The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Canada's "largest and most influential business association," has revealed its Top 10 Barriers to Competitiveness for 2013. The organization, which represents 420 chambers of commerce and boards of trade across Canada, said it undertook the initiative "to draw attention to the barriers that are holding back Canada's progress and to urge all levels of government to act more swiftly to improve our country's ability to compete globally."
While the number one barrier is skills shortages, said the organization, another high priority on the list was "inadequate public infrastructure planning."
The Chamber says, "Government commitments to infrastructure have been intermittent and the criteria changeable, making private sector investment difficult and expensive. Mobilizing private investment to finance public goals is essential for infrastructure investment."
The Chamber's announcement quoted John Gamble, president of the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies-Canada (ACEC): “Infrastructure is a critical investment in our economic, social and environmental quality of life.... Without it, there are no communities and no prosperity.”
Among the other top 10 barriers that the report says are holding back Canada's prosperity are our internal barriers to trade, which are estimated to cost the economy $14 billion a year "Canadian business still has to petition governments for the “right” to sell goods and services in Canada. There needs to be a new agreement that will deliver a single, unimpeded marketplace for internal trade, labour mobility and investment," notes the report.
Another barrier named was businesses' lack of access to capital. "A critical element of business competitiveness in any industry is access to capital — be it through venture capital or through foreign direct investment. Canada must support a sustainable private-sector led venture capital market and increase its appeal to foreign investors."
Other barriers cited are our poor performance with innovation, the country's complex tax structures (an over reliance on income and profit taxes); and deficient strategies for trade in new markets (Canada must expand its access to new markets in Asia, Africa and South America).
To read the report, click here