Entries in CCC (3)

Wednesday
Aug242016

Grabbing the ear of government in 2016

Two days and 70 policy resolutions to debate; this is the task ahead of delegates at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC) Annual General Meeting next month.  It is through adopting, defeating or referring resolutions to the Board of Directors that the Chamber Network sets the policy agenda for the CCC.  

What is a policy resolution?  A policy resolution is a discussion paper that identifies an issue impacting the business community, presents the case for how the issue could be resolved and concludes by providing recommendations to government.  

The policy debates highlight the issues on the collective mind of businesses across the country and the end result is a script that the Canadian Chamber can use in its dialogue with the federal government. 

There are eight main areas of focus: finance and taxation, special issues, natural resources and environment, transportation and infrastructure, industry, international affairs, social policy, and human resources.   

For the most part these resolutions are written by chambers just like the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce.  This year, our policy committee and board of directors submitted two policy resolutions: Advancing Canadian Competitiveness Using Shortline Rail (Transportation and Infrastructure) and Restoring Canada’s Innovation Competitiveness (Industry).  

In the rail resolution, the federal government is being asked to create a dedicated shortline capital funding program that is accessible to all shortline companies, and to establish a tax credit program to assist
shortline rail companies in making capital investments.    

The innovation resolution is asking the federal government to: 

  • Rename the SR&ED tax credit the Innovation Tax Credit and start it at 20% of eligible expenses
  • Simplify the process of the Innovation Tax Credit application, using the following as a base: improving the pre-claim project review service, simplifying the base on which the credits are calculated, and introducing incentives that encourage SME growth – so that Canadian companies of all sizes and across all industries can move forward with confidence to bring their innovation to market
  • Create an innovation environment that encourages private sector investment in R&D and technology across all industries focusing on the following factors for success: ease of use for businesses, consultation with the business community to ensure programs are in line with the real time needs of business, achieved and sustainable growth of participating businesses, export readiness, and help with operational scale-up.

Other resolutions of note include Addressing Barriers to Indigenous Participation in Canada’s Economy, Canada as a Global Leader in Venture Capital Financing, the Risks of Cyber Crime, Expanding Canada’s Export Capacity through Harmonizing Agri-Food Cross-Border Trade Regulations, and Improving the Express Entry System for 

International Student Graduates.   

Broader issues from pension reform to marijuana to infrastructure asset management to broadband to scaling up to recruiting talent will also be discussed.  

The goal of the delegates in debating and refining these recommendations is to provide clear direction to the Canadian Chamber as to the thoughts and needs of the Canadian business community, through the membership of chambers of commerce and boards of trade across the country.

You can find the proposed 2016 resolutions on our website peterboroughchamber.ca/policy-report-cards--resolutions.html

Ontario Chamber Network role in policy process

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce policy debates are often lively as delegates debate issues that have different impacts across the country. 

In an effort to ensure that the Ontario perspective is not lost, a group of chambers and boards of trade review all of the resolutions to be discussed.  This allows the group to have a good understanding of the issues and to pass that information on to their volunteers attending the event.  It also allows for local Chambers to receive feedback on resolutions from members and present the case for support of their resolution to the group.  What we bring to the AGM is an informed group of delegates focussed on ensuring Ontario's voice is heard at the national level. 

This year's co-chairs of the caucus are Sandra Dueck from the Peterborough Chamber and Joyce Mankarios of the Sudbury Chamber.

Wednesday
Aug052015

Canadian businesses asking for access to win

The writ has dropped and the campaigning for the October 19th federal election is now almost through its first week.  The business community has a very strong message for all political parties and candidates.  Issues that local business owners from across the country have identified as most pressing have been packaged by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce into a platform document called “A Canada That Wins”.  

Why is the business community taking such a strong stand?  President and CEO Perrin Beatty sums it up in an introductory letter to the platform document. “Many factors are contributing to uncertainty in the economic landscape, and we (Chambers of Commerce) want to work with parliamentarians in crafting forward-thinking, long-term  public policies that foster a globally-competitive business sector.”

The document is all about access to help improve Canada’s competitiveness.  As such, four areas have been identified as standouts: access to a powerful workforce, access to capital, access to technology and innovation, and access to markets.  

Below are the four categories and the asks by the business community to all parties.

