Canadians Support Action on Competitiveness

    OTTAWA, Oct. 4 /CNW Telbec/ - A new survey conducted by Harris Decima on
behalf of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce asked Canadians about the country's
competitiveness. The results show that the large majority feel that Canada's
competitiveness is important, complex, and requires multiple solutions.

    - Almost everyone agrees (91%) it's "a good idea to improve our
      competitiveness as a country". One in three (32%) go so far as to say
      our competitiveness is a critical issue for Canada, and another 45% say
      it's important.
    - There was a tendency to feel that Canada was in a relatively good
      competitive position vis a vis Russia, Eastern Europe, Italy and
      Brazil. The sense was the country was equally competitive with Great
      Britain and France, with a greater tendency to feel that we were
      challenged in terms of our competitiveness with Germany, China, Japan,
      and India.
    - Alberta was seen as the province in the strongest competitive position,
      followed by British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. Among the Atlantic
      Provinces, Newfoundland is seen as in the strongest competitive
    - 60% say Canada is in a strong competitive situation in oil and gas, but
      only 10% feel that way about our automotive sector, and only 14% about
      our manufacturing sector.
    - The top 4 impediments to more competitiveness were seen to be taxation,
      lack of skilled workers, too much government red tape and a so-so work
      ethic. Two out of three people surveyed felt work ethic was a serious
      problem or worse.
    - People embrace a wide range of possible government actions; including
      many of the suggestions made by the Red Wilson led federal Task Force
      on Competitiveness. At the top of the list of ideas people liked were:
      putting more emphasis on Canada-US bilateral Free Trade, cutting income
      taxes for lower and middle income Canadians, investing more public
      money in education and training, eliminating inter provincial barriers
      that restrict trade within Canada and reducing taxes when companies
      invest capital for growth."
    - While most Canadians see this as an important agenda, many also seem to
      struggle to become highly engaged in discussing it. This likely has a
      lot do with the fact that two out of three say they (68%) find the
      subject of competitiveness "complicated".

    According to Harris Decima President Bruce Anderson "Policy experts and
political parties have been saying for some time that Canada has been losing
ground in terms of competitiveness, and wondering if Canadians were going to
follow this line of thinking and embrace a policy agenda to deal with this
challenge. The evidence is clear that Canadians share a desire to see the
country tackle this issue. Most people accept a lot of the ideas that have
been proposed to improve competitiveness, meaning that there is less risk for
political leaders of a backlash to this agenda. Most now see competitiveness
as a must, not a nice to have, and no longer show skepticism that it is
camouflage for a big-business, anti-labour agenda."
    "With international competition growing by the day, there is no more
important issue for our politicians to address than to make sure our
businesses have the conditions they need to compete and win", says Perrin
Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. "The well-being
of every Canadian family depends on getting our economic house in order now."
    According to Francoise Bertrand, President and CEO of the Federation des
chambers de commerce du Quebec: "Small and medium size enterprises are the
backbone of our economy: these are the businesses that must be convinced to
take on the competitiveness challenge. This survey confirms that Canadians
agree with that. It is now up to businesses to better develop their
entrepreneurial spirit and to governments to create the conditions conducive
to growth."

    Harris/Decima completed 2,025 online surveys among a random sample of
Harris/Decima panel members. The study was conducted between August 15th and
24th 2008.
    This was a standard panel survey among a random sample of our Canadian
panel members. In a fashion similar to a telephone study, email addresses from
our panel were pulled at random, according to population and gender
specifications, in order to make the study representative of the Canadian
population by region and gender. When contacted to solicit participation,
participants had no prior knowledge of the subject matter of the study.
Harris/Decima controls access to the study through passwords to ensure that
respondents can participate only one time. Subsequent to completion of the
study, the data was weighted for region, age, and gender.

For further information:

For further information: Bruce Anderson, President, Harris/Decima, (613)

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