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(Medicine Hat) – The Medicine Hat & District Chamber of Commerce had several board and staff representatives attend the Alberta Chamber of Commerce virtual AGM and Policy Conference on September 15th and 16th, rescheduled from its original date in May due to COVID-19. 

The Medicine Hat & District Chamber of Commerce presented seven new policies, four renewing polices and co-sponsored two policies, all of which were adopted and constituted 13 of the 38 policies debated this year. Of the policies presented 34 passed, two were defeated, one was withdrawn and one was referred to the Alberta Chambers of Commerce Board for further work.

“Businesses have shown they can adjust and adapt to new circumstances and our network has done the same. While we were unable to meet in person, many chamber representatives across the province were able to attend because of the free virtual delivery of this year’s event,” commented Marcus Campbell, incoming President of the Chamber. “Even though it was a different way to conduct the business of the chamber, we were successful in passing all of our policies and our advocacy work continues to be a cornerstone of our organization and the larger provincial network.”

The policies passed over the two days touched on various business issues brought to the Chamber by members. Within the policies are recommendations to government that relate to commercial property assessments, joint use agreements, and modernizing the services offered in registry offices. All these policies related to fair, equitable treatment and cost-effective solutions for businesses.

There was a specific policy on investment attraction for industrial zones, which complimented another policy related to special economic zones. Both these policies encourage plans to stimulate investment attraction and growth in specialized economic zones, such as the Medicine Hat region.

In addition, there were a number of policies centered on agriculture in the region. One focused on improvements to risk management programs, with a second policy recommending increased marketing efforts for agriculture products both domestically and internationally. The third agriculture policy focused on the importance of agriculture, highlighting the need for agriculture education to be integrated into the school curriculum. 

Transportation was also a focus, calling for improved infrastructure with the continued twinning of Highway 3 and increased hours at the Port of Wild Horse in order to achieve more efficient movement of goods. 

The Chamber has advocated for various recommendations as it pertains to labour and ensuring industry has access to adequate labour. This was addressed in the Chamber’s policy this year focused on improving the appeals process for temporary foreign workers. 

Larger issues were also addressed in policies dedicated to striking a balance between environmental stewardship and growing the economy and streamlining the size of government so that government is able to be responsive and resilient when faced with economic challenges.

“We covered a lot of ground in just a couple of days. We are incredibly proud of the hard work our organization and policy committees have put into ensuring that our policy book represents the concerns of our business community,” added Campbell. “These policies form the backbone of our conversations with government and allow us to provide succinct, achievable and reasonable solutions, while building out a comprehensive policy agenda. Our local Chamber advocates for these policies once they are adopted on a local level. By gaining the support of the Alberta Chambers of Commerce we are able to amplify our voice and use the provincial network to advocate for these solutions and recommendations”.

All the policy positions and recommendations of the Chamber can be found under ‘Our Voice’ on the Chamber website.

As new policies were adopted provincially, others were marked as completed at the first Chamber Board meeting of the 2020-2021 year on September 16th. The Board deemed that the advocacy goals of five policies have been achieved this past year. 

With new meat inspection rules passed this summer, providing for more flexibility for mobile slaughter and video inspections by the provincial government, the recommendations in the Higher Standards for Animal Welfare have been addressed. 

With the three-year funding allocation for an integrated child advocacy centre, actions are now in progress to build a hub and spoke model that will service Medicine Hat and surrounding communities, fulfilling the recommendations of the Creation of a Southeast Child Advocacy Centre policy.

In addition, the overall administrative burden has been lessened on business with wins on three additional policies. Clarity Needed in Employment Standards was realized when previous regulations were reinstated for holiday pay calculations and adjustments were made in averaging agreement arrangements. These changes decreased the impact of layered legislation, which the Chamber has also been calling for. Finally, another win was attained when the provincial government reduced corporate income tax rates.

“Our organization is a bridge between our community and decision makers. We encourage our business community to reach out to us with issues so that we can work on creating results that help them overcome obstacles,” concluded Campbell. “Advocacy is really just about having conversations so that solutions can be found that work for business and government. We use our influence and open a respectful dialogue in order to promote economic growth for our region, which allows for everyone in our community to prosper. We are proud of our demonstrated success and we look forward to our continued work on behalf of our business community moving forward.”

Please direct all media inquiries to:

Tracy Noullett, President | Marcus Campbell, 1st Vice President
c/o Medicine Hat & District Chamber of Commerce
(403) 527-5214 ext.225

The Chamber of Commerce is a member-driven, volunteer-led organization, proudly representing the interests of businesses in our region, and working diligently to stimulate a strengthened and vibrant economy through our connections, support and influence. For more than 115 years, the Chamber has stood for promoting business, monitoring government and championing managed growth in the local economy. The Chamber represents over 850 businesses in our region and is aligned with both the Alberta Chambers of Commerce (ACC), which represents over 24,000 businesses and the Canadian Chambers of Commerce (CCC), which represents over 200,000 businesses. With the largest and most influential business organizations locally, provincially and federally, the Chamber network is the most unified, valued and influential business network in Canada and works together to shape policy and programs that will make a difference to businesses in our region.

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