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Canadian Free Trade Agreement

Ontario Chamber of Commerce

2017 Federal Budget


Canadian Free Trade Agreement


The federal, provincial and territorial governments formally released the details surrounding the Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA). The announcement aligns with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s (OCC) continued advocacy for the removal of inter-provincial trade barriers to further enhance Ontario’s competitiveness. Inter-provincial trade makes up one-fifth of Canada’s GDP, a total of $385 billion.

Background on CFTA

In December 2014 a comprehensive renewal of the 1995 Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT) was launched with the aim of modernizing and strengthening Canada’s internal regulatory trade framework. In the summer of 2016, under the direction of Canada’s premiers and the federal government, an agreement in principle was reached on the Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA). Today the details of that agreement were released with the CFTA to enter effect July 1, 2017 replacing the previous AIT.

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Our Position

Ontario’s ability to trade with other provinces has historically been hindered by complex regulatory obstacles. The OCC has long advocated to ensure greater policy harmonization and cooperation in all areas of intergovernmental relations, specifically identifying the need for the removal of interprovincial trade barriers. In advance of the 2015 federal election, the OCC further championed the need to eliminate restrictions on internal trade and labour mobility within Canada. Today’s announcement of the Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) demonstrates significant progress towards the goal of removing restrictive barriers, and will serve to strengthen Ontario’s competitiveness while better enabling all Canadian businesses to grow.

Key Details of the Announcement


Comprehensive free trade rules

The CFTA replaces the existing AIT and will employ a “negative-list” approach, covering nearly all sectors of the economy. CFTA’s rules will automatically apply to almost all areas of economic activity in Canada, with any exceptions being clearly identified, meaning the default status of intra-provincial trade is “free”


Government procurement that is more open to Canadian business

The CFTA will implement a single electronic portal, which will make it easier for Canadian businesses, especially small and medium-sized companies, to find procurement opportunities across the country.


Alignment with international obligations

The CFTA will better align with Canada’s commitments under international trade agreements such as the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) which will reduce compliance costs for Canadian firms.


Resolving regulatory barriers

The CFTA will establish a regulatory reconciliation process to address regulatory differences across jurisdictions that act as a barrier to trade. The CFTA will also introduce a mechanism to promote regulatory cooperation, which will equip governments with the ability to develop common regulatory approaches for emerging sectors.


Next Steps: Enhancing interprovincial trade in the future

The CFTA creates several forward-looking processes and working groups to help strengthen Canada’s economic union into the future. This includes a commitment to establish a working group to evaluate options for liberalizing trade in alcohol, allows for future negotiations on the financial services sector, and includes a commitment to enhance the territorial food sector.


Questions or comments?
Contact Karl Baldauf, Vice President of Policy & Government Relations.

Ontario Chamber of Commerce


See the full copy of the CFTA

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2017 Federal Budget



2017 Federal Budget Analysis

Today, the Government of Canada tabled its 2017 Budget. What follows is a summary of the key highlights from Ontario’s business perspective.



  • Budget 2017 increases federal funding through the Labour Market Transfer Agreements by $2.7 billion over six years.
  • The Government also intends to establish a body that will collaborate with employers and other stakeholders across the country to identify skills gaps.
  • The Budget provides for more grants for adults who wish to return to school, more work-integrated learning placements for students and resources that increase flexibility for those individuals on Employment Insurance who also wish to pursue job training.

OCC Analysis

The spotlight placed on skills in Budget 2017 is an important acknowledgment from the federal government of one of the top concerns to the business community: finding the right people with the right skills. The critical importance of this issue to our members is why Skills & Workforce Development is one of the OCC’s key priorities for 2017. While the commitment to skills training in the budget is welcome, we urge the federal government to do more to tackle this issue through all appropriate tools and policy levers - including immigration, as discussed in Passport to Prosperity: Ontario’s Priorities for Immigration Reform



  • The Government intends to invest up to $950 million over five years in business-led “superclusters” that are driving innovation and have the potential to accelerate economic growth.
  • Budget 2017 also makes allowance for an additional $400 million in funding through the Business Development Bank of Canada over three years.
  • A new Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative, dedicated to increasing late stage venture capital, is also part of a plan to grow innovative start-ups.
  • Investments in Budget 2017 will support Canada’s earlier pledge to double its investments in clean energy research
  • The Budget overall is focused on key growth industries such as clean technology, agri-food and digital.

