be more autonomous for many years in effort to make better decisions at the local level.

“We’ve got to figure out where do we want to be in that spectrum,” he said. “There needs to be discussion around trying to make sure we control our delivery a little bit where appropriate.”

 

The OCC report agrees and states the Ontario’s post-pandemic recovery and long-term success will depend heavily on unleashing the economic potential of its municipalities.

 

“Given that local governments in Ontario cannot run budget deficits, their current options for fiscal sustainability are limited to tax increases, service cuts, and the use of reserves,” said Claudia Dessanti, Senior Manager, Policy of the OCC. “Now is the time for municipalities and the province to explore alternative means of achieving fiscal sustainability.”

 

Key recommendations outlined in the report include:

Undertake a comprehensive and forward-looking review of Ontario’s property tax system to ensure the system is more equitable, efficient, and predictable for businesses.


Adhere to the ‘pay-for-say principle’ to ensure that all responsibilities are accompanied by adequate funding.


Enhance and incentivize regional collaboration across municipalities.  

 

The OCC report was created in partnership with KPMG Canada. Read the report.

 

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The news we heard Thursday from Waterloo Region’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang was extremely disappointing to us. Our Board of Directors adamantly encourages all businesses to practice within the law but also echoes your concerns and disappointment at this decision.

 

In fact, officially, the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce does not support Dr. Wang’s recommendation to keep the Waterloo Region in Stage 1 of Ontario’s reopening framework, considering the rest of the province will be moving into Stage 2 on June 30, an estimated two weeks ahead of our Region. As such, we would have preferred this move to Stage 2 remain on hold until Waterloo Region can catch up.

 

In fact, our Region did its best to help the province in the early stages of the third wave through the redirection of vaccines to hotspots around the GTA to curb the spread in those communities which significantly helped, but in the end proved detrimental to us, so it seems only fair to suggest some courtesy be extended to the citizens of Waterloo Region.

The Region has been calling for a ramp up of vaccine allocations and while that has started to occur, it is in fact a case of too little too late.

 

We understand the worries surrounding a possible fourth wave if dramatic steps are not taken and are very aware of the threat the Delta variant poses, especially amid troubling reports of people who are not following the provisions of the law by gathering in groups which in turn are creating community and workplace outbreaks. Currently, we are now seeing COVID-19 patients being transferred to hospitals outside our Region due to capacity concerns.

 

This is all very frustrating and discouraging to think that people would intentionally break the rules, risk lives, and in the end hurt businesses.

 

Our local Public Health officials have determined that if we do not hold back a bit, we will very likely see a fourth wave that could easily spread provincewide resulting in not only another round of restrictions, but another potential lockdown.

 

Keeping this in mind, we are continuing our efforts to fight for added supports from both the Federal and Provincial levels of government and calling for more vaccines so we can protect our community and get things open sooner. The Chamber will continue to do all it can to support, guide and advise to the best of its ability until this crisis finally comes to an end.

 

Sincerely,

 

Greg Durocher

President/CEO

 

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Chamber network urges government to address pain points and lay the groundwork for a strong rebound as province grapples with economic fallout of the crisis

 

The Cambridge Chamber of Commerce and Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) has released its 2021 Ontario pre-Budget submission, which focuses on recovery, growth, and modernization.

 

The submission calls for policies that minimize the impacts of business closures, uplift the sectors and demographics hit hardest by the pandemic, invest in the infrastructure and workforce of the future, and modernize government services to improve outcomes for businesses and residents.

 

 

“With Ontario’s economy expected to enter a period of recovery this year as vaccines are distributed and businesses begin to reopen, resources need to be focused on where they will have the greatest impact,” said Cambridge Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Greg Durocher. “In the upcoming budget, we would like to see a focus on reskilling, broadband, and access to capital, which will be necessary for the revival of small business and entrepreneurship as well as an inclusive   economic recovery.”

 

In 2021, Ontario will continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout. The Cambridge Chamber and OCC’s submission notes the crisis has created new problems and exacerbated pre-existing ones. The impact on people and business has been catastrophic overall, and disproportionate for certain regions, sectors, and demographics.

 

“Resources should be targeted towards the sectors and communities that have been hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, including industries requiring face-to-face contact, small businesses, municipal governments, as well as women, lower-income, racialized, elderly, new immigrant, and younger Ontarians,” added Rocco Rossi, President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.

 

The recommendations outlined in the submission were developed together with businesses, post-secondary institutions, chambers of commerce, and boards of trade. The submission focuses on mitigating the immediate impacts of the crisis, while laying the groundwork for a robust and sustainable economic recovery.

