Op Ed: Feedback on Ontario’s Economic Climate from a Manufacturing Business by Robert Viles

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First-quarter figures reveal that Ontario’s projected deficit remains at $11.7 billion this fiscal year, meaning that it is now a structural deficit. Current unemployment figures indicate that Ontario’s rate is above the national average for the sixth straight year.


In light of this finance minister Charles Sousa announced that he is going on tour for ideas on improving Ontario’s economy. “A strong economy is a key part of our plan to eliminate the deficit,’’ Sousa told reporters. “Expectations for global economic growth have weakened”, his ministry announced. Of course there was no mention of uncontrolled and excessive government spending associated with Ontario’s continued nosedive towards insolvency…


Mr. Sousa is not alone in seeking economic solutions. Last week the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses polled their 109,000 members on what their provincial governments should do to focus on helping businesses thrive, and specifically asked each member whether they believed “Reducing the deficit/debt is a priority for my provincial/territorial government”


Those of us who are members of the CFIB in Ontario have been concerned about ballooning deficits and debt for some time now, as well as property taxes, hydro rates, etc. Here is a summary of my responses to the poll, as a manufacturing business owner in Ontario, and a 27 year member of the CFIB.


Control Government Spending

In my industry of precision machining, matching public sector salaries has become impossible. We cannot pay toolmakers and skilled machinists nearly as much as teachers and other government workers now make. Their salaries have become too high and this makes it difficult to recruit private sector workers and it has driven property taxes to exorbitant levels.


Another contributor to the unaffordable public payroll is the arbitration process, which needs to be fixed because it results in grossly inflated and unfair public sector payouts. Arbitration reform is supported by most Ontario mayors and was highlighted by the Don Drummond report, yet the Liberals with the help of the NDP voted against reforming it.  This decision was harmful to Ontario’s economy because all arbitration payouts are on the backs of the beleaguered private sector taxpayers.


By way of example: in the township of Scugog six firefighters were awarded 26.7% reportedly backdated for four years. How many people reading this from the private sector can report pay increases such as this? For Scugog residents it caused an automatic increase of 2% in property taxes.


We need to check the incestuous relationship between government and unions. Public sector unions buy the government into office, and then the government rewards them with remuneration and pensions that cannot be matched in the private sector. This has become a vicious cycle that ultimately leads to higher taxation burdens on businesses and taxpayers.


Reduce Debt

Ontario’s gross debt is nearing a terrifying $300 billion and continues to grow with no semblance of control or discipline. This doesn’t even include a $100 billion unfunded pensions liability, or a $13 billion WSIB liability. Keep in mind that today’s debt is tomorrow’s taxes. Businesses know that they will be targeted to pay for this, per usual. Debt interest is now our third biggest expenditure yet interest rates are at historic lows. They can only go up and when they do, servicing the debt will be debilitating if not impossible. This will chase businesses away.


Affordable Hydro

Hydro rates are no longer affordable. By the government’s own projections they will increase 40% over the next 5 years. Time of use policies punish businesses for operating during daytime. How can you have a welcoming business climate when your hydro rates are on track to become highest in North America?


Eliminate Red Tape

The forthcoming trades tax is abhorrent. Businesses need less regulations and fees, not more. Red-tape and nanny-state regulations are already excessive, and every year seems to bring more of them. The trades tax is widely opposed among the industries it is being imposed upon and needs to be abolished.


Accountable Government

Ontario has a problem with accountability. The Liberals refuse to allow the Ombudsman into ORNGE, Municipalities, Hospitals & universities. What do they have to fear? To refuse Ombudsman oversight into ORNGE after all that’s happened there is unconscionable. Without oversight there is no accountability, and ultimately businesses will have to pay the costs of these corrupt arrangements; all of which enrich government friendly unions and special interest groups, but never the private sector taxpayers.


Businesses don’t feel they are getting value from government. We see enormous funds squandered via the gas plant scandals, Ehealth, etc. Small wonder our deficit isn’t improving. And since businesses are the only real contributors to Ontario’s finances, they are on the hook for all of this, and they know it.



Over the last decade we have seen the size and salaries of the public sector swell out of control, at many times the rate of inflation. Pensions and post retirement benefits are unaffordable and unmatchable in the private sector. This has lead to structural deficits and ballooning debt. Businesses are overregulated, hydro is too expensive, and the government lacks accountability.

