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OCC Needs Your Voice

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce invited members to submit policy resolutions for debate at the 2009 Annual General Meeting and Convention, held at Hockley Valley Resort, Orangeville, on April 30 to May 2.

Made in Ontario, the Case for Tax Harmonization
Merging Ontario’s retail sales tax with the federal Goods and Service Tax would save businesses millions, attract foreign investment and put more money in the hands of consumers. A comprehensive report was recently released by the OCC on sales tax harmonization for Ontario outlining just that. Made in Ontario, The case for tax harmonization provides three illustrative scenarios on how harmonization could work in this province. The first is a simple harmonization of the PST with the GST. The remaining two provide possible exemptions that can be made, depending on the government’s preferences. Each model allows for tax relief for low income earners. The report also points out that all businesses in Ontario will benefit from reduced compliance and administrative costs, when they have one tax, not two taxes to deal with. Independent analysis estimate annual savings to business to be $100 million or more. Businesses also stand to benefit as a result of cheaper equipment and new plants. The OCC is encouraging the provincial and federal governments to work together to determine the best model for this province in order to position Ontario for economic growth. The OCC and the Chamber network have been advocating for smart tax policies for many years. Premier McGuinty responded to the report by stating that he “will take a serious look at the proposal” and other ideas that he “may not have been eager to embrace in the past to improve the province’s ailing economy.” The Premier also stated he would raise the matter with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

To view a copy of Made in Ontario, The Case for Sales Tax Harmonization please click on the following link: http://occ.on.ca/Policy/Reports/441

Major Milestone for New International Crossing in Windsor-Detroit Region
Construction for a new international crossing connecting Windsor-Detroit is one step closer to beginning. The Canada-US study team, the bi-national partnership in charge of the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) project, has received the go-ahead from the US government to take the first steps necessary to build the new international crossing on the US side, which includes acquiring necessary property. The bi-national study team is still awaiting the Canadian government’s approval to begin building the crossing on the Canadian side.

The OCC is pleased the project has been given the green light as the deadline to have the crossing completed by 2013 is quickly approaching. This major project will help create jobs in this region and the new bridge will provide a much needed second crossing at the busiest land border in the world. The Windsor/Detroit border crossing is the busiest between Canada and the U.S. Approximately 28 per cent of Canada-U.S. surface trade passes through Windsor- Detroit and over 80 per cent of all goods crossing the Detroit River are carried by truck. Traffic volumes crossing the tunnel have grown over the past 30 years at an average compound rate 2 per cent per year. The OCC’s report Cost of Delays to Ontario, states that delays at the border are already costing the Canadian and US economies $13.6 billion (CDN) annually, with Ontario capturing 38 percent, or $5.25 billion (CDN), of this cost. At present the majority of traffic in Windsor/Detroit flows through one crossing. This additional crossing is needed to increase capacity, meet increased long-term demand, improve system connectivity and customs operations capabilities as well as provide reasonable and secure crossing options in the event of incidents, maintenance, congestion or other disruptions. A critical challenge for this project has been the environmental assessment (EA) process. While the OCC is pleased that the Canadian portion of the EA process is currently underway, we encourage the Canadian and Ontario governments to follow the lead of their US counterparts to thoroughly and expeditiously assess the Canadian portion of this undertaking.

For further information please contact Sonia Mistry, Policy Analyst, soniamistry@occ.on.ca or 416-482-5222 ext. 240.

Public Comments Sought on Accessibility
Every business in Ontario will be affected by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) which became law in 2005. Since the passage of this legislation the government has struck several public-private sector committees to assist in developing standards (which will be turned into regulation) for the AODA. In late November the government released the initial proposed Accessible Information and Communications Standard for public review. These proposed standards outline how businesses and organizations may be required to provide “accessible” public information in various formats such as online, print, verbal and digital. This has serious time and financial implications for every business in Ontario, and may impact how you communicate to employees, clients, customers, suppliers and to all of your stakeholders.

Make It Your Business
The OCC will comment formally on the proposed standards and strongly encourages businesses, organizations and individuals to also get engaged in this important issue. This is your opportunity to provide input before the standard becomes law. It is imperative that the business community express any concerns or input it may have in regards to this standard during the public review period. Submissions are due to the Ministry on February 6. To view a copy of the proposed Accessible Information and Communications Standards and to find out how to submit your comments please click on the following link: http://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/mcss/english/pillars/accessibilityOntario/accesson/business/information

For further information please contact Mary Hogarth, Senior Policy Analyst, maryhogarth@occ.on.ca, or 416-482-5222 ext. 233.

Spotlight International
Canada and the OCC Focusing on India
In order to promote and give your business better access to the Indian market, Canada will open two new trade offices in Hyderabad and Ahmedabad by the spring. This was just one of the announcements that came out of a federal trade mission to India in late January. These new offices will join the six existing offices in New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai and Chandigarh. Canada sees India as a market of opportunity for the power, infrastructure, ICT, agriculture, agri-food, services, oil and gas, and aerospace and defence industries. Hyderabad, in India’s southern state of Andra Pradesh, is an information communications and technology (ICT) hotspot. It is actually rivaling Bangalore as the ICT capital of India. Ahmedabad meanwhile, is a commercial centre in the state of Gujarat, in western India. Gujarat is marked for handling most of India’s incoming cargo traffic. Canada’s nuclear industry was also promoted in India as Canada voiced interest in finalizing a bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement. This agreement will open the civil nuclear market for Canadian trade. Canada expects that India’s nuclear program could deliver a market worth $50 billion in the next 20 years. As well, Canada and India agreed that exploratory discussions into a comprehensive economic partnership agreement are to begin.

India is a priority market for Canada but also for the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC). The OCC will be leading a trade mission to India focusing on energy and infrastructure on March 28 – April 5. This mission aims to increase Ontario’s profile in India and introduce Ontario exporters to its tremendous opportunities.

For more information you may contact Lesley Cole, International Trade Consultant at lesleycole@occ.on.ca or 416-482-5222 ext. 239.