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Business owners' confidence in economy is sinking

With business confidence in Ontario at a five-year low, the government needs to help stimulate the private sector in the province, says the chair of the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce.
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The chair of a local seniors group says the city needs to come up with a way of creating and protecting jobs. File photo
With business confidence in Ontario at a five-year low, the government needs to help stimulate the private sector in the province, says the chair of the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce.

In its recent Emerging Stronger report, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce featured the annual Ontario Business Confidence Index, which found only 30 per cent of businesses are confident about the province's economy, compared to 47 per cent in 2012.

“It's not surprising,” said Karen Hourtovenko, chair of the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce. “Our economy is not doing great right now.”

In Sudbury, low commodity prices have impacted the mining sector, and contributed to the closures of First Nickel's Lockerby Mine and KGHM's McCreedy West Mine in 2015.

“From a Northern Ontario standpoint, we're hoping the government will start looking at some of the services they have, and how they can connect with the private sector to help transform the services they deliver,” Hourtovenko said.

The Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce has called for the provincial government to increase the flow-through share tax credit, which provides up to a five-per cent refundable tax credit to individuals who have purchased shares from a mining exploration company.

“It will help improve mineral exploration in Ontario and improve access to capital for small mining exploration companies,” said Hourtovenko.

The chamber has also asked the government to create programs to bring, and retain, more immigrants to Northern Ontario and grow the workforce.
With current low interest rates, now is also a good time for government to invest in infrastructure projects, which could stimulate the economy, Hourtovenko said.

While the mining industry has been in a slump, other sectors have fared better.

The retail and service industries have shown some local growth, said the chamber of commerce, and ongoing development on The Kingsway points to a more positive outlook for those sectors.

The low Canadian dollar – sitting around US $0.71 Monday afternoon – can a have a positive upside when it comes to exports.

Hourtovenko said the government needs to take advantage of the current low dollar to help encourage exports in sectors like Sudbury mining supply and services sector.

Jonathan Migneault

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