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The Canadian Business Game Plan

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s mission is to ensure Canada’s businesses have the tools to succeed at home and in an intensely competitive global economy. When Canada’s businesses are healthy, all Canadians benefit. When they are not, all Canadians feel the pain. Canadians face important choices in this election. Our governments and businesses coming out of this election need to demonstrate the vision to capitalize on Canada’s strengths.

Throughout the election campaign the Canadian Chamber of Commerce polled the business community on what issues should be the focus of the election. As late as 7 days prior to the election the number one issue was jobs and the economy at 53% followed by Health Care at 19%, the National debt at 13%, the Environment at 10% and safety and security at 5%.

Canada’s economic recovery is solid and becoming more balanced between domestic demand and net exports due to an increasing global appetite for commodities and better-than-expected growth in the United States (U.S.). Business investment in Canada remains robust and consumers continue to spend, albeit more cautiously, thanks to continued job creation momentum. More than 300,000 jobs have been added to Canada’s economy in the last 12 months. Roughly three-quarters of those jobs were created by the private sector. We now expect Canada’s economy to grow by 3.1 per cent in 2011.

With the Canadian dollar expected to trade near or above par for the balance of 2011, Canadian businesses must improve their productivity to compete internationally. Canadian exporters have lost considerable share in the U.S. market over the last decade and face greater competition both from traditional sources and from emerging market economies.

Government policies are critical to productivity growth and competitiveness. Canadian businesses—large and small—have benefited greatly from low and stable inflation, well-regulated financial institutions, new free trade agreements, tariff reductions and a lower tax burden. Canada’s tax competitiveness for new investment has dramatically improved and is now among the most attractive in the industrialized world.

Like the Bank of Canada, however, the Canadian Chamber recognizes that “while the public sector can sow the seed of productivity gains, it is up to the private sector to reap the harvest.”

In early April the Canadian Chamber of Commerce launched its election platform, 2011 Election: The Canadian Business Game Plan. The document laid out the views of the Chamber and its members across Canada on issues that affect the long-term prosperity of our nation and the quality of life of every Canadian. Its perspectives covered a broad spectrum of issues, all of which are essential to Canada’s productivity and competitiveness, including:

pursuing fiscal policy that inspires confidence and certainty;
seeking more opportunities in international markets;
balancing the need for reliable and secure energy with a healthy environment;
encouraging and rewarding innovation and fostering the knowledge-based economy; and
ensuring employers — in particular small and medium-sized businesses — have the tools they need to power economic growth.

Canadians face important choices in this election that will determine whether our children will have jobs and enjoy a high standard of living. If our governments and businesses demonstrate the vision to capitalize on our strengths, we can succeed in these uncertain times.
“Some people believe that you have to choose between businesses and families. On the contrary, we cannot allow ourselves to become complacent and fall behind as our competitors power ahead,” said Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

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.