Assessing our business needs against government led and local initiatives

Advocacy Survey Results

Thank you all of responding to our annual Advocacy Survey! This helps guide our efforts both within our chamber walls and regionally through the Durham Business Alliance.  Your voice matters and is appreciated.

Our blog provides you with highlights:

In our annual Advocacy Survey, respondents identified attracting new investments and creating incentives to spur commercial and corporate development as efforts the Town and Region should prioritize in the coming years to maximize economic prosperity. And generally, most respondents felt the Region has good economic health.

More than half of our respondents expect better economic results this year than last and are expecting to add more staff to meet their business needs. They also noted that skills and labour shortage, advocacy, mental health support, tech adoption, and government compliance would require the most attention, time and resources from their business. Primarily, respondents are seeking to fill customer service, administrative, sales and skilled trades positions. Most respondents confirmed that labour shortages require the most attention from their business.

So how can your business utilize government and private resources to help accomplish your business goals? Our federal and provincial budget reviews shed light on what to expect.


More specifically, in 2023, the Ontario government claims it would enable an estimated $8.0 billion in cost savings and support for some Ontario employers, with $3.6 billion going to small businesses. This includes savings from the new Ontario Made Manufacturing Investment Tax Credit proposed in this year’s budget, which claims to  provide a 10 per cent tax credit for local manufacturers.

To speed up the immigration of skilled trades, the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program will receive $25 million more over the next three years, which should help address ongoing labour shortages. Most recently, Ontario issued 984 invitations in new Expression of Interest draws through the OINP, targeting tech, healthcare, and skilled trades workers. Meanwhile, new permanent residents coming to Canada under the Federal Skilled Trades program dropped last year to its lowest level yet due to a hiatus on all-program Express Entry draws.

Appreciating the challenges newcomers face when connecting with local employment and business opportunities, the Whitby Chamber of Commerce’s IDEA Committee launched it’s Newcomers in Business social media campaign last month. It equips newcomers with information on locally available services and resources to support their professional integration into the Durham community. Follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to stay in the loop.

Ontario’s Electricity Rebates and the IESO’s energy-efficiency program assist businesses’ bottom line by saving on energy costs. The Federal government’s budget, in the meantime, incentivises investments in clean energy through rebates, credits, and investments.

The provinces budget also promised $2 million in 2023–24 to Futurpreneur Canada, which helps businesses led by people aged 18 to 39 by offering mentorship programs and loan capital worth up to $20,000.

Federally, the government negotiated lower interchange fees with Visa and Mastercard. The Canadian government also claims that it will invest $197.9 million to create work placements for students; however, many highlight that the labour shortages are in skilled labour, needs which students can’t fulfill.

For its part, Durham Region’s Economic Development department continues to champion the region as an ideal market for business attraction, retention and expansion. Both the Town of Whitby, and the Durham Region’s strategic plans focus on bolstering tourism to boost the local economy and recognize the importance of our growing business community.

Local organizations, like the Business Advisory Centre Durham, Spark Centre, and 1855, chambers and boards of trade provide distinct practical services to support, strengthen, and grow your business, no matter how small.

On the whole, while it appears that governments are aware of the challenges facing the business community, our survey results indicate the work of a business owner remain daunting, Add to that the fact that many businesses owe the government money as a result of Covid relief programs, and are concerned about looming deadlines, and you realize that the presence and effects of a pandemic remain.

But as we all may know; perseverance and the support of a great community can help us accomplish the greatest of challenges. The WCC continues to advocate on your behalf, and with your feedback and input, we are only made stronger.


– Preeti Sangwan, Policy and Advocacy Advisor, Whitby Chamber of Commerce