A key objective of the Burlington Chamber of Commerce is to be an effective advocate for Burlington business. The Chamber works on your behalf. Our alliances with other Chambers and Boards of Trade, including the Ontario and Canadian Chambers, provide us with information and access to all levels of government. We carry the collective and individual views of Chamber members to all levels of government to ensure that your voice is heard. The Burlington Chamber proudly boasts that it is a proactive, not reactive organization. We help draft policy rather than simply criticize it.
Over the past few months, the Chamber has been active delivering your views to the City of Burlington, the Region of Halton, the Provincial and Federal governments. Below is a summary of some of the advocacy activities of the last several months.
BUSINESSS CONSULTATION WITH Hon. HEDY FRY
On Friday March 30, 2012, several chamber members participated in a business consultation roundtable with federal health Critic Hon. Hedy Fry. The purpose of the meeting was to provide Ms. Fry with an opportunity to meet with a small group of Burlington business leaders to discuss health issues and how they impact business. Several specific items were discussed including: user fees, e-health, health technology guidelines, the 2004 health accord, mental health, patient-based hospital funding systems, and alternative health care. Ms. Fry committed to taking the opinions she heard back to her caucus.
FAIR TAX RESOLUTION SUBMITTED TO CCC
The Chamber's Political Action Committee has submitted to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce a resolution for debate at the upcoming CCC conference. The resolution, Fair Tax Process for Small Business, urges the Canadian government to review Canada Revenue Agency's policies and implement common administrative law practices so that there is assistance for small businesses to resolve conflicts with CRA with the protection of due process. Read the resolution.
The Chamber conducted a member survey of election issues. The top issues members want to hear about during the campaign is health care and taxation. The top priority for the newly elected government should be to "keep their campaign promises". Read the full survey results.
CHAMBER RESOLUTIONS ADOPTED BY OCC
The Burlington Chamber of Commerce submitted two public policies (N-GTA Corridor, Workplace Mental Health) for ratification at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) annual general meeting. Both of the policies were adopted by the conference delegates making them official OCC policy. The OCC will now lobby the Ontario government in an attempt to have the recommendations of the resolutions enacted. The Chamber's submitted resolutions can be found on the Chamber Online Library. You can also read the the full OCC Policy Book.
CHAMBER URGES GOVERNMENT TO CONTINUE WITH PLANNED TAX CUTS
As of January 1, 2010 the federal general corporate tax rate fell from 18% to 16.5% with a further 1.5 percentage point scheduled for 2012. However, today some politicians are call for these tax rate reductions to be reversed and for the government to direct the revenues to new spending. The Burlington Chamber feels this will constrain the job creation and investment Burlington businesses are making to grow and compete in a challenging global environment. to that end, the chamber has sent letters to local MPs Mike Wallace and Hon. Lisa Raitt urging them to ensure the government follows through on its promise to reduce business taxes. Read the letter. Mike Wallace has responded supporting the Chamber's position.
BUSINESSS CONSULTATION WITH SOPHIA AGGELONITIS
On January 27, 2011 the Chamber hosted a special Business Consultation Meeting featuring Honourable Sophia Aggelonitis, Provincial Minister of Revenue and Minister Responsible for Seniors. The primary topic of discussion was the Harmonized Sales Tax with the Minister and Assistant Deputy Minister, Bob Laramy, answering questions about potential changes to the HST rate, the processing of audits, HST impacts on real estate and provincial revenue impacts. Other topics of discussion included pension plans, unemployment, minimum wage and the provincial debt.
CHAMBER SUBMITS RESOLUTIONS TO OCC
The Chamber's advocacy committees have been very busy in the past few months. In January 2001 the Chamber's Health Advocacy Committee has submitted a Corporate Mental Health resolution to the Ontario Chamber for debate at the 2011 OCC conference. Also, the Political Action Committee has submitted a resolution on the Niagara to GTA Corridor. Both resolutions can be found on the Chamber's online document library.
CHAMBER URGES POLITICIANS TO AMEND THE COPYWRIGHT ACT
In December 2010, the Burlington Chamber sent letters to Mike Wallace MP and Hon. Lisa Raitt urging them to support Bill C32, the Copyright Modernization Act. The protection of Intellectual Property rights has been a point of discussion in many Business Consultation Meetings the Chamber has hosted with cabinet ministers and critics. Intellectual property is the lifeblood of many businesses. Click here to read the letter.
BUSINESS CONSULTATION WITH HON. LISA RAITT
On November 26, 2010 the Chamber hosted a special Business Consultation Meeting featuring Honourable Lisa Raitt, Federal Minister of Labour. The discussion covered a wide range of topics ranging from the aging demographic in Burlington, Tax Free Saving Account, Buy America, foreign trade, and replacement workers. Ms. Raitt also agreed to meet with the Chamber's Health Advocacy Committee to discuss mental health and its impact on the workplace.
CHAMBER SUPPORTS CENSUS MANDATORY LONG FORM
The Chamber believes that a proper and comprehensive census is important to both business and government. It allows the creation of long-term planning for implementing programs and services that support all aspects of the community including business, cultural, social, health and education. To that end, the Burlington Chamber sent a letter to Prime Minister Harper urging him to reverse his government's decision to eliminate the census mandatory long form.
