Creating Dialogue

The Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce advocates on behalf of our membership and the Tri-Cities business community through a number of avenues. One of the ways in which we support our advocacy efforts is by providing our members with access to government officials and community influencers through roundtable discussions and luncheons. See below for a summary of the discussions that have taken place.

Michelle Rempel, Conservative MP (Calgary Nose Hill) and Official Opposition Critic for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

On July 2, 2019 the Chamber hosted Michelle Rempel, MP for Calgary Nose Hill and Official Opposition Critic for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada for a round table with a dozen local business owners, immigration professionals, and non-profit newcomer service providers. Immigration is gearing up to be a big issue this federal election, and our members got to speak to Michelle directly about a number of issues including:

  1. How to improve and streamline the process of recruiting talent abroad
  2. Immigration’s role in addressing the tight Greater Vancouver labour market
  3. How to support newcomers so they can successfully integrate into the Canadian society and the workforce
  4. The public’s perception of immigration
  5. How the government can make sure Canadians remain confident in their immigration system

Michelle talked in depth about the important role that immigration plays in supporting Canada’s economy and filling job vacancies in a tight labour market. However, she also highlighted the regional and sectoral differences in labour needs across the country, and how the federal government should use a more targeted approach in using immigration to fill jobs in Canada. Michelle also spoke about the integration of newcomers as a critical success metric for judging the immigration system’s performance.

BC’s Leader of the Official Opposition, Andrew Wilkinson

On March 19, 2019, we hosted BC’s Leader of the Official Opposition, Andrew Wilkinson, and MLA for Coquitlam – Burke Mountain, Joan Isaacs, for an intimate roundtable discussion with a dozen local business owners.

Our members asked questions on a range of urgent business issues:

  • Labour market and difficulty in finding staff
  • Compounding taxes and the rising cost of doing business
  • Changes to labour relations such as sick leave and a statutory holiday pay
  • Spikes in commercial property taxes

Wilkinson and Isaacs were sympathetic, and echoed the need to improve affordability in the province while avoiding undue burdens on business. Wilkinson stressed the importance of having businesses rally together and around organizations like the Chamber to maximize their advocacy efforts. He spoke about how change in policy can be influenced by grassroots campaigning, as long as the business community is able to effectively come together and increase the visibility of important issues.

BC Minister of Labour, Harry Bains

On November 14, 2018, we hosted BC’s Minister of Labour and MLA for Surrey-Newton, Harry Bains, for a lunchtime roundtable discussion with a number of business owners from the Tri-Cities.

Our members asked questions on a range of urgent business issues:

  • Labour market and difficulty in finding staff
  • Changes to the Labour Relations Code (with specific concern regarding Secret Ballot Voting for union confirmation)
  • Changes to the Employment Standards Act on issues such as sick leave and statutory holiday pay
  • The costs of labour law changes for the business community

Minister Bains explained the government’s rationale for reviewing the Labour Relations Code and the Employment Standards Act, saying that it would update our labour laws to reflect BC’s modern economy and job market. Secure full-time permanent employment has continued to be replaced by increasing levels of less secure temporary and part-time work. Technology has also transformed the economy and workplace, leading to decentralized and virtual work environments, as well as a greater demand for flexible work arrangements. Participants cautioned against changes that would add significant costs to an already burdened business sector.