Canada is failing to leverage the economic potential of its territories and is in need of a long-term plan to do so, according to a new Canadian Chamber of Commerce report.
“We are selling our territories – and Canada – short,” said chamber president Perrin Beatty. “The federal government must take the lead in developing an integrated, long-term strategy and business case that create the conditions for full economic participation by the territories and all their people.”
Beatty said Canadian business wants to see the territories become more financially independent of the federal government and believes the private sector is the best route to that goal.
According to the chamber, some business people believe the cost of doing business in the territories today is five times higher, and the effort of operating 10 times greater, than in the rest of Canada.
The chamber notes business challenges in the area, including:
- a shortage of skilled workers
- a lack of infrastructure; and
- poor access to capital.
“From education and training to physical infrastructure, there is not, nor ever will be, enough money and other resources to meet all of the territories’ economic development needs,” Beatty said. “However, some of their priorities could be addressed – and economic development opportunities improved – if the federal and territorial governments, communities, educators, businesses and other stakeholders worked together to develop a list of those priorities and an integrated plan, strategy and business case to address them.”
The chamber found that the territories offer “immense” opportunities, including what’s believed to be much of Canada’s untapped natural resources.