Calgary, Edmonton chambers of commerce issue joint policy wish list for federal election

The Calgary and Edmonton chambers of commerce have joined forces to write a federal election platform that outlines what they want Canada’s next government to focus on as the country emerges from the global pandemic.

Calgary chamber CEO Deborah Yedlin told CBC’s Calgary Eyeoponer on Wednesday that economic recovery concerns are front and centre.

“We still see so many challenges in the hospitality, tourism and not-for-profit worlds, so we really want the government to shift programs from helping businesses survive — which has been absolutely critical — to helping them thrive,” she said.

Yedlin says whichever party forms the next government in Ottawa should prioritize programs such as debt relief and tax credits for businesses still struggling to emerge from the pandemic.

She says the chambers will not be endorsing any specific party or candidates, but she says they won’t remain silent during the election campaign, either.

Calgary Chamber of Commerce CEO Deborah Yedlin says policies aimed at economic recovery need to be front and centre for the next federal government. (University of Calgary)

“There’s some good initiatives that are being put forward by a number of the parties,” she said.

The two organizations decided to produce a joint platform since the key issues are mostly the same for the business communities in both cities, Yedlin said.

“We see this as an opportunity to collaborate with one voice,” she said. 

“The issues are still the same that matter to both of us. It’s about jobs. It’s about economic growth and diversification. It’s about climate change. And it’s also about things like access to post-secondary education so that we can have the skills, the workforce that we need for today and for tomorrow.”

The platform includes policy recommendations on jobs training, taxation, the environment, economic diversification and trade.

On the issue of federal equalization — set to be the subject of a referendum question in Alberta’s municipal elections in October — the chambers say the next government should “examine ways to improve transparency and understanding about how equalization and all federal transfers are delivered to provinces.”

The chambers also want the fiscal stabilization formula changed so that provinces are eligible for payments if the decline in resource revenues exceeds 40 per cent and non-resource revenues exceed three per cent.

To improve market access for Canadian entrepreneurs, the chambers are calling for Ottawa to continue to remove interprovincial trade barriers.

On the environment file, the chambers say Ottawa must strive to be a global leader in addressing climate change by touting “Canada’s contribution to carbon capture, storage and utilization technologies and practices as well as its abundant contribution to carbon sinks.”

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