AMO’s Economic Development Task Force met again on June 17, 2010 and received a number of updates including a report from the Federal Government regarding Ontario’s economic outlook.

Ontario Economic Outlook:  An Industry Canada Economist provided an update of Ontario’s economic outlook which has been improving. Ontario’s unemployment rate remains lower than the United States but it will be some time before previous growth levels are achieved again.

The Federal Government has also launched The Virtual Trade Commissioner website.

In addition, the government has launched a single toll-free number to make it easier for businesses to get government information. The governments of Canada and Ontario have collaborated to create a telephone number with business information from both levels of government. Callers can dial 1-888-745-8888 or TTY 1-800-268-7095 to get information on several topics including financing options, starting or growing a business, federal and provincial government programs, managing employees, regulations, taxes, permits and licences, importing and exporting requirements, and more.

Ontario Chamber of Commerce: The Chamber provided updates on its Export Market Access program which provides grants of up to $30,000 to expand the foreign mandates and trade opportunities of businesses which have been established for at least two years. Businesses located in rural areas of the province are encourages to apply for the program which promises a quick application turn around.

In addition, the Chamber offers assistance in hiring foreign trained professionals through such services as video conferencing. The $2.5 million Global Experience program is designed to improve cooperation and get businesses the expertise required.

The benefits of municipalities working with their 160 local chambers of commerce were also emphasised. The Chamber also made a case for the improved marketing of Ontario abroad and solicited municipal comment for such an endeavour.

Ring of Fire: The Ministry of Northern Development, Mines and Forests provided a full briefing on the status of mineral exploration in the far north. This project has significant economic development potential for the entire provide and particular for nearby municipalities supporting exploration efforts. 

Interministry Community Development and Economic Transformation Teams:  The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing provided an update on efforts to coordinate whole of government initiatives which advance economic development. The “one table” approach is designed to help communities get answers quickly, access provincial expertise, and use resources more effectively on a regional basis. This informal collaborative effort continues to grow.

Electricity Pricing and Policy:  AMO provided an update to the Task Force regarding the Association’s electricity pricing policy. The Board has endorsed its support for coincident peak allocation of the global adjustment/provincial benefit. It has also urged greater conservation measures.

Conference Update: An overview of the conference programming for the Association’s Annual General Meeting and theme, “Propelling Economic Prosperity” was provided to all members.