By MPP Toby Barrett
Unquestionably, over the past two years, businesses of every type and size in across Haldimand-Norfolk and right across Ontario have faced incredible challenges.
Government saw the challenges and stepped up to offer help. This included unprecedented levels of support through grants and funding for businesses that were forced to close…something I was given the opportunity to explain at a recent Simcoe and District Chamber of Commerce ‘Lunch and Learn.’
Going forward, the fact remains we live at the centre of one of the most stable and competitive business environments in the world. Strategically located in the heart of North America, companies have access to more than 187 million consumers within a day’s drive of the Greater Toronto Area. Locally, Haldimand-Norfolk is within an hour to two from the GTA, and less from the Golden Horseshoe. This positions us well to capitalize on growth.
With more than 14 million people, Ontario is home to 40 per cent of Canada’s population and is one of North America’s largest jurisdictions. In fact, if we were a U.S. state, we would rank fifth by population. And we’re connected: an easy drive across any of the 14 border crossings to the United States; just a hop by air to New York, Washington, or Chicago.
As well, companies that choose to move to Ontario can have confidence in our long-term political and economic stability, and our positive relations with other regions.
Our economy is built on the strength of traditional industries — including mining, forestry, steel, petrochemical, farming and agri-business. These mainstay sectors remain our economic anchor, even as they re-tool to apply new technologies and innovations to compete in a digital age.
Ontario is also where new economies have emerged in force. It’s where financial services, for example, are broadening into financial technology and revolutionizing the way we invest. Artificial intelligence is ushering in an era of even more connected ways of doing business.
If Ontario is known for doing something exceptionally well, it’s producing the best and the brightest talent. Ontario is where cutting-edge thinking is powered by a dynamic ecosystem of research and development. We are the second-largest IT cluster in North America and are supported by a tech workforce of over 320,000 employees with expertise in artificial intelligence and machine learning.
These factors can be game changers and the reason why our province added over 194,000 jobs in February. The fundamentals are in place. They are why Ontario saw continued domestic and foreign investment throughout the worldwide pandemic.
The recent boom of investment in the province shows that we have the components and competitive environment needed for economic growth. By lowering taxes, reducing electricity costs, and cutting red tape, our government has cut the cost of doing business in Ontario by $7 billion a year.
Commitments to excellence, a talented workforce, prime location, raw materials and a history of quality make Ontario the choice to build and export the next generation of technology. We are not afraid to try new approaches and that’s what makes Ontario special. Right here is where new ways of doing business, and new technologies meet the muscle of our industrial economy.
As much as the pandemic has shaped our experience in the past, our plan forward has positioned us well for rebuilding our economy in the future.
Toby Barrett is the MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk