The Speech from the Throne, to be delivered on September 23, will be very important to Surrey’s business community. Surrey is going to be British Columbia’s largest city very soon, as it continues to grow by 1,400 people per month.
“We are living in unprecedented times and as such are at a critical juncture in our economy and country’s future. The Surrey Board of Trade is anxious to hear how the Federal Government intends to demonstrate strong leadership in providing effective immediate and longer-term strategies to protect Canada’s economy and businesses,” said Anita Huberman, CEO, Surrey Board of Trade.
Surrey is a community of small and medium sized businesses and entrepreneurs whose workforce size ranges from single owners up to 250 employees. Across Canada these businesses comprise a majority of the economy and workforce and are dramatically undercapitalized. 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.
“The Federal government needs to announce a single-payer universal pharmacare program. The Surrey Board of Trade has been advocating for this since 2016. 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.”
“Further, in 2007, the Surrey Board of Trade was the first business organization to advocate for child care investments from an economic lens. Affordability and accessibility to quality child care are 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. The return on investment in child care results in a richer economic environment for families and communities in Canada.
Surrey’s economic future depends on a healthy small business base. The Surrey Board of Trade, Surrey’s city-building business organization, has very high expectations and wants to see action – including clear leadership, and substantive change and support in Canada’s upcoming Throne Speech. More specifically:
· A national plan for recovering lost GDP;
· Fiscal sustainability in ensuring government’s ability to provide public services, and the appropriate fiscal anchor to impose discipline over budgetary decisions;
· A good policy framework to address inequality – Indigenous people, women, youth, newcomers, persons with disabilities middle class, immigrants – including refugees;
· Comprehensive and workable tax reform measures;
· More focus on leveraging the resource sector, using its wealth-generation, job creation and export leaning strengths(Resource Works Recommendations);
· Innovative and effective workforce measures – workforce reskilling and upskilling, worker transition supports and incentives and initiatives to building business and workforce resilience including targeted support for those businesses and workers most impacted by the pandemic;
· Actions to prioritize childcare;
· Targeting increases in health spending (e.g. Implement a National, Universal Pharmacare Plan);
· Considerations for an elderly and green economy (without imposing further undue hardship or tax burdens on families and business;
· A made-in-Canada solution to pandemic response and needed equipment/resources;
· Consideration for Universal Basic Income;
· Technology access and implementation across Canada (linkages to blockchain utilization);
· Removing red tape from and fast-tracking sustainable transportation and other infrastructure investments;
· A strategic plan that includes partnering with chambers of commerce/boards of trade on international trade opportunities for businesses;
· A global research fund and distribution strategy for vaccines; and,
· Innovating Canada’s pension system.
The Surrey Board of Trade looks forward to hearing and providing post-observations on Canada’s Throne Speech on September 23.