OCC Analysis

The OCC has placed an emphasis on clusters as a key feature of innovative, high-growth sectors, most recently in Adopting Our Advantage: Supporting a Thriving Health Sector in Ontario. In that report, we also called for improved venture capital funding, particularly to help innovative businesses surpass the commercialization valley of death, and then successfully scale.

Specifically, in our Federal Pre-Budget Submission, we called on the government to renew the Venture Capital Action Plan or to consider encouraging or incentivizing investment in this sector through a dedicated VCAP fund. The Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative is an important effort to address the need for this kind of funding among innovative Canadian entrepreneurs.

The recognition of agri-food as an innovative, key growth industry is welcome, as the OCC highlighted the importance of this sector in our recent report, Fertile Ground: Growing the Competitiveness of Ontario’s Agri-Food Sector.



  • Budget 2017 formalizes the creation of the Canada Infrastructure Bank which will be responsible for investing at least $35 billion over 11 years, using loans, loan guarantees and equity investment through public and private sector capital.
  • Through Canada’s Trade and Transportation Corridors Initiative government intends to invest $10.1 billion over 11 years to modernize Canada’s transportation system.
  • To advance Canada’s efforts to build a clean economy, the Government will invest $21.9 billion in green infrastructure, including initiatives that will support the implementation of the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change.
  • The federal government will invest more than $11.2 billion in a National Housing Strategy, which focuses on a range of initiatives designed to build, renew and repair Canada’s affordable housing stock. This also includes a 225 million dollar investment to improve social housing conditions for Indigenous Peoples not living on-reserve.


OCC Analysis

While we recognize the critical importance of investments in social infrastructure, Canada’s export economy relies upon its roads, ports, waterways, railways, airports and pipelines to move Canadian products and services to the markets of its trading partners.

As highlighted in the Ontario Economic Report, both the price and availability of appropriate shelter impacts the ability of Ontario business to attract global talent, reducing our competitiveness. Therefore, an investment in social infrastructure is essential to the business community. However, the OCC is concerned that not enough of the dedicated federal infrastructure spending will go towards the trade-enabling infrastructure that improves productivity and promotes economic growth.

In our Federal Pre-budget Submission, the OCC asked that the Government of Canada demonstrate a greater commitment to investment in trade-enabling infrastructure.The establishment of a Canada Infrastructure Bank is therefore a positive development, as alternative financing and funding of infrastructure is an important component of this commitment. Throughout 2017, the OCC will be actively engaged on this file through our Environment & Infrastructure policy program.

Previously, the OCC has called on the federal government to allocate infrastructure funds on a per capita basis, potentially increasing the amount of federal infrastructure funds Ontario receives by $1 billion every year. Like many of our concerns regarding the fiscal gap, this was unaddressed in the 2017 Budget.


Other notable announcements:

  • The federal government has formally reached new health funding agreements with the provinces and territories: $11 billion over 10 years, with dedicated funding for increasing home care and mental health resources. Budget 2017 provides for hundreds of millions of dollars in new funding.
  • The Budget provides funding for the launch of a new Development Finance Institution that will promote economic growth, create jobs, advance women’s economic empowerment and reduce poverty in areas where alternative financing is scarce.
  • Budget 2017 also includes further investment in the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy program, as well as funding for improved health care services, infrastructure investment (including housing), and increasing the capacity for self-government.

Questions or comments?
Contact Karl Baldauf, Vice President of Policy & Government Relations.

Read the Full 2017 Federal Budget


Read the OCC's media release

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Government Announces New Energy Strategy: Ontario's Fair Hydro Plan


Government Announces New Energy

Strategy: Ontario's Fair Hydro Plan


The Government of Ontario responded to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce's (OCC) call to support the growth of the provincial economy through the reduction of electricity rates. The Fair Hydro Plan will seek to mitigate the rising cost of electricity in Ontario. Expected to take effect in summer 2017, the Plan will provide an approximate savings of 17% (25% when including the previously announced 8% HST rebate) to consumer's hydro bills. Ontario's Fair Hydro Plan will also link future rate increases to the rate of inflation over the next four years and provide further rate relief to the province's most vulnerable citizens.


