• Chamber Wins

  • June 2015

    Minister Findlay launches new action plan to cut red tape for small business

    Last year, the London Chamber of Commerce hosted a roundtable with representatives from the Canada Revenue Agency, to address how they could cut red tape and make their services for accessible for small businesses.

    The CRA has recently released the following action plan of how they intend to use the feedback that you provided:

    ________

    The Honourable Kerry-Lynne D. Findlay, P.C., Q.C., M.P., Minister of National Revenue, unveiled meaningful and measurable actions that the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will take over the next two years to continue to reduce red tape for businesses. This Action Plan responds to feedback received from small and medium business communities across Canada during the CRA's 2014 public consultations on red tape reduction.

    The CRA's Action Plan focuses on cutting red tape where it will make the biggest difference for small and medium businesses. It includes:

    • improving the accessibility and reliability of CRA telephone services;
    • making it easier to find information and services for businesses on the Agency's website;
    • providing information in simple, clear language;
    • helping businesses get their tax affairs right from the start by providing early support at key points in the business cycle;
    • making more online services and tools available, so businesses can access them at their convenience, 24/7; and
    • better explaining the audit process so businesses know what to expect and when.

    To read more, click here

     

    May 2015

    Celebrating Chamber Excellence at the 2015 OCC AGM in Cornwall

    From April 31 -May 3, 2015, over 150 members of the Ontario Chamber Network gathered in Cornwall for the 103rd Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) Annual General Meeting (AGM) to shape the OCC's advocacy agenda for the year to come.

    Every year at the AGM, chambers of commerce and boards of trade are awarded for demonstrating excellence in advancing business success in their communities.

    OCC Chair's Award

    Chambers of commerce and boards of trade excel through innovation in their business practices. The OCC Chair's Award is awarded to a chamber/board that has demonstrated success in the following areas: operations, member services, and/or community leadership. The winner of this year's OCC Chair's Award is the London Chamber of Commerce for the work that it has done through its Global Business Opportunities Committee.

     

    March 2015

     

    Canadian Chamber: Advocacy At Work!

    From the desk of Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce:

    At this time of year, our Policy group is intensely focused on two things: the federal budget, which will determine a lot about the policy resolutions debates that will take place at our AGM and Convention in the fall, and the launch of our policy projects.

    As 2015 is an election year, the budget will be the key event that sets the issues on which the government wants to campaign. At the Canadian Chamber, we are gearing up for the election by producing an "election manifesto." The document will focus on competitiveness and will group our many issues into five categories: access to money; access to skilled workers; access to technologies and infrastructures; access to markets; and finally, the role of government to ensure an efficient business climate. We will be asking the parties to address these areas of policy in their campaigns.

    As it approaches an election, the government is, naturally, trying to move key legislation forward in the House. Four of our Policy Directors have already testified to various House or Senate Committees this season and I recently met with Justin Trudeau and with Thomas Mulcair to brief them on our Top 10 Barriers to Competitiveness. These meetings are particularly important in an election year, since we want to be ready to meet the next government -whoever that is - on the basis of good, cordial relations.

    Advocacy success

    The first quarter of 2015 is coming to a close, and I am pleased to report that we have had quite a few positive developments on Parliament Hill.

    Last week, the federal government announced that it will establish a new export market development program and expand the Trade Commissioner Service. The export market development program will receive $50 million over five years to provide non-repayable matching contributions to companies seeking to export to emerging markets for the first time. The program aims to reach 500 to 1000 exporters per year and will cover market research and participation in trade fairs and business development trips. The Trade Commissioner Service, which maintains a network of trade promotion officers around the world, will receive $42 million over five years and an additional $9.25 million per year afterwards. Last year, our report, Turning It Around: How to Restore Canada's Trade Success, called for Ottawa to maximize the value of free trade agreements by enhancing trade promotion and economic diplomacy, including new tools for exporters and additional resources for the Trade Commissioner Service. A subsequent report, A Path Forward for Entrepreneurship in Canada, confirmed the need to raise awareness of government trade promotion services.

