Canadian Chamber Unveils Top 10 Barriers to Competitiveness for 2013

Canadian Chamber Unveils Top 10 Barriers to Competitiveness for 2013 
OTTAWA, Feb. 12, 2013 /CNW/ - Today, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce unveiled 
its Top 10 Barriers to Competitiveness for 2013. The Canadian Chamber 
undertook this initiative last year to draw attention to the barriers that are 
holding back Canada's progress and to urge all levels of government to act 
more swiftly to improve our country's ability to compete globally. 
Canadian Chamber President and CEO Perrin Beatty declared the initial year of 
the initiative a success. "As we take stock of the first year of the Top 10, 
we made progress on several of the items we targeted," he stated. "For 
example, our members recorded a major victory when our appeal for change to 
the regulatory processes around natural resource projects was overwhelmingly 
accepted by the government. For a country so dependent on the success of 
natural resource projects, implementing a more efficient process is a huge 
contributor to competitiveness," said Beatty. 
The Canadian Chamber's number one issue last year, as identified by the 
membership, was Canada's skills shortage. "We held consultations across Canada 
that enabled us to gain a better grasp on this critical issue. We were very 
satisfied to hear the Prime Minister also identify the skills shortage as the 
major challenge facing our country," added Mr. Beatty. The Canadian Chamber 
intends to maintain its focus on skills in 2013. 
Addressing the Top 10 Barriers to Competitiveness will go a long way towards 
restoring Canada's competitiveness. The Canadian Chamber is calling on its own 
membership, on governments, on educators, on labour organizations, and others 
to tackle and overcome these barriers. Tolerating them is simply not an 
option. Effectively addressing these 10 barriers will sharpen Canada's 
competitive edge and allow us to prosper in the global economy. 
"We have a choice. Either we act urgently to improve our competitiveness or we 
will pay a high price in lost jobs and prosperity. Working together, we've 
started to address these problems over the past year. The challenge for 2013 
is to build on this progress and start closing the gap between Canadian 
businesses and our international competitors." 
2013 Top 10 Barriers to Competitiveness: 
Skills shortages
Governments and businesses across regions and sectors will need to work 
cooperatively and aggressively to address this ubiquitous issue, particularly 
in four key areas: upskilling, immigration policies, education-employment 
alignment and Aboriginal education and workforce development. 
"Labour market studies show that mining will need to hire 10,000 workers every 
year for the next 10 years," stated Pierre Gratton, President and CEO, Mining 
Association of Canada. "The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is right to identify 
skills shortages as the top issue facing the country and we all need to work 
together—industry, governments, educational institutions, First Nations and 
other partners—to ensure Canada's economy does not falter because we fail to 
fill the jobs our economy has to offer." 
Barriers to world markets for Canadian energy products
The overseas market will be of critical economic importance to Canada in the 
21(st) century. Federal, territorial and provincial governments must act now 
to support the development of the infrastructure and relationships needed to 
realize the full potential of Canada's energy endowment, or risk missing out 
on a historic opportunity. 
"The oil and gas industry is a lynchpin of the Canadian economy, driving 
investment and job creation across the West and in Atlantic Canada—and 
sourcing of equipment and services in Central Canada. With so much at stake, 
this is no time to be standing on the sidelines. By working together, we can 
get full value for the energy resources we've been blessed with—not simply 
for the energy industry, but for all Canadians. And, just as important, that 
we do that in an environmentally sustainable way. The energy community has 
come to realize that economic benefits alone are no longer enough to ensure 
public support for resource development. We're listening carefully and taking 
positive action to genuinely engage with communities, and to prove out the 
safety and environmental aspects of our projects. As an industry, we know that 
our response to our stakeholders' evolving expectations will be critical to 
developing our energy resources and building much-needed infrastructure to 
access new markets."Al Monaco, President and CEO, Enbridge. 
"Canada's competitiveness is pivoting from an almost sole reliance on the 
United States market to one with much more global diversity," said David 
Collyer, President and CEO, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. "A 
key enabler for Canada's market diversity is the necessary infrastructure to 
access those global markets." 
