Letter from Perrin Beatty, President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Chamber of Commerce
Dear Chamber Members,
I am pleased to provide you with this brief update on our recent activities and initiatives.
Advocacy at Work
Temporary Foreign Worker Program: Punishing Business Is the Wrong Way to Create Jobs
At the height of the controversy over the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, I met with the Minister of Employment and Social Development, the Hon. Jason Kenney. I told the Minister that business welcomed stronger enforcement against the individual abusers of the program, rather than penalizing all employers of TFWs, including SMEs that have been hurt by last year’s changes. He believes the program has had a distorting effect on the labour market by suppressing wages for Canadian workers. I argued strongly that raising wages, especially in low-skilled, low-paying sectors, is not the way for Canadian firms to be competitive. Any increase in wages in one sector will drive up wages across a local labour market. With the support of the provincial and territorial chambers, I urged local chambers to meet with their MPs during the week of May 19 to convey the business fall-out from this political response by the Minister.
On May 15, Minister Kenney hosted a last-minute consultation on potential reforms to the program, which the Canadian Chamber and other industry organizations attended. We continue to argue against restricting access to TFWs where they are critically needed and we recommend the government increase its scrutiny of applications and its enforcement of the rules. An announcement on the last set of changes is expected in early June.
Partnership for Resource Trade: Grassroots Public Education and Advocacy Campaign
Led by the Hon. David Emerson and me, the Partnership for Resource Trade is an important initiative that seeks to create a favourable environment for competitive policies for Canada’s natural resource sectors.
The goals of the Partnership for Resource Trade are simple:
- We want to reinforce pride in Canada’s natural resource and trading-based economy.
- We want to remind people who live far away from mines, oil fields, farms and forests that they are, nonetheless, directly affected by the industries that use those resources.
- We want to teach Canadians about the contribution of the resource value chain and especially about the incredible opportunities available to our country if we have the drive to seize them.
We are in the process of identifying champions across the country who can speak to the real impact of our natural resource sectors, the role they play in local communities and the need to make sensible policy decisions based on unbiased and complete information. You could lend your voice to the Partnership of Resource Trade by adding your name to the list of supporters on the Partnership’s website, PowerofCanada.ca.
Announcing the Partnership for Resource Trade Video Scholarship
We are pleased to offer university students across Canada the opportunity to win a $2,000 scholarship. We are looking for creative students to produce a promotional video on the merits of supporting the Partnership for Resource Trade’s objectives. The goals of this contest are to create more awareness among youth on the importance of Canada’s natural resource sectors and to engage our younger generation in one of Canada’s key policy and economic issue.
Manufacturing in Canada: An Innovation Imperative
Recognizing the importance of the manufacturing sector to the Canadian economy and the role innovation must play in our continued ability to remain competitive globally, we have initiated discussions across the country to evaluate how Canadian business can take better advantage of disruptive technologies, such as 3D printing, big data, advanced materials and quantum computing, to stay ahead of the curve in global value chains. The first of these roundtables took place in Oakville in late April, and they will continue through the end of June. Armed with this information, we will engage industry experts and interested companies to outline industry best practices and policy options.
A Path Forward for Entrepreneurship in Canada
We are looking at how best to chart a path forward for entrepreneurship in Canada. Until the end of June, we are hosting roundtables across Canada with fast-growth, high-potential companies to identify the challenges and opportunities they face. Our objective is to determine how we can put our powers of research, advocacy and convening to work to make the most effective contribution to assist these firms. The findings of our work and our recommendations for moving forward will be presented at our AGM this fall.
Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation
Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) comes into force on July 1, 2014 for commercial electronic messages and Jan. 15, 2015 for computer programs. Although we have been successful in effecting a number of changes to CASL’s regulations, we remain concerned about the unintended negative impacts it could have on business and the economy. We will remain engaged with Industry Canada and the CRTC for compliance clarification and will work toward legislative change through a statutory review in 2017.
If you haven’t already, you need to assess your marketing practices and implement compliance plans prior to July 1. The legislation is onerous and will be strictly enforced. Fines for non-compliance can reach $10 million, and organizations can be liable for violations committed by employees acting within the scope of their responsibilities. To avoid penalties under the new law, you must obtain and track the consent of those you are communicating with electronically.
To help your organization prepare for CASL compliance, please consult our online toolkit.
Mark Your Calendars for These Upcoming Events
Annual General Meeting, Sept. 27-29, Charlottetown
Private Business Growth Award Gala, Nov. 19, Toronto | Nominate a business by Sept. 12.
More information is available on our website, Chamber.ca.
I encourage you to follow me, @PerrinBeatty, or the Canadian Chamber, on Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn.
I would like to thank you for your ongoing support and, as always, I welcome your views and comments.
President and Chief Executive Officer