Tyler Bowman heads Chamber, says labour shortage huge issue
The torch was passed from one president to the next at the annual general meeting of the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce on Monday.
But it appears the issue of scarce labour will continue to burn brightly as a Chamber policy priority.
Gayle Langford, who led the Chamber over the past year, and Tyler Bowman, who will head the business organization during the next, both emphasized at the luncheon meeting the adverse impact Alberta’s tight labour market is having on businesses.
“Labour shortages continue to restrict opportunities for business,” said Langford.
“Our chamber has advocated really hard with (Canada’s Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism) Minister (Jason) Kenney because of some of the changes that were recently made to the temporary foreign workers program,” she added.
The Red Deer Chamber has spoken directly with Kenney, and also sponsored a successful resolution at the Alberta Chambers of Commerce conference and policy session this year that called for the federal government to make it easier for employers to use the program.
Bowman said his focus during the next year will be on the Chamber’s policy work, including in the labour front.
“The temporary foreign workers program will be a huge one for sure.”
Langford said a highlight during her year as president was the inaugural flight of Air Canada’s scheduled passenger service out of the Red Deer Airport on Sept. 3. Bringing the international carrier to Central Alberta took a great deal of effort, she said, but will bring great benefits to residents and businesses here.
Langford also described how the Chamber has been working to become a strong voice for agriculture.
“I believe that we’re the only chamber in Alberta — and from what I observed at the Canadian Chamber, the only chamber — that speaks for agriculture and is an advocate.”
This is important, said Langford, because food production appears destined to become increasingly important in the world.
“There’s an opportunity for us as a chamber to drive a unique membership in agriculture. But with that comes pressure — pressure from oil and gas, and development. We have 75,000 new people moving into this province every year, and a lot of them are coming into this corridor.”
Bowman confirmed that his focus on policy during the next year will include agricultural policies.
The 30-year-old, who operates Bowman Real Estate Investments, has served on the Chamber board since 2010. He studied business at Red Deer College and has a background in marketing.
Bowman said he wants to raise members’ awareness of the policy work the Chamber performs. That function is important, he explained, because it helps improve the environment in which businesses operate.
He also praised the chamber movement for the role it plays in bringing businesses together.