Skip to content

2023 Federal Budget Recommendations

February 24, 2023


The Edmonton Chamber of Commerce is the official voice of business in the Edmonton region. With over 1,700 member companies that employ more than 100,000 people, we are one of the largest and longest standing chambers in Canada and among the most influential business organizations in the country. It’s with this in mind that we are pleased to share with you our 2023 federal budget submission. It’s important we note, our members were consulted for input across multiple sectors.

The impacts of the global pandemic continue to affect businesses although 2022 has seen most pandemic restrictions lifted, and with it, a slow return to “normal”. Businesses are still dealing with uncertainty and volatility, and supply chain disruptions have continued. Some sectors, such as hospitality, tourism and the arts continue to face major barriers to their normal operations.

The Edmonton Chamber of Commerce federal budget priorities, include:

  • Affordability and Access to Supports
  • Economic Development and Diversification
  • Climate Change and the Energy Transition
  • Talent, Skills, and Jobs
  • Supply Chain Challenges
  • Cybersecurity

The recommendations are guided by principles including (1) certainty and stability for businesses and those they serve and employ, (2) facilitating inclusive growth and expanding our economy by bringing more equity-seeking groups to the table, and (3) encouraging collaboration between all orders of government and streamlining regulatory processes to create a stronger investment climate. The attached appendix includes further details about these priorities.

Appendix A

Affordability and Access to Supports

Canadians are experiencing increased challenges due to a lack of affordable necessities, access to healthcare, and the need for other supports. In Alberta alone, it is estimated that 25% of people do not have access to a dedicated primary care provider, and the shortage of family doctors is only getting worse. This challenge extends to other medical services as well, causing concern for the accumulation of negative health outcomes in the long-term. When more Canadians have timely access to a skilled health professional to suit their needs, more people will be healthy, and this will also support our workforce.  The Governments of Canada and Alberta must urgently address the shortage of doctors, nurses, and other health professionals and improve outcomes of the health care system.

Many Canadians need support as they struggle to afford housing and other necessities. Mortgage rates are increasing as are rental rates, making housing more expensive for all. Paired with this is rising utility and food costs affecting more and more Canadians. As a result, we see an increasing number of people accessing support services such as food banks and a growing number of people who are unhoused. Targeted affordability support is needed to help Canadians and businesses through this period.

Businesses are also struggling with these rising cost pressures. For businesses across Canada, these challenges have also compounded and contributed to a decline in downtown cores and other core business areas. Businesses have seen an increase in property damage, impaired transit safety, and hindered city vibrancy.

These complex social problems require collaboration between all orders of government and community partners. The Edmonton Chamber of Commerce has been an active advocate in this regard and will continue to support engagement and investment from all orders of government in addressing these growing issues.


  1. Work with the Government of Alberta to address the shortage of health care workers and improve outcomes in the system.
  2. Continue investments in housing and resources to support Edmonton’s population.
  3. Consider expansion of the Rapid Housing Initiative to increase permanent affordable housing.

Economic Development and Diversification

As government ends the most intensive support programs of the pandemic and shifts to more targeted recovery programs, The Edmonton Chamber of Commerce continues to call for a scaled model to ensure businesses do not hit a wall of financial hardship as their support programs end.

Federal, provincial, and municipal governments must conduct a holistic review of their responses to the pandemic and weight the overall effectiveness of policy and program decisions on outcomes. As the hardships caused by this pandemic have been felt more acutely by certain segments of the population, we recommend a review of the pandemic response. This independent review should include an analysis of the impacts, including but not limited to those connected to socio-economic status, race, ethnicity, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation or expression, Indigenous status, location and/or age.

The review should also reflect emerging opportunities. In the Edmonton region, for example, pharmaceutical companies were able to enhance research, development and manufacturing and can support a future response.

Businesses in some sectors continue to need assistance as they catch up on the mountain of bills they were forced to take on during the pandemic, particularly with inflation and escalating borrowing costs. We urge governments to continue to ensure that there are flexible debt repayment schedules for businesses who accessed debt-supported response programs, such as the CEBA and BCAP, to ensure employers aren’t forced to close their doors due to government debt repayment. As the review of these programs occurs, we encourage governments to work collaboratively with businesses who accessed emergency pandemic programs in good faith.

As the economy shifts towards new opportunities, diversification within and without the energy sector is critical. Technology, alternative energy, health and life sciences, and tourism are just a few areas where the Edmonton region is leading the way.

