• Developing Policy to Take to Queen’s Park

    Each year, the London Chamber of Commerce through its Government Affairs Committee and its Board of Directors, develops policies to advocate for on behalf of the business community. When these policies are provincial in scope, they are debated at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s (OCC) AGM and Convention to determine whether they will become part of the OCC’s Policy Compendium. This compendium is the playbook that the OCC uses when it lobbies for the business community in Queen’s Park. 

     

    This year, the OCC AGM and Convention is taking place in Brampton from April 29th to May 1st and will be attended by London Chamber CEO, Graham Henderson and VP, Public Affairs, Kristen Duever

     

    In total, there are 34 policies that have been submitted by chambers across the province which will be debated at the event. Of those, two have been developed right here at the London Chamber. 

     

    The policies submitted by the London Chamber are: 

     
    1. Supporting Ontario’s achievement of 2030 emissions reduction target, and setting us on a path to net-zero in 2050
    2. Principles to assist the unskilled workforce
     

    In Support Ontario’s achievement of of 2030 emissions reduction target, we point out that Ontario requires a diversified and integrated energy solution to decarbonize the energy sector to meet net zero targets in a cost-effective manner for businesses. Focusing on electrification as the singular approach to decarbonizing Ontario’s economy limits flexibility and choice in how we may achieve net zero goals and will leave Ontarians vulnerable to escalating energy costs. 

     

    We recommend that the Government of Ontario: 

     

    1. Keep energy affordable for Ontarians by: 

    a. Ensuring the pace of energy transition is balanced to recognize the capacity of Ontario and businesses to pay for the increased costs of decarbonization, particularly coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

    b. Recognizing that decarbonizing the gas system is an affordable, market-ready option that does not require families and businesses to replace their heating systems and avoids the need to build new electricity generation infrastructure to serve the increased load 

     

    2. Help Ontarians conserve energy by leveraging and building on the success of current energy conservation programs to help businesses and residents reduce their energy demands. 

     

    3. Adopt an integrated, diversified pathway to decarbonize our energy systems that includes; 

    a. Formalizing inclusion of the gas system perspective in future energy system and distribution system planning, as this ensures the existing infrastructure is leveraged and helps to enable the reliable delivery of least cost low carbon energy solutions to rate payers. 

    b. Policies that enable the blending of RNG and hydrogen into the existing natural gas system. 

    c. Programs that encourage the adoption of natural gas and electrical hybrid heating and cooling systems at the time of equipment replacement, as this provides consumers the opportunity to take immediate action to decrease their GHG footprint, and the ability to fuel switch according to their economic means. 

    d. A focus on Carbon Capture, including: 

    • Revising the Oil, Gas, and Salt Resources act so as not to prohibit the exploration and development of carbon dioxide storage in underground geological formations. For some industrial facilities, electrification of processes may not be practical and retrofitting equipment to capture CO2 may be the lowest cost means of decarbonizations. 

    • Policies that support the deployment of carbon capture equipment at existing hydrogen production facilities in Ontario, as this represents an economic means of building a lowcarbon supply of hydrogen in Ontario. A study should be undertaken to understand the operational and economic impacts that may arise from deploying carbon capture systems at gas-fired power plants in Ontario.

     

    In Principles to assist the unskilled workforce, we recognize that for those who are chronically unemployed or underemployed, some of the current provincial government programs supporting that market can appear too rigid in areas of: reporting metrics, targeted skill sets, and focused on immediate wins. We are suggesting that programs be introduced or adapted in partnership with business, broadly oriented (not tied to narrow industry or role definitions) and have long term incentives for formerly displaced employees to stick with it. 

     

    We recommend that the Government of Ontario: 

     

    1. Embed the following three core principles in developing programs geared to transitioning an unskilled workforce to semi-skilled workforce: 

    a. Employer driven – The funding should be allocated in partnership with local employers that help to drive and deliver skills training that is directly tied to in-demand jobs in the area with a view to have government facilitating the program and employers driving the curriculum. 

    b. Broad based – While extra energy should be provided to support those with explicit barriers to gaining employment, there should be programs that are open to all people that are displaced from a full time job or working part time and looking to upskill. 

    c. Long-term results focused incentives – To incentivise the transition from long-term unemployment to gainfully employed. There should be incentives for employees that maintain long term employment coming out of the program (e.g. a tax credit at the 2 and 5 year mark sufficient to drive an incentive to remain part of the work force after an extended period of absence and with safeguards to avoid abuse). The incentive should not be tied to a specific employer, but rather a period of continued employment (allowing for reasonable industry driven work patterns).

     

    To read these policy papers in their entirety and all 34 papers that will be debated at the upcoming AGM and Convention, click here