Too few Ontario entrepreneurs able to scale up their business: report

Date ArticleType
4/22/2016 Press Release

Too few entrepreneurs are continuing to build their business, or “scale up”, in the province, according to a new report released by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Timmins Chamber of Commerce.

The report, Breaking Barriers: Ontario’s Scale Up Challenge, identifies the major roadblocks preventing Ontario businesses from expanding and presents recommendations to best support business owners in taking their ventures to the next stage of growth.

Based on a survey of over 350 Ontario business owners, and individual interviews with dozens more, the report calls for governments to work with the business community and others to create the conditions enabling the most promising firms to grow and expand.

Chief among the recommendations is the suggestion that governments improve businesses’ access to talent in the short term by creating a scale-up visa to quicken access to essential international managerial talent. According to an OCC survey, 63 percent of businesses that are looking to grow face a talent shortage – a theme that continues in the north, as Timmins Chamber members regularly report this issue as one of their largest barriers to growth.

“Insufficient access to skilled workers is an ongoing issue for businesses in our community,” said Kurt Bigeau, president of the Timmins Chamber of Commerce.

“As our members look to the future, they have told us time and time again that this problem is hampering their ability to explore and consider new opportunities for growth. While this is certainly a complex issue, we hope that the provincial and federal governments will continue to consider solutions that potentially can help our businesses and strengthen our economy.”

To position Ontario for long-term success, the report proposes another five recommendations to address specific barriers preventing businesses from growing, which includes gaps in the right kinds of financing, and lower incentives to growth offered through public programs.

The report also encourages governments to gain a better understanding of where current gaps exist in the Canadian financing landscape.

“The release of Breaking Barriers coincides with initiatives currently underway by the governments of Canada and Ontario to help our most promising firms scale up,” said Allan O’Dette, president and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC). “We have an incredible opportunity to leverage this alignment across government and the business community to tackle this challenge.”

Other recommendations of the report include:

  • Realign public programs and incentives to focus supports on high-growth firms
  • Encourage greater international trade activity by linking more business support programs to trade
  • Improve access to public and private anchor customers by leveraging procurement to strategically invest in growing businesses, and
    • Enable accurate measurement and monitoring of the scale up challenge by ensuring collaboration between Statistics Canada and industry groups to collect and publicize relevant data

    “Supporting the work of innovators and entrepreneurs across the country is integral to Canada’s future productivity and economic prosperity,” said Sean Mullin, executive director of the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship. “Canada and Ontario stand to benefit from focusing efforts on supporting our most promising new firms and helping them succeed on a global stage.”

    The OCC’s survey also revealed that the cost of doing business remains a top issue for Ontario employers as 69 percent of business owners looking to grow identified this as a barrier. Through its advocacy efforts on other key policy issues, the Timmins Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the OCC, continues to highlight the cost of doing business as a major challenge facing Ontario’s business community.

    To view the full report, visit


    About the Timmins Chamber of Commerce:

    With over 750 members, the Timmins Chamber of Commerce is one of the largest accredited chambers of commerce with distinction in northeastern Ontario. As the “Voice of Business in Timmins” since 1949, our advocacy and policy initiatives focus on ensuring a positive business climate in the City of Timmins.

    For more information:

    Nick Stewart
    Manager of Policy, Research and Communications
    Timmins Chamber of Commerce
    (705) 360-1900