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September 23, 2019
(Medicine Hat) The Medicine Hat & District Chamber of Commerce represented the local business community at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s annual general meeting (AGM) and convention, held September 21st-23rd in Saint John, New Brunswick, marking the 200th anniversary of the Saint John Board of Trade and the location of the very first Canadian Chamber annual general meeting in 1926.
The contingent from Medicine Hat attended the annual conference to engage with chambers from across the country. The agenda focused on the upcoming federal election and Vote Prosperity campaign, along with digital advocacy strategies, trends and tools. The delegates also heard from key political figures, including the Honourable Jason Kenney, Premier of Alberta and opening remarks from the Honourable Blaine Higgs, Premier of New Brunswick.
The focus of the annual meeting was the policy conference where delegates debated 80 policies from local Chambers across the country, setting the policy direction for the chamber network and providing a playbook for the Canadian Chamber to use following the October election.
Among the 80 policies debated, 69 were passed for inclusion in the Chamber’s policy book with four additional policies referred to the board, one that was withdrawn and six that were defeated. The local Chamber submitted two policies, both of which were adopted by the delegates.
Emergency Slaughter – Update to the Transportation of Animals Program was first adopted by the Canadian Chamber in 2016 and was renewed during the policy debates. Continued advocacy will ensure that the Health of Animals Regulations Act Part XII – Transportation of Animals is updated and expanded to include humane transportation of injured animals to a licensed abattoir.
Sarah MacKenzie, President of the Medicine Hat & District Chamber of Commerce commented, “We know that food waste is an issue and food sustainability is a topic of conversation in our region. This policy addresses practical solutions that are economical, environmental and compassionate to help move this policy agenda forward and provides options that would reduce food waste and keep beef stock off the black market.”
The second local policy that was adopted by the national chamber network was Removing Excise Tax and GST on Medicinal Cannabis. The local chamber has already commenced lobby efforts with both the provincial and federal government on this file, recommending that medical cannabis be treated the same as other prescription medications, now leveraging the influence of the Canadian Chamber network by gaining national support on this issue.
“With a growing cannabis industry in our region and with a focus on ensuring a level playing field for all business, we are asking for medicinal cannabis to be treated equitably and not singled out for a different tax treatment than all other prescription medications. Furthermore, many patients who rely on medical cannabis are economically disadvantaged due to chronic and debilitating conditions. Making the medicine that these patients have come to rely on more expensive puts them at risk of turning to the illicit market or opioids.” stated MacKenzie.
“While the two policies that were adopted this past weekend address different industries and different pieces of legislation, what they both focus on is supporting equitable treatment for our industries, while considering a reasonable and compassionate approach to solutions”, MacKenzie concluded.
Other policies debated included finance and taxation, agriculture, human resources, immigration, workforce skills, indigenous issues, innovation, international affairs, natural resources, energy, environment, transportation, infrastructure and social policies.
“The Canadian Chamber’s network of 450 local Chambers provides our eyes and ears in communities across Canada. They make sure that we are aware of the needs of their members so we can fight for solutions in Ottawa”, stated the Honourable Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
Additional highlights from the weekend included two awards of recognition for the Medicine Hat & District Chamber of Commerce.
The first was in the local Chamber’s re-accreditation certification from the Chamber Accreditation Council of Canada. This designation signifies that the local Chamber continues to operate under a high set of standards in the following chamber pillars: membership programs and services, policy and advocacy work, organization and administration, strategic planning and governance.
The second recognition was given to the Chamber’s Executive Director, Lisa Kowalchuk who was honoured with one of the highest levels of recognition, the Executive of the Year award. The award is given to a chief staff person in a Chamber of Commerce in Canada who has demonstrated outstanding performance, membership growth, sound financial status, demonstrated contributions to the Chamber profession and contributions to the success of their Chamber of Commerce.
“It has been an honour to serve our Chamber over the last 10 years and have an impact for our Chamber and our network at a local, provincial and federal level. There have been challenges we have been able to overcome and many successes we have been able to celebrate, but through it all I have always recognized that I couldn’t do what I do without the support of our Board leadership, making sure we’re making the right decisions, leading strategically, and supporting my thoughts and recommendations while making sure we’re responsive to our membership. It takes a great team of people to make things happen and no single success rests solely on the shoulders of any one person. I have a great team!”
“One of the most active and effective Chambers in all of Canada is the Medicine Hat and District Chamber of Commerce, who were reaccredited for their excellence and whose Executive Director, Lisa Kowalchuk, was recognized as an Executive of the Year by her peers. This past year, Lisa was the only chamber executive to serve on the Canadian Chamber’s Board, where her intelligence, her boundless energy and her vision contributed enormously to our success. She is respected throughout the network and she provides a powerful voice for Canadian business”, Beatty kindly remarked.
“We are committed to our vision of being the most unified, valued and influential business network in Medicine Hat & District.” stated MacKenzie. “Having the opportunity to engage with our peers from across the country reinforces how the power of the network takes our local initiatives and propels them to national significance. Knowing that a single member’s concern can be amplified and multiplied so that it is recognized nationally is a truly wonderful and impactful experience.”
The annual general meeting materials and policies can be viewed online at: http://chamber.ca/events/2019-agm/.
Canadian Chamber of Commerce media releases: http://www.chamber.ca/media/news-releases/.
For more information on the Medicine Hat & District Chamber of Commerce’s policies, please visit the advocacy page on our website: http://www.medicinehatchamber.com/pages/Advocacy#policy.

Please direct all media inquiries to:
Sarah MacKenzie, President
c/o 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.