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by Morgan Peters

The chamber’s advocacy efforts have been mostly focused on COVID-19-related issues over the past few months. The first phase was largely focused on gathering information, communicating to our members, advocating for government support and answering member questions. Copies of letters we’ve sent to government can be found on our website. 

As an initial response, we launched our Open, Operational and Offering Help webpage so that local businesses could let the community know if they were open and in what capacity. From Day One, we had members reaching out to offer free services to other businesses as assistant – so we included those as well.

As the reopening process began, sharing information on how to do this safely and within Public health requirements took on paramount importance. Amongst other efforts, we launched two initiatives with a view to helping businesses and organizations through the re-opening process.

First, we created two new sections in our Open, Operational and Offering Help listing:

  1. Businesses that sell Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as masks, disposable gloves, etc.
  2. Businesses that sell Business Protective Products (BPP) such as plexiglass protection, signage, floor decals etc.

We expect these products to be in demand for quite some time. If you sell PPE and/or BPP – add yourself to these new listings so businesses and organizations can easily find you. If you sell in both categories – be sure to list yourself twice. If you are already on our list – please submit an additional listing specifically for PPE and/or BPP. 

Second, in partnership with the chambers of commerce in Moncton and Saint John, we published a re-opening guide to help outline the main steps and points of consideration to comply with Public Health requirements. If you are looking for an example of an Operational Plan, the chamber’s is posted on our website for your reference.

More recently, we have been able to spend more time forward-looking to what the post-crisis economic rollout might look out like and how we can be involved in that process. We are working with groups of local and provincial stakeholders on recovery plans.

Post-Budget Breakfast

On 11 March 2020, we hosted Finance Minister Ernie Steeves along with seven other government ministers at our annual post-budget breakfast. The format was changed this year as in the past we co-hosted with NB Real Estate Association only, but at the 2019 breakfast, the government suggested we consider broadening the group. In total, nine associations were present for the meeting.

Paper and Packaging Products – Extended Producers Responsibility

The Department of Environment and Local Government is looking at implementing a packaging and printed paper extended producers’ responsibility system in the province. Krista attended an initial session in December where little detail was available. On 12 February 2020, the province sent out discussion documents and requested feedback by 28 February 2020.

We wrote the minister to request more time, stating:

  1. The subject matter is complex with many variables to be evaluated in the context of the NB economy. Exacerbating the complexity is the lack of detail and guidance in the discussion document provided. 
  2. The timeframe is far too short to provide meaningful feedback. For these types of consultations – even one with less complex subject matter – we would typically consult with our members and other stakeholders who may have valuable expertise and insight into this issue. It is impossible for us to provide informed feedback within the allotted timeframe.

We hosted a meeting with government officials in May to get more information on the process and will continue to participate in the consultation phase.

Morgan Peters is the Policy Manager at the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce.

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