On Monday, local business owners voiced their concerns to Conservative MP Richmond Alice Wong and MP Delta-Richmond East Kerry-Lynne Findlay during a closed pre-budget round table discussion at the Richmond Chamber of Commerce (RCC).
Amongst their chief concerns, said Craig Jones, RCC executive director, are bureaucratic red tape, skill shortages, the lengthy Visa process to get foreign professionals into the country and recognizing foreign credentials.
Our members complain that government red tape makes everything more time consuming and expensive, said Jones. There were also discussions about taxes but in a broad manner.
Tracy Lakeman, CEO Tourism Richmond, was pleased about how the talks went.
I am optimistic about funding of $84 million that is being proposed by the Canadian Tourism Commission, she said, adding the U.S. receives $200 million to market its countrys tourism. The tourism industry is the eighth largest exporter in Canada. We export through marketing with an increase we can do so much more to promote Richmond to the world.
Lakeman said that during the two-hour discussions, she also spoke to both Wong and Findlay about the exorbitant cost Canadians face to travel across the country.
All in all, I think it was a positive session for everyone who attended, Lakeman said.
Wong said her partys focus is on job creation and economic growth so the discussions were helpful.
We heard from RCC members that they want simplifications and reductions to the red tape they face, Wong said. They asked about job training, skill shortages, especially in the high tech industry, as well as the impact of crime on business.
Meanwhile both said this was a great opportunity to listen to the business community and hopefully provide solutions.
Findlay said the government is already working on projects overseas which enable applicants to start the process and training prior to immigrating to Canada.
We need to continue to hear from Canadians across the country so we can provide direct feedback to Ottawa, said Wong.
When asked if similar round table discussions were happening elsewhere in Richmond, Wong said this was the first of hopefully many to happen in the coming year.
At this time there are no plans to host other round table discussions, however, we are more than willing to hear from nonprofit groups here in Richmond or individuals through the Department of Finance website, said Wong.
If you wish to voice your comments, concerns or questions to Wong, visit Canadas Department of Finance website at http://fin.gc.ca/prebudget-prebudgetaire/1-eng.asp.