A busy start to the year for the Chamber’s Advocacy Committee

Advocacy Update: the latest from your voice of business

Over the first quarter of the year, the Advocacy Committee focused significant efforts on rigorously representing the Whitby Chamber of Commerce (WCC) membership.

At the 2018 Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC) AGM, Dan White, owner of Tax Audit Solutions and Advocacy Committee member successfully advocated on the WCC policy resolution, Legislating a Taxpayer Charter of Rights to hold CRA accountable. Since the CCC’s adoption of the policy, White met with the Taxpayer’s Ombudsman and their conversations continue. In addition, the CCC released its report, 50 Years of Cutting and Pasting: Modernizing Canada’s Tax System, which included the resolution as an example of how to revolutionize the CRA.

At the end of February, the WCC submitted a letter to Federal Government regarding the proposed amalgamation of the Oshawa and Hamilton Port Authorities, requesting engagement of stakeholders in the Durham Region. The team also submitted a letter to the Ontario Growth Secretariat, providing feedback to the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. Specifically, requesting two areas within the Town of Whitby be designated as provincially significant employment zones. 

In preparation for the release of the Provincial and Federal budgets in April, members of the committee participated in two budget consultations with the Provincial government and in combination with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) pre-budget analysis, met with various levels of the Provincial government to engage in dialogue.

Continuing to keep the dialogue open between the business community and local leadership, the Advocacy Committee has hosted meetings at the WCC offices with MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes, MPP Lorne Coe and Mayor Don Mitchell regarding business concerns and economic development opportunities. The WCC also represented the business community at the NDP leader consultation luncheon in February with the leader of the official opposition, Andrea Horwath.

“It’s so important to connect with our leadership,” said Natalie Prychitko, Chief Executive Officer at the WCC. “Sure, a large part of our responsibility as a Chamber is to create opportunities for business growth and connection, but it’s equally as important to ensure our business community and their interests are represented effectively with all levels of government.”

In time for this year’s OCC AGM in May, the committee submitted a policy resolution entitled: Experiential Learning: Strengthen connectivity between businesses and post-secondary institutions to ensure Ontario has the skilled workforce it needs to compete in the global economy. Committee member and Government Relations Officer at Ontario Tech University, Matthew Mackenzie, will be attending the AGM this year to represent the WCC.

In addition, for the OCC AGM, both the Advocacy Committee and Board of Directors reviewed and supported several other policy resolutions from Ontario Chambers and Boards of Trade, further expanding the WCC’s reach and engagement on important issues impacting membership.

And lastly, the Joint Chambers Transportation Summit was hosted at OPG Information Centre on April 5, where the WCC team worked in unison with fellow Chambers and Boards of Trade to continue advocacy efforts on local transportation opportunities. Representatives from all levels of government were in attendance, including our local business community who participated in panels regarding both the movement of goods and people.

“Our communities depend on a reliable transportation network so we will continue to build and work together,” said the Honourable Jeff Yurek, Ontario Minister of Transportation and keynote speaker. “I am really excited about where we are going with public transit and infrastructure over the next four years.”

The Advocacy Committee is now busy analysing the results of the WCC’s 2019 Advocacy Survey, which will provide further direction from the membership and help prepare for the Federal election forum in the fall.   

“Thank you to those that participated in this yearly survey,” said Tony Doyle, Associate Dean for Durham College’s Centre for Food and WCC Advocacy Committee Chair. “Those few minutes of investment helps guide our yearly plan to ensure our membership is well represented.”