Sask Chamber of Commerce announces election pillars

September 22, 2020, 5:57 pm
Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter


By Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

The Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce has released its “election policy pillars.”

In a press release, the Chamber said “The pillars align with following goals: to inform Chamber members of key issues of business for this election, to put business priorities in front of political parties, and to raise the profile of these issues in the public.”

“Members of the Saskatchewan business community are facing critical issues that need to be recognized and addressed by our government and the public. We’re determined to get these issues and recommendations in front of our elected officials to influence change for the business community at a time when it’s desperately needed,” said Steve McLellan, CEO of the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber's Policy Pillars for the 2020 provincial election are centered on the theme of enabling business recovery and resilience as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing economic slowdown.

In addition to viewing policy through the lens of business recovery and resilience, the policy recommendations are also informed by key themes outlined in the current SCC Strategic Plan, along with specific actions identified in the Province’s Saskatchewan Growth Plan 2030.

The policy recommendations are grouped under the following pillars:

On economic recovery, it said in the short term, corporate income tax rates should be reduced from 12 per cent to eight per cent, and the provincial sales tax should be recoverable for businesses.

In the long term, a comprehensive review of the provincial tax system, including resource royalties, fees and surcharges, should be undertaken.

Public-private partnerships should be used to improve the province’s broadband cellphone and internet infrastructure.

For financial literacy, the Chamber recommends that Grade 11 and 12 students be required to take financial literacy classes.

Similar curriculum should be developed for Grades 7 to 10, and teachers should have adequate training. Distance learning should be used where teaching capacity is limited.

When it comes to energy efficiency and the low carbon economy, the Chamber said money from the province’s technology fund should be used to promote energy efficiency, especially in government-owned buildings.

The province should increase uptake of wind, solar, geothermal and biomass power generation where appropriate, and should encourage development of small modular nuclear reactors.

On labour markets, the Chamber said essential skills and experiential learning is important.

The province should “proactively engage with underrepresented segments of the workforce, such as women, immigrants and Indigenous people.” Science, technology and mathematics should be emphasized in K-12 education.

Post-secondary institutions and private industry should collaborate on the development of the curriculum.

Also, the province should “Create a framework for modular, stackable micro credentials to help workers better showcase their often-hidden job-specific, marketable skills to employers, as well as offer increased opportunities for remote learning.”

For its trade diversification and supply chain resilience pillar, the Chamber recommends working “in collaboration with the federal government to pursue trade diversification as an overarching economic policy objective by allocating more resources to diversifying away from volatile markets like the U.S. and China and toward emerging, high-growth economies.”

The Chamber said Saskatchewan should continue its ongoing internal exercise around assessing the province’s supply chain-related risks in the post-pandemic era, given Saskatchewan’s relatively high level of exposure to international trade and events beyond our borders.

It should “hedge against future international trade-related risks by working with the federal government to reduce and/or remove internal trade barriers by establishing equivalencies or mutual recognition of standards for certifications, inspections, regulations, etc. across sectors in the interim with the goal of achieving harmonization over the long term.”

When it comes to government procurement, the Chamber said prioritize Saskatchewan-based vendors going forward (subject to interprovincial and international trade agreements).

Multi-year capital plans would allow vendors to plan and build capacity. Government should adopt minimum safety standards like Certificate of Recognition (COR) and Small Employer Certificate of Recognition (SECOR) as a required standard for any vendor working on a provincial government contract. Long-term decision making and allocation of funds around major capital projects should be done with a “data driven approach.”

Finally, on Indigenous engagement, the Chamber recommends the development and release of a “whole-of-government Indigenous engagement strategy.”

Through SaskBuilds and Crown Investment Corporation, the province should incorporate Indigenous procurement guidelines into a larger procurement strategy going forward, and create incentives for non-Indigenous vendors to partner or sub-contract with Indigenous vendors when bidding on work.