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This year, the conversations around proper mental health resources and funding are more important than ever.  A recent poll shows that 40 percent of Canadians have reported their mental health declining over the past year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting the continued enormous pressure and strain families, employees and employers have been dealing with. There is no question this pandemic has taken a toll and as we continue to navigate a second wave and ongoing lockdowns, now more than ever it is important we take a moment to remember our own needs and support each other to get through these challenging times. While we are physically apart, no one is alone when it comes to dealing with mental health issues.

 

We have put together a list of resources that business owners, employers and employees can use to help navigate and manage mental health when it comes to our daily lives, the workplace and longer term tips and tricks. You can take a look at our full list of health resources here and even more resources from Bell, here.

 

Wellness Together Canada

Wellness Together Canada provides mental health resources and direct access to peer support workers, social workers, psychologists and other professionals for confidential chat sessions or phone calls.

 

Mental Health Commission of Canada
The Mental Health Commission of Canada has developed a hub of credible information and resources about maintaining mental health during this time of crisis and supporting people managing a mental illness in this new context.

Workplace Strategies for Mental Health by Canada Life

Canada Life’s Workplace Strategies for Mental Health website is a leading source of free, practical tools and resources designed to help Canadian employers with the prevention, intervention and management of workplace mental health issues.

 

Lumino Health Stress and Anxiety Guide from Sun Life

Sun Life’s Lumino Health platform, which is free to use and available to all Canadians, features a wide variety of mental health information and tools, including a Stress and Anxiety Guide that helps Canadians easily navigate to resources that fit their needs.

 

Workplace Mental Health Solutions from Sun Life

Sun Life’s Workplace Mental Health Solutions website provides organizations and their plan members with relevant resources that support all stages and needs, including free mental health e-training and industry-leading thought leadership.

 

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  “Complacency is a state of mind that exists only in retrospective: it has to be shattered before being ascertained.”
    – Vladimir Nabokov

 

As countries across the world continue to cope with the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, necessary questions are being asked about how governments and the various multilateral and national institutions and organizations designed to prevent these kinds of outbreaks failed.

 

It will take time to untangle the myriad of geopolitical and governance failures behind the present condition, but it is hard not to see how complacency played a role in our collective pandemic prevention and preparedness.

 

The result of this complacency is that Canada is experiencing its worst economic downturn in decades that is wreaking havoc on Canadian companies, their employees and federal, provincial and municipal balance sheets. According to Statistics Canada’s Canadian Survey on Business Conditions in May, 61% of businesses in Canada reported laying off 50% or more of their workforce. Even the most optimistic economists are projecting that it will take years, not months, for Canada return to the levels of economic activity that was taking place before the pandemic.

 

The biggest recovery issue for governments around the world – including in Canada – is whether they can control and reduce the spread of COVID-19 without resorting back to economically devastating shutdown measures. Our short-term economic health and public health are inextricably linked.

 

As Canada tries to chart its medium- and long-term economic recovery plans, one of the most important issues is whether the country can overcome the economic complacency that had taken root long before the pandemic hit. Before COVID-19 disrupted nearly every aspect of our economy, Canadian policymakers were seemingly content with low-level business investment and economic and productivity growth.

 

Despite having an unnecessarily complex and inefficient tax system, successive Canadian governments over the last 60 years have avoided taking the necessary step of comprehensive tax reform. In the face of this inattention, the Canadian Chamber recently launched an independent tax review to help spur our recovery.  Other countries including the U.K. and New Zealand have shown it can be done and overhauled their outdated tax systems. Now, as business demand and revenues are down, it is more important than ever for Canada to look at tax reform as an opportunity to lower business costs and free up more capital for them to invest in recovery, growth and job creation.   

 

Despite having some of the highest environmental standards in the world, Canada has become complacent about allowing much needed infrastructure to be built so we can sell our energy resources to customers that are willing to pay just as much for energy products produced in jurisdictions with inferior environmental standards. In our present economic and fiscal situation, it would be economically negligent to concede that new energy driven jobs, growth and tax revenue to fund social and other spending programs should happen in those other countries and not ours.   

Despite federal governments over the last two decades repeatedly acknowledging that red tape and regulatory inefficiency continues to be a drag on growth in this country, they have all continued to introduce measures that increase the overall burden on businesses. Serious economic recovery plans must include regulatory measures that create a less uncertain and less costly environment to operate a business.

