Advocacy asks for government

Advocacy asks for government

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Contributors:

Nancy Conrad, Senior Vice President, Policy, Halifax Chamber of Commerce

Each year, the Halifax Chamber of Commerce submits, at minimum, two foundation documents to the provincial and municipal government: issue notes and pre-budget submissions.

These documents bring focus to the issues our members face on a day-to-day basis, and provide our collective voice to bring about positive change for the business community.

This year, our advocacy asks were aligned with our new 2019-2023 Strategic Plan, and objectives will be met through the help of our two task forces: Fostering Private Sector Growth and Accessing a Skilled Workforce. Combined, the task forces strive to:

  • Optimize the size of government
  • Create a frictionless business environment
  • Support export development
  • Reduce the tax burden
  • Promote immigration
  • Increase student retention
  • Increase entrepreneurship training
  • Promote the growth of Halifax as a major city

Our submissions focus on a wide variety of topics, and provide both levels of government with input prior to creating their budgets for the 2019-2020 year. We track post-budget releases and responses against our asks for future follow-up as part of our advocacy initiatives.

Advocacy Asks for the Municipal Government:

We requested the municipality balance the budget through expenditure reductions, rather than tax increases. Our members want any proposed commercial tax reform to be implemented without raising taxes on the commercial sector. As well, we feel costs for the implementation of cannabis regulations should try to be within the current spending envelope, rather than funding additional by-law officers. Finally, we expect that projects, whether municipal run or in partnership with other stakeholders, are transparent and allow the public to provide input and to review the projects that affect their business and life in Halifax.

Advocacy Asks for the Provincial Government:

We have asked the provincial government to manage taxation through effective and efficient spending, and to consider new revenue sources. Our members would like to see departmental spending aligned with population growth and inflation. We, as well, want to see the province provide greater autonomy for HRM — i.e. natural person powers. HRM is almost 50 per cent of the provincial GDP and should have greater flexibility in managing its business. A clear longterm vision for the future growth for the province and an overall plan for fiscal sustainability (debt, debt service costs, unfunded teachers’ pension) will provide greater predictability and support for our business community.

The Chamber’s submissions provide key officials in government, as part of our government relations approach, a heads-up on what is important to our members of the Halifax business community. The submissions also stress how decisions on various topics — such as tax increases — can have unintended consequences for those that provide our province with economic growth and stability.

If you would like to chat about the issues affecting your businesses, contact me at nancy@halifaxchamber.com.

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