There is a positive momentum for the technology sector in Alberta with the province attracting record investment in 2022. The Edmonton region is North America’s fastest growing tech ecosystem with the University of Alberta being ranked 3rd for AI research globally. However, more needs to be done to support the ability of early-stage companies to scale up, attract and retain talent and ensure Intellectual Property remains in Canada. This is particularly true for deep tech[1] start-ups where their times to market are much longer and their ability to manage prolonged cash crunches is limited, but their impact on the economy and society is transformational.[2]

Albertans in remote, rural, and Indigenous communities require reliable telecommunications infrastructure to access education, employment opportunities, and goods and services. Employers need reliable connections to retain employees, access skills training and take advantage of artificial intelligence and other advancements.

Edmonton has a lot to offer its visitors from the natural environment to the arts, culture and sports scene. The city needs continued investment in transportation infrastructure, recreation and cultural facilities to support a growing workforce and expanding trade.


  1. Provide flexible debt repayment to support businesses once COVID-19 support programs end.
  2. Conduct and publish results of a review of the collective response by all levels of government to COVID-19 to aid in future emergency response efforts for both governments and businesses.
  3. Support early-stage companies to scale up to retain Intellectual Property in Canada.
  4. Support our economic recovery through inclusive economic growth, promoting a business environment of inclusion and expanding economic opportunity for marginalized and under-represented groups.
  5. Continue investments and programs supporting the development of key sectors such as health and life sciences, alternative energy, technology and AI, and the visitor economy.
  6. Ensure deep tech start-ups and scaleups have access to the capital they need to the support their longer research and development timelines.
  7. Acknowledging recent investments, continue to work with industry to develop and implement a strategy to enable 100% of businesses, homes, ranches, and farms in Alberta to have access to high-speed internet by 2025.
  8. Continue to invest in infrastructure to support trade and the growing workforce.

Climate Change and the Energy Transition

Through innovation, Canada can become the economy of the future and a global leader in addressing climate change. Each order of government must commit to meaningful, thoughtful policy solutions to combat the issue.

A key to transitioning to net-zero emissions is ensuring that energy produced has a low carbon intensity from the start of production to the end user. Transitioning electricity production from coal to natural gas (NG) and hydrogen is critical for economies to quickly reduce emissions until sufficient and affordable renewable electricity production is built. Not only will this help reduce emissions from their current point, but it will allow the energy sector to transition sustainably.

Western Canada has substantial NG reserves, a highly skilled workforce, and the geology advantageous for carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) which is critical when using NG to produce low carbon hydrogen. Hydrogen will be a valuable fuel in the transition as it can reduce the emissions of some of the highest emitting industries: transportation, heat, and powering industry. Governments at all levels must act quickly to ensure that Canada benefits from increased global demand for low carbon intensity energy while meeting Canada’s net-zero goals.3

Alberta’s energy sector has been an important economic driver for Canada for decades—and will continue to be critical to Canada’s economic growth for years to come. Alberta has become an energy and environment leader and has the talent and geography to continue this leadership for renewable and hydrogen energy as well. International market access and energy transportation infrastructure is critical.

We are concerned that the Government of Canada’s Emission Reduction targets are more aggressive than what is achievable and are sending the wrong signal to international markets. We strongly encourage the Government of Canada to continue to consult closely with Alberta businesses on the impacts of these targets on affordability in this jurisdiction. Canada can be a leader in natural resource development AND take aggressive and meaningful climate action simultaneously. It is important that national regulations and solutions are achievable, inspire investor confidence, preserve energy security, and remain affordable for Canadians. Policy solutions should also be made in the broad context of competitiveness to avoid carbon leakage.

Attracting investment in both renewables and the clean technology being utilized by the oil and gas sector will be critical for the sector to continue supporting Canadian prosperity and charting a low-emissions path forward. To this end, we call on all orders of government to strongly support the energy sector in its entirety—including petrochemicals and renewables as part of a dynamic energy mix—and promote this mix among Canadians and in international markets around the world.


  1. Continue to support infrastructure that allows for access to markets and foster a regulatory regime that provides certainty for economic investment.
  2. Consult with Alberta businesses on sector specific emissions reductions targets to ensure they are achievable, instill investor confidence, support energy security, and remain affordable for Canadians.
  3. Reinvest carbon tax funds directly into innovation to leverage, support and advance innovation in the private sector.
  4. Ensure that Canadian Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage investment policies and incentives match those in other major jurisdictions.
  5. Support Alberta’s continued position as an energy leader that will play a key role in the transition towards the low-carbon economy of the future.
  6. Incorporate regional factors when developing federal programs designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ensure all programs and policies are examined through a lens of competitiveness for business and economic health for the region.
  7. Ensure a focus is on low emissions energy from start of production to end user by using hydrogen as a transition fuel.

Talent, Skills, and Jobs

As our province and country look to the post pandemic future, the concern turns from unemployment to a growing labour shortage. At the height of the pandemic Alberta’s unemployment rate exceeded 15%, the highest since at least 1976.[3] As of December 2nd, Alberta’s unemployment rate was 5.8%.