The way things are in Ontario nowadays, I would suggest that anyone thinking of coming here to start a business should go get their head examined. Finance Minister Sousa I hope you really are listening!

Robert Viles is a business owner in Hamilton Ontario, a member of the CFIB and the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, and a supporter of Fair Pension For All.

(Comments and opinions of Editorials, Letters to the Editor, and comments from readers are purely their own and don’t necessarily reflect those of the owners of this site, their staff, or sponsors.)

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  1. Clear and concise points that show we really need to take back control from politicians. Can hardly wait for the failed gas plant Auditor report!

  2. If you all think that “Winnie the Pooh” is going to get you out of this mess then you are dreaming. She is as corrupt as “McDuffus” and all the rest including Bare Ass. Ontario has become a “have not” province and going deeper into debt as we speak. Look in the mirror and see what the ordinary people have to do to get out of this horrible situation. Stop buying all the junk that comes from God knows where and learn to live even below your means and you will literally fix them all. Hydro rates are rising and even here in Ottawa, Ottawa Hydro cuts on homes, as well as apartments at night and your fridge does not work all night like what it used to. The past is gone folks so learn to live with what is coming like “all other countries” just like Harpo the idiot clown on Parliament Hill once said.

  3. Summary…………get out of the way and stay out of the way.

    With a 12,0 Billion dollar deficit nobody trusts you to spit without assessing some crooked scheme that only pays 6 figure salaries for yet another dept to screw it up.

    Whole hearted dumping of about 40 departments would help immensely.

    Thank you very much.

  4. In Ontario we have well over 100 varying departments, each with $150,000 managers. Multiply that by 100 \nd we get a modest salary of $15,000,000, Plus travel, hotel, meal tickets……just like we love to hear…..’meal tickets’.

    Well, guess what, we are sick and tired of paying YOUR meal tickets.

    My guess is that paychecks for Ontario works and services must come in at well over $200,000,000. WHAT does that tell you. How is that relative to your/OUR tax base?

    One of the biggest and MOST UNNECESSARY departments is for Bilingual (meaning French only hire) services. CLOSE IT. Let the public decide and pay for their own French training.

    Out of 25 ‘so called ‘regions’ within Ontario, barely 4 qualify for anything near ‘bi-lingual’ yet you have TARGETED 21. What gives with that. You are blocking 95% of Ontario workers from acquiring so called ‘public’ jobs. THAT IS SO WRONG.

  5. Hey, Bo Diddly! And how ’bout those bilingual Parks Canada signs on the Long Sault Parkway? It’s truly horrific and disgraceful how English speaking Canadians are being abused and mistreated by our minority Francophone population. It’s time to fight back with all we have! Never surrender, and never give an inch to these traitors!

  6. So now its Quebecs fault for Ontarios economy ?You were once the apple of North Americas eye now your nothing more than a hemmorid to the USA and Canada and unfortunalty Quebec.

  7. Charles Souza doesn’t need to go on a tour like most Liberals he merely needs to open his eyes.

    Money is not what makes the world go round, it is the availability of affordable power, money is the bi-product. Manufacturing depends on affordable power, profit is the key to success, when business does not have a dependable source of affordable power other options have to be considered if the business is to survive.

    Now couple this with unrealistic demands from unions and government interference with basic principles of capitalism such as imposed minimum wages without adjustment to the socialistic component of our democracry (safety nets) and you get what we now have. A major dilemma that is not going to go away any time soon and a situation that is akin to standing on the edge of a precipice.

    Mr. Sousa try starting with nixing the Green Energy Program and create an environment where businesses can flourish or at the very least hold their own and survive. When business can survive and profit job creation looks after itself and prosperity is the word of the day. Unfortunately you have a tough road to travel even when the decision to chase business and industry from Ontario is reversed, a simple thing called TRUST !

  8. Furtz, you know the issue with those parks signs is placement of the English St Lawrence Park wording, not actually having French on the sign. http://www.ourhometown.ca/lifestyle/HS0242.php

    There is more than power at issue for manufacturing or Cornwall with its cheaper power would be over run. (local gov’t, payroll taxes, unions are among the reasons) But reviewing all departments for actual need and use would be a great first step as we see groups like universities with near 15,000 in the $100,000 and over club. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/story/2013/03/28/ontario-sunshine-list.html

  9. ERIC inexpensive power relative to the rest of Ontario comes to an end December 31st 2019. The existing contract which supplies Quebec power to Cornwall (FORTIS) cannot be renewed under the existing provincial law on energy supply sources. Cornwall’s arrangement ( contract ) was granted on a exemption basis to the provincial law and no extension has been sought or granted to the best of my information at this time.

