IMPROVING CANADA'S STANDARD OF LIVING AND QUALITY OF LIFE
If the standard of living of Canadians continues to lag, our ability to support and pay for programs, such as education, healthcare and infrastructure, may be undermined and so will our quality of life. Improving productivity is key to future prosperity.
High marginal tax rates also send a strong negative message about the merits of working and upgrading one’s skills, plus they discourage personal saving by reducing the ability and the incentive for Canadians to save for retirement and for entrepreneurs to fund capital investments and take risk.
High effective tax rates on capital further impede investment, job-creating foreign direct investment and investment in capital equipment, impacting worker productivity and our ability to compete.
Expenditures on income transfers and the extension and enhancement of EI benefits for high unemployment regions of the country create disincentives for work and personal skills upgrading. If employers’ real wage costs were reduced by returning the EI program to its original goal of providing insurance against unintended periods of unemployment, employers would be in a better position to hire more workers and increase real wages for employees.
Burdensome regulation also undermines our nation’s competitiveness and attractiveness to entrepreneurs, knowledge workers and investors.
Internal trade barriers keep firms from growing to a size large enough to compete effectively in foreign markets, cause investors to look to other countries to locate their business, artificially raise prices and increase the cost of doing business.
A competitive economy also relies on post-secondary graduates. The more educated the labour force, the easier it is to: shift into higher value-added economic activity that supports high wages, attract foreign direct investment and commercialize new technologies.
With an aging population, Canada will have to compete with other industrialized countries for a limited pool of skilled immigrants to augment its labour force.
Investment in transportation and broadband infrastructure boosts international trade and tourism, offers innovative ways to live, work and learn and contributes to a higher quality of life for all Canadians.
Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce Recommendations:
- Undertake a cost/benefit analysis on all existing and proposed federal regulations.
- Implement a mandatory, five-year cyclical review of regulations to determine continued relevancy.
- Streamline all regulations, where appropriate, that duplicate provincial/territorial regulations.
TRADE AND LABOUR MOBILITY
- Work with the provinces/territories to implement the Agreement on Internal Trade.
- Examine how the Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) provisions could be applied more broadly to reduce interprovincial barriers to trade and labour mobility.
- Continue to support the World Trade Organization on bilateral trade and investment agreements.
- Continue to invest in productivity-enhancing critical infrastructure (transportation, border, etc.) and encourage private sector participation.
- Boost investment in education and ensure effective spending on high-quality, broadly accessible programs.
- Ensure Canada’s immigration system enhances our chances of attracting individuals with desired skill sets.
- Adopt a quality-assurance framework to ensure consistent decision-making when selecting immigrants.
- Ensure visa officers receive sufficient and appropriate training and have the necessary tools and means to assess immigration applications more effectively and efficiently.
- Work with industry and professional associations to promote and support the development of national and international accreditation standards to evaluate foreign credentials, professional and trade qualifications and certification in regulated and non-regulated occupations.
- Expand collaborative R&D opportunities by facilitating access by Canadian research institutions and firms to international research initiatives.
- Build linkages and relationships between the public and private sectors.
- Encourage small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to enter the SR&ED tax credit program.
- Work with the private sector to accelerate e-business adoption among small and medium-sized enterprises.
- Rely on private-sector investment to drive the rollout of broadband to unserved areas of the country, but where market forces are not sufficient, federal government contributions should be introduced in the least market-distorting manner possible.
Adopted by The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce board of directors, September 2007