Advocacy issues at the Chamber are very much result of issues and challenges facing our members and are led by our volunteers and supported and guided by our Board of Directors.

Advocacy Committee
Chair – Bram Lebo

2016/17 Objective: Research a local procurement policy that can be presented to local municipalities to promote hiring local businesses.

The Advocacy Committee’s mandate is to ensure the Chamber is able to represent and advocate for the interests of business in Haliburton County. The committee will establish, maintain, and foster relationships with representatives of all levels of government affecting the Haliburton Highlands business community. The committee will identify and monitor issues that may adversely affect the Haliburton Highlands Chamber of Commerce and/or the business community and will report on these issues to the Board of Directors. The committee should also recommend advocacy issues, strategies, and public policies to the Board of Directors.


If you are experiencing an issue that is impacting your business and would like inquire if we can be of assistance, contact Autumn Smith, Chamber Manager at, 705-457-4700 ext 24, or 705-854-0593.


Province-wide Initiatives

As a member of the Haliburton Highlands Chamber of Commerce, you also belong to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce which means all their advocacy work is done with you in mind. They undertake research on Ontario’s most pressing policy issues from a business perspective. They propose and advocate for solutions that will foster the growth of Ontario businesses and lead to the creation of jobs in the province. Their work is based on the belief that strong businesses are the foundation of a prosperous Ontario. They are a respected voice among government decision-makers whose solutions-based advocacy sets them apart.

To find out about their recent advocacy wins, click here.


Advocacy Updates 2016

Broadband Strategy

We have to change our thinking. High-speed internet is no longer a luxury, but is a basic infrastructure necessary for economic growth. Our economy is driven by technology. Without access to high-speed internet it is almost impossible to start or build a competitive business and compete in the 21st century global economy. With record investments being made by government in transit and transportation, we’re calling on the provincial government to commit some of those infrastructure dollars to high speed internet access. We all understand how essential roads are to get products to market, broadband infrastructure is how we get ideas and services to market.

Click here to read the letter sent to Premier Kathleen Wynne.

Click here to see the full press release.


Obstacles and Opportunities: The Importance of Small Business in Ontario

How Important is small business in Ontario?
Our report highlights that businesses with fewer than 100 employees, make up 98 percent of total Ontario businesses and two-thirds of private sector employment in Ontario.

Does the success of our economy depend on it?
Small businesses contribute approximately 30 percent to the provincial GDP and created 87.7 percent of the new jobs nationally from 2005 to 2012.

Challenges facing small business:

  • We have some big obstacles facing Ontario businesses.
  • Throughout our consultations, small business owners across the province expressed the concern that government, at all levels, is often unresponsive to the unique needs of business their size.
  • Small businesses are facing increased global competition, compounded by over regulation and red tape. This means that small businesses are being squeezed financially from both ends.
  • Small business owners often lack the capacity and resources required to lobby government effectively in order to advocate for policy solutions that support small business. The Chamber Network is well positioned to advocate on their behalf.

What are the top three recommendations/ priorities in the report:

  • Continue the scheduled Business Education Tax (BET) rate reductions.
  • Develop a single access point for all government-funded workforce, training, and employment services.
  • Commit infrastructure dollars to connect all Ontario businesses to the 21st century global economy.

Click here to read the full report.


Keep Ontario Working

Ontario’s Ministry of Labour is currently undertaking a review of the Labour Relations Act (LRA) and the Employment Standards Act (ESA) through its Changing Workplaces Review (CWR). The CWR has been tasked with examining key workplace trends, including the increase in non-standard working relationships such as temporary jobs, involuntary part-time work, and self-employment.

The Special Advisors that oversee the Review have released their Interim Report and it contains a number of policy options that could negatively impact workers’ rights and the ability of employers to create jobs and grow the economy. This includes policies that would restrict the flexibility of part-time and contract employees, one-size-fits-all changes to scheduling provisions, bringing about less transparency to the union certification process, and “paperwork provisions” that will add new layers of red tape.

Keep Ontario Working is an initiative of the leading employer and sector associations in the province, who are working together to motivate employers and employees alike to take a more active interest in the Changing Workplaces Review. Our goal is to ensure that we are improving legislation to support workers’ rights, create jobs and grow the economy.

For more information on the Keep Ontario Working initiative, click here.



Advocacy Updates 2015

Our Role in the Official Plan

The Haliburton Highlands Chamber of Commerce had conversations with Haliburton County’s Planner, Charlsey White, about business considerations for the Official Plan review that our County is currently undertaking. This review process begins at the County level and then moves to the municipal level once every five years, and public input is a contributing factor to Official Plans. The Official Plan provides policies for how land is used.

Earlier this summer, the voice of business was heard when the Chamber made a delegation to County Council.

The first draft of Official Plan amendments (August 2015) was reflective of some of the concerns and recommendations that were brought forward in that delegation.

We recently submitted another document outlining some of the land use issues brought forward by local business leaders at the Chamber’s Manufacturing Round Table.

We are confident that our most recent submission and consultation with Charlsey White, will help further shape the second draft of the County Official Plan.

Key barriers to business retention, expansion and attraction put forward in our most recent submission included:

  • Shortage of suitable properties for manufacturing and light industry development
  • Industrial parks are unattractive and a poor investment for business owners –business parks are a preferred option
  • Shortage of commercial rental infrastructure
  • Inflexible and costly bylaws and regulations
  • Lack of rental housing
  • Lack of bylaws addressing empty store fronts
  • Access to hi speed internet
  • Business attraction is not a strength or priority of the County/Municipalities
  • Home based businesses not supported by Official Plans
  • Employment lands on Provincial Highways present additional MTO costs and restrictions – prefer to be on side roads, off of main highways

Our next steps include:

  • Review the 2nd draft
  • Prepare a summary of business related policies for membership
  • Survey our membership for input and comments
  • Make a final Official Plan submission to the County Planner
  • Bring the voice of business to County Council through a delegation
  • Once the Official Plan has County Council and Ministry approval, we’ll carry on working with and supporting our four municipalities as they amend their Official Plans.


Federal Budget

This week, the Federal Budget will be delivered on Tuesday, April 21 and the Ontario Budget will be delivered on Thursday, April 23

Our partners in the Chamber Network, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, will be participating in the budget “lock-ups” and will be providing their analysis shortly after each budget is released.

The Haliburton Highlands Chamber of Commerce will be participating in conference calls with our partners in the Chamber Network in order to determine what the impact of each budget will be on our members and the local business community.

We will be communicating our analysis of each budget to our members and our local media shortly after they are released.

Should you have any follow-up questions, please contact your Member Services Representative, Lauren Hunter, by email at or by phone at (705) 457-4700.

2015 Federal Budget: Good News for Business

The Haliburton Highlands Chamber of Commerce was pleased to see some measures in the 2015 federal budget that will help businesses succeed including:
Reduction of the small business tax rate from 11% to 9% by 2019
Continuation of the Small Business Tax Credit, lowering Employment Insurance by nearly 15%
$14 million investment over two years in Futurepreneur Canada to support young entrepreneurs
$65 million invested to better align post-secondary education with the skill needs of employers
$4 million over two years to launch a new one-stop labour market information portal
$50 million over five years for the Export Market Development Program to help small and medium-sized business explore export opportunities
The Chamber was disappointing that tourism promotion did not factor into the budget. Although a commitment was made to support a new tourism marketing campaign in the United States, no dollar amount was provided. Tourism is one of the most important industries for all regions of the country, and will continue to be a key advocacy issue for both the Haliburton Highlands Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber Network.