 

Read our provincial pre-budget submission here: bit.ly/3qYxUqg

 

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I am a small business owner based in Cambridge, Ontario.  Along with my partners, we operate two manufacturing operations employing a total of about 25 people.

 

I am proud of all of the response of our political leaders to this crisis on all levels – local, provincial and federal.  They have taken a sober and analytical approach to the immediate needs of the citizens of this country.

 

Their willingness to commit funds, resources and support to our front line workers, small businesses and all in need will get Canada through this ordeal.

 

As a business owner, my top priority is always looking ahead to determine how I can not only succeed; but avoid unexpected disruption to my team; and minimize our potential for risk of any kind.

 

This is where I think the business community needs more support from our leaders.

 

The question of when we should re-open for business is open for debate.  The leaders in Canada, USA and abroad have differing opinions on this matter. 

 

There is only one question on my mind – what is required for me to do business in a way that will be safe for my team, clients and supply chain?  This is the question that must be answered prior to our return to regular business.

 

There is no doubt in my mind that the scientists of the world will determine when it should happen; using the tools and expertise available to them.  It brings me comfort to know that our Canadian politicians are being guided by science in their decision making process on these issues.  

 

However, there is another component to this decision that I think we are neglecting.  Whenever we return to work, it will be to a new business landscape.  There are new risks, new considerations and a higher expectation from the community for business owners to provide a safe working environment.  As a community, we need to determine what will be required to have in place prior to a return to “regular” business. Until we have a vaccine / “herd immunity”, do workers require masks to be safe?  Do we need to require hand sanitizer at entry points to work areas and require all team members to use?  In Taiwan, there are some common practise expectations for citizens that have allowed them to maintain a very low infection level of COVID without restriction on children being at school, or businesses operating normally.  What can we learn from their example that can help us to prepare to resume our work?

 

If Toyota, Honda, or even my business or a local hair salon re-opened in two or four weeks without making any adaptations to how the risk of COVID transmission is controlled; how will we have made progress against this disease?

 

The saying “time heals all wounds” has never resonated with me.  Time doesn’t heal all wounds; but time does offer us the opportunity to prepare for what is coming at  us next.  We know that the economy will have to resume prior to COVID being completely eradicated.  The question is – what will we as a community do to mitigate the risk of another peak of infection as we make that return to the new normal?

 

There is no question that children will have to return to school; I am less concerned about when that happens than I am about what the plan is to keep them safe and healthy once they are there.  We have the example of how Taiwan has made this work; kids wearing masks and having plastic cubicle style dividers between desks during meals.  Will we use this time to learn from their example and adapt our own action plan for what is required to be in place prior to resuming their in class education?  My hope is that we do. 

 

The Cambridge Chamber of Commerce is starting to gather experts and business owners to start this discussion.  I am proud to be a part of this discussion; I look forward to learning and planning together with others to determine how we as a business community can plan to get back to business.  This is new territory for everyone – consumers, business owners, employees, politicians, government, youth and seniors.  If we can agree on the supports that are needed to re-open in a safe manner, the time spent until that happens can be spent planning and making the required changes to how we do business to accommodate the new reality we live in.  If as a community we neglect this opportunity to plan and adapt, we are destined to repeat this cycle of the pandemic again in the not so distant future.

 

This is work that our Chambers of Commerce, professional associations, industry associations, regulatory bodies or governing standard registrars, perhaps the labour unions and school boards are well poised to do.  They have connections to business in their sector, a communication channel with a broad range of companies in a vertical market, and the support of their members.  If we all pressure these organizations in our own industries to get to work on our behalf, we can start planning for the future.

 

It’s time to change the question from “when can we re-open” to “what is required for a safe and healthy re-opening in my workplace to get through this crisis”?

 

Let’s get to work.

 

Kristen Danson

Managing Partner

MitoGraphics Inc. / Swift Components Corp

519 240-4205 Direct

 

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Never in the history of trade negotiations have we seen a country’s largest, most important business  association openly call its government’s trade proposals “dangerous” and say they should be withdrawn. That is exactly what the U.S. Chamber of  Commerce did yesterday.

 

Canada’s negotiators have done their very best in a challenging environment. They have reached out to Canadian people and business, they have extended a warm hand of friendship to their U.S. and Mexican counterparts and they have tabled sensible, generous proposals to improve NAFTA. But, we all have to prepare for the possibility that the U.S. will withdraw from NAFTA, based on the poisonous proposals U.S. negotiators have presented.

The craziest is a sunset clause that would terminate NAFTA after five years unless all three parties agree it should continue. Imagine the uncertainty of having all three countries debate the merits of trade every five years. How could anyone plan to build a factory with a useful life of 30 years? NAFTA would cease to exist for the purposes of long-term business investment.

