Delegates mingle at the BC Chamber of Commerce’s 2022 annual general meeting in Prince George. Photo: Tom Thomson

Delegates mingle at the BC Chamber of Commerce’s 2022 annual general meeting in Prince George. Photo: Tom Thomson

NEWS AND VIEWS: B.C. Chamber looks ahead at 2022 AGM

Tom Thomson writes about the provincial meeting for chambers of commerce

The BC Chamber of Commerce hosted its 70th AGM and conference in Prince George on June 7 to 9, the first in-person event since 2019. With a full program of keynote speakers and panel discussions that included Indigenous leaders, and government and industry representatives, delegates discussed a range of topics including leadership, competitiveness, reconciliation, mental health, and other important issues facing British Columbians.

“The theme of this year’s conference was Focusing Forward, recognizing that as we emerge from the pandemic we have reasons for optimism, and that with governments and businesses working together, we can seize the opportunities before us and overcome the challenges that we face,” said Fiona Famulak, president and CEO of the BC Chamber of Commerce.

“Our network was excited to reconnect in person and to have meaningful discussions about how to address B.C.’s competitiveness, the resiliency of our supply chain, and the critical role that housing, daycare and inter-community transportation plays as we navigate an acute skilled labour shortage.”

One of the Chambers’ primary roles is development of policy and advocacy on behalf of business to all levels of government. Our local Chamber of Commerce board of directors works closely with business issues through roundtables and virtual meetings over the past few pandemic years. Those concerns are taken directly to the municipal and regional governments

Members also participated in the provincial association’s annual policy sessions where 59 policy resolutions, submitted by 35 Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade, were tabled, debated, and voted upon.

In all, 53 resolutions were approved and will be included in the BC Chamber of Commerce’s 2022-23 Policy and Positions Manual. The policies cover a broad spectrum of provincial and federal issues critical to the success of B.C.’s business community, such as taxation, Indigenous reconciliation, forestry, infrastructure, and workforce issues. Some of the key policies that were adopted for advocacy at the provincial and or federal government level include:

• Ensuring old-growth protection and sustainable forestry strategies while also supporting B.C.’s regional economies and business communities

• The Future of the Forest Industry

• A role for businesses and industry stakeholders in the implementation of the U.N.’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People action plan

• Unlocking the potential of forest residual biomass

• Filling the provinces nursing schools

• Progressive housing solutions to address the workforce housing challenges

• Improving primary care and saving healthcare money with physician extender/physician assistants

• Building B.C.’s Bio Manufacturing supply chain

• Amending the B.C. Paid Sick Leave program

• Help B.C. employers survive the labour crisis: BC PNP Improvements

• Floods: An emerging economic threat requiring provincial action

• Revamping the provincial disaster financial assistance program to address the realities of climate change.

• Post-graduate work permits

• Wildfire interface and prevention

• The cost of prolific offenders on the local economy

The BC Chamber of Commerce’s 2022-23 Policy and Positions Manual will support the association’s advocacy priorities of building an economy that is competitive, one that promotes innovation and is more inclusive for all British Columbians.

The BC Chamber of Commerce thanks Joelle Westlund for her leadership as chair of the 2021-22 board of directors and is pleased to welcome Dr. Greg Thomas as chair for 2022-23.

Nelson Chamber past president Tanya Finley has also been acclaimed for another term as the Kootenay Rep on the BC Chamber of Commerce board of directors. She has already served one term.

Tom Thomson is executive director of the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce.