Submitted By: Muskoka Lakes Chamber of Commerce
According to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s (OCC) Ontario Economic Report (OER), Ontario business confidence has dropped to a record low in 2023. Labour shortages, inflation, health care system vulnerabilities, and fears of a potential economic contraction are dampening confidence in the province’s economic outlook. All is not lost though. The Economic Report also showed Muskoka businesses remained optimistic about their own growth and prospects. Still, conditions need to improve for Muskoka and all of Ontario. To address these issues, the Muskoka Lakes Chamber of Commerce and OCC’s 2023 Provincial Budget Submission provides recommendations to foster an environment that supports long-term, sustainable economic growth.
“We would like to see measures in Ontario’s 2023 budget that support economic growth in our region in a way that helps us fill jobs, cut red tape, and bolster prosperity for all our businesses,” said Randy Heyd, Muskoka Lakes Chamber Chair. “Our Chamber met recently with provincial ministries to suggest solutions, and we encourage the province to keep listening to Muskoka-specific concerns and to implement budget initiatives to support growth in Muskoka Lakes.”
OCC’s 2023 Provincial Budget Submission provides recommendations to the Government of Ontario under the following categories: Sustainable Growth, Complete Communities, and Modernization. Some key proposals include:
- Fostering an inclusive workforce and addressing labour market challenges by supporting innovative training and education models, boosting immigration, making regional immigration pilots permanent, continuing to remove barriers to labour mobility and foreign credential recognition, and adopting supplier diversity programs to create opportunities for entrepreneurs and businesses that support diversity and inclusion.
- Strengthening health system capacity and resilience by continuing to tackle the health human resources crisis, combating growing rates of mental health and addictions challenges, supporting the aging population, and continuing to address the backlog of surgeries and routine immunizations, as well as deferred cancer treatments, diagnostics, and procedures.
- Investing in growth-enabling infrastructure by continuing to accelerate broadband rollout across the province, building affordable housing and complete communities, expanding regional transportation connectivity, and investing energy distribution infrastructure to support long-term growth and resiliency.
- Modernizing government services and regulations by building an integrated health data system, bolstering interprovincial trade, improving supply chain infrastructure and public sector procurement processes, and lowering administrative burdens on business.
“A sustainable and predictable path forward will help restore business confidence, attract investments, and make Ontario more competitive on the global stage,” said Rocco Rossi, President and CEO, OCC. “With higher interest rates, governments should maintain fiscal prudence. However, as the province has locked in low long-term rates, the cost of servicing the province’s public debt should not grow significantly as a portion of the budget. Eliminating the debt need not take priority over growth-enabling investments.”
The recommendations outlined in the OCC’s budget submission were developed with businesses, associations, post-secondary institutions, and chambers of commerce and boards of trade from across the province.
Read the 2023 Provincial Budget Submission HERE.