Timmins Chamber cautiously supports 2013 provincial budget


Date:  5/3/2013
ArticleType:  Press Release

TIMMINS, May 3, 2013—The Northern Ontario business climate may see some improvements as a result of the 2013 provincial budget, despite the lack of several key items, according to the Timmins Chamber of Commerce.

The May 2 presentation of the 2013 provincial budget by Finance Minister Charles Sousa proposed several items relevant to the Timmins area, including:

• Extending capital cost allowance for manufacturers’ machinery and equipment for $265 million over three years;

• Creation of a new fund for Northern municipalities to address roads, bridges and other critical infrastructure, to be made permanent in the next budget.

• More than $35 billion in infrastructure spending over three years;

• Plans to eliminate the deficit by 2017-2018;

• Investment of $295 million over two years in creating jobs for 30,000 young people

• Continued commitment to improving support for Aboriginal loans, infrastructure

“Although there are some glaring omissions, the proposed budget features some positive items for Timmins-area businesses, and indeed for the provincial business climate as a whole,” said Art Pultz, president of the Timmins Chamber of Commerce.

“The move to improve job accessibility for youth is a particularly important item at a time where businesses across the North are already struggling with considerable workforce issues. Further commitment to improving Northern infrastructure is equally welcome, and we certainly appreciate the efforts to allow further cost relief for manufacturers.”

This positive approach to enhancing workforce support is also present in the 2013 budget’s proposal to increase opportunities for Aboriginals to more fully participate in the provincial economy. This includes an additional $5 million per year to improve student achievement for Aboriginal students, as well a greater level of support for Aboriginal housing and youth strategies.

However, the budget failed to address key provincial issues that have begun to stand as a concern for the Timmins Chamber in recent years, said Pultz.

For instance, the 2013 budget failed to offer solutions to escalating energy prices, which are a major barrier to Ontario’s business competitiveness. Worse, the budget institutes the possibility of significantly hiking these prices by suggesting a review of the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit program, which reduces electricity prices by 10 per cent.

Additionally, transportation costs for business may see an increase as the budget proposes an elimination of the biodiesel tax exemption under the Fuel Tax Act. As well, the budget fails to declare any halt to the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission’s divestiture, though the associated development of a pan-Northern transportation strategy is certainly welcome.

“Despite some of the positive items in this budget, there are a number of issues that we sorely would have liked to see addressed,” said Pultz. “We sincerely hope that when it comes to providing improvement on topics such as energy pricing, the ONTC, and the Ring of Fire, the province will work with businesses and the affected communities on finding sustainable and competitive solutions.”

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About the Timmins Chamber of Commerce:
With over 800 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.

Contact:
Nick Stewart
Policy and Communications Director
Timmins Chamber of Commerce
(705) 360-1900
policy@timminschamber.on.ca