Access to a Powerful Workforce

  • Investing in more and better labour market information
  • Ensuring immigration changes stop unduly limiting employers’ access to the international talent they need
  • Addressing the serious processing issues and inflexible features of the Temporary Foreign Worker 
  • Program that are negatively affecting employers’ access to workers in a range of sectors
  • Providing incentives for employers to offer more post-secondary co-op placements and internships
  • Creating a financial incentive for employers to retain employees throughout the completion of their apprenticeship training

Access to Capital 

  • Introducing better tax incentives for venture capital and angel investors
  • Changing regulations to encourage insurance companies and pension plans to invest a modest part of their funds in venture capital
  • Forming an impartial panel of experts to review and recommend measures to simplify Canada’s tax system
  • Increasing the income threshold from the (11%) small business tax rate to $1,000,000 from $500,00 to encourage small companies to continue growing
  • Simplifying the Capital Cost Allowance rules from 52 separate asset classes to a few broad categories

Access to Technology and Innovation

  • Providing incentives to move ideas from mind to market, such as an “innovation box” regime in Canada that would see any sales/revenues earned on a patent or a new technology developed here in Canada taxed at a much lower rate
  • Investing in digital infrastructure (networks and switching required to handle the volume of next generation data transfer) and rewarding private sector investment driven by profit motives
  • Providing incentives that encourage collaboration through technology clusters or centres of excellence

Access to Markets

  • Continuing an ambitious free trade agenda by concluding and implementing bilateral agreements in Europe and Asia, while pushing forward regional and multilateral trade talks
  • Launching a national regulatory cooperation strategy that will mobilize resources and political attention to tackle internal trade barriers and enhance alignment with Canada’s trading partners
  • Strengthening export and tourism promotion services by improving coordination between the private and public sectors, expanding marketing campaigns and diplomatic presence abroad and establishing a national development finance institution
  • Investing in transportation infrastructure and improving Canada’s border services and visa administration to make it easier for businesses to get their products in and out of Canada
  • Ensuring stringent but streamlined regulatory processes for the extraction and transportation of natural resources
  • Supporting policies that will stimulate innovations in environmental sustainability and ensure a supply of skilled workers to help Canada meet the demands for its natural resource industries

Running in the Peterborough-Kawartha Riding are Mike Skinner for the Conservatives, Maryam Monsef for the Liberals, and Dave Nickle for the NDP. In Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock running for MP are Jamie Schmale as the Conservative candidate, David Marquis for the Liberals, Mike Perry for the NDP, and William MacCallum for the Green Party. In Northumberland-Peterborough South Adam Moulton is running for the Conservatives, Kim Rudd for the Liberals, Russ Christianson for the NDP, and Patricia Sinott for the Green Party.  

The Chamber has also started a Facebook page called the "2015 Federal Election Hub".  The site is designed to allow candidates to post business-themed election events and for constituents to ask business-related questions.  Check out the hub at www.facebook.com/fedelection2015ptbo

Thursday
Sep112014

A funny thing happened on the way to a trade agreement

As Canada negotiates the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) with the European Union, it is also setting, consciously or subconsciously a framework that has the potential to improve trade barriers between this country’s provinces and territories. 

Internal trade barriers have been a concern for many years by many groups, including local chambers such as the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce, provincial chambers such as the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) and the Chamber Network’s federal arm the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. 

At the provincial level, delegates at the OCC’s Annual General Meeting in May voted in favour of a policy resolution called “Eliminating Inter-Provincial Trade Barriers before CETA takes effect.” 

As explicit tariffs between provinces are forbidden under section 121 of the Constitution Act of 1867, most interprovincial barriers are the result of differing rules, regulations, licensing requirements and regional programs. These barriers to internal trade are often enforced by provincial legislation in attempts to protect local interests (OCC Policy Resolution, 2014). 

The resolution asks the provincial government to: 

 

  • Pursue trade liberalizing agreements with other Canadian jurisdictions through the use of Article 1800 of the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT), that allows interested parties to move forward when consensus is not possible. 
  • Encourage all the parties of the AIT to conduct a full review and renegotiation of that agreement in order to eliminate barriers to trade, investment and labour mobility by 2015. A new agreement should: Cover all sections of the economy including ministries, crown corporations and regional and local governments. 
  • Institute a dispute resolution mechanism that includes access to a panel with binding and enforceable powers and contain significant fines for non-compliance. 

