Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan says gridlock in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area is so bad, it’s holding back the entire Canadian economy.
"The gridlock challenge in the Greater Toronto-Hamilton area is probably the greatest impediment to productivity improvements in the Canadian economy," Duncan said Tuesday.
"Whatever government of whatever political stripe is going to have to come to terms with the reality that there will have to be new sources of revenue to support it."
David Adames, president of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, agreed that transit has a significant impact on Hamilton businesses, even if it's not always visible for those who live and work downtown.
'You don't see the congestion so much in Hamilton, but you see it in people commuting either to Toronto or from other areas into Hamilton.' —David Adames, Hamilton Chamber of Commerce
"For one, the movement of goods is affected by congestion and that adds to costs," he said.
"You don't see the congestion so much in Hamilton, but you see it in people commuting either to Toronto or from other areas into Hamilton."
Traffic been an ongoing a problem for the area, Adames said. Before the last provincial elections, the Ontario chamber of commerce polled its members to see what they felt were the most pressing issues for commerce in their community.
"The No. 1 issue for chamber members in the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area was transportation infrastructure," he said.
Duncan’s comments come ahead of his planned departure from provincial politics, and days before his Ontario Liberals are set to pick a new leader and premier at a leadership convention this weekend.
Get the latest information on traffic tie-ups from CBC Hamilton.
Duncan acknowledges that finding revenue to pay for a new transit plan will be tough, but he says the federal government should be expected to kick in some money.
"I think Canada still is one of the few jurisdictions where the federal government doesn't actively participate in funding public transit," said Duncan.
Adames said the Hamilton chamber of commerce supports any initiatives that will help alleviate some of the transportation stress on Hamilton businesses, including the all-day, two-way GO train service from Toronto that is set to arrive by 2015.