 

Canadian businesses and their employees have paid an exceedingly high price for the global complacency that got us here. Many businesses did not survive the first half of 2020 and more will close their doors permanently in the coming months. The ongoing impacts of this pandemic have shattered governments out of the complacency that allowed a localized outbreak of a novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China to spread to every corner of the globe.

 

As it considers long-term recovery and growth ideas this fall, it is still unclear whether governments recognize that economic complacency has shaped Canadian policymaking in recent years. By watching what happens with tax, regulatory and energy policy over the next several months we will soon find out.

 

For more information, please contact:
policy@chamber.ca

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Energy producers throughout the world are in uncharted territory. With nearly half the world’s population under some form of lockdown, an equivalent of the United States’ energy demand has evaporated from the global market. Poof.

 

This pressure alone was sufficient to put long shadows ahead of the industry, but the breakdown of the production cap brokered between OPEC nations and Russia has glutted the market with oil, sending prices down at a breakneck speed, in some corners of the market even into negative territory. Only an oracle would dare predict what is next for Canada’s oil and gas industry. Mere mortals must content themselves with taking stock of what is and what is not within our power as we muddle through the shadow-world of an ‘upside down’ energy market.

 

Until a vaccine is developed, the price of Canadian oil, like oil everywhere, will remain hostage to a pathogen. Strangely, what cannot be changed begets new choices. The federal government is at the crossroads. It can listen to the oil and gas sector’s permanent critics and shutter the industry, punch a 6% sized hole into Canada’s GDP, and put Canada in a position where we decide to let others be responsible for our energy security and for halting climate change internationally. Today, this might be the politically easy choice for our government to make, but easy choices pave roads to unhappy endings.

 

The other choice involves helping the industry carve a path in a global energy system that is most likely on a new trajectory. Peak oil may come earlier now, but there will still be demand, albeit less, for oil and gas over the next three decades, at least. With the right supports, Canada can gain market share by innovating to create less emission intensive oil and gas products, provide billions to governments in revenues, and drive investment in renewable clean technologies. Market share will increasingly be up for grabs given that current estimates suggest nearly 100 U.S. shale producers are likely to file for Chapter 11 in the months ahead. Decisions made today could see Canada improve its economic footing and maintain energy security in a world where autarky is fast becoming more attractive to world leaders of all political stripes.

 

So, what can the federal government do to help the industry, and the nearly one million women and men employed by the sector across this country, pass through the darkest valley they have ever faced?

 

Start by keeping as many of the people employed in the sector across the country working by targeting resources for well reclamation, and continue research and field work on carbon mitigation technologies. Government can also pause all new regulations and standards that increase the cost to the sector, from the Clean Fuel Standard to the increase in the carbon tax. This would provide companies that have already slashed capital costs with a little more capital to ride out a period where they are producing at a loss.

 

Such measures would augment the benefits of the federal wage subsidy, increased to 75%, in giving these companies time to adapt.

 

Perhaps most importantly, Canada’s energy producers have the vision to further reduce emissions, some before this crisis could see a path to net-zero by 2050. Realizing this vision demands new infrastructure projects and investment. The industry continues to be let down by a regulatory system that increasingly rewards investors looking outside of Canada. Infrastructure projects of all types will be crucial to Canada’s economic recovery. Reduced decision timelines and concerted efforts to guide projects key to Canada’s energy resiliency could go a long way to driving Canada’s economy and supporting investment in the sector.

 

Some choices are hard. Some are not. Support for our oil and gas sector today, will allow the sector to carry Canada tomorrow.

 

For more information, please contact: policy@chamber.ca

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Small businesses in Canada face many challenges on their path to growth and even more so in becoming globally competitive enterprises.

 

We have heard the statistics before: SMEs account for 99.7% of Canada’s businesses, but they contribute only 25% of our goods and services exports and less than a third of our GDP. How does that stack up against our G7 peers? In those countries, SMEs account for 50% of GDP and 56% of employment. Canada’s record in scaling up small businesses into larger, globally competitive enterprises has to improve.

