Chamber working on policies

The Red Deer Chamber of Commerce has formalized its stand on issues ranging from local food production to the recruitment of foreign workers.

The Red Deer Chamber of Commerce has formalized its stand on issues ranging from local food production to the recruitment of foreign workers.

The Chamber board recently adopted four policy positions for 2012, with two others still in the works.

One of its new policies calls for the Alberta government to strengthen local food production by working with food exporters to enhance the domestic market, expanding programs to improve the profitability of local food distribution, and encouraging economic development groups to seek to attract, keep and grow such businesses.

Another of the Chamber’s resolutions urges the province to improve how it consults with businesses adversely affected by proposed road and infrastructure changes, including development of a standardized process to ensure notification of and feedback from those impacted.

Two policy positions are directed at the federal government and seek to address labour shortages.

One asks that exemptions, deductions and contribution limits under the Income Tax Act be indexed so that individuals and businesses are not taxed unfairly. The Chamber cited as one example child care deductions, which have been capped at $7,000 since 1998 despite rising childcare costs — which could deter some parents from returning to the workforce.

The Chamber’s other labour-related policy position calls for changes to the Canadian Temporary Foreign Worker Program so that the process of bringing workers in from other countries is fairer and more streamlined. It also seeks to make it easier for temporary foreign workers to remain in Canada.

Danielle Klooster, the Chamber’s manager of policy, advocacy and communications, said the other two policies are being worked on but should be available for consideration by the board in February.

The approved policy positions will be submitted to the Alberta Chambers of Commerce, which could in turn adopt them as provincial chamber policy at its May 2012 annual general meeting and policy conference.

The Red Deer Chamber might also refer policies with a federal scope to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce for consideration at its annual general meeting and policy conference in September.