Call to Increase Free Trade and Immigration with India

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By Todd Smith MPP *

Ontario can and will lead Canada in job creation again, but to get there we need to knock down barriers to free trade along with implementing pro-growth immigration policies with India.

That’s why Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak and our Caucus published the discussion paper Paths to Prosperity: An Agenda for Growth.

The paper proposes Ontario take a lead role in advocating for new international trade agreements with India, while also pushing for the province to sign onto domestic agreements and increasing immigration using the Provincial Nominee Program and keeping international students here through the Canadian Experience Class.

Ontario has done very well from past Free Trade agreements, going back to the 1960s Auto Pact and then NAFTA. We need to do more to level the playing field across international borders and look to countries like India, especially for professional services.

There are opportunities in India, but it’s going to take leadership at Queen’s Park to prioritize the role free trade plays in job creation.

For example, Ontario financial services firms already do business with India, but barriers like foreign investment stifle job-creating opportunities between Ontario and one of the fastest growing economies on the planet.

Emerging markets like India will provide even greater opportunities for Ontario businesses to compete in, and hundreds of millions of potential new customers for our products and services.

The Indian middle class is 300 million people. It's the largest middle class on earth. That’s ten times the population of Canada and represents huge potential markets for Ontario goods and services, like Bombardier trains from Thunder Bay, Blackberrys from Waterloo and financial services from Toronto.

It’s estimated that free trade between Canada and India could boost Canada’s economy by at least $6 billion, result in 40,000 new jobs and increase the average Ontario family’s annual income by $500.

Free trade benefits everyone. As more companies compete with each other, Ontarians benefit from greater innovation and productivity. Families get access to a wide range of higher quality products at the best price and they have more money left over to invest back into the economy.

Secondly, Ontario needs to have a pro-growth approach toward immigration. I believe that every new Canadian should have a chance to work and prosper in the province of Ontario. That’s Ontario’s tradition and that’s how Ontario was built. A Tim Hudak government would use the tools the federal government has created for provinces and ensure Ontario attracts the brightest, the best and not lose out to Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Ontario should take full advantage of the Provincial Nominee Program and Canadian Experience Class program to actively recruit talent.

We simply can’t let these opportunities pass us by. Ontario can no longer be a second choice.

* Todd Smith is Ontario PC Critic for Small Business and Red Tape


Vol. 12 - No. 3


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