Jordi Morgan and Jennifer English of the CFIB during a recent visit to Yarmouth.
ERIC BOURQUE PHOTO
By Eric Bourque
When he addressed the Rotary Club of Yarmouth a couple of weeks ago, Jordi Morgan of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business cited inter-provincial trade barriers as one of the biggest issues for the CFIB, which wants Canada’s premiers to address the matter.
With the premiers meeting in Prince Edward Island this week, the CFIB is formally calling on provincial leaders to take action on this and other issues.
In a letter to each premier in advance of the Council of Federation meeting taking place in Charlottetown, the federation is asking the premiers to make “a strong collective statement supporting improved internal trade“ and give trade ministers “a clear directive to eliminate trade barriers within Canada.”
In his talk to Yarmouth Rotarians Aug. 11, Morgan said doing business with a neighbouring province can, in some cases, be harder than dealing with another country.
“There are businesses that have an easier time trading with Belgium than they do with New Brunswick,” he said.
Jennifer English, CFIB senior policy analyst, raises the point in a media release issued on the eve of the premiers’ gathering on P.E.I.
“Doing business with someone in Halifax should be at least as easy for a business in Burnaby as one in Budapest,” she said. “We have craft breweries and vineyards throughout the region that would love to showcase their products across Canada, but it’s easier to buy and carry foreign beverages than to get their products across provincial borders.”
The red tape businesses have to go through when dealing with other provinces is a disincentive to growth, said Morgan (CFIB vice-president, Atlantic Canada), adding that with the current economic climate in the Atlantic region, businesses should be able to trade freely with other provinces.
“This is a relatively easy way to boost the economy and should be a top priority for every Atlantic premier,” he said.
The current Agreement on Internal Trade is out-of-date, the CFIB says, and doesn’t go far enough in addressing key trade barriers, including the failure to recognize other provinces’ professional credentials and food safety certifications, inconsistent standards for food packaging and truck safety, provincial business registration requirements and restrictions on selling alcoholic beverages from one province to the next.
Aside from trade, the CFIB also wants premiers to put pressure on the federal government to restore access to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and take a strong stand against any mandatory increase to payroll taxes in the form of increases to the Canada Pension Plan or the creation of new provincial plans like the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan.