Reflecting, looking ahead

Reflecting, looking ahead

< Back to Articles | Topics: From the President | Contributors: Patrick Sullivan

The rapidly approaching winter holidays are a time to take a break, reflect, and reinvigorate ourselves, our employees, and our businesses if we can. The last two years have been a difficult slog with the pandemic, lockdowns, and a significant hardship for our members. This has not let anyone relax and enjoy holidays for a long time. Just last year, we had the disappointing start of the omicron phase of the pandemic rather than the beginning of the recovery we had hoped for. This year, I hope everyone has that opportunity to relax and enjoy and can take the time they need with friends and families to slow down a little.

Business and the economy don’t slow down and cooperate in giving us that break, however. For the first time in over two years, we waited with bated breath to see how the economy might start to recover from the pandemic as the summer unfolded. The initial response was encouraging. Tourism began to return, GDP growth was strong, unemployment was the lowest ever recorded, the population grew significantly throughout the pandemic, and the provincial government posted a surplus last year.

But every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and this often happens in the economy as well. Though many of these reactions should not have been surprises, and the Chamber aggressively highlighted some of these reactions and the potential economic risks to government in our communications and our advocacy.

Inflation is affecting everyone and every business daily and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. The new provincial government has committed to deficit budgets for years to come, which will lead us to record debt levels at a time of higher interest rates. The housing crisis continues and, combined with improved immigration and population growth targets, sets Nova Scotia up for economic stress in the short and long term. We face some of the highest personal and business taxes in the country, yet we must continue to market Nova Scotia as the best place to live and work. Improving the business environment for our members will also help to meet the population targets we all hope for.

The Chamber is not immune to the challenges our businesses face. We approach budget season still facing uncertainty as costs continue to rise. But we will adapt and find new ways to exercise our influence to be a positive and critical voice in collaborative government decision making and policy development. We will continue to engage our members and non-members in new and exciting ways.

With businesses returning to somewhat normal conditions, we saw increased activity this year. In the last year, with our increased focus on diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility we have onboarded 70 businesses from under-represented groups. Josh Creighton, our Community Engagement Specialist, is continually prospecting and representing the Chamber through hosting webinars, events, and other activities like judging the ISANS awards and presenting to international Chamber groups on our DEA&I work. Reach out to Josh Creighton at josh@halifaxchamber.com to learn more about our efforts in these areas.

We began the event season by hosting Minister Wilkinson at the Harbourfront Marriott on September 14. We also hosted Tiff Macklem, Governor of the Bank of Canada, for a luncheon on October 6 at the Atlantica Hotel Halifax. Macklem spoke about rising inflation and interest rates in Canada and the likelihood of an approaching recession. We were appreciative that the luncheon garnered global coverage from outlets like Reuters, CBC News, Bloomberg, and the Washington Street Journal.

Business Voice, established in 1921, is an essential way to promote and inform our members, but the costs of producing the magazine have increased significantly in the past year. We feel strongly that Business Voice is an important tool not only for our members but as an avenue to reach government officials on our advocacy and policy work. To learn about how you can support this publication with editorial or advertising programs, please contact Emily Bednarz at emily@halifaxchamber.com.

Everyone here at the Chamber looks forward to meeting the New Year with you!

Connect with me anytime at:

president@halifaxchamber.com

< Back to Articles | Topics: From the President

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