COVID-19: Reflections and recovery

COVID-19: Reflections and recovery

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

COVID-19 seemed a distant threat early in the new year and far, far away from our homes. Then everything changed in a wink. People got sick, businesses closed and workers were laid off – the stress of “what’s next” was overwhelming.

The Halifax Chamber tackled the issue early on, along with many other stakeholders. As Nova Scotians usually do, we did so with singular focus and respectful collaboration.

A group of over 70 representative organizations met virtually three times a week. Helmed by our CEO Patrick Sullivan, they brought forward concerns and suggested solutions to senior officials from all levels of government. Members’ issues were raised and considered and solutions were actioned. The government welcomed this direct input.

Full praise to our political leaders – our Premier, whose firm tone reminds all of us daily what's at risk. Our opposition leaders shelved political points and stepped up as the leaders we needed in our communities. Our Mayor and council are active and visible (virtually). Having been part of this city all my life, I expected nothing less but was very pleased to see all levels come together in this time of crisis.

Regularly, communications come to us from all levels of government – very welcomed by our group to share with our members and in our communities. We share information and resources, from pandemic preparedness plans to business continuity plans, to supports for individuals and businesses.

From the Chamber’s perspective, this is advocacy at its finest. It’s specific, focused, thoughtful and credible. It represents a common message from many voices: how to help with a view to the future.

What a time it has been. And now, with the arrival of May and summer within sight, the economic recovery is underway. Groups like the Chamber and our partners look to continue this work as there is much to be done to rebuild the economy.

Government budgets will need to be adjusted to go to the most urgent and effective ways to rebuild our small and medium sized businesses. Choices need to be made. It’s time for the “need to have” not the “nice to have” mentality. Commercial tax deferral, corporate tax reductions and access to low cost capital are critical. Lest we not forget that businesses hire people, buy supplies and are destinations to attract tourism back to our city. Our social safety net took quite a beating as well. We must always be there for those most vulnerable. We have to be ready to adapt to the adjustments and changes to every system.

Don’t hesitate to reach out and tell us your story. We have much to learn from this experience. The Chamber is, as always, in your corner.

Thank you and a fond farewell…

Just a quick note to thank the many dedicated volunteers I have worked with during my career at the Chamber. Together we tackled many issues to create the conditions for success in our business community. We are the voice to remind the broader community about the role of business – the taxes paid, services provided, the community initiatives championed and the staff engaged.

And a huge thank you to the members of the Chamber. Your support allowed me to do my work in policy development and advocacy with independence. Your financial support is so very important as it allows the Chamber as the voice of business to speak your mind on issues.

I have had the great pleasure to work with amazing colleagues. What a gift to work in an environment where people laugh, share each others joys and support hardships.

I write this as we are in recovery from COVID-19 and wish you all the very best.

< Back to Articles | Topics: Working for you

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