In a few weeks, chambers of commerce and boards of trade from across Canada will be gathering in Thunder Bay to discuss and debate how to influence federal public policy. It’s fitting that this year’s Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC) Annual General Meeting is happening in a city that’s fairly close to being the middle of our country. Now more than ever Canada and Canadian businesses need to band together behind common values and ideals of how to move our economy forward.
Between NAFTA negotiations, newly inked trade agreements CETA (Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement) and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, interprovincial challenges, regulatory regimes and the desire for business tax reform by the federal
government these are challenging times.
Earlier this year the CCC issued the 2018 version of “10 Ways to Build a Canada that Wins” and as our national meeting approaches, this document is worth revisiting as it will be a guide for advocacy.
In fact, a quick scan of the 10 ways and you can see how each could be connected to the economic climate in the City and County of Peterborough. Here’s a look at a couple of them as we profiled them earlier this year.
Make Canada an Agri-Food Powerhouse
“Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sector has a strong and well-earned reputation for efficient production, innovation, food quality and safety that has propelled Canada to be the fifth largest exporter of agricultural
and agri-food products in the world.”
The CCC report goes on to say that the agri-food industry, from primary producers to advanced food manufacturers to agri-food based technologies to data analytics accounts for 7% of GDP and one in eight jobs across the country.
In 2018, the Chamber Network will focus on championing a more integrated approach involving federal and provincial governments in the development of policy in this area. There is also a continued desire to work with the government to develop a long-term vision for growing Canada’s agri-food sector.
On the economic development front in Peterborough, Peterborough & The Kawarthas Economic
Development Agriculture Advisory Committee has identified three priority areas for 2018:
Develop Agile Workforce Strategies
Accessing talent has been identified as one of the biggest challenges to business competitiveness in
Peterborough and across the province. The ability to make a difference in this space requires targeted strategies at all levels of government. Among the policy areas identified as priorities from the CCC and Chamber Network are workforce strategies that:
Helping SMEs Trade and Grow
We know and previous studies and research have told us that Canada, is really good at starting companies, but where we fall short is in our ability to grow those companies into medium or even large businesses.
In the CCC document we learn that 99% of all businesses are SMEs and that SMEs contribute 25% of all goods and services and yet exports less than a third of Canada’s GDP.
Encouraging companies to scale up and become global leaders requires a host of tools including funding programs, tax and regulatory policy that enable easy and low-cost compliance and programs that
continue to connect SMEs to domestic and international business opportunities.
Businesses will always be up to the challenge to build a “Canada that wins”, looking for new ways to grow and reach new customers and markets, but governments and policy makers cannot lose sight of the importance of a policy climate that allows for business success.