The Red Deer Chamber of Commerce has gained national support in its campaign to streamline the temporary foreign worker program.
A policy position that it developed, which urges the federal government to simplify and improve the efficiency of the program, was adopted by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce last weekend.
“This means that we have the backing of the entire Canadian Chamber movement to bring this forward,” said Red Deer Chamber president Tyler Bowman, who presented the policy resolution at the annual general meeting of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Kelowna, B.C.
The Red Deer resolution, which was co-sponsored by the Calgary, Grande Prairie, Spruce Grove and British Columbia chambers, calls upon the Canadian government to reverse a number of changes it made recently to its temporary foreign worker program.
Those changes included suspending the fast-tracking of certain applications, requiring employers to submit a plan of how they intend to transition from foreign to domestic workers, and increasing the cost of using the program.
The resolution also urges the government to be responsive to the labour needs of different areas of the country, rather than rely on rigid immigration and foreign worker policies that apply to all of Canada regardless of their economic circumstances.
Bowman said positive feedback that the Red Deer Chamber received from its counterparts across Canada prior to the national AGM convinced him the resolution stood a good chance of being approved.
“When we went to vote there was not a lot of debate about it. The chambers across the country realize the significance of the impact this can have on us.”
The Red Deer Chamber also succeeded in having a second resolution adopted by the national chamber. That one called upon the federal government to reverse a cut in funding to its scientific research and experimental development investment tax credit, and to consult with industry before changing the program in the future.
The resolution was co-sponsored by the Medicine Hat and Spruce Grove chambers.
Meanwhile, the Red Deer Chamber acted as a co-sponsor on two other resolutions, both of which were also adopted by the Canadian Chamber.
One called for more aggressive action in the fight against mountain pine beetles, and the other for the Canadian government to continue to pursue trade action against the United States in response to its country of origin labelling legislation (COOL) — which has hurt Canadian meat producers that export to the U.S.
“It’s important to us that this (policy resolution) stays on the books and we continue to move it forward and ultimately get the COOL legislation off the books,” said Bowman.
The Red Deer Chamber has a history of getting its policy positions adopted by the Alberta and Canadian chambers. Bowman wants this work to continue, and would like local businesses — whether Chamber members or not — to participate in the process.
“We would be happy to have people’s issues and their expertise on our committees.”