May 15, 2012
By Phil Charal
LO President

phil charal Each year I find the transition from winter to spring a shock to my lifestyle.

This year the level of shock was to the extreme. We came out of the fall and winter with very slow sales, but then April arrived and...boom. It was the busiest April I can ever recall. And, I know I’m not the only one to experience this turnaround.

It’s difficult to understand the cause of this dramatic increase in business.

During our slow months, we take time to reflect on the past year and examine methods on how to improve the company. Part of that process involves equipment and truck repairs, website upgrades, improving promotional handouts, assessing staffing requirements, and of course estimating the coming year’s potential.

Examining world economy

We look at the International Monetary Fund’s economic outlook, the growth assessments in the U.S. and Europe, and discuss how the world’s economy may affect our business. Our philosophy is that all this has an influence on how our clients will invest in their landscape needs.

But none of the numbers indicated what happened this April. For instance, at a glance we see Ontario’s real GDP has a 1.7 per cent projected growth rate for 2012. Ontario’s economy is following the growth pattern of the global recession. Over the next seven years that pattern is expected to see modest growth, we estimate this province’s new net jobs at 360,000. By 2015, the unemployment rate is expected to fall to 6.7 per cent, down from a high of 9.4 per cent in June of 2009.

Yet, I still have concerns. It is clear to me that, although I see modest growth in the economy as far as my future planning, concern remains that there is risk in the global economy, especially the situation in Europe and the U.S. Ontario still faces increasing challenges in its economic environment that will persist for at least the next few years. Over the long-term, this province will face slower labour force growth due to our aging population. This aging population will also demand more public services, such as health care that will make the efficient delivery of those public services even more important.

Labour shortage

In our industry, the labour shortage will have greater impact as the demand increases for green roofs, rooftop gardens, and functional and sustainable landscapes. These new elements of design have been utilized by landscape designers and growers for some time now. We are ready.

I truly wish that our provincial government would better understand that raising taxes will not grow our economy. As we do in our own businesses, we cut spending and strive to balance our own budgets when we are confronted with difficult time periods.

Corporate taxes

In recent years, corporate taxes were officially cut in provincial budgets. New low rates were assumed by Ontario businesses to be coming with the latest budget.

I for one am disappointed with this development. It is vitally important in a struggling economy to put more money into the hands of businesses and the general populace if we are to overcome this recession.

With spring season upon us, I know we are all working very hard and have very little time to focus on what is unfolding within our provincial government. As our government makes changes to policy, it’s important for us to stay informed, create our individual assessments and understand the impact that this will have on each of our personal businesses.

I wish everyone a successful and prosperous spring season.
Phil Charal may be reached at