Big change often starts from something much smaller.
In the Chamber of Commerce context, it often starts with an issue frustrating a local business. A local business person calls up their local Chamber of Commerce to explain the situation and offers some solutions on how the situation could be improved. That Chamber understands that this issue faced by a local business in the Peterborough region is likely having a similar effect on businesses in places like Lloydminster and Fredericton. We work with our local policy committees to draft policy resolutions.
Issues that are provincial in nature are submitted to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) with federal resolutions sent to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC). Once submitted, they get reviewed by committees and Chambers from across the county who then offer their perspectives which in turn help create stronger policy resolutions that are going to be more effective at making change on a large scale.
This last week Chambers and Boards of Trade from across the country met in Calgary for our annual convention, which included nearly 6 hours of policy debate. There we discuss, amend, and vote on policies that matter to businesses across the country. These resolutions cover a wide range of topics, from fertilizer to ice breakers, from tax reform to bio manufacturing, and from immigration to aviation.
If approved, these resolutions become part of the national advocacy platform of the CCC.
Each Chamber or Board of Trade is allowed to submit two resolutions to the CCC annually. Both resolutions submitted by the Peterborough and the Kawarthas Chamber of Commerce were approved thanks to a lot of helpful discussion and recommendations from our fellow chambers over the last few months.
Our resolution Assisting Small Business with Protecting their Data and Business from Cybercrime was put together with the help of a local IT firm and input from several chambers and their members who have IT expertise.
It recommends the Government of Canada:
1. Broaden the scope of the existing Canadian Digital Adoption Program (CDAP) or create a similar grant program focused on cyber security which will allow SMBs to access comprehensive cybersecurity products and services;
2. Provide specific annual tax credits for the ongoing support and maintenance required from Third Party vendors for SMEs that have satisfied the grant program to assess their technology;
3. Allow SMEs to write off 100% of their business investments in preventative cybersecurity-related software, equipment and other costs (support services and outsourcing costs) in the year those investments are made;
4. Provide a subsidy for training of staff on cybersecurity awareness programs; and
5. Create a SME Cyber Defence Fund that provides SMEs with the necessary support to improve their cyber resilience and close the cybersecurity investment gap.
Our second resolution, Creating a National Strategy Regarding Healthcare Credentials, was very similar to another submitted by Fredericton Chamber of Commerce. Together, we created an even strong policy resolution calling on the Government of Canada to:
1. Create a national strategy to assist provinces and territories in recognizing out-of-province and international healthcare credentials; and
2. Create a national proficiency exam that allows national labour mobility for healthcare workers new to Canada, currently working in a province, or newly graduated.
Approval of the resolutions is just the beginning. The next phase of is advocacy. Two years ago, we had a call from a local restaurant that was feeling anxious about being able to repay their CEBA loan and get the interest-free and debt forgiveness support it offered. That conversation led to a successful policy resolution, which led at first to a one-year extension to the program, and now to a further short extension – thanks in part to the advocacy of the CCC and its platform from its members. While we aren’t done advocating for further support through the CEBA program, we have a united national voice thanks to the voice of a local small business owner who had some valid criticisms of the program and offered helpful solutions.
Hopefully, these resolutions — which started from conversations with local businesses — will go on to create meaningful change for businesses across the country.
The Peterborough and the Kawarthas Chamber of Commerce acts as a catalyst to enhance business growth, opportunity, innovation, partnerships and a diverse business community.