The 2015 federal election is arriving just as the Province of Ontario is showing signs of economic growth. Since this time last year, the province has added 67,000 jobs and leads all North American sub-national regions in attracting foreign investment – a main reason why Ontario is the leading province for economic activity across Canada. With the federal election fast approaching, many Canadian citizens and businesses will focus on maintaining a growing economy which supports small businesses from coast to coast. Ontario presents one of the most important economies of the nation and will have an increased impact on the results of the coming election. As identified in the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) publication “Federal Priorities for the Ontario Economy”, the next elected federal government needs to take note of a few key issues that will enable the Ontario to keep growing and remain prosperous into the future.
Principles and Policies for the Next Canadian Federal Government
The OCC has identified several wide-reaching principles that the government must follow to best serve the needs of Canadians and especially those in Ontario. In addition to these policies, the report outlines several policies, or actionable items that the federal government needs to accomplish to enable business success. Some of the most important policies include:
Distribute Economic Development Funds on a Principled Basis
Although Ontario is one of the top recipients of funding, it does not receive as much economic development funding in relation to other provinces and territories, such as Quebec. In 2012, the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) was provided with $17.61 per capita. This can be compared to the budget for Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions, which was given $37.16 per capita – well more than double that of southern Ontario, one of Canada’s most thriving economic centres. Providing economic development funding on a principled, fair basis will enable the Ontario economy to further thrive and support businesses.
Allocate Infrastructure Funds on a Per Capita Basis
Likewise, Ontario does not receive a proportional allocation of funding for infrastructure development. A federal per capita allocation of funds would enable the Province Ontario to access an additional $1 billion for the construction and maintenance of roads and bridges. While this assists all Ontarians, the reduction of traffic congestion would save businesses up to $6 billion per year in lost productivity and revenue opportunities. While the Province of Ontario has committed to providing $130 billion in infrastructure over the next 10 years, the Canadian government has committed to $2.72 billion over the same timeline. Increasing federal funding would enable Ontario business to thrive and grow the country’s economy.
Improve the Manufacturing Sector’s Connections to Canada and the World
The manufacturing sector, which employs 800,000 Ontario citizens, is a key element of the province and country’s economy. With every $1 invested in Ontario manufacturing, $3.50 in economic activity results. Manufacturing is also beneficial for stimulating research and development activities which provides innovative solutions for the government and other businesses across the country. Business innovation has remained relatively stalled across Canada as compared to other developed nations, so aiding manufacturers is largely seen as the best way to increase national innovation. Among other ways to do this, the federal government should aim at eliminating barriers to internal trade and address issues such as regulation, currency manipulation, product standards, and increasing trade agreements.
Begin to Pay Down Federal Debt
The Canadian government currently spends nearly $30 billion per year in servicing their debt. The country’s $660 billion in debt has slowly risen over the last 10 years and continues to climb year over year. The cost of debt servicing could be used in much more productive ways that supports businesses and citizens throughout the country. As the country balances its fiscal position and then begins to pay off its debt, investor confidence will rise and the Canadian economy will become further strengthened.
Canadian Government Funding for Small Businesses
Although OCC identifies the province as receiving a proportionately low amount of economic development funds as compared to other areas of Canada, there are still a several funds which businesses can access to further enhance productivity and complete strategic projects. Businesses may be interested in programs such as:
The Canada Ontario Job Grant (COJG) is a federal government grant funding program which uses provincial variants to better serve the needs of businesses across the country. COJG provides up to $10,000 (66% of eligible third-party training costs) per employee trained. Eligible applicants must show benefits that training provides to employees in the form of job creation, wage increases, layoff avoidance, or title promotions.
The Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) is an umbrella of government funding programs, intended to directly supporting innovative research. One of the many IRAP programs will allow you to conduct research and implement a plan to solve technical problems. Businesses may be eligible to receive up to $50,000-$150,000 in grant funding to cover the cost of research and development activities.
Connect with the Canadian Government Funding Experts
Mentor Works enables businesses across the country to leverage Canadian government funding for strategic projects. View our list of government grants and loans to see which programs may assist your business become more competitive. Have a question about funding or wish to get started in obtaining government grants for small business? Contact Mentor Works today and one of our government funding experts will assist you every step of the way. You can also stay up to date on all of the best news on Ontario government funding by following us on Twitter or liking our Facebook page.