Key Details of the Announcement

1. Refinancing the Global Adjustment (GA)
The proposed plan will refinance the costs associated with the Global Adjustment (GA), providing immediate relief to consumers by “smoothing out” the payment of energy contracts over a longer time period. The Ontario government predicts that this refinancing will achieve an average of 17% savings for the individual ratepayer (25% when including the previously announced 8% HST rebate). The government intends to introduce legislation that would, if passed enable the Independent Electricity Operator (IESO) and Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to refinance the GA over a longer period of time, ultimately lowering the current cost paid by consumers. Under current forecasts, the immediate reduction in the GA would be approximately $2.5 billion per year on average over the first 10 years, with annual interest costs not exceeding $1.4 billion.

2. Helping Vulnerable Consumers
The Fair Hydro Plan includes initiatives to help Ontario’s most vulnerable consumers. The province plans to pass legislation to enable these new measures. Together these new initiatives will cost the government up to $2.5 billion over the next three years to be funded through provincial revenue. These initiatives include:

Broadening Rural or Remote Electricity Rate Protection (RRRP)
Currently, the RRRP provides a rate subsidy to rural/remote customers who are faced with higher distribution costs compared to urban areas. The new program will increase the number of qualifying customers from approximately 350,000 customers to 800,000 customers.

Enhancing the Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP)
The proposed OESP enhancement would see monthly credits increased by 50%, expanded to cover more low-income Ontarians and increase uptake to as close 100%.

First Nations On-Reserve Delivery Credit
The on-reserve credit will remove the monthly service charge for customers saving approximately 21,500 on-reserve First Nations a monthly amount of $85.

Establishing a New Affordability Fund
The proposed affordability fund will provide Local Distribution Companies (LDC’s) an additional tool to help customers in need. The province will work with Hydro One, in consultation with other LDC’s to establish a Trust to serve as the administrator of the Affordability Fund.

3. Enhancing Competitiveness for Small Manufacturers and Industrials
Due to our ongoing advocacy work, the OCC is pleased to see that the Fair Hydro plan will expand the Industrial Conservation Initiative (ICI) extending eligibility to small manufactures and industrials with an average peak demand of over 500 kilowatts.

Our Position

The OCC has repeatedly heard from Ontario's business community that energy rates are unsustainable. In fact, 51% of businesses ranked energy concerns among their top three policy priorities.

Once implemented, Ontario's Fair Hydro Plan will bring immediate relief to the business community by “smoothing” the GA rate over a longer time period and tying rate increases to inflation over the next four years. While this will alleviate challenges associated with the cost of electricity in the near-term, the Ontario Chamber Network advocates for further amendments to the province's energy strategy in order to ensure the long-term sustainability of our energy system.

Later this year, the OCC will release a report that will provide recommendations to further enhance the long-term sustainability of the energy sector

What’s Next?

As part of the Fair Hydro Plan, the OCC will partner with the Ministry of Energy to deliver a targeted outreach campaign to help business better understand and participate in provincial programs such as the ICI.
In spring 2017, the government is expected to release its Long-term Energy Plan. The OCC will continue to advocate for the reduction of input costs on businesses and looks forward to working with the government to deliver on its energy priorities. In addition, we encourage the government to continue to find ways to update provincial legislation in a way that supports Ontario's economic growth.






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OCC Pre Budget Submission


Ontario Chamber of Commerce Pre Budget Submission



The Ontario Chamber of Commerce made its Provincial Pre Budget Submission today. Your Brockville and District Chamber of Commerce is a proud member of the OCC (Ontario Chamber of Commerce)

The document makes recommendations to the Provincial Government to focus on four key areas

 1.  Fiscal prudence and budget management.

 2. Address the infrastructure deficit within the Province and Municipalities.

 3. Foster business competitiveness

 4. Improve conditions to allow Municipalities to thrive

We will continue to monitor and report on the upcoming budget from Minister of Finance Charles Sousa and welcome your comments.



