By Medicine Hat News on March 20, 2019.
In 2019, Chambers of Commerce across the province and across the country will be highly engaged in the conversations around both our provincial and federal elections. Now more than ever, we are finding that a focused perspective around good public policy is needed to combat political propaganda.
As a non-partisan organization, we are well suited to educate the public and engage in the dialogue across all parties and all platforms, to encourage the creation of a mandate that will benefit our economy. We are also positioned to represent the interests of our country as the largest and most influential business network locally, provincially and nationally, because our business community is the backbone of our economy.
Small businesses represent 97 per cent of all businesses in our country. They provide employment and support working families; they provide funding required through taxation for various programs and services to be delivered; and they support various charities, organizations and service clubs across our region through their time and monetary contributions.
Within Alberta, small businesses contribute more GDP per capita than small businesses anywhere else in the country. They employ over 540,000 Albertans, about 36 per cent of all private sector employment, and generate 28 per cent of Alberta’s GDP. Federally, small businesses employ 70 per cent of the total private labour force, employ more than 8.2 million Canadians and created just shy of 90 per cent of new private sector jobs in the past decade.
We have witnessed very difficult economic times, with many challenges compounded by political decisions, and while we have realized many successes within our own community, we also recognize that the foundations of our prosperity are under duress. Our government, regardless of who is in power, will need to ensure that the decisions made will not harm our economy and will instead promote business growth and investment.
That’s why our chamber wants all candidates and all parties to consider the recommendations we are putting forward for a more prosperous future and to focus their efforts and policy decisions on programs that help businesses grow and create jobs.
In November we launched Vote Prosperity, a platform outlining the Alberta business community’s priorities for the upcoming 2019 provincial election. Vote Prosperity provides a series of proactive recommendations that we believe all Alberta political parties should adopt to ensure growth for the province’s economy.
The Vote Prosperity platform is focused on four aspirational pillars for Alberta:
1. Strengthen Business Competitiveness: Rising input costs, especially those costs deriving from government regulation and policy, are the most common and acute concern of the business community in Alberta.
2. Grow Provincial Trade: Creating infrastructure and overcoming regulatory and jurisdictional barriers to the movement and sale of Alberta’s goods is critical to expanding prosperity.
3. Build Healthy Communities: Building strong communities through adequate and affordable housing, sustainable health care, and good infrastructure also supports business prosperity and growth, which supports those communities.
4. Improve Government Accountability: Poor implementation of government initiatives can result in resource waste, political frustration and disruption for ordinary citizens, as demonstrated by a series of policy failures under governments of all political stripes.
The platform also provides 17 unique recommendations that will help bolster Alberta’s long-term economic future, while also addressing the pressing issues Alberta currently faces. Some of these recommendations include:
The need to reduce regulatory costs for business;
The requirement to conduct “layered cost” economic impact assessments as part of the public policy development process;
Investment in trade corridors and infrastructure to increase interprovincial and international exports;
The development of best-practice models which help K-12 students learn real world skills and entrepreneurial competencies to prepare young Albertans for a rapidly changing world of work;
Conducting broad consultations with external stakeholders on the best ways to stabilize government revenues and expenditures while establishing a firm plan to achieve a balanced budget.
On April 1st we will also be launching our blueprint for prosperity federally, as we commence conversations around the federal elections. This will signal the start of our federal campaign to ensure that all parties are laser focused on keeping Canada competitive for business and equipping job creators and investors with the tools they need to grow and thrive in order to make Canada more prosperous for more Canadians.
We encourage you to be part of the conversations and to stay up to date and connected by subscribing to our weekly e-newsletter online, visiting our website blog, attending the various forums and events around the elections and staying informed through our website at http://www.MedicineHatChamber.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.