 

The second troubling proposal concerns the rules of origin. Currently, 62.5% of a car or a truck must be produced in the U.S., Mexico or Canada for it to qualify for duty-free treatment under NAFTA. The U.S.’s proposal would require that 50% of the vehicle be produced in the U.S. This would be immensely harmful to the North American auto industry. It’s impossible to replace long-established multi-billion- dollar supply chains so most companies would simply pay the generally low U.S. tariffs. Manufacturers would then source more inputs from Asia.

 

The third concern is the administration’s proposal to eliminate Chapter 19, the process for dispute  settlement for anti-dumping and countervailing duties.
 
This comes at a time where the U.S. wants to impose a ludicrous 300% tariff on Bombardier jets, which is above even what Boeing had asked for. Chapter 19 is a critical safety net because it enables an independent, binational panel of five arbiters, agreed by both parties, to determine whether or not the duties have merit based on U.S. domestic laws. This is a must-have for Canada.

 

The final jaw-dropping proposal would drastically reshape NAFTA’s procurement rules. U.S. negotiators are proposing a “dollar for dollar” approach to North American procurement markets. That would mean “the total value of contracts the Canadians and Mexicans could access, together, couldn’t exceed the total value that U.S. firms could win in those two countries.” This is quite simply the worst offer ever featured in a trade agreement and is worse than basic access to government procurement offered under the WTO. Canada would be better off with no agreement at all than signing on to this nutty nonsense.

 

At the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, we salute the government’s efforts on NAFTA. The government has done everything possible: our negotiators have been outstanding, Minister Freeland and the entire Cabinet have invested enormous time in building relationships in the U.S., and the PM has invested his political capital and considerable charm to go to bat for NAFTA.

 

ut, if the U.S. administration is not serious about negotiating a mutually beneficial agreement, then we believe no deal is preferable to a bad deal. This is because a trade agreement will last many years. The Trump administration, we’re not so sure…

 

 

For more information, please contact:

Hendrik Brakel

Senior Director, Economic, Financial & Tax Policy

613.238.4000 (284) 

hbrakel@chamber.ca

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Leading tax practitioners say that business owners with income as low as $50K will be affected

 

Ottawa, September 27, 2017 – The Coalition for Small Business Tax Fairness, a unified voice of more than 70 organizations representing hundreds of thousands of business owners across the country, has written a new letter to Finance Minister Bill Morneau with professional analysis confirming that Ottawa’s tax proposals will affect middle-class business owners, resulting in higher tax rates than other Canadians with similar income levels.  

 

“We are alarmed by the huge gap between the government’s statements about the impact of their proposals and the detailed analysis by Canada’s tax professionals,” said Dan Kelly, President of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) and member of the Coalition. “Tax practitioners are united in the view that these changes have the potential to affect all small business taxpayers, no matter their income.”

 

"It is the farmers, mom and pop shops, and entrepreneurs, who invested everything into their businesses, that will be most affected by these changes, instead of targeting the real problem. The government needs to go back to the drawing board, hold a real consultation and listen to what tax professionals, provincial governments and the business owners who fuel the growth of our communities are saying," added Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

 

The government has claimed that these proposals would not affect business owners with incomes under $150,000. Tax practitioners disagree.

 

One of the new rules introduced by the government would restrict small business owners from sharing income with family members. Tax practitioners say that this can affect business owners with incomes as modest as $50,000. Also, as two-thirds of Canadian incorporated businesses are majority owned by men, the restrictions on sharing income with a spouse are likely to remove a disproportionately higher number of women from benefiting from their family’s business.

 

The government is also proposing changes that would discourage small business owners from holding certain types of investments in the incorporated company. According to tax practitioners, business owners retain business earnings in the corporation to safeguard against economic downturns, secure bank financing and invest in other start-up companies.

 

Tax practitioners have confirmed that the proposed tax changes would result in higher combined corporate and personal taxes for business owners across the board and in many cases, small business owners would incur tax rates far greater than what an employee with a similar level of income would pay. 

 

The Coalition, which has doubled in size since August 31, is asking the federal government to review carefully the analyses of tax professionals across the country, take these proposals off of the table, and launch meaningful consultations with the business community to address any shortcomings in tax policy.

 

The Coalition for Small Business Tax Fairness is encouraging business owners and other concerned Canadians to contact their Members of Parliament and use the hashtags #unfairtaxchanges #taxesinéquitables on social media. For the full list of Coalition members, please visit smallbiztaxfairness.ca.  