 

Recent research highlights the potential for Canadian SMEs to become much more competitive in the scaling process. One of the tools that helps Canadian companies grow globally is social media. It is easy to use, inexpensive and provides access to new customers in a variety of ways. Mobile connections are only accelerating that access because we can now purchase from anywhere at any time.

 

A whopping 70% of small Canadian companies use some form of social media and most use several. Instagram’s new study found nearly three in five SMEs agree that social media helps to connect with customers in their cities. Additionally, over half also believe that it helps them find customers in other cities, provinces and countries. The study mentions that these online networks are used by small businesses to identify, attract and hire employees that are passionate about their products and services.

 

We know that more women use social media than men, resulting in women- owned businesses being more likely to adopt social media. This is important because we know that entrepreneurship has the highest ratio of gender inequality in the workplace, with only one in five SMEs being majority-owned by women. The adept use of social media by female business owners has the potential to narrow this gap and make a meaningful contribution to Canadian economic growth. Both the study by Instagram and a second study by SME research firm Clutch demonstrate that social media communities create opportunities for female entrepreneurs, help empower women-run businesses and lower the barriers to entry for women.

 

Not surprisingly, SME optimism and enthusiasm for social media is also partially driven by a younger demographic.

 

A majority of millennial SME owners agree that their business is stronger because of social media and that it is more important to their company than a website, which is why this age group plans to maintain or increase their investment in these platforms. Considering that millennials are now the largest cohort of the Canadian workforce, their social media use will increasingly play an important part of Canadian economic growth and competitiveness.

 

The impact social media has as a means to reach customers and encourage female entrepreneurship and millennial business ownership will continue to grow. We are quickly approaching a point where we will consider it a key driver of Canada’s ability to scale up firms, achieve inclusive growth and compete globally in an increasingly digital economy.

In an ever-changing society, using social media not only ensures our companies and economy remain competitive, but is, ultimately, just good business.

 

For more information, please contact:

policy@chamber.ca

 

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The federal government recently announced it had made available 1.6 billion dollars to support Canada’s struggling oil and gas sector. While the Federal Government’s recognition of the crisis faced by Canada’s energy sector was welcome, the funds are a band-aid solution to what is a much larger structural issue.

 

Our regulatory system continues to put Canadian jobs and Canadian prosperity in jeopardy. We cannot get our energy products to global markets because not even the Federal Government seems able to get major infrastructure projects approved, let alone businesses.

 

Our recent report, A Competitive Transition: How Smarter Climate Policy can help Canada lead the transition to a low carbon economy, made it clear our energy resources are of strategic importance. Canadian oil and gas producers must be given the opportunity to lead Canada’s strategy to reduce emissions, because only they know how to make investments and drive innovation.

 

Getting support right for this sector is not about offering the sector loans; it is about creating a regulatory system that will get projects like TMX completed. This is the “support” Alberta is asking for, and it is the action from the federal government that Canada needs.

 

A consistent, fair and non-burdensome regulatory system is the backbone of a strong economy. Without a regulatory system that can get major projects approved to move our energy to tidewater, we will continue to lose approximately $80 million a day.

 

This endangers the competitiveness of our economy and means fewer resources for essential public services or the commercialization of clean technologies. Without a regulatory system free from layered, duplicative standards and regulations, the cumulative costs will make climate policies too expensive for Canadian businesses. A regulatory system that is predictable, transparent, and free of needless cumulative costs, comes first. Doing it in the reverse, is putting the cart before the horse.


The Canadian Chamber will continue advocacy work on Bill C-69 to make sure major projects and foreign investment in this country are supported by a regulatory system that is predictable, clear and objective in its assessments.
 

This also means making it clear to decision makers that they must take action to reduce the cumulative costs businesses face so that carbon pricing does not become layered with other additional costs and regulatory standards.

 

Keep an eye out for our latest report, The Cumulative Cost of Climate Policy, which will make key recommendations on how to achieve meaningful climate action at the lowest possible cost to Canadian businesses.

 

For more information, please contact: policy@chamber.ca

 

 

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Small businesses in Canada face many challenges on their path to growth and even more so in becoming globally competitive enterprises.

 

We have heard the statistics before: SMEs account for 99.7% of Canada’s businesses, but they contribute only 25% of our goods and services exports and less than a third of our GDP. How does that stack up against our G7 peers? In those countries, SMEs account for 50% of GDP and 56% of employment. Canada’s record in scaling up small businesses into larger, globally competitive enterprises has to improve.

