OTTAWA, Dec. 11, 2012 /CNW/ - In a report issued today, Developing the economic potential of Canada's territories, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce argues that the federal government has a critical decision to make regarding Canada's territories if it is to fully leverage their full social and economic potential. The report is based on discussions with more than 80 business people and government representatives across the territories
"We are selling our territories- and Canada- short. The Federal government must take the lead in developing an integrated, long-term strategy and business case that create the conditions for full economic participation by the territories and all of their peoples," said Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. "Business people want the territories to become more financially independent of the federal government and they see the private sector as the means of achieving it."
Covering 40% of Canada's land mass with just over three per cent of our population, Canada's territories punch above their weight economically. In 2011, Yukon and Nunavut had the highest and second highest gross domestic product increases in Canada- at 7.7 and 5.6 percent respectively. However, some business people say the cost of doing business in the territories today is five times higher and the effort of operating is 10 times greater than in the provinces. This has a direct effect on the territories' competitiveness.
A shortage of skilled workers, lack of infrastructure, poor access to capital, regulation and the federal government's relationship with the territories and Aboriginal peoples are some of the challenges and barriers that the territories continue to face. At the same time, our territories also offer immense opportunities. For example, much of Canada's untapped natural resources wealth is believed to lie in our territories.
"From education and training to physical infrastructure, there is not, nor ever will be, enough money and other resources to meet all of the territories' economic development needs, "added Beatty. "However, some of their priorities could be addressed - and economic development opportunities improved - if the federal and territorial governments, communities, educators, businesses and other stakeholders worked together to develop a list of those priorities and an integrated plan, strategy and business case to address them."
The report offers a series of recommendations for paving the way.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is the vital connection between business and the federal government. It helps shape public policy and decision-making to the benefit of businesses, communities and families across Canada with a network of over 420 chambers of commerce and boards of trade, representing 192,000 businesses of all sizes in all sectors of the economy and in all regions. News and information are available at Chamber.ca or follow us on Twitter @CdnChamberofCom.
SOURCE: CANADIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
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