The seventh annual OER offers unique insights into business perspectives across Ontario. It is informed by data from our annual Business Confidence Survey (BCS) and economic forecasts for the year ahead. The BCS was conducted online from October 18 to November 30 2022, attracting responses from 1,912 organizations across Ontario.
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce released its seventh annual Ontario Economic Report (OER). The 2023 OER contains regional and sector-specific data on business confidence, public policy priorities, regional forecasts, and timely business issues such as employee health and well-being, climate change, succession planning, diversity and inclusion, reconciliation, and remote work. Read the report.
While business confidence has dropped to a new low, 53 percent of businesses are optimistic about the outlook and growth prospects of their own organizations, as high employment rates and population growth should prevent a sharp decline in consumer spending. Read the release.
Local Viewpoint from our Policy Intern Aloka Wijesundra
Cautious Optimism in a Time of Uncertainty: Kingston’s Outlook in the 2023 Ontario Economic Report
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce recently released its 2023 Ontario Economic Report, highlighting the gap between high confidence in internal business growth and low confidence in Ontario’s economic outlook. With inflation, labour shortages, and increased borrowing costs being top concerns for businesses across the board, let’s take a closer look at the predictions for Kingston’s businesses outlook in 2023.
Compared to more metropolitan areas such as Toronto and Ottawa, businesses in regions such as Kingston-Pembroke display lower confidence in Ontario’s economy. The Kingston-Pembroke region is reported to have the second lowest confidence rate of 12.1%. This can be attributed to the larger share of small businesses in the region and its focus on tourism, both areas that fare lower confidence in the current economy. 50% of businesses surveyed in the region also reported experiencing labour shortages, with the jobless rate expected to climb to 5.3%, up from 2022’s 4.6%.
While confidence in Ontario’s economy may be low, other indicators suggest growing optimism in the Kingston-Pembroke region’s economic growth. With consumer demand anticipated to continue its growth, Kingston-Pembroke’s population is also expected to rise by 1.8%. The Kingston region also saw the highest employment growth over the 2022 period by 7.6%. While employment growth is only forecasted to increase by 0.8% in 2023, past year’s successful performance is a healthy foundation. 53% of businesses in the Kingston-Pembroke region are also confident in their own organization’s growth, despite the low confidence in Ontario’s economy.
Moving forward, Kingston-Pembroke’s business community have outlined three primary policy priorities they would like to see action on from the provincial government, as businesses continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Reducing and simplifying business taxes is the primary call to action from our community, with 44% of survey respondents ranking this policy priority first. This is followed by the need to encourage more Ontarians to buy and travel locally (41%), which is especially important considering the vibrant tourism industry in the Kingston region that was hard hit by the pandemic. The third policy priority for the region is strengthening local supply chains, industries and manufacturing (39%).
Overall, while the confidence in Ontario’s economy is grim, regional actors such as those in the Kingston-Pembroke region have far more cause for optimism. It is important to note, however, that with a small number of survey respondents from the Kingston-Pembroke region totaling 53, certain results may be skewed. The common pattern of high organizational confidence but low broader economic confidence perfectly captures the uncertainty of the times we are experiencing amidst global geopolitical crises and pandemic recovery affecting business. However, growing business confidence signals that with appropriate policy responses and support, our region’s businesses can work towards a successful recovery in 2023.