Chamber Talks Energy, Small Business with the MPP
On May 25th, members of the local business community joined in a “Discussion with the MPP” as the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual breakfast our local member of provincial parliament. SSMCOC Executive Director, Rory Ring led the 45 minute discussion which was followed by questions from the audience.
Much of the discussion centered around a number of high profile legislative issues that have posed significant concern to the business community including the high cost of electricity, the ORPP, Cap & Trade and accessible broadband. These and other issues have become the key influencers of the Chamber’s “Small Business Too Big To Ignore” campaign, a six month campaign intended to highlight the important contributions of small business to our economy and communities, and actively engage small business across the province in in the top barriers to small business growth.
Ring congratulated the MPP on a number of recent funding announcements including Sault College and the SSM Innovation Centre. The MPP stressed the importance of maintaining training and innovation in the North and pointed to the Northern Ontario School of Medicine as a good example of the cumulative effects of investing in training opportunities in the North and specifically on the impact that NOSM has had in reducing the number of residents who previously did not have access to a family doctor.
Speaking on the ORPP, the MPP noted that in response to concerns voiced by business, including concerns voiced by Ontario’s Chamber network, the government has extended the phase-in period, beginning in 2018 through 2021 based on the number of employees, but maintains that the ORPP is needed as the majority of Ontarians are not saving enough and that the federal Canada Pension Plan is falling short of the needs of retirees. He also noted that the cost to employers will also be partially offset by reductions in EI and WSIB premiums.
The MPP took an opportunity to address concerns related to an un-released green plan from the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change. He noted that the government remains committed to $230 million in initiative to bring natural gas to Northern and rural Ontario and suggested that natural gas will not be phased out “anytime soon”.
The MPP also welcomed news that the northern Ontario Chambers of Commerce are currently planning a “Northern Advocacy Day” at Queens Park, which will put the spotlight on the challenges faced by northern Ontario business as well as the significant opportunities available.
The May 25th breakfast with the MPP concludes that Chamber’s annual business breakfast series with Sault Ste. Marie elected representatives. The Chamber hosted its breakfast with Mayor Christian Provenzano in February followed by its breakfast with MP Terry Sheehan in March.