LEGISLATIVE AGENDA REFLECTS SUCCESSFUL CHAMBER ADVOCACY

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June 03, 2019
The Medicine Hat & District Chamber of Commerce was pleased to see a number of policy recommendations reflected in the legislative agenda set forth by the newly elected provincial government last week. All four bills brought forward in the legislature last week addressed numerous issues that the local Chamber has advocated for on behalf of their members.
 
With tabling of Bill 1, An Act to Repeal the Carbon Tax, the provincial government took into account the impact the carbon tax had on Alberta’s business community and families. This signalled alignment with the Chamber’s policy recommendations in Striking a Balance Between a Healthy
Economy and Low Carbon Emissions’. The local and provincial Chamber recommended Government not exceed other jurisdictions on carbon pricing and regulations and maintain competitiveness with neighboring or like jurisdictions in Canada and the United States.  The local Chamber also had a number of other recommendations, ultimately coming down to ensuring cost neutrality, measuring impacts and ensuring competitiveness.
 
‘Our carbon policy focused on timing and regulatory challenges faced by businesses in relation to the carbon pricing. We know the question is not whether we need to transition to a lower carbon economy, but it’s more about how we manage the process and ensure that any policies implemented minimize risks and maximizes benefits’ stated Chamber President, Sarah MacKenzie. ‘The real impact on business and the economy must be assessed and policies adjusted in order to strike the balance between a healthy economy and reduction of emissions’, further commented MacKenzie.
 
With the tabling of Bill 2, the Open for Business Act, the provincial government took into account many of the concerns that the Chamber had brought forward in three different policies: Clarity Needed in Employment Standards Averaging Agreements and Treatment of Statutory Holidays, Impacts of Significant Minimum Wage Increases and ‘Alberta Labour Code. These policies listed a number of challenges within the treatment of employment standards and some of the unintended consequences felt by previous policy decisions implemented. The local Chamber asked for changes to averaging agreements to ensure more flexible work environments, in addition to finding a solution for the treatment of statutory holidays. Through the Chamber’s minimum wage policy, the Chamber specifically asked for special wage rates for students under 18, in addition to a number of other policy recommendations. The Chamber’s recommendation to government that secret ballot union certification votes be restored was also heeded.
 
‘By returning to previous general holiday pay and banked overtime rules, small business owners will be able to offer more flexibility to their employees and more efficiently operate their businesses with less regulatory burden and administrative costs. The addition of a separate minimum wage for youth 17 and under, working less than 28 hours a week addresses concerns heard from our members and ensures businesses have the financial footing to offer employment opportunities to youth which allows students the essential step into the workforce,’ MacKenzie remarked. ‘Because of our advocacy on labour issues and the commitment by this Government to bring a better balance for business, goals for both employers and their employees have been reached,’ said MacKenzie.   
 
The chamber network has advocated for many years on reducing corporate tax rates to ensure that Alberta maintains its advantage of being a province that attracts and retains investment. In the Chamber’s policy ‘Reduce Alberta Corporate Income Tax Rates the Chamber had recommended to government that our taxation rates should not exceed those of other provinces. With the tabling of Bill 3, the Job Creation Tax Cut  the government is in alignment with our policy recommendations. If passed, Alberta will have the lowest tax rate in Canada.
 
Corporations have learned to be internationally mobile to gain both marketing and financial advantages, including tax advantages. By creating a low corporate tax environment this will assist in attracting investment capital, growing trade and diversifying our economy,’ commented MacKenzie.
 
The chamber has also advocated on regulatory reform for many years and to all levels of government. The local Chamber passed a provincial policy around Managing Impacts of Layered Legislation in response to numerous pieces of legislation that required a large investment of time and resources to absorb, understand and then roll out processes to be in compliance with updated regulations. With the tabling of Bill 4, the Red Tape Reduction Act, the government focused on making sure government rules and laws are effective, efficient and proportional to the outcome they are trying to achieve.
 
‘Our concerns were heard and addressed. The intent of this bill aligns with the recommendations we proposed which include, taking into consideration the scope and implementation requirements of legislative changes being proposed and taking a balanced approach in both consultation and legislative changes to reduce burden on business and provide for a reasonable time for consultation, implementation or enforcement period, while measuring the impact on the economy and the cost of implementation,’ MacKenzie stated. ‘Regulations are not, in and of themselves, unwarranted, however, there needs to be a clear understanding of why the regulation is in place and, once implemented, if it is effective and efficient. Our primary concern regarding the impact of layered legislation was the need to pass legislation without appropriate or adequate consultation, followed by insufficient education with stakeholders which required employers to divert their time, energy and resources to navigating regulations instead of focusing on the business of running their business,’ further commented MacKenzie.
 
‘The chamber network has been clear that businesses need to be a part of creating solutions. We believe that this can be done while still balancing the needs of our communities and our economy,’ said MacKenzie. ‘Seeing how effective our Vote Prosperity campaign has been provincially, we see the upcoming federal election as an opportunity to ensure that all political parties are aware of where the chamber network stands on issues that are of importance to business and we are working to influence government platforms leading up to the fall federal election. Our federal Vote Prosperity campaign clearly lays out our policy priorities and we are determined to advocate for the best interests of our members knowing that when business succeeds, Canada succeeds.’
 
Please direct all media inquiries to:
Sarah MacKenzie, 2018-2019 President
Medicine Hat & District Chamber of Commerce
(403) 527-5214 ext.221

 
The Chamber of Commerce is a member-driven, volunteer-led organization, proudly representing the interests of businesses in our region, and working diligently to stimulate a strengthened and vibrant economy through our connections, support and influence. For more than 115 years, the Chamber has stood for promoting business, monitoring government and championing managed growth in the local economy. The Chamber represents over 800 businesses in our region and is aligned with both the Alberta Chambers of Commerce (ACC), which represents over 25,000 businesses and the Canadian Chambers of Commerce (CCC), which represents over 200,000 businesses. With the largest and most influential business organizations locally, provincially and federally, the Chamber network is the most unified, valued and influential business network in Canada and works together to shape policy and programs that will make a difference to businesses in our region.