 

Recent research highlights the potential for Canadian SMEs to become much more competitive in the scaling process. One of the tools that helps Canadian companies grow globally is social media. It is easy to use, inexpensive and provides access to new customers in a variety of ways. Mobile connections are only accelerating that access because we can now purchase from anywhere at any time.

 

A whopping 70% of small Canadian companies use some form of social media and most use several. Instagram’s
new study found nearly three in five SMEs agree that social media helps to connect
 
with customers in their cities. Additionally, over half also believe that it helps them find customers in other cities, provinces and countries. The study mentions that these online networks are used by small businesses to identify, attract and hire employees that are passionate about their products and services.

 

We know that more women use social media than men, resulting in women- owned businesses being more likely to adopt social media. This is important because we know that entrepreneurship has the highest ratio of gender inequality in the workplace, with only one in five SMEs being majority-owned by women. The adept use of social media by female business owners has the potential to narrow this gap and make a meaningful contribution to Canadian economic growth. Both the study by Instagram and a second study by SME research firm Clutch demonstrate that social media communities create opportunities for female entrepreneurs, help empower women-run businesses and lower the barriers to entry for women.

 

Not surprisingly, SME optimism and enthusiasm for social media is also partially driven by a younger demographic.
 
A majority of millennial SME owners agree that their business is stronger because of social media and that it is more important to their company than a website, which is why this age group plans to maintain or increase their investment in these platforms. Considering that millennials are now the largest cohort of the Canadian workforce, their social media use will increasingly play an important part of Canadian economic growth and competitiveness.

 

The impact social media has as a means to reach customers and encourage female entrepreneurship and millennial business ownership will continue to grow. We are quickly approaching a point where we will consider it a key driver of Canada’s ability to scale up firms, achieve inclusive growth and compete globally in an increasingly digital economy.

In an ever-changing society, using social media not only ensures our companies and economy remain competitive, but is, ultimately, just good business.

 

For more information, please contact:
policy@chamber.ca

 

 

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As of October 17, Canadian adults will be able to legally purchase and consume cannabis for recreational purposes; a year and a half after the federal government introduced its legislation to do so. It will mark the beginning of a fascinating battle between a new regulated industry and the existing illegal market that Canadians are currently turning to for recreational cannabis use.

 

This illegal market is the reason why the government made Canada the first large developed country to legalize recreational cannabis, seeking to displace illicit sales that profit organized crime to the tune of billions of dollars per year. How much? Statistics Canada reported that in 2015, Canada’s illegal cannabis market was worth as much as $6.2 billion, nearly as much as Canada’s wine market.

 

So what are the steps to legalizing a multi-billiondollar illegal market? Over the last 18 months, federal legislators and civil servants have been establishing a national framework for regulating access to cannabis, which includes rules for cultivation, production, possession and marketing. Meanwhile, provinces and territories have been busy setting the rules for distribution and retail sales. This has been accompanied by a frenzy of private sector activity to supply the legal market with licensed producers, retailers, ancillary businesses and others investing billions of dollars in this new sector.

 

Some of the factors that will influence how effective Canada’s legal cannabis market is at reducing illegal sales include safety, quality, access, supply and branding. Like all markets, one of the biggest factors will be price. As the head of the federal Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation, Anne McLellan, told Members of Parliament studying the Cannabis Act, "Price point here is going to be key in terms of what you see in the illicit market and how effective the legal market is at moving people over.”

 

In late 2017, the federal government reached a cannabis tax revenue sharing agreement with the provinces and territories. On top of sales taxes, the agreement included a cannabis excise or ‘sin’ tax of 10% of the retail price or $1 per gram—whichever is higher. The 10% tax is expected to raise $300 million annually for the provinces/territories and $100 million annually for the federal government. The agreement projected that including the excise tax, legal recreational cannabis will be priced around $10 a gram.

 

Only a few months later, Statistics Canada released a survey that found Canadians are currently paying an average of less than $7 a gram for cannabis. One would expect that this data would be a strong signal to policy makers not to propose additional taxes on legal cannabis, which would widen the gulf between legal and illegal market prices. One would be wrong.