Inadequate workforce productivity
Improved trends in business investment in productivity-enhancing technologies 
and equipment are encouraging but still leave Canada underperforming relative 
to its competitors. To improve its productivity, Canada must leverage advanced 
technologies and efficient infrastructure, support efforts to raise literacy 
and numeracy levels among workers and ensure its EI program is not a 
disincentive to work. 
"One of the few ways that Canada can maintain its competitiveness on global 
markets is to increase the supply of advanced literacy and numeracy skills. 
This will necessarily involve upgrading the skills of large numbers of 
adults," said Scott Murray, President, DataAngel Policy Research. "Higher 
levels of investment in these skills would also reduce public expenditures on 
key income support programs, including Employment Insurance, Social Assistance 
and Workers Compensation. Policy-makers need to find ways to induce higher 
levels of private sector investment in skills upgrading." 
Inadequate public infrastructure planning 
Government commitments to infrastructure have been intermittent and the 
criteria changeable, making private sector investment difficult and expensive. 
Mobilizing private investment to finance public goals is essential for 
infrastructure development. 
"Canada needs a long-term infrastructure plan with predictable funding so that 
Canadians can safely and efficiently get to work, move the goods they produce 
and provide the services their clients need without being impeded by 
congestion or the results of infrastructure neglect," says Engineers Canada's 
Chief Executive Officer Kim Allen, FEC, P.Eng. "Governments, the private 
sector and other stakeholders must work together to address deficiencies in 
the core infrastructure that keeps Canadians healthy and safe, and have a 
vision for the future of public infrastructure in Canada." 
"Infrastructure is a critical investment in our economic, social and 
environmental quality of life. Communities and economies are built upon 
infrastructure. Without it, there are no communities and no prosperity." John 
Gamble, President, Association of Consulting Engineering Companies. 
Tax complexity and structure
Canada's tax system over-relies on income and profit taxes, the most 
economically damaging forms of taxation. Canada's tax system is also overly 
complex and, as a result, imposes unnecessary and significant compliance and 
administration costs on businesses and consumers. Canada must create a simple, 
fair and growth-oriented tax system. 
"Years of incremental changes to Canada's tax system have made it inefficient 
and overly complex. That, in turn, makes it costly to comply with, costly to 
administer, and costly to Canada's economy," said Anthony Ariganello, 
President and CEO of the Certified General Accountants Association of Canada 
(CGA-Canada). "We are long overdue for a major reform of the tax system, one 
that must be guided by independent, evidence-based advice." 
Poor innovation performance Canada lacks a definitive innovation strategy that 
brings coherence to the many government policies and programs affecting 
private research, academic research and commercialization. A clear approach 
that leads to action is urgently needed. Poor innovation leaves Canadian 
business vulnerable to competitors and to changing economic conditions. 
"Canada's governments can be pivotal in ensuring we take the opportunity that 
is ours by ensuring we maintain an internationally competitive framework of 
tax and other frameworks to attract, foster and hold onto the best and 
brightest in this field. Government policy leadership can make the difference 
between a Canada with competitive mobile technology companies and Canada as 
the place you just have to be if you are going to be at the forefront of 
innovation in mobile computing." Thorsten Heins, CEO, BlackBerry. 
"The life science sector in Canada is at a vital decision point where half 
measures are not an option: we must make an informed, long-term commitment 
either to be a global player in research and innovation or not," says John 
Helou, President of Pfizer Canada Inc. "Rejecting an innovative future will 
have important consequences on Canada and Canadian patients. We call on 
governments to put in place the right winning conditions and demonstrate a 
long-term commitment to the innovation process and thereby show Canada has the 
courage and conviction to build this promising future." 
Deficient strategies for trade success in new markets
Canada's competitiveness is constrained by a focus on slow-growing, 
traditional markets. Canada must reduce its dependency upon its usual trading 
partners and expand its access to new markets in Asia, Africa and South 
America. Legal access to these markets is but the first step. Canada needs to 
construct trade strategies that will turn access into success. 