 

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC) has identified internal trade barriers as one of the Top 10 Barriers to Competitiveness. “Over the years, we have been calling on the government to significantly improve the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT),” says Perrin Beatty, President & CEO, Canadian Chamber of Commerce in a recent blog. “We are encouraged that the federal government is now committed to eliminating remaining barriers to internal trade—an issue that has been costing Canadian companies billions of dollars over the years. We are ready to work with the various levels of governments to advance this issue and improve the competitiveness of the Canadian economy.” 

The Voice of Business continues to ring loud and clear as the CCC and a number of provincial chambers including the OCC wrote a letter to the Premiers. The letter was sent before the Premiers met in PEI recently. 

“While Canada faces many economic and social challenges, we believe that there is one issue that must be given significant attention by our governments: the removal of barriers to internal trade and mobility. 

Internal trade barriers continue to impede the free movement of people and goods between Canada’s provinces. Such barriers often arise as a result of minor differences in standards, certifications or regulations. The red tape that these differences impose on businesses and the economic toll they place on our competitiveness have become intolerable. 

The Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT) was negotiated twenty years ago and does not respond to today’s economic and commercial realities. While there have been some helpful changes over the years - in particular to the chapter on labour mobility- the agreement as currently written no longer does our economy justice. 

As Canada continues to remove the barriers between our country and the rest of the world, it is time to make the creation of an integrated, efficient Canadian economy a priority. In particular, as we move closer to a final agreement with the European Union, we run the risk of having a more open trading relationship with Europe than we have internally. How can we expect our businesses to be able to compete with the twenty-eight countries in the European Union if they are unable to efficiently access markets closer to home? 

The costs imposed by these internal barriers limit consumer choice, complicate unnecessarily the process for Canadians wanting to work in other regions of Canada, and impose a multi-billion dollar drag on Canada’s economy. These costs are being recognised both here at home and, increasingly, abroad. For example, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recently urged Canadian governments to harmonize certification requirements for apprenticeship programs as a means to improve interprovincial mobility. 

We urgently call on you and the federal government to adopt a renewed commitment to break down the remaining barriers to internal trade and mobility in Canada. We believe that all of Canada’s governments should strive for a more modern agreement on internal trade. At a minimum, the existing agreement should be strengthened and updated to reflect the realities of our modern, trade dependent economy, with the onus being placed on those proposing impediments to the ability to do business throughout Canada to justify these barriers and with the ability to resolve disputes in a timely manner. 

Together, our network of Chambers of Commerce is comprised of more than 450 local chambers of commerce and boards of trade representing more than 200,000 businesses and industry associations of all sizes and sectors in every region of Canada. We wish you every success as you prepare for your important deliberations and we stand ready to work with you and the Government of Canada to create an efficient and competitive Canadian economy.” 

Not only is there a cohesive attitude amongst the Chamber Network in Canada, but the letter and follow-up discussion at the Premiers meeting in PEI may be “very good news, if they mean what they say,” says Beatty in his blog. “For years, Canadian businesses have struggled to navigate the complex system of differing rules, regulations and standards. These minor differences increase costs, reduce our efficiency and warn foreign investors away from our country.” 

It also appears the government of Canada is truly taking notice and has issued One Canada, One National Economy: Modernizing Internal Trade in Canada. “Persistent barriers to internal trade, including regulatory differences, inconsistent standards, and restrictions on the free movement of people, goods and services, fragment our economy and put Canadian firms at a disadvantage,” James Moore, Minister of Industry. “The result is a weaker Canadian economy, lost jobs, and a less united Canada.” 

The proposal examines two ways Canada can develop a solution to the problem:  

  • Option One: Focus on priority areas for improvement 
  • Option Two: Completely redesign the internal trade framework for Canada  

The report concludes with a promise to Canadians and Canadian business: 

“These two pathways are each legitimate and viable routes to a renewed AIT and a stronger Canadian economy. They form a sound basis on which to move forward and represent approaches we can pursue over time to achieve meaningful outcomes. Going forward, the Government of Canada is committed to working with provinces and territories to forge agreement on a path forward and begin the essential work of renewing internal trade to the benefit of all Canadians.” 

With the business community, the province and the federal government having an eye to reform, the time is now to get it done. 

**More about the Industry Canada proposal can be found at:
http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/081.nsf/ eng/00001.html 

To comment on this article please go to the "Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn.