• Martin Benson posted an article
    Fall Economic Statement see more

    On the afternoon of Thursday, November 15th, Finance Minister Vic Fidelli rose in the Legislature to present the government’s Fall Economic Statement.  Features of this financial and legislative roadmap that will be of interest to contractors are as follows:

    • GDP is expected to grow by 2% in 2018, 1.8% in 2019, 1.7% in 2010 and 1.5% in 2021
    • To maintain business tax competitiveness for with the US, the provincial government will introduce accelerated depreciation measures, will maintain the lower small business corporate income tax rate and will increase the Employer Health Tax exemption threshold from $450,000 in payroll to $490,000
    • The provincial deficit was pegged at $14.5B, down $500M from the time when the Tories assumed office little more than five months ago; this is the result of $3.2B in savings already implemented and $2.7B in new spending or foregone revenue (tax spending)
    • The Fall Economic Statement did not prescribe the journey to budget balance (look for that in the March 2019 budget)
    • The government will introduce the Low-Income Individuals and Families Tax (LIFT) Credit, effective January 1, 2019, which will exempt low-income earners from paying provincial income tax; this measure is estimated to benefit 1.1 million people and cost the government $495 million in foregone revenue
    • The government will conduct a review of the workers compensation system to ensure it remains sustainable in the future
    • There will be a review of Metrolinx and possible amendments to the Metrolinx Act
    • Work will resume on the GTA West highway corridor
    • An Open for Business Action Plan will be initiated to reduce the burden of red tape and unnecessary regulation by 25% by 2022
    • The government will conduct a review of power prices for industrial power consumers with public input
    • The government will introduce an environmental plan to fight climate change
    • The government will launch a Housing Supply Action Plan to address housing affordability and grow supply
    • New rental units built after the date of the Fall Economic Statement will be exempted from rent control

    The full document is available at the following link


  • Martin Benson posted an article
    Line-by-Line Audit Recommends Transformation in Expenditure Management see more

    Ernst & Young LLP (EY) was engaged by the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) of the Government of Ontario to conduct a line-by-line audit of Ontario Government expenditures and expenditure growth across all ministries over a fifteen year period from fiscal year 2002/03 to fiscal year 2017/18. EY recently completed the review and submitted its report to TBS.  The title of this report “Managing Transformation: A Modernization Action Plan for Ontario” suggests the general direction of their findings.  The Government’s objective is to achieve a 4% efficiency improvement.   

    Among the reports summary findings are the following:

    • Per capita spending has increased by  32% over the period
    • Increases in expenditures have outpaced population growth
    • Total provincial debt increased by 87%
    • Interest on the debt is Ontario’s 4thlargest expenditure, higher than the total operating expenditure of the total Ontario Public Service (OPS)
    • There was no real change (increase/decrease) in the OPS operating expenditures over the period
    • Real growth in Transfer Payments including to the Broader Public Sector (BPS) over the period accounts for 99.8% of the real growth in total operating expenditures
    • 90% of total operating expenditures are spent through Transfer Payment agreements
    • Significant efficiencies can be implemented that will not compromise outcomes and can in fact improve results
    • The Province must develop a better framework for public expenditure management 
    • Strong leadership will be required at the centre to strengthen coordination across the Government and its BPS partners
    • There must be a renewed focus on efficiencies across government ministries and the BPS 
    • A Modernization Action Plan should be developed to define how this will all work

    For the full report, click on

  • Martin Benson posted an article
    Scotiabank Report Predicts Spending Cuts see more

    A recent report published by Scotiabank Economics provided some reasons to be optimistic about Ontario’s economic performance while predicting spending restraint on the part of the provincial government.  Among the bank’s report’s findings are the following

    • Growth will slow in 2018-19 to 2%
    • A decline in consumer spending will be offset by increases in business investment
    • Ontario will enjoy good population growth from interprovincial migration, from immigration a large proportion of which will be economic immigrants and from natural population growth
    • The signing of the USMCA has removed some risks to growth
    • Ontario’s tech sector will continue to be a driver of growth
    • Private sector capital investment will contribute to growth
    • Non-residential construction will begin to ease in 2019
    • Sustainable job creation will ease in 2019 largely the result of waning household spending
    • The province’s debt and deficit are a drag on growth 
    • Spending restraint on the part of the provincial government is very likely
    • Home buying will stay at elevated levels
    • Ontario’s major cities are gaining international reputations
    • Housing affordability and the government’s fiscal circumstances remain as risks

    The full report is available by clicking on the following link:

  • Martin Benson posted an article
    Annual Minimum Wage Increase to Come into Effect October 1 see more

    Ministry of Labour - Ontario is increasing the general minimum wage for the fourth consecutive year, which will bring the wage up to $11.60 on October 1, 2017.