    Also last week, the Agreement on Land, Rail, Marine and Air Transport Preclearance between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America was signed. Such an agreement has long been promised and was one of the commitments made in the 2011 Beyond the Borders Agreement. We have long called for such an agreement and believe that new preclearance operations will greatly improve the competitiveness of North American trade. The agreement will allow both CBSA and U.S. CBP officers to conduct preclearance operations in each other's territory. A similar agreement has been in place at a number of Canadian airports for several years and has been a massive success. Such preclearance operations greatly reduce congestion at the border and allow for streamlined processing of trusted trade and travel. We will continue to work with authorities on both sides of the border to ensure the efficient rollout of this initiative.

    Earlier this month, the federal government announced that it has extended the 15% Mineral Exploration Tax Credit (METC) for investors in flow-through shares for an additional year until March 31, 2016. The METC is a measure designed to assist junior mining companies in raising new equity through flow-through shares. This additional financing should help exploration companies maintain or increase the amount of exploration activity in Canada. The government also announced that costs associated with environmental studies and community consultations are eligible for treatment as Canadian Exploration Expenses and could qualify for the METC. We reiterated our call for both these measures in our Mining Capital report, which we released in 2013.

    I met with the Canadian Transportation Act Review Chair, the Hon. David Emerson, to discuss his mandate and our view of the critical issues. This review is likely to be a very significant blueprint for transportation and infrastructure policies once it is tabled at the end of the year, and we are actively working on these issues in parallel.

    The Senate Committee for Foreign Affairs and International Trade has announced it will use our 2014 trade promotion report, Turning It Around: How to Restore Canada's Trade Success, as the framework for a comprehensive examination of the issues this year.

    On Feb. 18, the implementation of the person-to-government dispute resolution mechanism in the Agreement on Internal Trade came into force. We have been calling for improvements to the efficiency, transparency and accessibility of the dispute resolution process for a number of years. These changes create certainty in the process by mirroring the government-to- government dispute resolution process and include monetary penalties for non-compliance. While there are still many areas where improvements to our internal trade regime are necessary, this is a positive step forward for Canadian business and for the Canadian economy.

    In late January, a report by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources supported our recommendations for investment to improve labour market information and to financially support individuals' mobility to relocate for work.

    Just before Christmas, our major effort to strengthen brand protection scored a victory with the passage of C-8, a law that provides border officers with new powers to interdict contraband.

    2015 policy projects

    This year, we will be primarily focused on six policy projects, which all derive from our 2015 Top 10 Barriers to Competitiveness. This year's projects will centre on skills, Aboriginal land title, manufacturing and innovation, financing entrepreneurs, export infrastructure, and foreign trade competitive measures.

    Other initiatives

    This past quarter, we directed many efforts towards our Canada's Resource Cities initiative and our community-based activism around natural resource trade. As part of this initiative, the Hon. Jean Charest, Chair of the Partnership for Resource Trade, participated in a speaking tour that took him to five cities where he was hosted by our local chambers and where he spoke about the critical challenge of enhanced resource exports. The initiative also hosted a tour to Calgary and Fort McMurray for chamber of commerce executives to experience firsthand what the oil sector is all about and to gain a better understanding of the forces, individuals and technologies shaping the oil and gas sector. We are about to roll out our next communications gesture, infographics highlighting the significance of natural resources to various cities. Our first is Thunder Bay, and again, we are working closely with the local chambers. You can follow the activities of our Canada's Resource Cities initiative on Twitter with the hashtag #ResourceCities.

    Also this month, we partnered with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for Legal Reform to launch its most recent paper, Painting an Unsettling Landscape: Canadian Class Actions, 2011-2014. Over the last few years, we have noticed a significant increase in the number of class action suits that are presented before Canadian courts. We believe this is a result of the court's tendency to take a "certify now, ask questions later" approach. Unfortunately, this approach has the potential to lead to time-consuming, meritless trials and unjustifiably increase the cost of doing business in Canada. With the launch of our new Business Law Committee, we will examine such legal issues more closely and monitor the impact they have on the business community.

    Lastly, I, along with our Chair, Michael McMullen, and senior staff members, will be taking part in the upcoming AGMs of the provincial and territorial chambers of commerce. These meetings are excellent opportunities for us to strengthen and align the chamber network so that we can speak on behalf of business with a strong, united voice.

    Sincerely,

    Perrin Beatty

    President and CEO