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Ontario Economic Report



Ontario Economic Report




What is the Ontario Economic Report (OER) all about? The OER details the state of the province using innovative research published for the first time. The OER includes the Business Confidence Survey (BCS), the Business Prosperity Index (BPI), and the 2017 Economic Outlook.


What does the Business Confidence Survey (BCS) reveal? The data shows that there is a considerable confidence gap between our members’ organizational and provincial economic outlooks. This trend continues in 2017.

·        Day-to-day challenges: hiring and electricity costs are directly impacting their ability to invest and grow.  

·        Among those who attempted to recruit a new staff member in the past 6 months, only 14% did not encounter any challenges in the process.

·        Only 24% of businesses surveyed are confident in Ontario’s economic outlook

What does the Business Prosperity Index (BPI) reveal? The BPI looks at income generation from business production and investment activities, and measures the excess resources business have after meeting their operational needs. For this version of the BPI, we track business prosperity in Ontario from 2000 to 2015. Moving forward, this index will be updated annually.

·        The BPI reveals that the share of prosperity derived from the production of goods and services has declined substantially over the past 15 years.

·        The contribution of the production of goods and services to Ontario business prosperity has fallen by 24%, even as business prosperity generally rose by 39% over the same period.       

·        A hesitation to grow or invest in the face of growing financial resources indicates that Ontario possesses a higher risk operating environment.

·        Ontario businesses are holding onto liquid capital rather than re-investing in their businesses (i.e. purchasing new equipment, expanding their footprint, or hiring new labour).

·        Cost of living, especially the cost of housing, is high, which means households have less disposable income and businesses have difficulty attracting new talent.Without strong household spending, market activity is weak, and with weak market activity business profitability suffers.

What does the Economic Outlook for 2017 tell us?

·        In 2017, Ontario is predicted to see increases in population size, labour force size, and positive net migration, while the rate of unemployment will continue to decline.

·        The unemployment rate is expected to continue its multi-year decline, with a projected rate of 6.5% in 2017.

·        Labour market participation will hold steady at 65%. Median residential housing prices will rise in all regions across the province.

Because of the challenges identified in the OER, the OCC will focus on three key policy priorities in the coming year:

·        Health Transformation

·        Skills and Workforce Development

·        Environment and Infrastructure 

In addition to these key policy areas, the OCC will continue advocacy on the energy file in order to reduce costs businesses in Ontario face. 

Ontario Economic Full Report

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Young Professionals Update



*NEW* for 2017, the Brockville & District Chamber of Commerce would like to keep our members up to date by providing you with a monthly blog. For our first submission, we would like to highlight our Young Professionals Network with a brief overview of 2016 and a snapshot of what's ahead.



Looking back on 2016, I can't help but be inspired and so proud of what the Brockville Young Professionals Network accomplished.

Although it has expanded and branched off into its own entity, the YPN is proud to support and be involved in the Brockville Winter Classic Weekend! We are so proud of what the weekend accomplished in 2016 - the success of the second annual tournament; the alumni game; and the top ten spot in Kraft Hockeyville all supported the continued improvements to Rotary Park.

2016 was a year of trying new events and finding new ways to connect with our members and community. From bus trips, to murder mystery nights, and our inaugural gala, we were overwhelmed by the support we received and how fun each event was! Through listening to feedback from our members, we will strive to ensure that every event planned for 2017 is engaging, meaningful, and provides valuable opportunities for our members to connect with each other & the community.

The young professionals in this area are an impressive and engaged group, dedicated to Brockville’s future. Having worked with many of them, I know how bright the future looks! 2016 was incredible, but we aren’t going to stop there - we've got some exciting events and opportunities planned for 2017, and would love to have you join us! Sign up for our newsletter or like us on Facebook to stay up to date with the YPN.

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New to the Chamber in January 2017

Welcome to….

Can Save Lives

Can Save Lives is your place that provides Manual Osteopathic treatments, Concussion testing and treatment and First Air CPR training for Brockville


It's All About Numbers

It's All About Numbers is a full service bookkeeping office. We do everything from books, to HST, to income tax. With 30 years experience we are here to educate you.


Windmill Brewery

We are a local craft brewery in Johnstown Ontario. Our beer is brewed using all natural ingredients without the use of artificial preservatives

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