The national organization releases a seven-point blueprint for how Ottawa could make things easier for business
NIAGARA FALLS, Ont. — Onerous regulations and a complicated tax system are stifling Canadian business and investment opportunities, according to a report from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
“Regulations are a central part of every society. Effective, practical regulatory regimes attract investment and get major projects built. Unfortunately our system is broken. It is complex. It is unfair and it is unpredictable,” said Perrin Beatty, president of the chamber.
Beatty, who served as a cabinet minister in the Conservative governments of prime ministers Joe Clark and Brian Mulroney, released the chamber’s seven-point platform that it says the next federal government must address.
Canadian business is encumbered with a complicated tax system that makes outside investors shy away, he said at the Canadian Meat Council annual meeting held June 4 in Niagara Falls.
The seven-point plan called Vote Prosperity is adaptable for all businesses and levels of government, it said. The chamber said it would release a more detailed agriculture position later. The chamber’s plan states:
- Government must commit to a regulatory system that works. The current system is complex and unclear and often regulations across different levels of government overlap. Canada also needs to adopt a rule in which two regulations are dropped when a new one is introduced to help get rid of outdated regulations.
- A royal commission is needed to outline ways to simplify the tax system to make it more simple, more fair and attractive to investors.
An independent audit of the Canada Revenue Agency is needed to clear away the sludge of regulations small businesses must deal with, said Beatty. The chamber plan asks that all federal parties present plans with firm deadlines to balance the federal books.
- The next federal government must open new markets and break down trade barriers at home.
“We are a trading nation. Our businesses need help to take advantage of them,” he said. The agreements with the European Union (CETA) and the Asia-Pacific trade deal (CPTPP) open doors but have also presented too many non-tariff barriers on Canadian agricultural products.
- Ottawa must ease inter provincial trade barriers that cost the economy more than $14 billion a year.
- The federal government must attract labour but that means more than finding enough people. It is ensuring those people have the right skills.
“There are not only labour shortages but there are acute skills shortages as well,” Beatty said.
Immigration reform is needed to ease the way for potential workers and the Indigenous workforce needs to be tapped.
The chamber said the worker immigration pilot announced in 2019 budget was a positive step but more needs to be done.
- Canada needs a more flexible approach to regulations so new technology like artificial intelligence and big data can be adopted. New strategies are needed to encourage and profit from the intangibles, Beatty said. More traditional infrastructure needs improvements to move goods to market and drive prosperity.
- A national pharmacare program is needed but getting it wrong will come at an enormous cost. Governments must focus on filling the gaps rather than reducing or replacing coverage that is already available. Government should not pass onto business the cost of whatever program the government decides to implement.