As Alberta’s capital city, and with strong ties to the surrounding region and northern Alberta, Edmonton is primed for growth. However, for the city to take advantage of this incredible potential, increased investments in the city are needed to support the region’s growing population. Attracting talented labour to our city relies on adequate investment in housing, healthcare, public infrastructure, and other resources. With so much to offer, Edmonton is ready to leverage all investments into growth and vibrancy, supporting and engaging with the whole country.

The Government of Canada should work with provinces to support a skills transferability approach to minimize the time workers are unemployed and reduce underemployment. This would include upskilling, reskilling, work-integrated learning, and micro-credentials. The federal government should also reduce the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) processing times for employers, address the huge backlog of work visa applications, and work with provinces to improve the recognition of foreign credentials across the country. These priorities should be addressed urgently because Canada risks losing workforce talent in a highly competitive international market that has shifted dramatically following the changes brought in by the pandemic.

Paired with transferring skills of those who are underemployed and improving skills recognition should be the attraction and retention of international students. This group represents a significant and currently underutilized opportunity for meeting the needs of the Canadian economy as they are proficient in at least one Canadian official language, have Canadian credentials, and have in-demand labour skills. The Government of Canada recently released its 2023-25 Immigration Levels Plan which included a commitment to increasing the number of newcomers coming to Canada to 500,000 per year by 2025. Meeting this target is critical to addressing Canada’s labour shortage and ensure our continued economic success.

Significant barriers exist, however, for international students to study in Canada and remain here after they graduate. The average processing time for an international student permit is 13 weeks after the student is accepted by their Canadian post-secondary institution, resulting in over 49% of international students facing the prospect of not obtaining their permit in time for classes to begin.18 While attending a post-secondary institution in Canada, students often work either as a requirement of their program or to cover the costs of living here. Participating in a work-integrated learning program typically requires international students to obtain an additional co-op or intern work permit, something that many struggle to receive in time, risking their eligibility to continue their studies in Canada.

With 60% of international students in Canada planning to apply for permanent residence,[4] attracting international students to study at Canadian post-secondary institutions will help tackle the consequences of the severe labour force shortage in Canada which is already costing the Canadian economy $13 billion in the manufacturing sector alone.[5] Attracting and retaining international students should be an important strategy to help to meet Canada’s ambitious new immigration target.


  1. Work with provinces to support a skills transferability approach to minimize the time workers are unemployed and reduce underemployment including upskilling, reskilling, work-integrated learning, and micro-credentials.
  2. Work with provinces and professional regulatory bodies to improve the recognition of provincial and foreign credentials across the country.
  3. Eliminate the requirement for students with a valid study permit to obtain a work permit to work or participate in work-integrated learning programs.
  4. Eliminate the cap on the number of hours international students can work and ensure they are still subject to the same workplace protections and employment standards as their Canadian counterparts.
  5. Extend the eligibility of post-graduate work permits from three years to five years regardless of the program of study.
  6. Expedite the work visa application process by allocating more immigration officers and staff.

Supply Chain Challenges

While supply chain challenges are global and multifaceted, and no single jurisdiction or solution will solve them all, Edmonton can offer some solutions. Edmonton is Canada’s closest major airport to Asia, a national leader in drone research, is located on the important CANAMEX trade corridor with access point to the north, and a global leader in artificial intelligence and machine learning research and development.

Asia’s importance to global supply chains is well recognized and is home to three of the five biggest economies in the world (China, Japan, and India) and two of the fastest growing major economies (India and Indonesia).[6] The federal government’s recently announced Indo-Pacific Strategy outlines Canada’s commitment to expanding trade, investment, and supply chain resilience by investing over $240 million in initiatives that foster open, rules-based trade in the region. Edmonton’s geographic location provides a natural competitive advantage when it comes to accessing Asia by air.

Edmonton’s International Airport (EIA) is the only CEIV Pharma certified[7] airport in Canada for handling temperature-sensitive cargo such as food products and pharmaceutical and medical cargo. In addition to its cargo storage and handling capabilities EIA has partnered with Alberta Aerospace and Technology Centre (AATC) and tech companies to help advance Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (drones) and related technologies, including the design and manufacture of RPAS at EIA YEG. This allowed EIA to be the first Canadian airport to integrate drones to enhance aircraft landing safety at night. EIA has also partnered with cargo delivery providers to integrate drones in managing and delivering commercial cargo at the airport.[8]

