Northeastern Ontario to see small rebound despite challenges: report

Date ArticleType
2/7/2017 Press Release

The economy of northeastern Ontario is projected to see a small rebound through 2018 despite ongoing challenges, according to Ontario Economic Report 2017, issued today by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Timmins Chamber of Commerce.

As a new annual document designed to shape and inform public policy, the Ontario Economic Report (OER) features not only projections about the region’s outlook – as conducted by Central 1 Credit Union – but also the results of a business confidence survey, as well as a business prosperity index. Combined, the data from these documents demonstrate broad challenges faced by Ontario’s economy, businesses, and consumers in 2017.

The OER suggests that a positive outlook for forestry, construction, transportation and accommodation sectors will help offset negative factors such as continued outmigration, staffing challenges, and rising energy rates.

“Businesses in the northeast – and Timmins in particular – are seeing some cautious growth, despite their grave concerns about the regulatory burden in Ontario,” says Christine Bender, president of the Timmins Chamber of Commerce.

“Our businesses face higher electricity costs and further distance to markets, and their success in face of these challenges certainly speaks to their resilience and their determination.”

The OER points out that these successes are being achieved despite considerable challenges: increased costs associated with production of goods, as well as regulation and housing have resulted in weak market and labour force activity. As a result, the report says that many manufacturing businesses across Ontario are operating in a risk-averse environment in which they are disinclined to grow production by investing or hiring. Manufacturers in the Northeast region, however, are tentatively anticipating a positive year despite these challenges, according to the OER.

This is reflected by the broader economic outlook data, which further reveals the unemployment rate in the Northeast economic region will continue to drop, from 7.2 percent in 2016 to a projected 6.7 percent in 2017. This is the result of the rise in the labour force in the face of negative net migration, which is projected to be higher in the northeast than in any other economic region of Ontario.

The median residential price is also expected to jump 2.7 percent to $193,000, though Timmins specifically is identified as having lower projected housing sales than other areas of the northeast.

“Our research shows that Ontario’s economic climate is posing challenges to the businesses we represent and Ontarians more broadly,” said Allan O’Dette, President and CEO of the OCC. “Investment is being held back because of a high perception of risk. We need immediate action in order for our province to continue to grow and prosper.”

This is a trend that is felt by individual firms, according to the results of the OER’s business confidence survey. While only 24 percent of businesses indicated any confidence in Ontario’s economic outlook, nearly two-thirds

were confident about their own organization’s outlook. Of those, medium and large firms have higher rates of confidence than smaller businesses, of which only 41 percent anticipate increasing their revenue or workforce in 2017.

“For many years, the voice of Ontario business has cautioned that regulatory burdens, high input costs, and government policies not attuned to innovation have hampered economic growth,” added O’Dette. “The findings in the OER reinforce this, and indicate that there are also structural issues impeding our province’s potential.”

To address these issues, the OER also highlights specific policy issues that the Ontario Chambers intends to focus on in 2017 – namely workforce development, infrastructure, and health care. It will also place a major focus on energy rates, and has asked the Timmins Chamber of Commerce to partner with it as it examines the issue throughout the coming year.

To view the full Ontario Economic Report 2017, visit www.tinyurl.com/OER2017

To view the Economic Analysis of Ontario by Central 1 Credit Union, visit www.tinyurl.com/OER2017-Analysis

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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.

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