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– by Morgan Peters

As the 2019 federal election approaches, both the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Fredericton chamber will provide information about candidates, platforms and parties that our members need to know. As part of our pre-election review, chambers have identified a number of issues that are sure to be of importance to the business community. In Fredericton, two issues that are consistently identified as most important are finding skilled labour and competitiveness.

A Workforce with the Skills, Education and Training to Prosper

As the world of work constantly evolves, finding the right talent with the right skills and training at the right time remains one of the biggest challenges, and doing so is growing more difficult as industries adapt to new technologies and new ways of doing business. For Canadian companies to grow and thrive, they need access to a skilled workforce.

HOW GOVERNMENT CAN PLAY ITS PART

To ensure Canada’s workforce has the skills, education, training and retraining programs needed to help businesses succeed, regardless of industry or region, we are asking all federal parties to commit to:

  • Working with business to ensure government re-training programs meet the demand for skills required for the economies of today and tomorrow.
  • Working with business and other levels of government to ensure primary and secondary education includes the skills necessary for our evolving economy, including the soft and hard skills required to thrive in a world of increased automation and globalization.
  • Supporting private sector upskilling/re-skilling initiatives.
  • Expanding work-integrated learning (WIL) opportunities by:
    • Broadening the definition of WIL to include a wide range of experiences across fields, regions and participants.
    • Providing more accessible funding supports, such as refundable tax credits, employment insurance premium reductions and more flexible grant programs, to SMEs and organizations that have not previously offered work placements.
    • Replicating the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Project outside of major urban centres across the country.
  • Ensuring the Indigenous workforce has the skills required to meet local labour shortages.
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A Tax System That Is Fair, Efficient and Modern

Our taxes fund government programs and initiatives that contribute to making Canada the great country it is, and businesses are willing to pay their share. However, while other jurisdictions make their tax systems more competitive, Canada’s is becoming increasingly complex and inefficient, killing investment and jobs.

Canada has not undertaken a comprehensive review of its tax system since the 1960s. Until we do, it will remain a cumbersome, inefficient patchwork. The next federal government can fix this problem by initiating a full, independent review with a goals of aligning it with the realities of today’s competitive environment and helping set our businesses up for success.

Compounding the challenges created by our outdated tax system are the federal debt and deficit. Canada’s fiscal flexibility is extremely limited, and there is no clear plan for returning to balance. This is terrible long-term policy, and failure to get our fiscal house in order increases Canada’s vulnerability whenever the next economic downturn occurs.

HOW GOVERNMENT CAN PLAY ITS PART

To restore fairness and increase the ability of Canadian businesses to compete, we are asking all federal parties to commit to:

  • Appointing a royal commission to conduct a comprehensive review of the Canadian tax system guided by the principles of tax competitiveness, simplicity and fairness.
  • Adjusting the tax mix to better promote business investment, including offshore investment and economic growth.
  • Presenting a concrete plan, with timelines, to return the federal books to balance.

As the election approaches, check out our website at www.frederictonchamber.ca for more information.

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