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Federal Budget Submission 2024

February 9, 2024


Minister Freeland
Government of Canada

Via Email

Dear Minister Freeland,


Federal Budget 2024


Thank you for the opportunity to submit priorities for the upcoming budget, a key tool to ensure Canada is competitive and able to provide the services Canadians deserve today and in the future.


The Ottawa Board of Trade is the voice of business and a key advocate for economic development in our Nation’s Capital. Our mission is to cultivate a thriving world class business community. One that drives affordable, inclusive, and sustainable city building and community prosperity. We work closely with our colleagues at the Ontario and Canadian Chambers of Commerce as well as key economic partners at all levels of decision making. To that end, we wish to endorse the recommendations submitted by our colleagues across the country as outlined in Addendum A.


We thank our National Capital Region MPs for your collaboration and dedication to our city, our region and our country as international leaders. You have consistently demonstrated your understanding that business success and economic growth drive quality of life for all.


Today, we have a unique opportunity to leverage what we learned over the last few years, including:

  • We are all connected. Economic growth, public and mental health are inextricably entwined.
  • We get things done by being bold, prioritizing progress and correcting the course if needed.
  • We can optimize our collective resources for the highest impact through radical collaboration.


Our federal government has a responsibility to inspire business confidence through efficiency, expediency, and transparency. We are looking for smart, value-based decision making from our government; both bureaucratic and political.


Together, we must focus on a growth agenda. We must empower the private sector to lead the way on innovative solutions that address our biggest challenges and leverage our best opportunities as a country and global leader.


One such opportunity is the National Capital. The city of Ottawa is the fourth largest in Canada, home to 128 embassies, and the gateway to our G7 country. Creating a diverse and vibrant downtown Ottawa is critical to the long term cultural and economic wellbeing of Canada’s Capital Region. Our city core is the primary asset for our visitor economy which is the front door to every other form of economic development as it showcases our country to entrepreneurs, investors, talent, and students. A vibrant downtown attracts young people, creates energy, and counteracts the historical global profile of being a boring government city as it is often portrayed in media.


Ottawa has been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and the subsequent events and trends due to our significant federal presence. As a symbol for our country, the Ottawa community must be prioritized lest we follow the path of decline other North American cities have seen when faced with similar circumstances. We must act quickly to diversify our economic base and land uses. The challenges we are facing today will only become more complex, and more costly to address, if we wait. We have a unique opportunity to transform our downtown into one that is more diverse, resilient, and vibrant than we may otherwise have had the courage to create. One that will make all Canadians proud.


Now is the time for Ottawa to thrive by supporting the levers that will generate the greatest impact. The Ottawa Board of Trade is calling on the federal government to declare Downtown Ottawa a top priority. Our early recommendations are as follows:

  • Guarantee a 10-Year payment in lieu of taxes and support for the transformation of the core.
  • Fund the transit gap alongside the provincial government to enhance mobility to the core.
  • Commit to a collaborative effort and funds to urgently address homelessness, mental health, and addictions.


Finally, small businesses are the cultural and economic core of our communities. They provide jobs, essential services, and unique experiences. They are the foundation of what attracts residents and visitors alike to our region. The entrepreneurs and employees of these businesses are community leaders and supporters and have proven themselves to be among the most driven and resilient of us during these last three years. However, many continue to struggle to rebound.


The rising cost of doing business, access to labour, and ever-changing consumer and workplace trends have compounded their ability to generate revenue and manage debt. The government imposed counter measures during the pandemic were offset with program support, however, did not account for the long-term recovery of local, small businesses in the hardest hit sectors. Today, faced with the repayment of these loans, we are at risk of losing many that we fought to keep and counted on to drive our future economy.


We recommend the federal government work with all levels of government and economic partners to create new opportunities and reduce barriers for small businesses including but not limited to:

  1. Improve access to labour through immigration, settlement, training, and reskilling.
  2. Ensure city building and planning that drives affordability, housing, and frictionless transit.
  3. Modernize policies and systems to create a culture of service excellence for business.
  4. Increase access to capital, programs and procurement for small business, and diverse entrepreneurs.
  5. Reduce the burden of government owned debt for small businesses most affected by the pandemic.


The past few years have been characterized by tremendous uncertainty. If we want our economy and people to emerge stronger, we need to be visionaries, collaborators and action focused on priorities that create inclusive and sustainable growth. On behalf of the leaders, members, staff, and volunteers of the Ottawa Board of Trade, thank you for your continued commitment to strengthen Ottawa and Canada. Together, we will.



Sueling Ching

President & CEO | Ottawa Board of Trade


Addendum A

The Ottawa Board of Trade strongly supports the recommendations submitted by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce focused on strengthening Canada’s productivity, resilience, and growth by:

  1. Cultivating Business Competitiveness, and Inclusive, Sustainable Growth
  2. Investing in Resilient, Healthy Communities
  3. Empowering Canada’s Workforce
  4. Building a Strong Foundation Through Infrastructure


As well as the recommendations submitted by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, focused on the future of business success, including:

  1. Ensuring Reliable Supply Chains
  2. Easing the Burden of Doing Business
  3. Pragmatic Investment in Net-Zero
  4. Enabling an Innovative Economy
  5. Attracting, Developing, and Retaining Talent


In addition, we stand with the largest cities across the country to request a federal strategy in support of Canadian downtowns and metropolitan areas as proposed by the Canadian Global Cities Council directly to the Prime Minister’s Office in late 2022. The pandemic has disproportionately impacted Canadian downtowns which are highly strategic economic areas. In 2018, Canada's metropolitan areas accounted for more than 60% of national GDP and more than 82% of the population. We recommend a country wide strategy to support downtown areas of Canadian cities to stop the devitalization of these areas, which are the engines of the Canadian economy.


Recommendations include:

  1. Support a metro cities downtown cluster initiative.
  2. Strengthen metro areas with a focus on city building, housing, transit, and climate change.
  3. Deploy an interprovincial trade accelerator initiative.