 

Fast forward to this July, when Health Canada proposed four ‘cost recovery fees’—otherwise known as user fees—on the industry to recoup the costs the government will incur by regulating the sector. User fees are typically associated with a specific service from the federal government, such is the case with the first three of the proposed fees: an application screening fee, an import/export permit fee and a security screening fee. However, it is the fourth fee that caught the industry’s attention, one meant to recover other federal regulatory costs. An annual regulatory fee of 2.3% of gross revenue for licensed producers was proposed, with a 1% fee for micro-cultivators and processors. The proposal is expected to put an additional $100 million into federal coffers every year. No clear policy rationale has been shared with industry for how government determined the 2.3% fee level. The annual regulatory fee proposal also excludes any government service standards despite the legal requirement to do so. This additional tax (which is what the fee is), was also proposed after licensed producers had already negotiated multi-year supply deals with provincial wholesalers based on the previously announced 10% excise tax. On top these taxes and regulatory fees, some provinces are considering additional taxes; Manitoba has proposed an additional 6% social responsibility tax.

 

As others have warned, high government taxes and fees will hurt legal producers’ ability to compete with the illegal market and ultimately hurt Canadians as well, which runs counter to the government’s rationale for legalizing cannabis in the first place. The imposition of the 2.3% fee also disregards the hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenues that will flow to all levels of government from this new multi-billion-dollar industry, that will include new personal income and payroll taxes, corporate income taxes and municipal property taxes. The government would be wise to wait on imposing this new tax until after regulators see how effective Canada’s legal market is at displacing the illegal one.

 

There are other looming policy issues that will influence the effectiveness of breaking up the illegal market. The government of Ontario’s recent decision to move from a sparsely populated government-run retail distribution network to a private retail model will increase the reach of the legal market in Canada’s largest province. Municipalities across the country will need to deal with the hundreds of unlicensed dispensaries that are operating outside the law to protect retailers who are investing and operating within new provincial rules. The federal government must also move quickly to establish regulations for the recreational production and sale of cannabis edibles, beverages and other products that will remain in the hands of the illicit market after October 17.

 

As we approach legalization, this new industry is quickly becoming familiar with some of the competitiveness challenges facing other sectors in Canada—namely outdated government thinking on business taxes and fees. Deloitte has forecasted that Canada’s cannabis market will be worth up to $7.17 billion in sales next year. To maximize the economic benefits to Canadians of this $7-billion market, governments must create an environment that supports businesses that are playing by the rules, so they can in turn create new jobs and investment, along with the significant tax revenue for governments that will follow.

 

On September 24 at 8:20 a.m. ET the Canadian Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a panel discussion with some of Canada’s leading cannabis companies on the economic development opportunities and policy issues in front of the sector. You can watch a live webcast of the discussion by clicking here.


Session sponsored by: Deloitte.

 

For more information, please contact:
Ryan Greer, Director Transportation and Infrastructure Policy | rgreer@chamber.ca

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A few years ago, BC Comfort Air Conditioning, a B.C.-based company with over 45 years experience in mechanical HVAC services, noted employees were leaving the doors wide open in the chilly season for convenience.


One simple change—asking workers to keep that bay door closed—helped cut natural gas use by 65%, saving the company $7,000 a year and reducing carbon emissions by the same amount as planting 500 trees.


The company appears as one of 12 case studies in a new report, 200 Million Tonnes of Opportunity: How small and medium-sized businesses are driving Canadian clean growth, a report from Climate Smart Businesses. 200 Million Tonnes features stories from 800 SMEs in 13 sectors Climate Smart has worked with, offering real-world examples on how to cut costs by reducing emissions through actions like route optimization, paperless operations, heat recovery, employee engagement and more.


In another example, a company saved $65,000 in hauling costs by diverting 35% of its waste from the local landfill, reducing emissions by an amount equivalent to three tanker trucks of gasoline. A hotel chain in the Yukon was able to save


$180,000 a year by upgrading its incandescent light bulbs to LEDs. Sometimes the company’s return on investment was not in savings but in happier employees or improved reputation.


Many small businesses, however, are short on resources but long on to-dos. When it comes to considering the sustainability of business operations, it can be intimidating to figure out that first step.


