The summer constituency break from the House of Commons for Members of Parliament is often referred to as the “BBQ Season”, although I have yet to attend any barbecues so far this summer. I have been very fortunate to be able to attend a large number of different community events, engage in meetings with constituents, meet with local government officials and have toured many small business operations. Although we often think of “big business” when it comes to employment we should not overlook that here in Canada 98% of workers who support families are actually employed by small businesses. In many of the small business operations I have visited locally I have observed a pattern where investments in innovation and new technology along with plant expansions are helping to increase sales growth and create a demand for more workers.
Government can also play a role to assist this growth and investment– as an example in our most recent Economic Action Plan budget the temporary hiring credit for small business was extended for an additional year. Many of the small business employers I have met with are taking advantage of the hiring incentive which is credited automatically when a new employee is hired. In fact across Canada roughly 560,000 small businesses have taken advantage of this credit and that in turn has resulted in excess of $220 million being re-invested. That not only helps these businesses to take on new opportunities as they arise, but also aids in keeping our local economies strong. From a recent meeting with an Okanagan Falls employer, I learned that these new investments are resulting in some very interesting and innovative products which will greatly benefit our region as well as helping to create some much needed new jobs. This is particularly important to areas that have been hard hit of late, due to the cyclical nature of some industries or from the fall out of the financial crisis of 2007-8 and the recession that followed. These kinds of investments help to create stability and confidence that is vitally important to see continued success. While some would like to see more investment by the government in terms of direct jobs, almost all those that I have met, see the importance of local, regional, provincial and federal elected officials helping to support policies that help the private sector to invest and grow. I have also become more aware of how local Okanagan-Coquihalla businesses who operate internationally are utilizing regional strengths with various products from the Kootneys or Similikameen Valley. More recently I learned of another opportunity in the Similkameen Valley that can support a reasonable number of jobs while also enhancing environmental protection– which is something I plan to explore further.
When in Ottawa, we debate and vote on the various clauses that are contained in the many Bills that come before the House of Commons, however it is very rewarding to see firsthand the net outcome of these Bills once they become law. The provisions in some of these bills are intended to help support jobs and to grow our local economies. A visiting Minister was asked what bills he helped pass this year that would help the Canadian economy. His response was the 'Northern Jobs and Growth Act'. That helps our territories to better and more efficiently process, with full environmental scrutiny and review, the many resource development projects that have been discussed since the times of Diefenbaker. How would Okanagan-Coquihalla benefit from these Territories being able to permit more like provinces, with less of the process being run out of Ottawa? We have world class manufacturers of service vehicles and electrical components for mining as two examples. These employers provide high paying jobs that help support our local economies. These past few weeks I have toured many small business operations and met employers who are taking advantage of these incentives to make new investments and to hire new workers in these expanded small business operations. That is not to suggest there are not still challenges or more work that we can do. An important part of my summer listening tour is meeting with groups and individuals to hear ideas and challenges that exist so these can be shared in Ottawa once the fall session is underway. I welcome your comments, questions and the opportunity to meet with you. Please do not hesitate to contact me at 1-800-665-8711 or via email at email@example.com
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.