By Charla Robinson, President
Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce delegates Jason Thompson, Chair of the Board, Bianca Garofalo, First Vice Chair and Charla Robinson, President were successful in earning national support for two policy issues of concern to the Thunder Bay business community at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce AGM held in Calgary from October 12 – October 14. The Canadian Chamber is the largest business network in the country with significant influence on policies, regulations and decisions that are critical to creating a favourable environment for business success and the future of Canada. Delegates debated over 65 resolutions on topics relating to Agriculture, Digital Economy, Finance & Taxation, Indigenous Issues, International Affairs, Natural Resources, Energy & Environment, and Transportation & Infrastructure.
Our first policy resolution called for the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot to be made permanent. The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) is a federal program established in November 2019 with the goal to attract and retain skilled immigrants in rural and northern communities by testing innovative approaches to permanent immigration. RNIP can play a key role in addressing the labour shortage and achieving the federal government’s recently announced immigration targets, but it is set to expire in August 2024. Local Chambers, RNIP delivery organizations, and economic development groups have been advocating for some time for the pilot to be made permanent. The addition of the Canadian Chamber’s voice significantly amplifies our message to the Federal Government of the need to make this pilot permanent to address labour shortages and support community economic development.
Our second policy resolution expressed our belief that Local Autonomy and Funding Support are Key to Success at Canada’s Airport Authorities Recent Transport Canada consultations suggest a desire to increase Government involvement. Topics proposed included changing the board selection process to give Government a larger role, standardizing processes for consultation, and implementing charging principles for setting user fees. These are concerning messages that could hinder the ability of airports to respond to local needs and priorities. Furthermore, Canada’s airports are facing significant financial challenges. The airport sector took on over $3.2 billion dollars in debt through the pandemic and airports have over $28 billion in planned infrastructure investments over the next 10 years to address growth. Airports are asking for financial support to keep up with asset repairs and invest in future passenger and cargo development. Having the Canadian Chamber’s support on this issue, sends a message to the Federal Government about the positive impacts of the current airport operations model to local economies.
The conference also included conversations with the: Honourable Anita Anand, President of the Treasury Board; the Honourable Rechie Valdez, Minister of Small Business; and, Shuvaloy Majumdar, Member of Parliament for Calgary Heritage in which business concerns were delivered relating to the need for further extension to CEBA loan repayment timelines, the impacts of housing and labour shortages to business success, and Canada’s need for a plan, political will and partnerships with business to strengthen our economic environment.