Luckily, there are tools to help. The World Wildlife Fund’s Living Planet @Work program provides a list of activities and programs people can use to start the conversation in their workplaces. The WWF’s Smart Office Challenge focuses on IT, which as a part of almost every business and a significant energy consumer, is a natural starting point for sustainability newbies. The tool offers a check list of simple actions that can have a big impact. For example, cutting energy consumption from PCs by half can be as simple as getting employees to turn them off at night. More information is available in this interview with the Canadian Chamber.

 


The Canadian Chamber is also partnering with Climate Smart to help share its training program across the chamber network. The Victoria Chamber of Commerce and the Mississauga and St. John’s boards of trade will pilot the outreach program, offering their members a $1,000 discount. SMEs that belong to other member chamber of commerce are also able to access the discount on a first come-first served basis.

 


Contact Christine VanDerwill to learn more.


Flashy new innovations or clean technology start ups are exciting stories that make headlines and it can sometimes seem that is what sustainability is all about, but much of the time, going green can simply mean finding ways to use resources more efficiently.


When a business reduces its environmental impact by making better choices about how it uses energy and materials, some call it sustainability, but the practice has an older name: common sense.


For more information, please contact:  policy@chamber.ca.

 

 

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10 Ways to Build a Canada that Wins in 2018

 

10 Ways to Build a Canada that Wins, provides business, decision-makers and government with a series of clear priorities and objectives that, if addressed, will give Canada a competitive edge, improve productivity and grow the economy.

 

 

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What do Canadians want for Christmas this year? It looks like we all have good cheer on our minds: An Ipsos poll1 released a few days ago found that 89% of Canadians believe they should be able to buy any amount of alcohol they want in one province and transport it to another.

 

Restrictions on the movement of beer and wine across provincial boundaries are just one example of the barriers that impede trade within Canada, drive up business costs, and hurt Canadian consumers.

 

In many cases, the problem is unnecessary differences in provincial and territorial regulations, leading to complex, and costly compliance requirements for businesses operating across provincial boundaries. In other more egregious cases, like restrictions on the interprovincial movement of alcohol, it is nothing less than out-and-out protectionism.

 

There is no question that freer trade among provinces and territories would lower the cost of doing business in Canada, attract more investment, and provide more choices at more competitive prices for consumers.

However, governments have been slow to take meaningful action to remove these barriers.

Restrictions on the sale and transportation of beer and wine have been off limits to any reform initiative. But, not all hope is lost. Like an awkward holiday dinner with the in-laws, beer and wine might save us still.

 

The Canadian Chamber is an intervener in the Supreme Court Case, R v Comeau. Gerald Comeau is the New Brunswick retiree who five years ago drove to Quebec to buy some alcohol. On his way home, crossing back into New Brunswick, he received a ticket from the RCMP for transporting alcohol across the

 

border. He challenged the ticket in court won. Now the case has gone all the way up to the Supreme Court.

 

Although the Comeau case is about alcohol, its implications are much larger. With the Comeau case, the Supreme Court has the opportunity to take an historic step towards freer interprovincial trade. The case rests on the interpretation of s. 121 of the Canadian Constitution, which states, “All Articles of the Growth, Produce, or Manufacture of any one of the Provinces shall, from and after the Union, be admitted free into each of the other Provinces.”

 

The courts have interpreted this provision narrowly in the past, which has allowed provincial and territorial governments to enact trade barriers to protect domestic producers. However, the Chamber believes that a broader interpretation, which could outlaw many of the protectionist trade practices that have been engaged in for years, is appropriate.

 

As the Comeau case proceeds, there are signs that governments in Canada understand that the status quo is unsustainable. Earlier this year, the federal, provincial and territorial governments enacted the Canadian Free Trade Agreement, a pact which holds promise to remove barriers and facilitate regulatory harmonization between jurisdictions though a regulatory reconciliation process. While that is a nice stocking stuffer, a win for Gerald Comeau may be the perfect Christmas present for Canadians.

 

A short summary of the Comeau case and our legal argument is available here. Our lawyers present oral arguments at the Supreme Court hearing in Ottawa on December 6 and 7, 2017.

 

For more information, please contact:

 

Aaron Van Tassel, Policy Associate

613.238.4000 (262)

avantassel@chamber.ca

 

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