    As a part of Ontario's plan for Fair Workplaces and Better Jobs, the general minimum wage would again increase to $14 on January 1, 2018, and to $15 on January 1, 2019, which would be followed by annual increases at the rate of inflation. Ontario's plan to create more opportunity and security for workers would also ensure part-time and temporary help agency workers are paid the same hourly wage as full-time workers, introduce paid sick days for every worker, enable at least three weeks' vacation after five years with the same employer and step up enforcement of employment laws.

    Creating fair workplaces and better jobs across Ontario is part of our plan to create jobs, grow our economy and help people in their everyday lives.

    Read more.

  • Martin Benson posted an article
    Ontario Releases 2016-17 Public Accounts see more

    Treasury Board Secretariat - Today the province released the Public Accounts of Ontario, showing that Ontario's deficit for last year was $991 million--$3.3 billion lower than projected in the 2016 Budget and $0.5 billion lower than the interim projection in the 2017 Budget.

    This is a result of growth in revenue that exceeded growth in program expense, and lower than forecast interest on debt.

    Ontario is on track to balance the budget this year, in 2017-18, while making investments in the programs and services people and families rely on most.

    Other highlights from this year's Public Accounts include:

    • Economic growth, with a 2.7 per cent increase in real gross domestic product (GDP), up from 2.2 per cent projected in the 2016 Budget
    • Total revenue of $140.7 billion, up $2.2 billion from the 2016 Budget projection
    • Total spending of $141.7 billion, down $0.1 billion from the 2016 Budget projection
    • Interest on debt of $11.7 billion, down $0.7 billion from the 2016 Budget projection

    Read more.

  • Martin Benson posted an article
    Ontario Making Major Investments in Social Housing Repairs and Retrofits see more

    Ministry of Housing - Ontario is providing new funding for repairs and retrofits to social housing across the province in order to improve living conditions and fight climate change. This investment is part of Ontario's Climate Change Action Plan and is funded by proceeds from the province's carbon market.

    Peter Milczyn, Minister of Housing and the Minister Responsible for Poverty Reduction, was in Toronto today to make the announcement. The province will invest up to $657 million for repairs and retrofits to social housing apartment buildings over five years, contingent on carbon market proceeds. The City of Toronto will receive approximately half of this total investment.

    The investment will help improve the lives of low-income and vulnerable tenants with upgrades to social housing buildings such as new energy efficient heating, improved insulation, and window replacements. It also represents an example of Ontario's ongoing efforts to support the transition of homes and businesses to a low-carbon future, while providing the jobs and skills that will allow individuals to thrive in a sustainable economy.  

    Read more.

  • Martin Benson posted an article
    Outlook for construction hiring in Canada is brighter heading into 2018 see more

    Daily Commercial News - The fact that Canada’s unemployment rate hit its lowest level in almost 9 years in July is a very good indication that the economy is expanding at a healthy pace as it approaches the final quarter of 2017. Over the past year, 387,000 jobs have been added, the largest twelve-month gain in just under ten years. Moreover, almost all (90%) of the jobs added were full time and the majority 221,000 were in the private sector. Across major industrial categories, the bulk (79%) of the jobs added were in the service sector due to gains in retail and wholesale trade, professional services and public administration.

    Employment in goods-producing industries rose by 81,000 over the past twelve months, largely on account of gains in manufacturing (+53,000) and construction (+26,100).

    According to Statistics Canada's Establishment Employment Survey, total construction jobs in Canada year to date have risen by 1.7%. This increase has been largely driven by a 5.2% rebound in engineering construction jobs (they declined by 6.9% in 2016) together with a 2.5% rise in hiring by residential contractors and a 1.0% increase in non-residential employment.

    Read more.

  • Martin Benson posted an article
    Bill 148 — the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act — has Ontario businesses worried. see more

    TVO - Ontario’s standing committee on finance and economic affairs criss-crossed the province in July, hearing out labour groups, businesses, and other interested parties on Bill 148 — the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act. The bill includes a $15 minimum wage, more personal leave and vacation time, and measures to prevent employers from changing or cancelling shifts on less than 48 hours’ notice.

    But some businesses are wondering how they’ll manage to deal with the changes. “Bill 148 is ill-advised,” says Karl Baldauf, vice-president of policy and government relations at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “The government has not provided for the kind of economic analysis that you would expect from a piece of legislation that’s going to have such profound impact as quick as it will on the Ontario economy.”

    Earlier this summer, we asked labour groups what they wanted the government to add to Bill 148. So what do businesses want the government to do?

    Read more

  • Martin Benson posted an article
    Optimistic Revenue Projection Underpins Government’s Balanced Budget Plan see more

    Financial Accountability Office of Ontario  - The 2017 Ontario Budget projects balanced budgets beginning in 2017-18 and continuing over the next two years. Given the government’s spending plans, maintaining a balanced budget relies critically on an optimistic revenue forecast – and in particular, on very strong growth in tax revenues.  However, when compared to either recent historical experience or the FAO’s projections, there appears to be significant downside risk to the government’s forecast. As a result, the FAO expects that staying in balance after 2017-18 will require additional fiscal policy measures – that is, new revenues or lower than projected spending.

