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Key Investments Remain Priority for Business Community Ahead of Budget 2019

April 5, 2019

Wendy Bretz


Ontario’s business advocate takes candid look at province’s $348 billion debt in latest report

(Windsor, ON) –  Yesterday, the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) released their most recent report, Accounting for Ontario’s Debt, offering a thoughtful and balanced analysis of the province’s debt. Ontario’s debt currently amounts to approximately 41 percent of the provincial GDP or, when combined with the federal debt of $680 billion, represents a near 80 percent debt-to-GDP ratio for Ontarians. With talk of looming provincial debt top of mind; this timely report examines what Ontario’s debt means for the economy of today and tomorrow. In a recent OCC survey, nearly 80 percent of respondent businesses stated they were concerned about the impact the provincial debt could have on Ontario’s economy. Managing the provincial debt has been a long-standing concern for the business community as Ontario’s fiscal health directly impacts the ability of business to remain competitive and capitalize on new opportunities. “As the province heads into a time of economic uncertainty, coupled with the possibility of rising interest rates, we urge the government to focus on balancing continued investments in economic development with putting the province’s finances on steady footing,” said Rocco Rossi, President and CEO, Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “Paying down the debt should not be at the risk of long-term economic growth or needed investments in infrastructure and services that will have a high return on taxpayer dollars, helping to bolster industry and our economy for generations to come. Our message in advance of Budget 2019 is about balance: accounting for our province’s debt in a reasonable manner while focusing on key investments and competitive taxation is critical to a stronger Ontario and competing on the global stage.”The report notes Ontario is in a unique situation when it comes to managing its debt. Ontario has the debt exposure of a national government yet does not have generous lending fundamentals afforded to the federal government. With a GDP of nearly $850 billion, the province accounts for nearly half of Canada’s GDP. This means Ontario cannot rely on the protection of the national government when embarking on investments which aim to drive economic growth and prosperity. That is why the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce and the OCC have long called for investments in areas such as transit and transportation, broadband internet, health care, skills and education, and trade promotion. These key investments will help grow the economy and allow businesses to flourish, jobs to be created, and, ultimately, Ontario to be more competitive and prosperous.

“The Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce encourages the Provincial Government to take steps to address the level of Ontario debt in a prudent way such that any measures do not adversely affect SMEs or limit investment in critical infrastructure, workforce development and growth supporting industries and services,” says Rakesh Naidu, WERCC President and CEO.

One thing is certain: government decisions in Budget 2019 regarding Ontario’s debt will have profound effects on industry and communities for years to come. When it comes to addressing the debt and deficit, the WERCC and OCC’s breakthrough report will act as a reference for debate and change as well as inform thoughtful, evidence-based policies with an eye towards fiscal balance and strategic spending. As the voice of business, the WERCC and the OCC will be working with leaders in government and the business community to help develop the necessary solutions in addressing Ontario’s debt challenge to drive forward a stronger and more competitive province.

Read the full report, Accounting for Ontario’s Debt here.


For more information contact:

Wendy Bretz, Communications Coordinator & Executive Assistant

Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce

(519) 966-3696 ext. 228