March 26th, 2019

Business Beat: A national day of action

By Medicine Hat News on February 20, 2019.

Canada’s chambers of commerce, representing more than 200,000 Canadian businesses, are coming together today to demonstrate widespread support for Canada’s resource sectors and asking our governments to do more for these embattled sectors and the Canadians they employ.

Our natural resource sector provided 1.81 million jobs in 2017, accounted for 17 per cent of the GDP, provided $22 billion/year to government during 2012-2016 and contributed $236 billion in 2017 exports (47 per cent of the value of Canada’s total merchandise exports). In the southeast Alberta Palliser region, natural gas production accounted for 9.6 billion m3 in 2017 with oil production at 3.2 million m3. It’s easy to see that the significance of this sector demands that any decisions related to it must not be made lightly, considering the national and global importance of this valuable asset.

Canada’s tremendous quality of life is overwhelmingly determined by the prosperity generated by our natural resources sectors, but we are failing to treat these sectors as strategic national assets, with mismanagement of the value of our natural resources rooted in Canada’s investment-killing regulatory framework.

Canada’s complex network of overlapping regulations from all levels of government has created a costly and uncertain environment in which to operate a business. While Canada ranks as the world’s fifth largest producer of oil and natural gas, and has been known to have a business environment that protects and encourages the large investments necessary in this sector, we are losing the ability to attract investment, as Canada loses its appeal to be the destination of choice for leading global companies across the oil and gas value chain due to the burdensome regulatory framework and uncertainty for business.

Interestingly, more than 80 per cent of the world’s major mining, oil and gas-producing countries fail to adequately govern the way they extract and manage natural resources, according to a 2017 index that tracks accountability and corruption. Unfortunately, what is being lost in the current national discussion about Canada’s energy resources and climate change is that Canadian energy products are some of the most ethical and greenest in the world. There is enormous demand for Canadian energy products within growing economies like China and India, which would make a massive contribution to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. Our concern remains that if we cannot get Canadian resources to market, we are not only doing a disservice to our country, but also to other parts of the world, as their reliance on resources is directed to countries that do not have the same governance and sustainability practices as Canada.

Canada is squandering an opportunity to put more money in the pockets of every single Canadian and fight climate change at the same time because of internal political bickering.

No other country in the world would have wasted the potential of our natural resources the way that our politicians have and too many Canadians are needlessly suffering as a result.

We need to stop the accelerating exodus of investment from Canada and we are urging our governments, both provincial and federal, to commit to getting our natural resources to international markets by carrying out these four actions:

– Get our energy resources to tidewater without delay. A good start could be recognizing that TMX is in the national interest and beginning immediate construction in uncontested jurisdictions.

– Amend Bill C-69 to bring greater clarity, predictability and transparency to the law.

– Make immediate regulatory changes promised in the fall economic update.

– The premiers should make a broad mutual recognition of each province’s standards, across all sectors and to do so within the short term.

Onerous compliance costs, along with inefficient and unpredictable regulatory processes, divert business resources away from more productive activities and our broken regulatory system has suffocated much needed investment. This is especially true for small businesses, which lack the specialized and dedicated compliance resources of larger firms.

The very fabric of our country is threatened by the devastating impact of low oil prices, our inability to get energy resources to global markets and the increasing tensions between east and west. We must remove the polarization on this topic and remain focused on our ultimate goals and the national importance of this matter, along with our global responsibility, in order to reach an agreement on how to move forward.

We are joining hundreds of other chambers of commerce across the country to demand immediate improvements to Canada’s broken regulatory system to ensure our energy resources get to international markets and we encourage the public to do the same. Make your voice heard and stand up for what is best for Canadians, visit us online at medicinehatchamber.com; chamber.ca; or regulatesmarter.com.

Lisa Kowalchuk is the executive director of the Medicine Hat & District Chamber of Commerce. For more information on this column or the Chamber, contact 403-527-5214.

 

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