Interview with Chamber President & CEO Ian McLean on Priorities and Initiatives

David Tubbs Staff PhotoDavid Tubbs
Marketing & Communications Lead

Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce

With an Ontario election coming in less than 6 weeks and the planning for next year at the Chamber already underway, we wanted to take a minute to lay out the Chamber’s priorities. Here are a few questions I posed to our President & CEO, Ian McLean about the priorities of the Chamber will in the short and long term.

Question 1: As we continue towards the provincial election on June 12th, what are 3 issues the Chamber will be advocating for?

First, we will be pressing the issue of fair and open tendering to all of the provincial parties. The recent preliminary ruling by the Ontario Labour Relations Board has essentially labeled municipalities and school boards as construction companies. That is ridiculous and these unfair tendering regulations limit the number of bidding companies on public infrastructure projects to only those who are associated with the “right” unions needs to be fixed. This type of limitation will only increase the cost of publicly funded infrastructure projects costing taxpayers more while hurting local business and local workers.

Our second priority is to raise the need for increased skills development among our workforce, specifically in the trades. There is a significant shortage of skilled trades in Ontario and an issue that must have attention paid to it.

Our third priority in this provincial election will be on increased attention in improving infrastructure in the Region, particularly in holding the government to their promise for a Highway 7 expansion between Waterloo Region and Guelph.

But of course tying this all together is the fiscal health of the province. This is specifically referring to the elimination of the deficit and managing our long term debt. And this will be the theme that connects all of our priorities.

Question 2: With municipal elections coming up this Fall, what would you tell all candidates for council seats to pay particular attention to?

Municipal elections in Waterloo Region will be quite transformative this year as we will have two new mayors in Waterloo and Kitchener. With this in mind, I would urge candidates to always remember the Chamber is here to work with them. With major projects underway all across the Region the need for cooperation has never been more important. The Rapid Transit project will naturally play a large part in the election process this year and the Chamber will continue to make sure this critical project is on time and on budget while delivering on the promises made.

Question 3: The Chamber will be entering into its 128th year in July and with a lot of successes and milestones behind its legacy, what can Chamber members and those in the community expect from it this year?

The Chamber is blessed with a strong history and foundation built on the strength of our member and sponsors. This allows us to move forward, grow, and be a voice for business. This year our members can expect more programs focused on Education aimed at helping businesses stay competitive and ensure their staff are well equipped to take on the challenges of a modern business. This will included a more focused Manulife Chamber Academy, Chamber Webinar Series, and Peer2Peer network.

After 2 hugely successful events with our Business Excellence Awards Gala and our joint luncheon with the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce where we hosted the Prime Minister this past year we certainly set ourselves a challenge to top it this coming year. But I know from the discussions we’ve had with our team and our volunteers that our members can expect premier networking and speaker events with compelling CEOs and industry leaders coming to share their story with the Chamber as well as networking events that bring hundreds of professionals together time and time again.

It’s going to be an exciting year and I urge our members to come and join us for what will be another great year here at the Chamber.

As always, I and the entire Chamber staff are here to help. Please contact us with your ideas, suggestions, and comments on how we can improve. We’ll be glad to listen.