This post was originally published the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce's Spring/Summer 2019 edition of Business Matters magazine.
Canadians head to the polls on Oct. 21 to decide who will lead the country for the next four years.
In Greater Victoria, our goal is to ensure Chamber members are among the best informed voters in Canada. Already this year we have hosted six federal ministers as part of our Business Leaders Series.
On this page, we take a look at local issues for our federal representatives, and what we are advocating the federal government do about them.
The Chamber is also working with our community partners to host a federal candidate listening session on September 11 at the Victoria Conference Centre.
This will be a great opportunity to express our concerns and visions to whoever is elected in Greater Victoria.
Our community partners are the South Island Prosperity Partnership, the City of Victoria, the Downtown Victoria Business Association, Destination Greater Victoria and the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority.
We need all levels of government to consider the unique requirements of workforce housing.
Employers in Greater Victoria have too many jobs going unfilled, and the single biggest deterrent for employees in Greater Victoria is the cost of housing.
We want to know what federal candidates will do to ease this crisis.
We are asking the federal government to expand the National Housing Strategy to include more non-market housing through partnerships with local governments and non-profit housing providers.
Tax incentives can encourage private investment in purpose-built rental housing. The federal government can also invest more in co-op housing, improving existing units and funding partnerships that create new housing opportunities for families.
And, by creating incentives to revitalize older multi-unit rental housing, government can prolong the lifespan of buildings, helping keep rent at affordable rates and improving energy efficiency.
A pressing need for workers continues to be a major concern for The Chamber, as well as Destination Greater Victoria.
With more than 22,000 jobs in tourism and hospitality, the lack of an adequate workforce is particularly worrisome in this sector as positions remain vacant, stifling business.
We are asking the federal government to help increase the supply of available workers by setting relevant immigration targets and making the process more efficient, as well as encouraging domestic mobility programs.
We need many more workers, both foreign and domestic, in every sector.
We would appreciate action from the federal and provincial governments on a commitment to funding for the Smart Mobility strategies planned by the South Island Prosperity Partnership (SIPP).
This means working with municipalities and First Nations in Greater Victoria to create a civic technology cluster that can test, purchase and deploy new technologies to solve mobility challenges facing our region.
This pilot can be developed and implemented through a single point of contact via SIPP, thus capturing all the elements needed to scale to a large metropolitan area — or scale down to smaller, rural municipalities and remote First Nations.
The federal government has committed to international emission reduction targets, and British Columbia has committed to transitioning to electric vehicles for private and commercial use.
For Greater Victoria to lead this transition, commuters need alternatives to vehicles powered by fossil-fuels, and our region needs options that encourage fewer people to drive single-occupancy vehicles to work.
We want the federal government to continue its Public Transit Infrastructure Fund, and provide incentives for the electrification of commercial fleets including ferries, buses, trucks and couriers.
Government, through the Standards Council of Canada, can also align manufacturers of electric vehicles on a common electric charging technology, and expand the number of electric vehicle charging stations in Greater Victoria and across Vancouver Island.
We are asking the federal government to match the investment made by the provincial government to increase access to affordable, quality child care.
For a working family, child care is typically the second highest expense after housing.
Workers are reducing hours and modifying shifts to compensate for the lack of child care, adding to the shortage of labour at a time when we have the lowest unemployment rate in the country.
As well, a shortage of early childhood educators contributes to the lack of licensed spaces.
To overcome this drag on our economy and to ensure children have a safe and stimulating start in life, child care needs the same level of government attention and investment as the other fundamental underpinnings of our economy such as education, transportation and health care.
The City of Victoria has embarked on a Witness Reconciliation Program with the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations. The mission is being undertaken with integrity, an open heart and a willingness to take the time needed to work in diverse ways.
The work of the federal government’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission was handed over to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, which continues efforts to record the painful history of the residential school system and systemic discrimination against indigenous people. We want the federal government to remain committed to continue the healing process and forge a future of inclusiveness.
Greater Victoria is seeing increasing climate chaos through more severe winter storms and hotter, drier summers. The City of Victoria reports 70 per cent of street trees it removes are because of stress and disease due to climate change.
We request that the federal government provide predictable funding to ensure local governments have climate action plans. Working with the province, these plans will be key to helping Canada meet its commitments to the Paris Agreement.
We also want the federal government to match provincial incentives to help people choose zero-emission vehicles and energy efficient heating options for their homes, and to provide incentives for business to reduce emissions and create innovative solutions.
Local governments can play a bigger role in mitigating climate change, if the federal government encourages the provincial government to give cities more authority to develop creative solutions. Potential ideas include offering loans for energy-efficient retrofits and collecting repayment through savings on utility bills, using business licence fees to incentivize reductions in carbon pollution and congestion pricing.