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More urgency is needed in reducing business costs and improving competitiveness says the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

“While we welcome specific measures in the budget on skills and innovation, our international competitors are racing ahead,” said the Hon. Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. “The U.S. election was a game-changer, yet the budget is written as if nothing has changed. As our number-one trading partner rolls back regulation and cuts taxes, Canadian businesses face more regulation and increased costs imposed by all levels of government for fees, taxes and essential inputs like electricity.”

The budget foresees Canada remaining in the low-growth trap at least until 2021. Mr. Beatty called upon the federal government to meet urgently with the provinces to identify specific measures to cut the cost of doing business in Canada. “The Canadian economy is fueled by trade, yet there has been nearly no export growth in the past two years, and business investment has decreased for nine straight quarters. Despite this, governments still don’t seem to recognize the problem,” said Mr. Beatty. “We need a national strategy, and it should be announced in the fall economic update at the very latest.”

“Investment crosses borders like light through glass. If we continue to allow a growing gap between what it costs to do business in Canada and the costs our competitors face, businesses will be forced to locate their activities elsewhere,” he said.

The commitment to skills training is welcome. “Business needs a modern, well-trained and constantly-evolving workforce to compete in the economy of the 21st century,” said Mr. Beatty. “We commend the government for its measures on skills, but urge it to do more to ensure our businesses can compete on all levels.”

“We are an innovative nation but we are falling behind in turning research into products,” said Mr. Beatty. “Support for clusters and late-stage venture capital are good elements that will help existing companies. We need concrete steps to make it easier for companies and individuals to transform ideas into commodities and services. In turn, these new businesses will support more high-tech jobs and foster further innovation. Canada needs to become an innovation leader to make sure new technologies and new jobs are created here, not in Silicon Valley.”

“The U.S. government is moving quickly to attract new investment,” said Mr. Beatty. “Unless all levels of government work together to ensure Canada is a desirable place to invest and do business, we will see business and investment taking place across the border instead of here. This is not simply a federal issue, but an urgent national concern.”

Click here to read our analysis of Budget 2017.

 

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