Local businesses facing many challenges: Chamber of Commerce president

Strategic measures including affordable housing and buy local programs are needed to support businesses through challenging times, the president of the Chamber of Commerce Brantford Brant says.

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“Businesses across the city and county are being faced with inflationary pressures, fluctuating consumer spending, succession planning issues and labor challenges which are hampering their growth and recovery,” Chris Rayfield said in a statement Wednesday.

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“This underscores the critical need for government to implement targeted and strategic measures to support businesses through policies such as tax reforms, buy local programs, workforce development and affordable housing.”

Rayfield’s comments follow the release of the eighth annual Ontario Economic Report by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. The report, released earlier this week, includes a business confidence survey, provincial economy analysis and a regional economic outlook. It also covers issues related to supply chains, employee well-being, diversity, equity and inclusion, economic reconciliation, and climate change.

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The report found that high inflation, interest rates and housing costs continue to drive pessimism in Ontario’s economic outlook.

Other findings of the report include:

  • Small businesses are less confident (12 per cent) than larger businesses (22 per cent) due to challenges with repaying debt, fluctuations in consumer spending, inflationary pressures, and workforce-related challenges such as mental health.
  • Simplifying business taxes is identified as a major policy priority of 50 per cent of businesses surveyed.
  • Confidence in Ontario’s economic outlook varies considerably across industries and is lowest within the agriculture sector (3 per cent), non-profit (8 per cent), health care and social assistance (8 per cent), and retail (10 per cent) sectors .
  • Confidence is highest in the province’s mining (46 per cent) and utilities (27 per cent) industries, both of which benefited from strong growth and investments in the province’s electrification infrastructure and electric vehicle supply chains.
  • Businesses in Northeast and Northwest Ontario exhibit the confidence highest at 23 per cent, where the mining industry is a major employer.
  • Many Ontario businesses surveyed remain confident about the future with 53 per cent expecting to grow.

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