Our Government’s economic action plan has been largely credited with helping to create an economic and investment environment that has created close to 600,000 new jobs during one of the worst recessions since the Great Depression. In the context of jobs and job creation we often hear that one of the obstacles for employers is bureaucratic red tape. To date I am realizing firsthand that there is some legitimacy to these claims. Many people would be shocked with how large an impact that Government can have on the bottom line of a thriving business, by the change of a single directive. As elected officials we must always keep in mind that our decisions will often impact the lives of our fellow Canadians. I was reminded of this most recently, as I had an opportunity to recently visit a Service Canada location where approximately 75% of the inquiries are about Employment Insurance. The value and importance of having a job cannot be overstated and as taxpayers we must also be mindful of the challenges that increased unemployment presents to Canadian families.
Recently I have encountered two situations that I believe are thought provoking and worthy of discussion. Investment is a term that many Canadians understand, however when this term is expanded to include foreign investment, often some view non- Canadian investors from a more negative perspective. Although it is not widely reported, many Canadian industries are regulated from an ownership and investment perspective. One particular sector, as an example, limits by percentage the share of foreign ownership in a Canadian company. One challenge that can emerge is when a company in such a sector requires additional investment to survive and only non- Canadian investors respond. If this investment is denied as a result of where capital originates, then potentially hundreds of extremely well paying jobs in a moderately sized community could be lost permanently. Clearly this is a challenging situation and often it is not a hypothetical one but a reality.
In another example a project proposed for a region could have significant positive economic impacts for generations including the creation of hundreds of jobs and also increasing the local tax base. In this example the project in question may primarily require suitable access. However as it not uncommon, sometimes citizens in an area will reject road related projects if they result in increases of traffic and noise. In addition costly and time consuming traffic and engineering studies are also a requirement that even if properly addressed may still not overcome objections from local citizens. As many will be aware, these types of projects and proposals are not uncommon in many different regions.
While there is a debate about the role of government in direct job creation, there is certainly no debate that government has a strong role to play. The examples above demonstrate how the decisions of elected officials at all levels of government can have a significant impact on job creation within a specific region. I have noted in my brief time both as a city councillor and now as an MP that opposing something is often far easier than standing up in support. However after my visit to the Service Canada location I believe we must all take a moment to think of those currently unemployed and in search of a job and ask what we can do in support of job creation. For the record in both of the examples above I will continue to support jobs and our local economies.
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.