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Finance minister promises support for small business

July 22, 2015   ·   0 Comments

A select group of prominent Dufferin County business and community leaders had an opportunity to meet with Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa, at Hockley Valley Resort last Wednesday for a presentation and luncheon.

The event was hosted by the Greater Dufferin Area Chamber of Commerce, and acting Chamber chair Joe Andrews of Humber College welcomed the business leaders and Minister Sousa to what they referred to as a unique and interactive session.

“These are certainly exciting times for our region,” said Mr. Andrews, “with the Pan Am Games in our area, and 66 medals won. But it is also a challenging time for our region as well. By Minister Sousa’s being here today, it demonstrates the Province’s commitment to our future.”

He added that keeping an open line of discussion with both the federal and provincial governments is necessary to continue growing business in the area.

“The issues affecting businesses in Dufferin County are critical to everyone in our community, “ said Mr. Andrews. “Providing the opportunity to bring important matters forward to our provincial and federal governments is a critical role that the Chamber of Commerce is proud to play within Dufferin County.”

Minister Sousa addressed the audience, and spoke to the province’s commitment to growing a vibrant and robust community.

“Together, we have taken a number of steps to promote the improvement of our Province,” said Minister Sousa. “Together, our work has made Ontario the best place for trade in North America. We know we must continue to cut the red tape that is getting in the way of growth for people and their businesses.”

He added that in order to do that, the Province, along with business owners, need to ensure that they maintain a dynamic business plan.

“It’s not the government’s [duty] to provide jobs, but rather to equip businesses to be able to go forward and provide those jobs,” he said.

Some of the key points addressed by the Minister during his speech and in response to questions from the audience, included the government’s focus on streamlining bureaucracy and administration to support the needs of small businesses across the province, as well as the importance of improving and upgrading infrastructure. This would include electricity and natural gas, ensuring a competitive advantage for Ontario businesses.

He also spoke to the Province’s recognition of the importance of agriculture and overall priorities of the government, and acknowledged that high speed internet connectivity is critical in ensuring that rural communities can support a strong business sector despite not being part of an urban hub.

“We appreciate when small businesses succeed and grow, because it means the community succeeds and grows with it,” said Minister Sousa. “We all benefit [from this].”

He mentioned in his speech that when he ran his own business, it took strong partnerships and good people to make it succeed, and said the same formula is required for the government to see economic growth.

“We’re working with municipalities on things like roads, bridges, transit and new infrastructure,” he said. “The federal government must also play a role, helping to build a stronger economic union. The time is right for a new era of all levels of government to work together. This would enhance competitiveness and prosperity, not only for Ontario, but for all of Canada.”

After his address, Minister Sousa opened up the floor to answer questions from audience members and discuss specific issues one-on-one with guests in an informal setting. Questions were asked ranging from the issues surrounding high speed connectivity in municipalities like Mono, to the increase in energy costs (including the hydro Debt Retirement charge), and how businesses are struggling with those increased costs.

         

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