    Read more.​​​​​​​

  • Martin Benson posted an article
    Ontario invests $24M into green construction training see more

    Global News - The province is putting $24 million of its cap-and-trade revenues into the development of green building skills.

    Liberal London North Centre MPP, and Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development, Deb Matthews, said the money will be used across Ontario to develop low-carbon building curriculums, and upgrading training facilities.

    She made the announcement Thursday morning at LiUNA Local 1059 headquarters in London, emphasizing the importance of modernizing apprenticeship programs and investing in green initiatives.

    Read more.

  • Martin Benson posted an article
    Ontario Releases 2017-18 First Quarter Finances see more

    Ministry of Finance - Today the Ontario government released the 2017-18 First Quarter Finances , which confirm Ontario is on track to balance the budget this year while making investments in the programs and services people and families rely on most.

    Read more.

  • Martin Benson posted an article
    Ontario Adds 25,500 Jobs in July see more

    Ministry of Economic Development and Growth - Ontario's economy continues to perform strongly, adding 25,500 jobs in July. There was an increase of 17,600 full-time jobs and 7,900 part-time jobs.

    Employment in Ontario is up 137,900 jobs, year over year. The province's unemployment rate has been below the national average for 28 consecutive months.

    The employment increase was led by gains in the information, culture and recreation, wholesale and retail trade and business, building and other support services sectors.

    Highlighted in the province's 2017 First Quarter Ontario Economic Accounts, Ontario's real GDP grew one per cent in the first quarter of 2017, outperforming Canada, the United States and all other G7 countries. This builds on a 0.5 per cent boost to real GDP posted in the fourth quarter of 2016.

    Increased business investment and consumer spending were the primary drivers behind the overall GDP increase. Business investment grew 5.5 per cent, with residential construction rising by nearly eight per cent.

    Read more.

  • Martin Benson posted an article
    Repairs and Upgrades Coming to 131 Ontario Hospitals this Year see more

    Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care - Ontario is continuing to strengthen and support hospitals across the province with repairs and upgrades to 131 hospitals this year, to provide patients with high-quality care in a safe and healthy environment. 

    Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, was joined by Ann Hoggarth, MPP for Barrie, today at Orillia Soldiers' Memorial Hospital, which will receive over $2.3 million this year to revitalize its facilities.

    Funding from the province allows hospitals to make critical improvements to their facilities, including upgrades or replacements to roofs, windows, heating and air conditioning systems, fire alarms and back-up generators.

    Read more

  • Martin Benson posted an article
    Canadian Building permits, May 2017 see more

    Market Pulse - Canadian municipalities issued $7.7 billion worth of building permits in May, up 8.9% from April and the third highest value on record. The national increase was mainly the result of higher construction intentions for residential buildings, particularly in Ontario. Seven provinces registered gains in the total value of building permits in May, and every building component increased except institutional structures.

    The value of residential building permits issued by Canadian municipalities increased 10.8% from April to $5.0 billion in May. Six provinces registered gains in the month, with Ontario reporting the largest increase, followed distantly by Alberta and British Columbia.

    The multi-family component rose 15.0% in May to $2.3 billion, following a 6.9% gain in April. Construction intentions were up for every type of multi-family dwelling, led by row houses. Meanwhile, the value of single-family building permits rose 7.4% to $2.7 billion in May, stemming mainly from single homes in Ontario.

    Canadian municipalities approved the construction of 18,037 new dwellings in May (up 7.2% compared with April), consisting of 12,032 multi-family units (+11.8%) and 6,005 single-family units (-1.0%). Ontario contributed the most to the increase in new dwellings approved in May, bringing the year-to-date number of new dwellings approved in that province to 35,860. In comparison, Ontario approved the construction of 30,661 new dwellings from January to May 2016.

    Read more

  • Martin Benson posted an article
    Green sector to employ millions of builders by 2050: report see more

    Daily Commercial News - The transition to a zero carbon economy will generate millions of jobs in the building sector in the next 30 years, suggests a recent report commissioned by Canada’s Building Trades Unions (CBTU).

    The key to job creation in the sector leading up to 2050, when many of Canada's stakeholders are aiming for zero-carbon builds, will be construction of new types of energy infrastructure, said the report.

    The study, written by the Vancouver-based Columbia Institute and titled Jobs for Tomorrow — Canada's Building Trades and Net Zero Emissions, also offers a long view of what types of energy will be the winners in the race for market domination as the federal government promotes a transition to clean energy to meet Canada's Paris climate change commitments.

    After consulting globally and observing where other jurisdictions are heading, the institute indicated the supply grid will include hydroelectric power (40 per cent), wind (25 per cent), solar (10 per cent), tidal and wave (five per cent) and legacy nuclear (five per cent).

    Read more.