CHAMBER URGES POLITICIANS TO SUPPORT BILL C32
The Burlington Chamber has sent letters to Mike Wallace MP and Hon. Lisa Raitt urging them to support Bill C32, the Copyright Modernization Act. The protection of Intellectual Property rights has been a point of discussion in many Business Consultation Meetings the Chamber has hosted with cabinet ministers and critics. Intellectual property is the lifeblood of many businesses. Click here to read the letter. Both Mike Wallace MP and Hon. Lisa Raitt respondED to the Chamber supporting our position.
BURLINGTON CHAMBER RESOLUTION ADOPTED BY OCC
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce held its Annual General Meeting in Windsor on April 29 to May 2, 2010. The conference was attended by delegates representing Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade from all regions of Ontario. The main purpose of the conference was a series of votes by the general membership on Ontario Chamber policy resolutions. You can find all the adopted resolutions at the Ontario Chamber website. The Burlington Chamber was represented by Jamie Cunningham (Board Chair), Tamer Fahmi (Vice Chair) and Keith Hoey (President). Of particular interest to Burlington Chamber members was the Burlington Chamber's resolution on the provincial legislative process. Jamie presented the resolution and it was adopted by the OCC with a unanimous vote. Congratulations to the Political Action Committee for successfully writing this resolution. Also, the Burlington Chamber won an OCC Chair's award in recognition of the innovative Economic Uncertainty Seminar Series held in 2009.
CHAMBER DRIVES MAJOR WIN FOR BUSINESSES
On March 21 federal parliament voted against Bill C-257 (which proposed anti-replacement worker legislation). This is a major win for businesses in Canada and an excellent example of how being a member of the Chamber of Commerce can help your business. When plans for this new bill were announced, the china wholesale Canadian Chamber mobilized local Chambers throughout the country. The Burlington Chamber contacted local MP Mike Wallace and solicited his support in defeating this Bill. This type of advocacy work is only possible because of the strength of each local Chamber and the channelling of that strength to the federal level. Your membership makes a difference.
CHAMBER AT PRE-BUDGET CONSULTATION
The Chair (Francis Mackan) and President (Keith Hoey) of the Chamber were invited to a special pre-budget consultation meeting with Gary Goodyear, Federal Minister of State (Science and Technology). Input from the Chamber included recommendations in improve the SR&ED program, bolster the intellectual property rights environment in Canada with anti-counterfeit legislation and increasing support for NFPs.
BUSINESS CONSULTATION WITH HON. TONY CLEMENT
On January 14, 2010 the Chamber hosted a Business Consultation Meeting featuring Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Industry. The discussion covered a wide range of topics ranging from various aspects of the economic stimulus package, government support of R&D programs, fine tuning the SR&ED program and creating a stronger link between industry and academia. Mr. Clement outlined improvements being made in the Canadian auto sector and describe the car builders as showing 'rational optimism.' Attendees expressed a common sentiment that the banks need to push more money that has been given to them into the economy. Mr. Clement was urged to support the provinces move to a Harmonized Sales Tax.
CHAMBER & BEDC PRESENT JOINT DELEGATION ON HOSPITAL EXPANSION
The proposed expansion of the Joseph Brant memorial Hospital will cost a total of $312 million. In October, JBMH officially asked the City of Burlington to support the expansion with a $60 million city contribution. This is in addition to $60 million of fundraising that will be done for a total 'local share' of $120 million.
At the December 8 council meeting, the Chamber and Burlington Economic Development Corporation presented a joint delegation to the City of Burlington Budget and Strategic Planning meeting. The thrust of the delegation was to express support for the city investing in the proposed Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital expansion. The delegation went further in making a series of recommendations that the city should follow regarding its investment in the project. Some of these recommendations include:
- identifying the type and range of services to be offered at the hospital
- exploring a range of funding options in an effort to minimize the tax impact
- establishing performance measures and benchmarks for hospital care
- making the hospital a centre for innovation and research with respect to teaching and technology commercialization
The B&SP committee voted unanimously to support the $60 million 'ask' from the hospital. On Monday, December 14, City Council also unanimously approved the motion. The details of how the $60 million will be raised is still to be determined.
In simple terms, if the $60 million is raised through a tax levy that is spread over 10 years, the tax impact each year per $100,000 current value assessment will be:
Both the Chamber and BEDC have offered to work closely with the city and JBMH to ensure Burlington receives the type of facility and level of health care it needs.
CHAMBER HOSTS REVENUE MINISTER JOHN WILKINSON:
TRANSITION TO HST
The Chamber has made special arrangements to have the Honourable John Wilkinson, Ontario's new Minister of Revenue, speak to a Burlington business audience about the Province's move to a single sales tax, also know as the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). Minister Wilkinson's mandate includes the transition to and administration of the single sales tax which will take effect on July 1, 2010. Minister Wilkinson will discuss the importance of a singles sales tax, the reasons why the government has committed to this policy and what it means to business and the economy. The minister, along with ministry staff, will be available to answer your questions about HST. Click here for a copy of the Minister's speech.
