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Economic uncertainty is a consideration for Kawartha Lakes, Durham organizations

DAN CEARNS, The Standard

KAWARTHA LAKES/DURHAM: The potential for an economic recession this year has been discussed and considered by local Durham and Kawartha Lakes organizations.

In a report, the Royal Bank of Canada forecasted in October that “a recession [could] begin in the first half of 2023.”

In a statement, City of Kawartha Lakes CAO Ron Taylor stated the economic situation did play a part in the creation of the 2023 municipal budgets.

“Our 2023 municipal budgets were structured to recognize and balance forecasted economic hardships due to inflation and affordability. Our budgets, along with fees and charges, have, for the most part, been proposed at a 3 percent increase. This does not reflect actual costs we are facing-which are more in line with the recent 7 percent [Consumer Price Index] released by Stats [Canada],” he wrote. “The budgets continue to prioritize projects and services which support and promote recovery from the pandemic. This includes strategic investments in infrastructure which supports businesses and programs which support vulnerable populations and resident well-being.”

In tandem with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, the Lindsay and District Chamber of Commerce is putting the onus on the Ontario government to assist local businesses.

While noting the local chamber had not “polled [their] membership,” Allyssa Adams, the Executive Director of the chamber, said through discussions with many businesses, “the general feeling is the government needs to show greater support to small and medium [sized] businesses who are still recovering from the pandemic.”

“This includes helping grow infrastructure, access to solid internet is a key factor in many of our communities here, as well as helping to retain and recruit employees, including providing funding to training initiatives to reskill workers in areas of growth,” she added.

In a recent infographic, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce stressed the importance of continued government investments into businesses.

“Governments across Canada moved swiftly to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, much of the urgency which spurred collective action and collaboration among governments has dissipated. Against the backdrop of rising interest rates and inflation, constrained supply chains, workforce woes, and concerns of a recession, governments need to be agile and develop a coherent and coordinated strategy for long-term economic growth.

This means reducing barriers to growth and investment in the foundational factors which promote prosperity,” stated the infographic .

The Township of Uxbridge issued a statement, noting their budget process constantly keeps an eye on economic situations.

“The Township of Uxbridge monitors financial and economic indicators carefully. We budget based on current costs and forecasts, and seek to deliver the most efficient budget for our residents. Through our procurement procedures, we ensure value for money and the best price. When costs are higher than anticipated, the municipality assesses priority, scope and value carefully.”

While noting the current economic uncertainty, Durham Regional Chair John Henry took a positive approach to the issue. “We know this is a time of economic uncertainty. We also know Durham is one of the most in-demand regions to live in within the most in-demand country in the world. We are seeing that love of our community translates into fantastic support for locally-owned and operated businesses and continued interest in Durham Region. Through an economic development lens, we are seeing continued strong demand for commercial and industrial investment in our communities, with a high volume from both international and domestic developers. Durham’s top growth areas-energy, electric vehicles and advanced mobility technology-will be strong industries through a recession, and there are many current career opportunities in Durham as a result of these growing industries. Durham Region is the clean energy capital of Canada and is leading the way in the research and development of electric vehicles. Because of existing high employment in these sectors, continuing government focus, and expected significant growth and new investment in these sectors over the next few years, we are expecting a strong job market in Durham Region.”

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