Chamber of Commerce Joins the Call for a New Approach to the Sharing Economy

In a new report, Harnessing the Power of the Sharing Economy, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce has added its voice to those calling for a new approach to regulating the sharing economy, specifically citing services like Uber, Autoshare, and AirBnB as prominent examples. According to the report, while no jurisdiction has landed on a concrete approach to regulating this emerging market, the scale of the sharing economy makes it difficult to ignore. Relying on analysis by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the report estimates that global revenue derived from the sharing economy will reach $15 billion in 2015, growing to as much as $335 billion by 2025. Survey research conducted by Leger for this report, meanwhile, indicates that 40 per cent of young Ontarians (18-34) make use of sharing economy services, like Uber or AirBnB, while 63 per cent of ordinary Ontarians say it’s more affordable and 49 per cent say it’s more convenient.

Other interesting findings from the report:

  • Nearly two thirds of Ontarians believe that the growth of companies in the sharing economy is good for Ontario’s economy
  • 45% of Canadians are willing to rent their belongings to others, while 42% are willing to rent from others
  • There are 12,000 Autoshare members in Toronto
  • The typical AirBnB host is able to rent their home 52 nights per year and earn $450 per month
  • There are over 400,000 Uber riders in Toronto, while 1 in 5 residents in the GTA have used Uber services

Despite the potential of the industry, however, the report also highlights some of the challenges associated with the sharing economy, such as: ensuring consumer safety and security, regulatory design, ensuring tax compliance, insurance gaps, and the growth of a non-traditional workforce.
Overall, the report points towards the benefits of embracing the sharing economy, and includes a series of recommendations for how governments in Canada at all three levels can do so. According to the OCC, its recommendations are designed to make Ontario the first jurisdiction in the world to take a comprehensive approach to addressing the sharing economy. They include:

  1. Creating a cross-jurisdictional task force incorporating the business community and municipal, provincial and federal governments
  2. Ensuring a reduction in the amount of regulatory red tape impacting sharing economy businesses
  3. “Engaging with industry” to fill any insurance coverage gaps
  4. Reviewing the province’s labour laws to better reflect the sharing economy and the rise of non-traditional work
  5. Creating a tax compliance guide for sharing economy businesses
  6. Developing a clearer understanding of the motivations for providers of sharing economy services to either report or not report income tax

For more, read the full report here, or a similar report by the Mowat Centre here.

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