For the last several years, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce has published an annual list of the Top 10 Barriers to Canadian Competitiveness. That document listed some of the self-inflicted wounds that have prevented Canada’s economy from achieving its full potential and set out our recommendations for change.
Many of those recommendations were acted upon by government while others remain unaddressed. This year’s document is different.
Instead of focusing on barriers, it sets out 10 opportunities to improve our economic success. It still makes some specific recommendations that we will add to and advocate throughout the year. The document is far from a comprehensive list of our broad policy agenda, which includes the resolutions passed at our Annual General Meeting and Convention, the work of our standing policy committees, the roundtables we hold across Canada throughout the year, the research undertaken by our talented policy specialists and the suggestions we receive directly from the more than 200,000 members of our network.
Instead, Ten Ways is designed to offer a focused view of measures governments can take to improve our competitiveness. Identifying the issues that make up the list is as much art as science. It involves bringing together all of the policy input mentioned above and making a judgement about which issues will be particularly timely in the year ahead.
After wide discussion and debate, the final list is approved by our Board of Directors. This year’s list comes at a time of both challenge and opportunity for Canada. The global economy’s slow growth and the rising tide of protectionism and geopolitical insecurity provides an uncertain canvas on which to paint the Canadian picture.
However, we continue to possess important advantages, including our rich resource inheritance, the skills and industry of our citizens and our proximity to the world’s richest market. With imagination and plain hard work, we can translate these advantages into business success that will benefit every Canadian family.
President and Chief Executive Officer
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce
1. Promote Innovation and Harness the Power of Data
Canada’s innovation agenda must leverage the private sector and help companies get from idea to product. Harnessing the power of “big data” and ensuring data are secure will also be critical to competitive success.
2. Fight Global Protectionism
As a trade-dependent nation, Canada must combat protectionism by leveraging its critical resources and other products and services its partners need. The completion of CETA and the Trade in Services Agreement will also open markets to Canadian business.
3. Upgrade Canada’s Regulatory System to Get Natural Resources and Other Exports to World Markets
Canada needs a regulatory environment that makes it possible to develop natural resource projects and to build the infrastructure required to get those resources to customers. Its regulatory system must also be open, transparent, fact-based and efficient.
4. Work with Business to Combat Climate Change and Maintain Canada’s Competitiveness
Canada needs a national carbon-pricing policy that has one objective: lowering GHG emissions while preserving Canada’s competitiveness. For the benefit of the environment and of the economy, Canadian business must be at the centre of the design and execution of Canada’s climate change strategy.
5. Build Canada’s Brand
Canada must provide reliable and sufficient funding to Destination Canada’s international marketing budget. A well-marketed national brand would increase foreign investment, encourage the world’s most talented people to immigrate to Canada and add value to quality-dependent exports, like agri-food products.
6. Grow Small Business to Take on the World
Canada must ensure small businesses have innovative access to capital, the talent and the programs that will get their goods to international markets so they can grow and flourish in the global economy.
7. Build Digital Skills to Compete in the New Talent Economy
Canada must build its capacity to harness digital technologies and apply them across its economy. It must also grow its pool of information and communications technology workers by encouraging student enrolment in computer-centric fields, improving the digital literacy of Canadians or hiring foreign workers.
8. Assure Better Access to Capital for Indigenous Entrepreneurs
Canada must support Indigenous entrepreneurs in their efforts to access the capital needed to invest in equipment, training and other tools that can translate the benefits of short-to-mediumterm projects into the long-term benefits of jobs and wealth for their communities.
9. Dismantle Internal Barriers that Cost Consumers and Discourage Investors
Canada must develop a new Agreement on Internal Trade that includes the mutual recognition of regulations. Allowing business to operate more freely between provinces and territories will increase economic growth and job creation.
10. Encourage Investment by Cutting the Cost of Doing Business in Canada
Canada must reduce the cost of doing business in this country. Reducing those rising costs will provide a significant boost to our competitiveness and leave more money for businesses to invest.
We encourage you to join the discussion online and tweet your thoughts using the hashtag #10Ways