For Immediate Release
October 5, 2020
Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce recommendations now have the support of Ontario’s Chamber Network
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce and its network represents 135 Chambers of Commerce
and Boards of Trade, and over 60,000 Ontario businesses
Sault Ste. Marie – A policy resolution authored by the Sault Ste. Marie and Burlington Chambers of Commerce calling on the government of Ontario to take steps toward property tax fairness across the province has been passed by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC). The recommendations included in the resolution will now form part of the advocacy framework of the Ontario Chamber network, which includes 135 Chambers and Boards of Trade from across the province, collectively representing over 60,000 businesses.
The resolution was one of a number of proposed policy papers submitted by Chambers from across Ontario and brought forward during last week’s OCC annual policy resolution debate. The Sault Ste. Marie / Burlington resolution passed easily with unanimous support from the network.
The resolution itself calls attention to the fact that Ontario’s property tax system has not been fully reviewed since the new Ontario Fair Assessment System (OFAS) was first introduced by the former Harris government approximately 25 years ago. Since that time, significant changes have occurred across Ontario’s economic landscape influencing global and local competitiveness and fundamentally altering traditional economic paradigms. This trend has been further compounded by increasing demands placed on municipalities as they are confronted with new and evolving challenges such as social housing, the opioid crisis, climate change, rapidly evolving technology, the growing infrastructure deficit, and more recently COVID-19.
“As pressure on property taxes increases, Ontario’s municipalities are being faced with the challenging task of attempting to balance their fiscal realities against growing and competing demands for local and regional services,” observes Rory Ring, CEO of the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce (SSMCOC). “The challenge is being compounded by the limited revenue tools available to municipalities to meet their financial obligations as well an antiquated system of property tax mitigation programs and relief mechanisms to achieve locally sensitive tax policy priorities that have not been comprehensively revisited or reformed since the mid-1990’s.”
In acknowledging the shortcomings of Ontario’s current property tax system, the Province made a promise in its 2019 Spring Budget to undertake a comprehensive review to explore opportunities to enhance the accuracy of property assessments, to support a competitive business environment, to provide relief to residents, and to strengthen the governance and accountability of the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) to ensure better representation for Ontario property taxpayers.
The SSMCOC / Burlington CoC resolution urges the Government of Ontario to:
- Honour its 2019 Budget Commitment to ensure a modern and competitive property tax system and to develop an action plan to respect Ontario’s property taxpayers based on meaningful and thoughtful consultation and collaboration with affected stakeholders including: residents, business, industry, municipalities, and subject matter experts.
- Consider providing new revenue and / or property tax mitigation tools and flexibility to municipalities in order to manage property tax burdens in a fair and equitable manner, address new economic paradigms, and to target relief to business property owners / tenants in response to local tax policy priorities and objectives.
- Address the significant disparity between residential and non-residential property tax rates for education tax purposes.
Before being forwarded to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce network for consideration, the resolution was brought before Sault Ste. Marie City Council, where it received a significant endorsement when Council and Mayor Christian Provenzano added their voices of support to the Chamber’s efforts, passing a motion at their July 13th meeting affirming the policy resolution’s recommendations.
In addition to the resolution on property tax fairness, the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce also submitted a resolution calling on the government to improve early childhood educational outcomes through expanded education opportunities, targeted programming, and innovation in the classroom. It also co-sponsored a resolution authored by the Timmins Chamber of Commerce calling for support for Ontario’s forestry industry through the establishment of an Ontario commercial loan guarantee program.
The SSMCOC resubmitted a sunsetting resolution that it had authored in 2017 urging the creation of Northern Ontario economic hubs, technology clusters, and an innovation ecosystem, and joined the Timmins Chamber in supporting their resubmission of a resolution (originally co-sponsored by the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber) calling on the government to take steps to improve Indigenous education opportunities in Ontario.
Each of these resolutions received unanimous support from the Ontario Chamber network and, like the SSMCOC’s tax fairness resolution, will now have the support of the largest united voice for business in Ontario calling for the implementation of their included recommendations.
Each of the resolutions noted can be found on the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce website at www.ssmcoc.com/advocacy.
About the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce
The Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce is a not-for-profit organization comprised of 700 plus businesses and agencies in Sault Ste. Marie and has been serving the needs of this community since 1889. The Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce will lead the way as the voice of business, advancing economic prosperity for its membership and the business community. Learn more about the SSMCOC at www.ssmcoc.com
For more information:
Rory Ring, CEO
Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce