Policy Resolutions Ready for Canadian Chamber of Commerce AGM

Ian McLean, President & CEO

Ian McLean, President & CEO

This weekend the Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC) is hosting its Annual General Meeting in the nation’s capital of Ottawa. The Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce will be there sponsoring three carefully crafted policy resolutions for the CCC to consider making priorities this year.

With the Federal election results uncertain, this year’s AGM is of great importance in building priorities for Canadian business regardless of which party wins on October 19th. As one of the largest members in the Canadian Chamber of Commerce network, we are eager to use our influence to shape the priorities of the Canadian Chamber for the benefit of business in Waterloo Region and across the country.

To this end, the GKWCC has carefully developed policy resolutions that are presented to all delegates at the CCC AGM to be discussed and voted on. Then the CCC staff launch strong lobbying efforts to move these issues forward.

The four resolutions are:

1. Capitalizing on Growth Opportunities in Canadian Auto Parts Manufacturing

Canada’s auto parts manufacturers have faced difficult times over the past decade as auto assemblers have started moving to the Southern United States and Mexico. Regardless, parts manufacturers emerged from the recession in a strong and growing position.

Still, it is important to continue to support this important industry to increase R&D, expand the number of competitive export markets, and cut duplicate regulatory red tape on machinery imports.

Recommendations for the federal government:

  1. Expand export opportunities for Canadian auto parts manufacturers through international trade agreements;
  2. Eliminate regulatory duplication and overlap particularly in relation to the importation of machinery from jurisdictions with effective environmental and safety regimes;
  3. Maintain programs for assisting auto manufacturers on R&D activities to meet the changing requirements of domestic and international assemblers.

2. Financial Protection for Canada’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Industry

The Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce is co-sponsoring this resolution with the Guelph Chamber of Commerce and was submitted by the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Food growers in Canada feed the world whether it’s wheat, corn, apples, or tomatoes. Agriculture is the second largest industry in Ontario and supports countless rural communities. On October 1, 2014 the U.S. Department of Agriculture revoked Canada’s access to the U.S. Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA) that guaranteed protection for agriculture businesses in case of bankruptcies and when payment issues arise. This distinctly puts Canadian and Ontario agriculture companies at a disadvantage.

Recommendations for the federal government:

  1. Support the creation of a limited statutory deemed trust that provides financial protection for produce sellers in Canada in the event of bankruptcies;
  2. The assets available to trust creditors would be limited specifically to produce accounts receivable, and any cash and inventory from the sale of the produce.

3. Increasing Technology and Productivity in Canadian Food Manufacturing

Low and stagnating productivity levels are restricting global growth and expansion opportunities across the Canadian food manufacturing sector.

Canada requires a supportive regulatory system that protects consumers and ensures food safety, is consistent with major trading partners, and responds in a timely manner to new technologies and environments. Government policy can play a role in innovation and assist industry growth through tax policy, regulatory frameworks and municipal planning.

The 2015 federal Budget extended the Accelerated Capital Costs Allowance for an additional ten years. As noted above this measure, introduced in 2007 and extended through a series of past budgets, provides an incentive for firms to invest in new machinery and equipment for elevating productivity levels.

Recommendations for the federal government:

  1. Continue to support innovation and productivity in food manufacturing through programs such as the Accelerated Capital Cost Allowance;
  2. Work collaboratively with all relevant inspection agencies to provide a food safety regulatory system that is consistent with competing jurisdictions.

4. Increasing Agri-Food Export

The Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce is co-sponsoring this resolution with the Tillsonburg Chamber of Commerce.

In 2012, over two-thirds of Canadian agri-food exports were destined for the United States. By July of 2013, China was Canada’s second largest market. The only avenue, according to the CMC, that will permit continued Canadian competitiveness in vital trans-Pacific markets is equivalent access and that can be achieved only through full participation in TPP negotiations and an ultimate agreement.

Recommendations for the federal government:

  1. Conclude and implement an ambitious TPP that includes competitive access for Canadian agri-food products.
  2. Increase resources to expedite Canada’s role in negotiations and ratification of the multilateral TPP agreement.
  3. Focus on food safety principles for all international trade negotiations and agreements.

We will keep you updated on the progress of these resolutions at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce AGM and all the policy initiatives important to Waterloo Region.