    With only six years remaining no industry requiring considerable power would make an investment for such a short period of time, it simply would not be financially viable to do so.

    Cornwall with its still relatively inexpensive real estate would make a great retirement community. If you think that the boomers attracted here in numbers would not create a blossoming economy and hence support real growth than I would challenge that enough thought has not been put into this possible “industry” opportunity.

    So, yes I would agree that for Cornwall going forward conventional industry/manufacturing is not the answer to our long term needs.

    I wonder what our present council thinks the answer to our long term needs is, I still am not aware that they have a plan at all. Has anyone out there heard anything about the future for our fair community ?

  10. @ Eric. You know that if someone is going to go ape-sh!t over the order of language on a bilingual sign, they don’t have much to think or worry about.

  11. If each of these incidents Furtz is a penny out of your pocket, pretty soon you gave a dollar…besides, some Francophones (Que, Ont. & NB)are making signs their life work, should it not be slowed or at least be respecting the majority language?

    David Oldham, perhaps a committee needs to be formed now, there will be a hell of a sticker shock if Ontario hydro rates move in. Perhaps St Lawrence college needs to start pumping out graduates to service the aged, like the way welders were mass produced in the late 70’s.

  12. @ Eric. What exactly is disrespectful about the sign you noted? It is grammatically correct and both languages are given equal prominence.

  13. I for one would welcome the opportunity to sit on a committee and advocate continuance with the ability to purchase energy from Quebec Hydro, or for that matter whomever. After all, is a free market not the ability to do business with a partner of your choice not a protectionist political policy that does not fairly treat the taxpayer?

    At this point in time ERIC there in IF Ontario One rates come into effect January of 2020 in Cornwall, unless we stand united as the taxpayers who foot the bill and say enough is enough.

    Quebec the last time I checked was still part of Canada. As such they as a province should have the ability to do business with other partners in OUR country as we should be able to conduct business with them or as I mentioned earlier whomever we choose.

    I am not an extremist but rather a realist. My pockets are no deeper than others and my money should be spent wisely with respect. It has been governments such as the current one (provincially) that are propelling me to say it is time to act before it is simply too late !

    With regards to the college ERIC, the ability to do as you suggest exists. First, however, we require a municipal government that can properly establish a long term plan for our community. Council members who bring vision, passion and ability to see the plan through and a community beyond the 38% ( electorate ) that will support the endeavors required to provide for the current families but even more importantly ERIC, the families following if we are to have a healthy future.

    The baby boomers ( I am one myself ) represent the biggest swell in our population. They ( the Boomers ) have been the source of concern for governments going back to the late 60’s. Being the son of an accountant/cost consultant I am fully aware of not only what RRSP’s are but more importantly why they were created in the first place. To stay more on topic though, consider that for the next twenty five years the demand of this segment (largest) of our population for services could no doubt drive the economy of ma community such as Cornwall. I would challenge anyone to argue differently and suggest why WE should not capitalize on the opportunity.

    Properly thought out and developed this strategy would provide a growth industry for this community that would release us from the shackles of our past. Smart marketing would truly announce proudly and with substance that we in fact are “The Friendly Seaway City”.

    Finally, ERIC, people in our community need to embrace change as the new opportunity, they need to look past the typical political affiliations of a candidate and answer will this person truly represent the people of THIS community and not merely their own ambitions. We need candidates of substance that do not merely pay lip service to openness and transparency and candidates that can light up an election and motivate the electorate to go out and vote in numbers that will make this community the envy of the country.

  14. Should have read “there is no If Ontario One rates…..”

  15. I have had an idea for sometime now and even brought it up some time ago when I used to look at “the toilet paper of record – SF” and that is to recycle all the garbage and put it into electricity. A gentleman who was one of the bloggers who calls himself “Itinerant” said that he knew how to do this kind of thing and he tried to get council to agree with this project and he would get it started. Counsel and Bare Ass turned it down for some reason.

