Canadian business leaders meeting in the Okanagan have urged Ottawa to fix Canada’s Blue Skies policy and reverse changes to the temporary foreign worker program.
At the Canadian Chamber of Commerce annual general meeting in Kelowna, delegates backed these two policies from the B.C. Chamber of Commerce and its network of local chambers.
“Canada’s business community has come together to say, ‘Mr. Harper, Canada’s restrictive air policy and gutted temporary foreign worker program are hurting Canada’s businesses,’” said John Winter, B.C. chamber president.
“When Canada’s business community, from coast to coast to coast, calls for change, you know these issues matter.”
Winter explained that, on the air access issue, Canada’s Blue Skies policy doesn’t go far enough to enable B.C. to tap into the global marketplace.
“From B.C.’s perspective, with an export-oriented economy and a big tourism industry, we need a more competitive air policy to allow both goods and people to travel at competitive prices,” Winter said.
“But this isn’t just a B.C. issue. When chambers across the country backed our policy, it was clear that businesses want progress on air access.”
With regards to temporary foreign workers, Winter says key sectors from construction to tourism to the digital industries rely heavily on the program to hire skill sets that aren’t available locally.
“Program changes announced in April are already hitting B.C. companies, causing hiring delays, and making the program unusable for many small businesses,” he said.
“When business leaders from across Canada backed our policy, it confirmed that Canada as a whole is feeling this fallout as well.”
Winter believes the policies endorsed by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce AGM send a strong and clear message to government.
“The national chamber movement represents Canada’s largest, most diverse and most community-based business voice,” he said.
“When chambers across Canada join together to call for policy change, we’re saying to Ottawa, ‘Canada’s business community is urging this change so that our country can move forward.’”