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2017 Federal Budget underwhelming for Ontario’s business community

Ontario Chamber of Commerce encouraged by focus on skills development, but calls for increased investment in trade-enabling infrastructure

Toronto, ON, March 22, 2017: The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) welcomes the Government of Canada’s decision to focus on skills and innovation, announced in today’s 2017 Federal Budget. Overall, with the Budget delivering underwhelming implications for Ontario’s business community, the OCC is calling on the federal government to enhance investment in trade-enabling infrastructure.

While Ontario’s business community recognizes the critical importance of social infrastructure investment, the traditional infrastructure deficit across Canada remains a troublesome issue. Increased spending must be directed towards the kind of trade-enabling infrastructure that can transition Ontario through to an innovative, high-growth economy. This type of infrastructure delivers a significant return on investment and responds to the need for Canadian goods in the global market.

“Infrastructure investment is critical to the economic health of Canada. As the federal government pursues laudable goals related to social programs, we ask that they do not neglect the need for investment in trade-enabling infrastructure,” said Graham Henderson, Chair of the OCC Board of Directors. “The quality of our nation’s infrastructure directly contributes to the productivity of our workforce.”

For years, OCC members have been citing a lack of appropriately skilled workers as a primary roadblock to success. Investing in the development of Canadians’ skills is essential to ensuring our country’s global competitiveness and is critical to our transition to an innovation economy. The OCC applauds the federal government for addressing the skills mismatch that currently exists within Canada, however today’s budget does not address the barriers to bringing in global talent.

The OCC is encouraged by the Budget’s increased funding for work-integrated learning, which aligns with the OCC’s policy priorities for 2017. The continued prosperity of the province will be highly dependent on the success of policy measures designed to capitalize on the increased demand for a creative, flexible, highly-skilled workforce.

“Addressing the current skills gap is essential to creating a sustainable workforce that is ready to take on the new innovation economy,” added Henderson. “By providing support to help Canadians skill-up, the federal government is making a direct investment in the future of Ontario’s economy and assisting the province in positioning itself as a competitive player on the global stage.”

While the OCC applauds the federal government for its focus on skills, innovation and infrastructure investment, Ontario’s fiscal gap remains an unaddressed challenge in the relationship between Parliament Hill and Queen’s Park.

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Media Contact:
Michelle Kelly
Senior Communications Manager
Ontario Chamber of Commerce
T: 647.243.3556
E: michellekelly@occ.ca

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