Chamber: Productivity Must Be Front And Centre In Ontario’s 2024 Budget


By: Ontario Chamber of Commerce / Muskoka Lakes Chamber of Commerce

2024 Provincial Budget Recommendations from the Muskoka Lakes Chamber and Ontario Chamber of Commerce

Ontario’s economic prosperity is threatened by inflation, infrastructure backlogs, regulatory barriers, skills gaps, and fears of a slowing economy. To address these challenges, chambers across Ontario, including the Muskoka Lakes Chamber, are sending a message to Queen’s Park ahead of the budget: close Ontario’s productivity gap.

The Ontario government tables its 2024 budget on March 26.

As part of its pre-budget submission, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC), which includes the Muskoka Lakes Chamber of Commerce (MLCC), is recommending the provincial government close Ontario’s productivity gap using a principled growth strategy.

“Businesses across our region continue to feel the effect of the pandemic,” said Muskoka Lakes Chamber Chair Randy Heyd, “and we fully support the Ontario Chamber’s 2024 Budget Submission. This budget comes at a critical point for our businesses and economy. It must lay the groundwork for strong economic growth, building the infrastructure and workforce of the future, and modernizing regulation to ensure Ontario can attract investment and nurture entrepreneurship.”

Key recommendations include:

  • Empowering Ontario’s workforce and addressing labour shortages by advancing upskilling and reskilling initiatives, and scaling evidence-based interventions to increase participation of equity-deserving groups in the labour market. “There’s a reason why our Chamber continues to generate awareness of the need for equity and diversity as demonstrated by our Inspiring Inclusion Women’s Day event last week,” added Heyd. “Showing we’re welcoming and inclusive is important to attracting a diversified workforce here.” The submission also calls for a more financially sustainable post-secondary education sector.
  • Cultivating business competitiveness and sustainable growth by improving access to private capital and credit for small businesses, removing barriers to interprovincial and international trade, and supporting key sectors such as clean energy, tourism and cannabis.

Muskoka Lakes Township should be applauded for its decision last month to now allow legal cannabis retail in Muskoka Lakes, noted Heyd.

  • Investing in resilient, healthy communities by tackling primary care and broader health human resource crises, combating growing rates of mental health and addiction challenges, and expediting the implementation of Ontario’s life sciences strategy. “On the ground here,” said Norah Fountain, Executive Director of the Muskoka Lakes Chamber,” we and our other Chamber colleagues have requested a direct meeting with Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare to suggest alternatives to present plans and potential ways business can help with our widening healthcare gap, particularly in Muskoka Lakes where we no longer have any doctor.”
  • Building strong foundations through infrastructure by leveraging partnerships to build and preserve affordable housing along the continuum, investing in energy generation, transmission, and distribution infrastructure, and continuing to accelerate broadband rollout across the province. “Fibre’s already installed in our communities yet there are barriers to us actually getting to it,” continued Fountain. “We’ve received assurances we’ll see it become offered in some communities starting in late May, and we continue to remind broadband providers that we can’t be left behind. Slow rollouts continue to impede our productivity: we must keep pushing.”

“In 2024 and beyond, productivity must be Ontario’s priority,” said Daniel Tisch, President and CEO of the OCC. “Capital will flow where productive capacity is highest, and we want it to flow to Ontario. That’s why the budget must focus on policies that support immediate growth while investing in an educated workforce, long-term infrastructure, and healthy, sustainable communities.”

Recommendations outlined in the OCC’s budget submission were developed in consultation with businesses of all sizes, labour unions, postsecondary institutions, non-profit organizations, industry associations and close to 150 chambers of commerce and boards of trade, including the Muskoka Lakes Chamber.


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