Getting Canada’s economic and climate house in order

trevin stratton

Trevin Stratton, Chief Economist and Vice President at Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

Recent events demonstrate that Canada must urgently find common ground on how to balance climate policy with a commitment to support economic growth. Canadian businesses understand the serious need to address climate change and we urge you to use the upcoming federal budget as an opportunity to find a balance with our economic development.

The role of business is greater than just creating and providing the goods and services that people use. Business matters for other reasons: We invent. We innovate. We invest. We build wealth and, yes, we create the jobs that allow us to provide for ourselves and our families. We contribute to building strong communities and to addressing social problems, including climate change.

Climate change is real, and all of us, including business, have a role to play in finding a solution. For instance, we drive the innovation that is helping to reduce emissions and develop new, cleaner technologies and energy sources.

But responsible stewardship fighting climate change and a strong economy are not mutually exclusive goals and we have to get past this false choice. The transition to a lower-carbon future and adapting to climate change will be challenging and expensive for governments, businesses and Canadians alike.

The simplest and quickest path to a greener future is a bigger and more efficient economy. In fact, if we want the innovations that will help us reduce emissions and invent new technologies that enable a transition to a cleaner world, then we need a strong, vibrant business community. If we want strong, healthy communities, and the social supports needed to help those that need it most, then we must have a strong economy.

We will continue playing our part but we cannot do it alone. We need government to work with business to address climate change in a real way, while also creating the conditions for business – and all of the families and communities we support – to succeed.

At last month’s Canada 360° Economic Summit, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce convened some of Canada’ s greatest business minds, all coming together with a common purpose: to find and develop new ideas to stimulate our economy. Specifically, there are steps the government can take to address some of the issues most challenging to business:

  • Build a regulatory system that works for everyone, including business.
  • Invest in the infrastructure and innovation to make Canada the most connected country in the world.
  • Ensure Canada’s workforce has the skills, education and training needed to help businesses succeed.
  • Help businesses access new markets around the world andeliminate trade barriers at home.
  • Develop a tax system that is fair , efficient and modern.
  • Provide SMEs with resources to help them grow and succeed at home and abroad.
  • Create a pharmacare system that closes the gap between those who have and those who do not have prescription drug coverage.

Without a strong economy, our country will not be able to meet the serious challenges Canada faces as a result of climate change. Without a focus on growth, we will not be able to foster the innovation and sustain the vital public services needed to address the challenges of a sustainable economy. We encourage the government to address both Canada’s unprecedented economic and environmental challenges in this year’s federal budget.

Trevin Stratton is the Chief Economist and Vice President at Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

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