    In Seatle Washington they recycle garbage into electricity and Toronto’s mayor Rob Ford is thinking about doing just that as well. Ottawa is thinking about making another dump somewhere since the one that they have now in Carp is overfilled. Making extra electricity would rid the landfills of the highly toxic and polluted garbage and turn it into something that everyone needs. It is the big shot companies (corporations) who control everything and if they don’t get their cut in the profits then they reject what is good. Something has to change and for good and healthy environment things have to have a 360° turnaround. Just now the honeybees are dying with all the toxins and we should all do our part by not spraying with harmful chemicals and use natural products. This all has to stop now. Electricity, gas, oil, etc. is mighty expensive and industries cannot cope with the people’s salaries either. They took themselves to places where people work all day for a fraction of what they pay employees here in North America. Ontario is dead now.

  16. I wanted to add something here while talking about Ontario rates of electricity. Ottawa is on Ottawa Hydro as Mr. Oldman knows and here in Ottawa the Hydro does cut at night and the electricity is low during the day as well especially when you need it most at meal time. When we cook it is almost like a candle sometimes and at night your fridge doesn’t always work or works at a lower level. Expect this to happen everywhere since there is a huge demand on power. Scientists are going to have to find other means of power than relying on oil and oil is dirty, a terrible pollutant and I can go on and on about why not to be dependent on that stuff. Recycling garbage from the dump and turning it into electricity would be a great idea. Look up what Rob Ford is thinking about recycling the garbage into electricity and this is a good idea to turn to.

  17. I would not hold your breathe JULES on Ottawa rushing to join Rob Fords forward way of thinking of how to tackle garbage and electricity demands in the same manner that many European countries have for years.

    The problem is quite simple and speaks to the political issues that JAMIE has raised. Ottawa’s current mayor is a liberal and the liberals are opposed to incineration/power generation models.

  18. Furtz, the placement of French first, French on top or French on the right is the disrespect I mention, and it is the wording at the top of those parks signs. I have few issues with the grammar, for example rue Pitt street. Although these signs are provincial, (where 97% of the province can speak English) federally there is a Federal Identity Program to assist with proper placement with considerations like majority language spoken. I am just saying some French are using language against the majority, don’t let them divide us.

    David Oldham, the Ottawa Center Liberal MPP (Naqvie) said on TVO last year we can not get power from Quebec, what if they separate. If a conservative said that it would be headline news.

    Excellent points that come down to a change in thinking and management as it were, things Jamie has been discussing for years., and people are slow to grasp. As if we are waiting for someone to lead instead of being the change we want.

  19. Should read – placement of French first, French on top or French on the left –

  20. @ Eric. Life is way too short for me to waste it fretting about which language is on the top or bottom or left or right on a sign. I can’t imagine actually looking for things to get angry about.

  21. Furtz said “@ Eric. Life is way too short for me to waste it fretting about which language is on the top or bottom or left or right on a sign.”

    You may want to read that and then figure out how many posts on this subject you typed. Society improves when people ask for it, we have many people with different concerns asking for change and that system is all we have.

    Would you care if business in every Ontario municipality were TOLD by bylaw to only have one language, French, Chinese or English?
    That would create 2 problems, Charter infringement and loss of direct marketing.

  22. ERIC I refute your assertion that they are excellent points. They are quite simply indefensible positions

  23. ERIC the liberal members statement was ludicrous at best. The idea that we can not buy power from Quebec because they might separate is like a contractor saying he cannot build any houses because there might be a hurricane. There is no sense or logic in the comment or position. The only real certainty in life is death everything thing else is subject to change, somethings are controllable and others are not.

    Fact is we have been buying power from Quebec, New York State buys power from Quebec. Whether Quebec is part of Canada in no way affects the smart business of purchasing power from a dependable source at reasonable cost. Quebec’s position politically is separate from business unless the political position results in some form of embargo.

    As to it being different if a Conservative had made the same remark, nonsense. Regardless of who made the comment, whether from a politically affiliated individual or other it quite simply was not well thought out.

  24. I think that this is the place for everyone here to listen to this video which is very important to open your eyes and minds to. It is former premier Bill Vander Zalm of B.C. speak and listen to this from beginning to end. I want people awakened and not think that Jules just fell on her head and made this thing up. Here it is:

    Exposing the Global Elite with Bill Vander Zalm


    I would like everyone to see that no matter what government you elect they answer to the above. I don’t want to see people asleep but wide awake at what is really going on right here in Canada as well as around the world.

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