CHAMBER HOSTS CONSULTATION MEETING WITH FINANCE CRITIC JOHN McCALLUM
On August 26, the Chamber hosted its third Business Consultation Meeting. This meeting featured John McCallum, federal finance critic. Hot on the heals of the Business Consultation meeting with Finance Minister Flaherty (two days earlier) this meeting proved to be an interesting contrast. It was encouraging that Minister Flaherty and Mr. McCallum had very similar responses to questions on HST (they are both in favour) and Canadian dollar volatility (there is little the government can do to reduce it). Meeting attendees gave Mr. McCallum advice on many other issues including employment insurance and education. Mr. McCallum was pleased with the frank discussion and will be including many items in liberal party policy development.
CHAMBER HOSTS CONSULTATION MEETING WITH FINANCE MINISTER JIM FLAHERTY
About 25 Chamber members spent some quality time with federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty on August 24th as part of a new Burlington Chamber program that arranges small consultation meetings with senior ministers and opposition critics. During the session the finance minister heard a number of concerns from the Burlington business contingent. Some of the issues discussed during the consultation meeting included capital investment, venture capital, the 'buy American' clause, Canadian dollar volatility, RRSPs, regulation, HST, auto bailouts, Chinese investment, and the federal government's plans for the new-world economy. There was a thorough debate on the link between business and education. ¡°Of course, the major concern overall expressed in our meeting is the significant recession and the U.S. economy,¡± Flaherty said later in an interview. Look for the full story in the November 2009 REVIEW magazine.
CHAMBER NETWORK HELPS TO DEFEAT REPLACEMENT WORKERS BILL
On Wednesday, April 29 members of Parliament defeated a motion regarding the use of replacement workers by federally-regulated employers by a vote of 157 to 119. This motion stated that, ¡°the government should introduce in the House, no later than October 15, 2009, a bill to amend the Canada Labour Code to prohibit the use of replacement workers in labour disputes falling under the jurisdiction of the federal government while at the same time ensuring that essential services are maintained.¡± While not binding, adoption of this motion by Parliament could have set a precedent for the introduction of legislation banning the use of replacement workers by federally-regulated employers. The defeat of this motion was due in large part to local Chamber efforts in contacting local members of Parliament to let them know how harmful this type of legislation could be to all businesses. MPs Mike Wallace and Lisa Raitt voted against the motion.
CHAMBER HOST CONSULTATION MEETING WITH MARC GARNEAU
On Tuesday, April 14 a group of Burlington business leaders met with Marc Garneau federal Liberal Critic for Industry, Science and Technology. The meeting, hosted by the Burlington Chamber of Commerce, gave local businesses the opportunity to share their views about industry and employment with the federal industry critic. The discussion focused on 'jobs of tomorrow' and covered a wide variety of topics including SR&ED policy, intellectual property, auto bailouts, and the link between education, business and research. "This was a unique opportunity for the Burlington business community to speak directly with a member of federal parliament about the key drivers in creating the jobs of tomorrow. Mr. Garneau was very receptive to the comments expressed at the meeting. I fully expect the input from this meeting will have direct impact on the liberal party platform and potentially the policies of the federal government," said Francis Mackan, Chair of the Burlington Chamber and host of the meeting with Garneau. "Judging by the thoughtful and spirited conversation, the Burlington business leaders who took part in the meeting certainly made the most of the opportunity." Mr. Garneau will be using the information from this meeting to help formulate the liberal industry platform.
CHAMBER BOARD OF DIRECTORS MEETS WITH CITY COUNCIL
On March 10, the Chamber's Board of Directors met with council and senior staff of the City of Burlington. The meeting was intended to enhance the relationships of the elected officials of both organizations. The meeting also provided the Chamber Board with the opportunity to discuss local business issues with council members. These meetings take place every year to ensure the Chamber Board has a direct communications link with councillors.
CHAMBER ASK SCHOOL BOARDS TO DELAY START OF SCHOOL YEAR
In order to accommodate the full schedule of 194 school days, Halton school boards considered moving the September 2009 school start date forward by one week to before Labour Day. Because of the difficulties this would cause for local businesses, the chamber sent a letter to the Minister of Education urging a post-Labour Day start to the school year. Click here to read the letter.
CHAMBER URGES POLITICIANS TO GET BACK TO BUSINESS
The Burlington Chamber, along with the Canadian Chamber and other Chambers across the country, is urging politicians to set aside partisan issues and get back to the business of running the country. Since the recent Economic Statement, discussion in the House of Commons has been almost exclusively focused on political posturing. The CCC has sent a letter to all party leaders and the Burlington Chamber has sent a letter to Burlington MP Mike Wallace. Click here to read the letter.
ONTARIO AND CANADIAN CHAMBERS
The Burlington Chamber works closely with the Ontario and Canadian Chambers of Commerce. Through them, we advocate on your behalf with the Provincial and Federal governments. Much of this advocacy work takes the form of a series of resolutions that are put before the respective governments. These resolutions are available online.