"Sheltering our economy and relying on too few markets has contributed to our 
lack of a world view. There's no excuse for this, when in fact Canada is one 
of the most diverse and successful multicultural societies anywhere, and the 
world is very receptive to doing more business with us. We need to continue 
Canada's push to deepen trade links, and provide the resources and policies to 
support these and future initiatives at all levels of government." Rick Waugh, 
CEO, Scotiabank. 
"Amidst tough global competition, the Canadian government needs to make a 
pivot. It can and should play a catalytic role in helping Canadian business 
better integrate and innovate in high-growth markets. Part of the challenge is 
to close the awareness gap on both sides. The other part is to ensure that 
businesses, especially SMEs, have access to 'linking' resources, technologies 
and capabilities. For this, we need focused political leadership, and to work 
smarter—not just harder. Recent government investments to expand trade 
commissioner services in critical markets are a good start and should be built 
on." Rana Sarkar, President and CEO, Canada-India Business Council. 
Internal barriers to trade Canada is still far from being a barrier-free 
internal market. Internal trade barriers cost our economy up to $14 billion 
each year. Canadian business still has to petition governments for the "right" 
to sell goods and services in Canada. There needs to be a new agreement that 
will deliver a single, unimpeded marketplace for internal trade, labour 
mobility and investment. 
"The logic of federalism and the plan of Canada's founders was to use the 
power of the federal government to create a barrier-free national economy. 
This goal has never been more important, as populations change and differing 
levels of economic growth create a pressing need to allow workers and goods to 
move and relocate easily and with a minimum of red tape," said Brian Lee 
Crowley, Managing Director, the Macdonald-Laurier Institute. "Ottawa has the 
duty, power and responsibility to remove trade barriers between Canadians." 
Uncompetitive travel and tourism strategies
Through a combination of high transportation costs and steadily reduced 
marketing efforts, Canada has slipped from seventh place among the world's 
tourism destinations to 18(th) place in just a decade. A huge industry, 
critical in every region, is struggling with its competitiveness and needs 
public policies that are forward-looking and supportive. 
"There is an opportunity to drive export activity and create jobs by 
increasing international travel to Canada, but this won't occur without public 
policy fixes," said David Goldstein, President and CEO of the Tourism Industry 
Association of Canada. "Attracting international visitors requires competitive 
investment in international marketing and aviation policy freed from excessive 
taxes, fees and levies." 
Lack of access to capital
A critical element of business competitiveness in any industry is access to 
capital—be it through venture capital or through foreign direct investment. 
Canada must support a sustainable private-sector led venture capital market 
and increase its appeal to foreign investors. 
"Canada is home to many creative idea generators and entrepreneurs,money and 
financing, primarily venture capital is required for the dream to be converted 
to jobs and economic opportunity," said Jim Oosterbaan, President and CEO, 
NGX. "Recent efforts by the federal and provincial levels of government to 
provide supportto venture capital are welcome, but more needs to be done yet 
for our nation to realize its potential. This is not just about providing 
money but about implementing policies that provide long term stability for 
business investment." 
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is the vital connection between business and 
the federal government. It helps shape public policy and decision-making to 
the benefit of businesses, communities and families across Canada with a 
network of over 420 chambers of commerce and boards of trade, representing 
192,000 businesses of all sizes in all sectors of the economy and in all 
regions. News and information are available at Chamber.ca or follow us on 
Twitter @CdnChamberofCom. 
Consult the Canadian Chamber's Top 10 Barriers to Competitiveness document or 
visit Chamber.ca for more information. 
Émilie S. Potvin Director, Public Affairs & Media Relations Office: 
613.238.4000 (231) Cell.: 613.797.1860 epotvin@chamber.ca 
SOURCE: CANADIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE 
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CO: CANADIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
ST: Ontario
NI: ECO  
-0- Feb/12/2013 16:00 GMT