Advocacy Wins at the BC Chamber AGM

May 29, 2020

The Whistler Chamber of Commerce was busy last weekend, May 22-23, attending the virtual BC Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting & Conference. 67 chambers and boards of trade from across BC gathered online to discuss and debate key policy issues.

70 policies were submitted by 30 local chambers. A total of 62 policies passed and will be added to the BC Chamber’s 2020 Policy & Positions Manual. The Whistler Chamber was delighted to see both of our policies receiving unanimous support from the BC Chamber network. The policies put forward this year address local concerns around attracting and retaining employees to support the needs of our business community, specifically around Childcare and the BC PNP.

Early Childhood Education: Untapped Economic Output

Child care positions remain unfilled despite COVID-19 layoffs. One of the key asks in this policy is for the government to consider working with other provinces to create interprovincial standard certifications, which would increase the number of potential candidates.

Helping BC Employers Attract and Retain Employees by Increasing BC PNP Yearly Nomination Allocation

This was a win for the long term as we work our way back to a vibrant community, post COVID-19. The program will be essential when Whistler’s tourism economy bounces back, global travel opens up again and we return to a new normal. Whistler’s economic growth will depend on having enough skilled and qualified people to meet labour market needs. This program has and will support our employers to attract and retain much needed talent. 

Key note speakers Premier John Horgan and Hon. Carole James, Minister of Finance – commended the Chamber network for the outstanding work being done to support our communities, and for communicating businesses immediate needs to government, which allows them to react with data.


Key Policy Areas for 2020

Invest in Transportation & infrastructure

The chamber network passed several polices to move transportation infrastructure projects forward, including those that are shovel ready, to address long-term transportation issues across BC and provide vital economic stimulus. The specific policy recommendations ultimately aim to create jobs along the supply chain, and create trade-enabling infrastructure—including roads, rail, marine, ports, airports— that will serve BC for decades to come.

Specific transportation policies include the following requests:

  • Expedite the George Massey Crossing Project
  • Accelerate research around hydrogen as an alternative fuel for the transportation sector
  • Provide infrastructure support for Roberts Bank 2, and protect industrial lands to keep ports connected
  • Increase federal funding for regional airports
  • Address Hwy 1 deficiencies in the Fraser Valley, as it’s an integral part of Canada’s Pacific Gateway

Increase Employment Opportunities

Several policies were adopted to address labour issues, increase employment opportunities, and prepare BC’s workforce for the changing economy.  Specifically, the chamber network passed policy that focuses on investing in post-secondary education and retraining the underemployed workforce for opportunities in the emerging technology sector.

The chamber network also passed policies to reduce red tape in the Cannabis and Ridesharing sectors respectively, which would expedite employment opportunities to unemployed or under-employed workers impacted by COVID-19. In the cannabis sector, the network is asking the province to align the Worker Qualification Regulation with screening and training parallel to alcohol sales and service. In the ride sharing sector, the chamber network requests the province eliminate the requirement for a Class 4 driver’s license. 

Support future and traditional sectors

The chamber networked passed policy to help companies transition to emerging economies by urging investments in sectors like renewable energy and block chain technology. In addition, the network voted unanimously to pass a policy for a renewed softwood lumber agreement to aid BC’s struggling the forestry. 

Create a competitive taxation framework

Over the past few years, the provincial government has increased existing taxes, or added new taxes, with little or no notification with the business community or general public, causing serious harm to business competitiveness. Addressing taxation is increasingly important given the global, national and provincial economic uncertainty due to COVID-19.

Policy was adopted asking government to work with experts, including the business community, to develop a tax framework that considers and balances: revenue generation, impacts to struggling business, and economic growth and recovery.

The chamber network also urged for a competitive tax environment for credit unions, by passing policy asking the federal government to restore the federal extended small business tax exemption.

“Our grassroots policy development process drives our advocacy efforts each year. Like previous years, our network will prioritize advocacy in the year ahead by addressing key issues affecting BC’s economy. This year however there is an extreme sense of urgency to elevate policies that support economic recovery and address the impacts on struggling of BC businesses due to COVID-19,” says Dan Baxter, BC Chamber Director of Policy Development, Government & Stakeholder Relations.

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