Ontario finance minister Peter Bethlenfalvy talks business with Oakville Chamber

Members of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce ate, chatted, and listened to the minister speak about the state of the Ontario economy

Ontario finance minister Peter Bethlenfalvy was in Burlington on Thursday morning, speaking to members of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce. 

Bethlenfalvy, who released the 2024 budget on March 26, gave a short keynote address about his parents immigrating from Hungary during the Second World War, and Ontario’s growing population.

“It’s very important for our government officials to hear directly from business owners about what their issues are,” Oakville Chamber president and CEO France Fournier said. “Being on the ground, the issues that come up may not always make it to the upper echelons, and our officials are so generous with their time in speaking with members of the business community.”

He was joined by chamber chair Lisa Azzuolo for a Q&A that put heavy focus on the provinces investments in nuclear energy, electric vehicles, supply chain problems, and mining. 

“President Biden was up here and he said he wants our critical minerals,” Bethlenfalvy said. “But it takes 17 years to get a shovel in the ground, you can’t have 10 years on a permit that’s a maybe.”

Bethlenfalvy added that institutions such as Sheridan College are producing workers with the skills to make Ontario into a green economy. 

He continued that Volkswagen, Europe’s largest automaker for nearly 20 years, is investing in their electric vehicle department and building a 16 million square foot facility in St. Thomas, which is expected to create 3,000 jobs. At the same time, the Ford Motor Company announced a two year delay in electric vehicle production in Oakville. 

Bethlenfalvy touched on the need for the minerals to build EVs that can be mined in Ontario, and that his budget accounts for such large scale operations. 

“You have to have a vision, you have to have a plan, and our plan is to build the budgets that we’ve been tabling since I’ve been minister of finance, they’re all around building the economic vitality of this province,” Bethlenfalvy said. “That means infrastructure, it means investing in the economy. It’ll be felt here in Oakville with the Ford plant, and right across Ontario in the north with critical minerals for battery manufacturing in southwest Ontario, and assembly and manufacturing in Oshawa, Windsor, and Brampton.”

Bethlenfalvy added that he is aware of people’s concerns about the mining of critical minerals in Ontario, and potential battery waste that could be created from a rise in EV sales and use. 

“I see the innovation going on, and people trying to recycle batteries, to find new ways to make it more environmentally friendly,” he said. “Of course, the whole objective is that we move off of fossil fuels into more of a clean, green, electrically-fuelled environment that doesn’t have emissions.”

Bethlenfalvy and Azzuolo sat together for about half an hour, going through 10 questions together before meeting with guests and local politicians. 

The Oakville Chamber’s next event – the Oakville Awards for Business Excellence – is set for the end of May. 




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