Every year in late September, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce holds its annual general meeting.
This year's event was in Hamilton, Ont. from Sept. 22 - 24 and being that our Chamber is a member of the CCC, our executive director, Allan Asaph, and I attended. The theme this year was 'A Canada That Works'.
Prior to the AGM the B.C. Chambers had held several conference calls going over a range of policies, massaging the wording and coming to consensus based on our local needs and concerns. For example, one policy submitted by B.C. included language referring to supply managed industries.
We lobbied to have the specific wording changed in the interest of our local farmers involved in these industries.
Once in Hamilton, the B.C. caucus met one more time to debate and arrive at our policy positions. Other provinces approached us looking for our support for various policies they had submitted, which led to negotiations to make sure the different region's interests were met. To be clear, a policy must be shown to be national in scope or it most likely won't be voted for inclusion in the policy book.
In the two main policy sessions around 60 policies - ranging from fiscal, to environmental, to social in nature - were debated and voted on by the approximately 300 delegates represented. Interspersed throughout the weekend, various federal cabinet ministers and panels of industry reps spoke to us on issues relating to skills training, immigration and how to include under-represented workers as a means to fill Canada's current and looming employment challenges.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney spoke on the need to reform Canada's employment insurance to encourage temporarily laid-off workers to get back to work more quickly. Diane Finley, the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, spoke to us about her government's mandate of being flexible to people's training needs. And of course, mixed into all of this were various receptions and venues where we could meet our colleagues and peers from across the country to compare notes and share our various local challenges and successes, as the case may have been.
Abbotsford's interests were represented through our work with the B.C. Chamber and by Allan and I both speaking to various policies from the floor of the policy sessions, and as such we were able to bring changes to bear to better reflect our local needs and interests.
Stay tuned for more updates in the coming days regarding the actual policies that got endorsed, and how they may affect Abbotsford's business community. It was an honour to represent our members at the AGM, and I thank you for the opportunity to do so.