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Fredericton, 6 March 2015
For Immediate Release

Recently, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and its nationwide network of chambers of commerce, associations and businesses, including with the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce, unveiled its Top 10 Barriers to Competitiveness list for 2015. The Top 10 Barriers to Competitiveness is an initiative the Canadian chamber network undertook in 2012 to draw attention to the barriers that are holding back Canada’s progress and to urge all levels of governments to act more swiftly in increasing our country’s ability to compete globally.

“Since launching this initiative, we have made great progress in furthering our competitiveness agenda on a number of issues. However, the barrier our members continue to identify as being the greatest impediment to the success of Canadian business is the skills gap,” said Canadian chamber President and CEO Perrin Beatty. “There is a lot of work ahead. The federal government and several provincial and territorial governments have also named this issue as the country’s biggest challenge. We need to work together and make real progress in 2015. ”

Addressing the Top 10 Barriers to Competitiveness will go a long way towards restoring Canada’s competitiveness. The Canadian Chamber is calling on its own membership, on governments, on educators, on labour organizations and others to tackle and overcome these barriers. Effectively addressing these 10 barriers will sharpen Canada’s competitive edge and allow us to prosper in the global economy.

“Some of the top 10 issues are universal, but of course, not all barriers are going to be equally relevant to all parts of the country,” added Krista Ross, Fredericton chamber CEO. “In our part of the country, the barriers that we are hearing most from members include the skills gap, access to capital, tourism policies and missing out on foreign trade opportunities.”

“The lack of clarity regarding Aboriginal land title is also a barrier that is quickly becoming more and more relevant to New Brunswick and we increasingly look to develop the province’s natural resources,” added Joseph O’Donnell, Fredericton chamber president. “Working more closely with our Aboriginal communities has been one of my three priorities as chamber president. Another is helping to make connections between New Brunswick business and foreign opportunities, so I am really pleased to see both of these items on the Canadian chamber’s top 10 in 2015.”

These five barriers are described in detail, below. The complete Top Ten list follows.

2015 Top 10 Barriers to Competitiveness

Silos in skills development
Canada is not producing enough graduates with the skills needed for its economy. There are shortages and high demand forecast in a wide range of occupations. As a result of dramatic restrictions, the Temporary Foreign Worker Program no longer presents an effective path to meet short-term labour shortages. In the medium to long term, our education and training systems play a pivotal role in equipping us with people with the right skills. With a demographic reality about to hit our labour market, we need stronger efforts to coordinate between the silos of education and employers. Improving the links between education and employment is not the responsibility of educators and governments alone. Employers are directly implicated. We need to break the silos.

Entrepreneurs lack capital for Canada’s fastest growing companies
One of the most critical determinants of competitiveness is access to capital, especially for start-ups and companies moving from innovation to commercialization. These fast-growing companies often depend upon venture capital (VC) as the lifeblood needed to take a company from idea to market. Canada’s VC industry is still small and punching below its weight, particularly when compared to much larger VC industries in the U.S. During the course of 2014, the Canadian Chamber spoke with dozens
of entrepreneurs leading fast-growing companies who say one of the biggest hurdles they face is securing capital to take their companies to the next level. In 2015, the Canadian Chamber will advocate a number of initiatives to boost incentives to expand the overall pool of capital and to attract more angel investors and international funds to Canada.

Lack of clarity regarding Aboriginal land title
Canadian governments have a fiduciary duty to consult and accommodate Aboriginal peoples when proposed developments have the potential to impact their constitutionally protected rights. However, governments are increasingly relying on project developers to assume responsibility for large parts of community consultation and accommodation. This has led to situations where proponents have no clear direction on the extent of the consultation and accommodation required. This year, the
Canadian Chamber will explore alternatives to the current scenario for resolution of the development consultation process, which currently seems headed towards lengthy court challenges to produce jurisprudence that guides proponents, opponents and governments.

Canada is uncompetitive in the world’s tourism sector
Canada has slid from the seventh largest tourist destination in the world to the 18th. Today, it is too often a high-cost, high-hassle destination with aging attractions infrastructure and inadequate marketing. Canada’s travel and tourism sector is critical to its economy, and the government must both invest in national marketing initiatives and address Canada’s inefficient visa system, the very high cost of air travel in Canada and its layers of regulations, fees and taxes.

Canada is missing out on foreign trade opportunities
Canada’s prosperity depends on access to international customers and participation in global supply chains. Faced with a small domestic market, exporting is often the only way to grow sales and build economies of scale. Moreover, sourcing from and investing abroad allows companies to exploit unique technologies, skill sets and cost advantages. However, Canadian businesses are not globalizing as quickly as their peers. To support the expansion of Canadian companies abroad, the federal
government needs to build on recent success and take steps to conclude the next wave of high-quality trade agreements and strengthen Canada’s system of trade promotion and economic diplomacy.

Complete Top 10 2015 Barriers to Competitiveness:
1.   Silos in skills development
2.   Entrepreneurs lack capital for Canada’s fastest growing companies
3.   Lack of clarity regarding Aboriginal land title
4.   Internal barriers to trade
5.   Canada’s tax system is too costly and complex
6.   Canada’s export infrastructure is not meeting our needs
7.   Canada is uncompetitive in the world’s tourism sector
8.   Innovation rate is not sufficient to help manufacturing rebound
9.   Territorial businesses don’t have the tools they need
10. Canada is missing out on foreign trade opportunities

Consult the Top 10 Barriers to Competitiveness document at Chamber.ca

Contact: Krista Ross, Fredericton Chamber CEO (506) 458­8006

About the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce
With more than 900 members, the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce is one of Atlantic Canada’s largest chambers of commerce. A dynamic and relevant business organization, the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce is actively engaged in policy development that affects the competitiveness of our members and of the Canadian business environment.

P.O. Box 275, 364 York Street, Suite 200, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, E3B 4Y9
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Website: www.frederictonchamber.ca
Tel: (506) 458-8006 Fax: (506) 451-1119