Surrey Board of Trade CEO Statement on Speech from the Throne 2020

Childcare, Pharmacare, Business Support, Job Creation Positive Focuses in Speech from the Throne
– Details in Federal Budget will be Critical for Sustainable Fiscal Investments and Fiscal Management

Today’s Speech from the Throne in Ottawa was important to Surrey’s business community. Most endured significant challenges during the pandemic. Surrey, still, continues to grow by over 1,200 people per month. This has opportunities and challenges in itself. Surrey will be the largest city in British Columbia very soon, and this is something that we need to keep at the forefront of our minds as we make decisions for our businesses and our organizations to enhance the livability of our city, and for our workforce. Surrey is well positioned to weather the economic storm given our diverse industry base.

Surrey is a community of small and medium sized businesses and entrepreneurs whose workforce size ranges from single owners up to 500 employees. Across Canada these businesses comprise a majority of the economy. Their workforces are dramatically under capitalized. Many have faced significant hardships and difficult decisions as a result of declining or terminated revenue associated with the pandemic. Despite this, expenses continue with limited or over-leveraged financial resources to address them and delayed, complicated or limited government programs to support business continuity and the economy. Current programs, while helpful to some, have cost the Canadian economy billions of dollars of incurred debt and done little to protect the economy and Canadian businesses over the mid to long term.

We asked: Did today’s Speech from the Throne demonstrate strong leadership in providing effective immediate and longer-term strategies to protect Canada’s economy and businesses, especially as we face significant economic uncertainty? Yes and no.

TAX REFORM: We have been asking the Federal Government to have a comprehensive review of Canada’s tax system to reduce administrative burden to businesses and to save business money. The Surrey Board of Trade didn’t hear any tax reform initiatives in today’s Throne Speech.

PHARMACARE: We were pleased that the Federal Government maintained its commitment to implement a universal pharmacare program. The burden of Canada’s incomplete and inefficient system of public drug coverage falls heavily on businesses, especially small and medium sized enterprises who are the backbone of Canada’s economy. With rising costs of medications, many businesses are seeing their bottom line erode and some find they simply cannot afford to provide insurance plans for their employees. But there wasn’t a concrete announcement on implementation. How much longer must we wait?

CHILDCARE: In 2007, the Surrey Board of Trade was the first business organization to advocate for childcare investments from an economic lens, even in the face of significant criticism saying that childcare wasn’t a business issue. Childcare is a business issue. Affordability and accessibility to quality childcare is necessary for employees to be able to perform at peak productivity, confident in the knowledge that their children are cared for in a safe, learning environment. This has been further demonstrated during the pandemic with school and daycare closures. The Surrey Board of Trade was pleased that there was a commitment to a national childcare plan but what will the details be and what will it cost taxpayers?

BUSINESS & ECONOMIC SUPPORT: We heard that there will be a plan for continued investment and leveraging of the natural resource sector. This is good news for Surrey businesses. Supporting manufacturing, agriculture and energy businesses through climate change and emission programs is good, but we await the details of the support in the next federal budget.

But we didn’t hear about faster decision-making for transportation or other infrastructure developments. We didn’t hear about education institutional investments or innovation. We did hear about a commitment to reskilling or upskilling though.
With digital innovation at the forefront of action, there also needed to be a move towards blockchain innovation and investment.

We heard that there will be an initiative to reduce inter-provincial trade barriers – a significant long-time policy ask from the Surrey Board of Trade.

Canada’s pension fund, housing investments, a campaign to create up to one million jobs, wage subsidy program expanded to Summer 2021, youth employment, accelerating women’s entrepreneurship support, further support for the hardest hit industries such as arts/culture and our hospitality industry and a skills strategy are all positive. We await the details of the programs and the details within the federal budget.

HEALTH: Significant focuses on a vaccine strategy and distribution, from the Surrey Board of Trade’s vaccine policy, seemed to be positive with the focus on building domestic capacity to manufacture PPE and secure health-focused supply chains. The opioid crisis was mentioned. This other crisis needs action now.

FISCAL DEBT: We heard about more spending when Canada’s debt is over a trillion dollars. We were hoping for more detail on the specific investments that will reduce the government’s debt. Business is wondering who will pay for this debt. Finding revenue sources, reducing administrative costs, and improving efficiency are essential to economic recovery.

INTERNATIONAL TRADE: We heard a commitment to harnessing the opportunities by free trade agreements. On the ground assistance to businesses in a structured way is needed to ensure that we realize these global opportunities.

CONCLUSION: Businesses across the country require more support than ever. With a looming second wave, employers and employees are anxious about their future. Canada needs strong leadership with actionable plans. There is no doubt that the Government and health officials across Canada have done an outstanding job in addressing COVID-19, a pandemic that this generation has never seen before. As Canada’s COVID-19 cases rise, the federal government can’t continue to shut the economy down, or shut down sectors of the economy. There needs to be a measured and systematic approach to leveling the curve. We await the details of the vision and plans presented in today’s Throne Speech. Action must happen expediently or we will lose any positive economic course for business.


  1. The first foundation of this plan is to fight the pandemic and save lives.
  2. The second foundation of the Government’s plan is supporting people and businesses through this crisis as long as it lasts, whatever it takes. Effectively dealing with the health crisis is the best thing we can do for the economy. Government action has already helped Canadians stay safe, and buffered the worst economic impacts.
  3. The third foundation is to build back better to create a stronger, more resilient Canada. To do this, we must keep strengthening the middle class and helping people working hard to join it, and continue creating jobs and building long-term competitiveness with clean growth. We must also keep building safer communities for everyone.
  4. The fourth and final foundation of this plan is to stand up for who we are as Canadians.



Contact for more information:

Anita Huberman