March 20, 2014

Mr. Ernie Hardeman: I’m pleased to rise today to share the results of my annual Oxford business survey. I want to thank all the business owners and operators who took time to share the challenges they are facing and their suggestions on how to create a climate that will help their business succeed.

Oxford businesses are tied up in government red tape: 73% of respondents said red tape has increased over the last five years, which is actually slightly higher than they reported in the last survey. One business reported they have to deal with 10 different ministries. Electricity rates are a challenge. Over 90% of the businesses said that they have been impacted by the increasing cost of hydro, and 43.5% said the impact on their business was significant.

It’s clear that the government is still creating challenges for our businesses. Over 90% said they would be impacted by a gas tax increase. They are very clear that they cannot afford to have this government continue to increase the cost of operating a business in Ontario.

There is some positive news. The survey asked about the impact of legislation like the PC’s Million Jobs Act, which would ensure affordable energy rates, reduce trade barriers and red tape, lower taxes and train more skilled workers. Seventy-seven per cent of the businesses said legislation that addressed those challenges would help them grow their business.

Again, I want to thank everyone who took time to respond. I hope the government will listen and address these concerns in the upcoming budget to ensure our businesses can grow and grow jobs.