GUEST COMMENT: Chambers join forces to improve Canada’s competitive prowess

By John Winter

A great deal is said and written these days about the global economy and Canada’s role in it.

Concerns about Canada’s competitiveness have been expressed in many quarters, and to address that issue requires an ambitious, aggressive and innovative private sector.

Strategic thinking and smart public policies are also needed to address long-standing structural impediments that hinder businesses at a time when they need much greater flexibility to compete.

Led by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, chambers from coast to coast have a role to play in identifying and restoring Canada’s competitiveness.

Consequently, and as part of the Chamber of Commerce network, the B.C. chamber announced a major advocacy initiative focused on harnessing the power of business and public policy to address the key barriers to Canada’s competitiveness and our national prosperity.

Powerful forces are transforming the global economic landscape and challenging Canada’s prospects in the world. The weight of global economic activity has dramatically shifted from developed to developing countries.

Emerging economies such as China and India are sparking a wave of innovation with their critical mass of researchers, scientists and engineers. These countries recognize research and innovation are the keys to success in the increasingly competitive global economy.

Canada risks being swept aside, so strategic thinking and smart public policies are needed to address long-standing structural impediments that hinder businesses at a time when they need the utmost in flexibility to compete.

Over the past year, the chamber network, comprised of local chambers of commerce, boards of trade, large corporations and small businesses right across Canada, has worked to identify the barriers hindering our ability to compete.

Those consultations have identified 10 critical policy and regulatory barriers which will be the focus of advocacy and outreach activities. Effectively addressing these issues will sharpen our competitive edge and allow us to prosper in the global economy.

The network includes more than 130 chambers and boards of trade here in B.C., and is uniquely positioned to lead this effort. We have long served as a key resource to solving the issues – by connecting businesses, workers, educators and governments.

That is an approach we continue to pursue in a collaborative effort to establish practical solutions toward a common goal: strengthening Canada’s competitiveness in a knowledge-based global economy so that our future prosperity and standard of living can be assured.

As the voice of business in our community, it is important to continue the dialogue at all levels to reverse the trend.

We are calling on governments, on labour organizations, on educators and others to tackle and overcome these barriers as tolerating them is simply not an option.

Effectively addressing these 10 barriers will sharpen Canada’s competitive edge and allow us to prosper in the global economy.

The need for action is urgent. The standard of living of every Canadian depends on how well we respond to the challenge.

We must identify and implement real, tangible solutions for breaking down the barriers to our competitiveness and for creating more opportunities and greater prosperity for Canadian businesses and families.


John R. Winter is president and CEO of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce.

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