Welcome to 2022!
The New Year is an annual milestone where we reflect on the experiences gained in past months and consider how that wisdom can be applied in the future. It is remarkable how we have managed to adapt to life with COVID-19 in unexpected ways. When hard-pressed, many of you learned how capable you are at reimagining solutions and generating fresh ideas for innovation.
With new strengths to test, we all want to know if 2022 will be the year business recovers to pre-pandemic form. While that isn’t certain, the Chamber has already started the groundwork and is working toward that vision. We have been talking to government decision-makers at all levels to highlight your business concerns and priorities and get the support and competitive business conditions to drive growth.
Federal election platform
Fall 2020 featured a packed season of municipal and federal elections, and a hectic time for our advocacy team. Unprecedented pandemic challenges called for a strong, coordinated response. We partnered with the Calgary Chamber of Commerce to develop a federal election platform, “From Challenge to Change.” Together, we launched the election platform with one united and powerful voice on behalf of Alberta’s leading business regions.
“From Challenge to Change” presented the federal government with five policy pillars along with recommendations for: Economic recovery and diversification; talent, skills, and jobs; environment and climate; finance and taxation; and trade and market access.
Municipal election business priorities
On the municipal level, we saw big changes. Edmonton elected its first new mayor in eight years, Amarjeet Sohi, and newcomers on council now outnumber the veterans. The new mayor and council are the most diverse group ever elected which better reflects Edmonton’s changing demographics.
We wasted no time in bringing the top priorities of our business community to the new council’s attention including: Support for an inclusive economic recovery; support for vibrancy downtown and in the other business districts; addressing houselessness and addictions; resolving red tape and permitting delays; and balancing fiscal accountability and service delivery to control municipal spending.
We continue to take initiative and have already met with the mayor and some councillors to start productive relationships and engage them in addressing these business interests and others.
Governments should work collaboratively
The Chamber believes that governments should collaborate and strategically leverage all the tools and resources at their disposal to support the economy. We believe that creating the best possible conditions to sustain business and promote economic recovery should be a top priority for governments.
One important example of how this can work is the game-changing agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of Alberta to provide access to quality, affordable early learning and child care. This was a high priority expressed by Chamber members who rightly identified the critical need to address social and economic barriers. Through the power of advocacy, we pushed for support and investment and can now look forward to economic benefits like higher workforce participation, improved productivity, talent attraction, and more.
Local and regional activities
Your Chamber works with the Downtown Business Association to address shared issues such as business attraction and retention, economic development, houselessness, and mental health, and safety. As Edmonton has grown, business associations and interest groups have grown. Building partnerships across the city and among different interests strengthens the greater business community.
In our work with Edmonton Global and the Greater Edmonton Chambers of Commerce, we were part of attracting a $15 million investment in the Air Services Opportunities Fund to attract airlines back to the Edmonton International Airport. We are proud to contribute to regional success and will seek more opportunities to do so.
Advocacy is an essential role of the Edmonton Chamber that is greatly enhanced by the knowledgeable input and lively participation of members both as individuals and on our policy committees. Through this unceasing work, we all support our business community and can lay the foundations of a strong and stable economic recovery.
Although there are many uncertainties surrounding COVID-19 that constantly change around the world, we have seen a strong ability to adapt by many businesses. We will continue to advocate and keep the momentum going in a positive direction for business. We look forward, with best wishes to all of you, to a more prosperous year.