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Edmonton, Calgary chambers of commerce call for ‘inclusive recovery’ in federal election platform

Click to play video: 'Edmonton and Calgary Chambers present election wish list to speed economic recovery' Edmonton and Calgary Chambers present election wish list to speed economic recovery
The chambers want the federal parties to focus on investments in research, technology and skills training to ensure Albertans are able to fully take part in a sustainable recovery. Tom Vernon reports. – Aug 18, 2021

Chambers of commerce representing Alberta’s two largest cities have launched their election platform, and they’re calling for increased supports for businesses from the next federal government.

The five themes in the platform include:

  • economic recovery and diversification
  • jobs and talent
  • environment and climate
  • finance and taxation
  • market access

The Edmonton and Calgary chambers of commerce released their joint platform Tuesday, hoping that a united voice will be heard in Parliament.

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“When you look at it from an economic perspective and the opportunity it presents, if we can collaborate on making sure that the messages are resonating as one voice in Ottawa, that’s better for Albertans and it’s better for the economy,” Calgary chamber president and CEO Deborah Yedlin said Wednesday.

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“We’re stronger together than apart, and we’ve been doing this collaboration for quite some time,” Jeffrey Sundquist, Edmonton chamber president and CEO, said.

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The chambers hope the federal government continues to support a recovery from the depths of the pandemic and helps more people enter the workforce. Part of that includes investing in “affordable and high-quality childcare to increase labour force participation,” the platform read.

“I think what the pandemic did was really highlight the need for an inclusive recovery,” Sundquist said.

“We think that all people should be able to participate in the economic recovery and so [it’s important] ensuring that we get all demographics back to work as quickly as practical and safe.”

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The chambers would have the government aid economic diversification by investing in tech at all stages and supporting research at post-secondary institutions.

“One of the things that we have to do to make sure that we can be competitive going forward as a province — and we hope that the government listens — is this whole competitiveness from a talent, skills and training perspective,” Yedlin said.

“We need to make sure that our post-secondary institutions are properly funded, that research and development opportunities are properly funded.”

Post-secondary funding and micro-credentialing are two ways the chambers say will address the skills gap in the province.

Click to play video: 'Calgary Chamber of Commerce pushing for COVID-19 vaccine passports in Alberta' Calgary Chamber of Commerce pushing for COVID-19 vaccine passports in Alberta
Calgary Chamber of Commerce pushing for COVID-19 vaccine passports in Alberta – Aug 11, 2021

Investing in decarbonization and cleantech as well as helping energy producers adopt things like ESG reporting are also part of the platform.

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According to Environment and Climate Change Canada data, the oil and gas sectors produced more than 26 per cent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“We need to see something like a natural resources innovation supercluster established here,” Yedlin said. “We do want to see tax credits that encourage the development of carbon capture and sequestration.”

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The Calgary chamber’s CEO said the province can draw on its history of co-operative innovation.

“Alberta has a great story to tell from the AOSTRA (Alberta Oil Sands Technology and Research Authority) days in the 70s where we had private sector (companies), government and academia come together to really develop the technology that we used to extract oil from the oil sands. We have that history of co-operation and collaboration to really extract economic value,” Yedlin said.

Click to play video: 'Alberta businesses struggling to find qualified candidates' Alberta businesses struggling to find qualified candidates
Alberta businesses struggling to find qualified candidates – May 20, 2021

But the joint platform does not want the government to hinder business and industry in the coming years.

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“The key message here is that there needs to be a good balance between continuing to support business and industry as we recover from the pandemic, but also that we take a pragmatic approach to reducing deficits and debt while maintaining a competitive global taxation system,” Sundquist said.

Canadians go to the polls on Sep. 20.

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