While supply chain constraints are a result of a number of global issues including COVID-19, geopolitical events, climate change, and a consolidation of key supply chain connections, among others, one of the key pressures on domestic supply chains is the growing labour shortage in the transportation sector. “Stats Canada reported vacancies for qualified truck drivers reached an all-time high of 25,560 vacant positions from January to March 2022.”[9] The Conference Board of Canada noted that, “from 2021 to 2030 the number of workers joining the transportation workforce will be insufficient to offset the loss from retirees.”[10] It is critical that Canadian governments at all levels work together to address the institutional factors that are compounding the problem and obstructing Canada’s economic recovery.[11],[12],[13]


  1. Build on the Edmonton Region’s nation-leading investments to support the growth of a centre of excellence in logistics.
  2. Build on Edmonton’s close air access to Asia by funding initiatives that would diversify Canada’s supply chain.
  3. Expand the National Occupational Classification to include Class 1A truck driving as a skilled trade.
  4. Expand student loan eligibility to students pursuing Class 1A driver training from recognized education facilities.
  5. In consultation with Indigenous communities, municipalities, businesses and utility companies, develop trade corridors, including the proposed Northern Infrastructure Corridor, and invest in trade-enabling infrastructure.


Eighteen per cent of “Canadian businesses were impacted by cyber security incidents in 2021” and they spent more than $10 billion on cyber security.[14] The Canadian Anti-Fraud centre reports that businesses losses are over $600 million since January 2021 related to cyber attacks including breaches of data confidentiality, extortion, and technology disruptions.[15] Businesses in Canada are increasingly accessing cyber insurance to cover these losses and this is having a significant impact on premiums. In 2021, “Cyber statutory direct written premiums rose by 74%” to nearly $5 billion.[16] In addition to raising prices, insurance providers are also beginning to require companies to meet minimum cyber security standards including multifactor authentication, endpoint detection, multiple backups, and disaster recovery plans.[17]

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s Cyber. Right. Now. campaign has focused on the need to increase supports for small and medium sized businesses for “awareness, protection and training” and to ensure Canada is investing in research and development.[18] Among the Canadian Chamber of Commerce cybersecurity priorities are to “accelerate the competitiveness of Canada’s cybersecurity industry”, invest “in cybersecurity at levels comparable to Canada’s G7 peers” and “making cybersecurity education, talent development and retention a national priority by investing in programs that diversify and expand the cyber workforce pipeline.”[19]


  1. Prioritize and promote cybersecurity awareness and protection, and make training available for the Canadian public, and small and medium sized businesses.
  2. Ensure Canada is investing in cybersecurity research and development at comparable levels to our G7 partners.
  3. Expand and diversify the cyber workforce pipeline by investing in post-secondary education and talent development, attraction, and retention.

Finance and Taxation

The increase in debt and deficit from the response to the pandemic present a challenge for government budgets for years to come. Reforming our tax system with a focus on competitiveness and attracting job-creating investment would help ensure Canada is well-placed to succeed in the post-pandemic world.


  1. Establish a Royal Commission to conduct a comprehensive review of the Canadian tax system in consultation with industry stakeholders and sub-national governments and deliver a report in a timely manner.
  2. Reform the tax system with a focus on competitiveness and attracting job-creating investment.
  3. Communicate a long-term plan to eliminate the deficit and reduce the debt, including concrete fiscal anchors and enduring performance measures to protect Canada’s long-term fiscal health.
  4. Continue to work with other countries on international tax reform and update anti-avoidance rules.

[1] Deep tech or deep technology is categorized as companies focused on high-tech innovation or significant scientific advances such as quantum computing, photonics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.

[2] As venture capital declines, Canada risks losing an entire industry to the U.S. – again – The Globe and Mail

[3] Unemployment Rate – Alberta Economic Dashboard



[6] Regional Economic Outlook - International Monetary Fund

[7] CEIV Pharma - Safe Handling - Edmonton International Airport


[9] Final Report of the National Supply Chain Task Force 2022

[10] Final Report of the National Supply Chain Task Force 2022

[11] – Boulevard of Broken Dreams: The Case Against Manufacturing in Asia

[12] J.P. Morgan – What’s behind the global supply chain crisis?

[13] Federico Suárez Ricaurte – Understanding Supply Chain Disruptions During the COVID-19 Pandemic



[16] Cyber Insurance Policies Grow Pricey Amid Rising Hacks, Lawsuits – Bloomberg Law

[17] Cyber Insurance Policies Grow Pricey Amid Rising Hacks, Lawsuits – Bloomberg Law

[18] Cyber. Right. Now. – Canadian Chamber of Commerce

[19] Cyber. Right. Now. – Canadian Chamber of Commerce

Have your say.

The Edmonton Chamber wants to hear from you. What are the top issues and priorities for your business this spring? Start the conversation by writing to 

Scroll To Top