by Morgan Peters
2020-21 New Brunswick Pre-Budget Activities
The chamber submitted its 2020-21 pre-budget brief to Finance Minister Ernie Steeves late last year. Representatives of the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce met with the Minister Ernie Steeves to discuss our submission, which focused on the government’s six priority areas: Affordable and responsive government, Dependable public health care, World-class education, Energized private sector, Vibrant and sustainable communities and High-performing organization. Overall, the brief encourages the government to continue responsible fiscal management in order to hold the line on costs to business while maintaining the flexibility to make timely, key investments – such as the construction of the Cyber Centre in Knowledge Park.
Members of the chamber staff also participated in a business-focused consultation session in Saint John on 5 February 2020. The brief can be found on our website.
Support for Fredericton’s Local Immigration Partnership
In January, the chamber wrote to federal immigration minister Marco Mendicino to state our support for Fredericton’s Local Immigration Partnership (and LIPs across Canada) as the department prepares to undertake a funding review. The letter can be found on our website.
2020 Municipal Election
Municipal elections will be held throughout New Brunswick on 11 May 2020. If you are considering running for mayor or council, get more information on the Elections NB website.
Roadmap to Prosperity
Roadmap to Prosperity was released by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in December as a blueprint for restoring Canada’s economic potential that reflects the priorities and concerns of job creators in communities across Canada. The Roadmap is meant to be a guide for the new minority, including important policy measures this Parliament should take to improve our economy. For platform details, updates and reports, visit Roadmap2prosperity.ca.
Annual Survey Results
Each year the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce surveys our members to get feedback on our activities, learn how we can better serve our members, and to understand how we can best advocate to governments on their behalf. The results of the survey shape our activities for the coming year, help focus our advocacy efforts and develop a set of annual policy priorities. It’s also a good look into the concerns, anxieties and pain points for the local business community.
In 2019, the top concerns of our members are consistent with what we have been hearing from other chambers across New Brunswick and Canada and from our members in previous years: costs of operating their business, slow economic growth, access to skilled labour, red tape and an aging population (relative to both workforce and customer base).
Because of this consistency in concerns, we have aligned our current policy priorities to address these issues: competitive business environment, workforce development & population growth, and natural resource development. These are areas that are well understood, and the steps required for the business community to advocate for changes to government policy are relatively clear.
Perhaps there was a more fundamental theme that came from the survey, particularly when asked open-endedly ‘What problem regularly frustrates you the most when dealing with any government department or entity?’. The answers that were received can mostly fall into the following buckets: government decision-making is slow, difficulty contacting the right person, getting conflicting answers, indifference/ignorance of business realities on the ground, red tape, and a lack of accountability. The disconnect our members are feeling with governments is something that has to be addressed.
Morgan Peters is the Policy Manager at the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce.