Small businesses face big problems, says Ontario Chamber report

Date ArticleType
10/18/2016 Press Release

Timmins, ON | October 18, 2016—Small businesses are key to Ontario’s economy but face significant challenges in the form of energy rates, workforce gaps, and infrastructure funding, according to a new report released yesterday by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) in partnership with the Timmins Chamber of Commerce.

Marking the beginning of Small Business Week 2016, the release of Obstacles and Opportunities for Small Business in Ontario highlights the contributions of small businesses to the provincial economy, while also offering 16 solutions to the most pressing challenges that small business owners face.

“The rising cost of doing business in Ontario and the struggle to find qualified workers continue to be major obstacles to small business growth in Timmins,” says Timmins Chamber President Chris Bender.

“Our members have increasingly identified these as their most pressing concerns, and this report makes it clear that these issues are shared throughout the province. As such, it is crucial for government to work with business to reduce operational costs and support growth in our region.”

Addressing these issues is crucial, says Bender, given that the report also highlights that businesses with fewer than 100 employees make up 98 percent of total Ontario businesses and two-thirds of private sector employment in Ontario. They contribute approximately 28 percent to the provincial GDP and created 87.7 percent of the new jobs nationally from 2005 to 2012.

Energy rates continue to be identified as a major obstacle in the report, with 33 percent of small businesses in Ontario saying that rising prices will have a large impact on their organization, causing them to delay or cancel planned investments. To help address the issue, the report urges the province to ensure affordable energy use by allowing more small businesses to participate in conservation and savings programs, expediting the elimination of the Debt Retirement charge, and providing more transparency around the Global Adjustment portion of bills.

Workforce issues are also identified in the report as having a major impact on small business: 39 percent of employers have been unable to fill a job in the last year and a half because they were unable to find someone with the appropriate qualifications -- up 11 percentage points since 2014. Among others, the report recommends implementing competitive apprenticeship ratios, ensuring small businesses have access to funding for training programs, and developing a single access point for all government-funded workforce, training, and employment services.

The report’s recommendations are the result of detailed consultations that 25 chambers of commerce and boards of trade held with hundreds of small business owners over the course of six months as part of the OCC’s Small Business Too Big To Ignore campaign.

“Small businesses in Ontario are being held back by a diverse set of challenges that need to be addressed by all three levels of government.” said Allan O’Dette, President and CEO of the OCC. “We are encouraging the provincial government to implement our report’s recommendations so that we can ensure that our economy will have sustained economic growth for many years to come.”

The OCC is urging the provincial government to work closely with the employer community to implement the report’s recommendations, which will feature prominently in the OCC’s work leading up to the 2018 provincial election. At that time, the advocacy organization will evaluate the political platforms of each party with a particular consideration as to how their campaign commitments align with the interests of small business owners in Ontario.

To view the report, visit

About the Timmins Chamber of Commerce

With 700 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.

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