 

For media enquiries or interviews, please contact:

Andy Radia
Media Relations Specialist
647-464-2814

 

What some are saying:

 

“The agriculture equipment manufacturing sector represents 12,000 Canadians and their families predominantly in rural areas; as entrepreneurs who have put their lives on the line to invest in and grow their family business, the sector consistently exports more than $1.8 billion of farm equipment to over 150 countries. The scope and complexity of the proposed tax changes puts a lot of this at stake, and we must fight to ensure that fairness prevails for our members.” — Leah Olson, President, Agricultural Manufacturers of Canada

 

“Franchisees are the backbone of the communities they serve, by employing people of all backgrounds, supporting local initiatives, and helping grow the economy. As business owners, they assume significant risk, but have been able to achieve success through hard work and support from family members. Simply stated, CFA believes the changes being proposed by the Minister will hurt Canadian franchisees.” — Ryan J. Eickmeier, Vice President, Government Relations & Public Policy, Canadian Franchise Association

 

“The residential construction and renovation industry has always largely consisted of family-run businesses that help build the communities they operate and live in, many over several generations. These are hard-working Canadians trying to earn a middle-class living, hire local workers, and create a future for their families. The government’s proposed tax changes threaten the very existence of these businesses, posing a threat to small local companies in every community and the jobs they create.” —Kevin Lee, CEO, Canadian Home Builders’ Association

 

“We look forward to working with the Minister of Finance to ensure that any changes help secure the future of agriculture and not hinder it.” — Mark Wales, Chair of the Canadian Horticultural Council’s Business Risk Management Committee

 

“We are fully supportive of the government’s pledge to advance evidence-based policy-making. Our members are concerned that the government’s proposed changes to small business taxes are not sufficiently informed by the level of research, analysis and consultation required to ensure a full appreciation of the impacts this will have on Canadians - not just entrepreneurs and small business owners but also on the overall health of the Canadian economy and competitiveness in the short and long term.” — Leigh Harris, Vice Chair (Interim) National Board of Directors, CMC-Canada

 

“Canadian business families are scared, confused, and demoralized. Years of planning for business succession will potentially go up in smoke! And we’re being called tax cheats along the way. Canada can do better, we must do better—our economy depends on it.”— Allen S. Taylor, Chair, Family Enterprise Xchange

 

“These egregious proposed tax changes would negatively impact the family farm in ways that are both profound and complex. The federal government needs to reverse course on their ill-advised tax hike attack on our middle-class family farms. — Levi Wood, President of the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association, grain farmer

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Letter Sent to the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce Membership

 

The federal government's recent small business tax proposal is punitive and will have damaging effects on business communities in Ontario and across the country.Over the summer, the federal Finance Department has made it clear that it intends to make the most sweeping changes to business taxes in 50 years.These proposed changes will negatively impact tens of thousands of businesses by raising taxes, reducing incentive for private investment, increasing administrative burdens, and making it even more difficult for a business to be transferred from one generation to the next.

 

Family businesses and family farms are being touted as tax cheats by the Federal Government. Although, they have walked that back - the fact is they have described legitimate and legal use of the tax laws are wrong and most commonly referred to as a loophole. This is not only ignorance of what it takes to build a successful business, but makes Canada the only country in the world to impose such punitive tax measures on small business. It is clear, this government has no respect for business, especially the locally owned family business.

 

The immediate reaction from our members and businesses across Canada was negative. We are particularly worried about the effects of the proposed tax changes for small and medium sized businesses - who are essential to our thriving local business community. We encourage local businesses to contact our  MP to provide feedback on the possible changes.

 

Bryan May, M.P., Cambridge & North Dumfries
534 Hespeler Road (Main Office)
Suite A4
Cambridge, Ontario N1R 6J7
Telephone: 519-624-7440 Fax: 519-624-3517 

Bryan.May@parl.gc.ca

 

Marwan Tabbara, M.P. Kitchener South - Hespeler
153 Country Hill Drive (Main Office)
Suite 2A
Kitchener, Ontario N2E 2G7
Telephone: 519-571-5509 Fax: 519-571-5515 

 Marwan.Tabbara@parl.gc.ca

 

 As an organization, we support reasonable attempts to reduce tax evasion or loopholes. However, these changes are insulting to businesses that have worked within the rules in good faith to build their businesses, to save for retirement, and sometimes just to keep their doors open.

 

Small Business is Too Big To Ignore and we need to demonstrate this with one voice.  

 

If you're not a small business owner but work for one, ask Mr. May and Mr. Tabbara to protect YOUR job by supporting small business entrepreneurs in Cambridge.

 

SIncerely,

 

Greg Durocher

Cambridge Chamber of Commerce

President/CEO 

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