By Elisabeth Saftiuk, MCC Director of Policy
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce held its Annual General Meeting on October 27 & 28, with the national network passing several critical resolutions related to workforce development, trade, and pandemic economic recovery. The national chamber works through a policy resolutions approach, which captures a national perspective, ensures broad industry and regional representation, and helps guide and shape the advocacy team’s plan for the year ahead.
As a provincial/territorial chamber, the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce is also member of the Canadian Chamber, and as such, we have voting rights at the AGM as determined by our membership numbers. Last week, literally in my first week as Director of Policy with the MCC, I was fortunate to travel to Neepawa, Manitoba with President & CEO Chuck Davidson and MCC staff to participate in the virtual Canadian Chamber AGM. Very special thanks to the Chamber Executives of Manitoba leaders who organized a great two days, welcoming us in to join them safely and face-to-face.
Click here to view the complete proposed Canadian Chamber of Commerce Policy Resolutions book, or read below for a summary of the policy highlights that will be of interest to our local chamber network:
- Many of Canada’s hardest hit businesses will struggle to meet current CEBA loan deadlines, forcing them to incur more debt and further delay economic recovery. The national chamber network passed a resolution recommending an extension to the CEBA repayment deadline by two years and allowing businesses that continue to be affected by public health restrictions to be exempt from incurring interest on their loans.
- There is currently a severe shortage of skilled tradespeople in Canada and the current domestic population cannot immediately address the labour gaps. The national chamber network has recommended the adoption of an integrated immigration strategy that better addresses Canada’s skilled trades’ gap and the needs of employers, in part by recommending changes to the immigration scoring system.
- Jurisdictions across Canada are searching for ways to attract and retain more international students. An impediment to efforts is policies that make it more difficult for these students to obtain work experience while attending Canadian post-secondary institutions. The national chamber network has recommended, in part, that the Government of Canada makes permanent the temporary pandemic-related measures that allowed international students to work more than 20-hours per week off-campus and allow international students to qualify for the Canada Summer Jobs and Student Work Placement Programs.
- The pandemic has had a disproportional impact on Canadian women in the workforce. There are several actions that the federal government can undertake to support women business owners and entrepreneurs, including ensuring that they have access to high-quality and affordable childcare. To that end, the national chamber network passed a resolution advocating for the removal of tax barriers for childcare by expanding the eligibility of business owners who can claim childcare expenses and making childcare an eligible business deduction.
- The Federal Government must ensure that there is a cohesive environment for the business community to build sustainable relationships with Indigenous Peoples. The national chamber network passed a resolution recommending that the Government of Canada actively engages in meaningful consultation with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and its membership to establish a Reconciliation Action Plan to address education in the workplace, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report and its recommendations.
- Despite recent trade agreements, many barriers continue to impede the movement of goods, services and labour between Canadian provinces and territories, creating ongoing uncertainty that harms Canada’s reputation as a secure place to invest and do business. To that end, the Canadian Chamber passed a resolution recommending that the Government of Canada conducts a full review of the Canadian Free Trade Agreement with a view of eliminating barriers to trade, investment and labour mobility.
- Tourism was one of the hardest hit sectors due to the COVID-19 pandemic and it will be one of the last to fully recover. The national chamber network is asking that the Government of Canada develops a national strategy to address the labour shortage facing the tourism sector, extending the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy for businesses in the hardest hit sectors until Spring 2022, and providing Canadians with a tax incentive to encourage domestic travel within Canada.
- The Government of Canada has indicated its interest in establishing a national pharmacare program. If the government is to move forward with such a plan, the plan must give Canadians an advantage over what the system currently offers, which means it should fill gaps and not replace what is working. Therefore, the national chamber network passed a resolution making a series of recommendations to the Government of Canada, including that an affordable solution for government should focus on Canadians who do not have drug coverage and engaging with private sector stakeholders when designing and implementing such a program.