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Story by Lindsey Enns
Business owners from Dryden, Wabigoon, Vermilion Bay and Kenora had a chance to sit down and share their concerns with Kenora MP Greg Rickford and St. Boniface MP and Parliamentary Secretary of Finance Shelly Glover during a discussion focused on the hiring credit for small businesses at a meeting held at The Centre on Aug. 23.
“These meetings are very constructive and productive to the extent that they help us improve on things that we have done recently for small businesses and things that we can improve on heading into the next budget,” Rickford said.
“We saw a critical amount of small businesses raise their hands today to say that they do in fact have labour and skilled labour shortages.”
Meetings like this one are being held in communities across northern Ontario and stem from a leaders symposium held earlier last week that Rickford says was very well attended. Concerns and issues brought forward by local businesses will soon be looked at and considered for inclusion in next year’s budget plan. Rickford says one of the main problems several local business owners are facing right now is a lack of skilled people available for hire.
“They are still challenged with labour shortages, not having skilled trained people available to fill the jobs that they require to make sure that their businesses thrive and their businesses grow,” Glover said.
Lowering taxes, Glover says was a steady theme during the discussion and many business owners commented on the hiring tax credit. Having a housing credit for people who are moving for apprenticeships was also one business owner’s concern, but Glover says she wonders if that will just create another payment for taxpayers.
“We have to be very careful about using taxpayers’ money to put towards those kinds of things that may not have an outcome,” she said.
“We have to make sure that we are looking at the big picture.”
More incentives for people to move off Employment Insurance will also be apart of next year’s budget plan Glover says.
“EI for some people has become far too easy instead of going out and filling those jobs that are available,” she said.
“There’s this perception out there that there aren’t enough jobs, just look at the folks in this room that are begging for labour.”
Small business owners unable to attend the meeting but would still like to share their comments or concerns regarding the 2013 budget plan can do so by contacting their local MP.
“Folks here in Dryden are very willing to express their opinions about the government’s plans to maintain a fiscal track and that we appreciate tremendously,” Glover said.
“It’s been a fruitful couple of days and we have developed some relationships here that I hope will continue.”