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Whistler's labour resolution passes at federal chamber AGM

Local leaders weigh in on #elxn43 priorities

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A resolution from the Whistler Chamber of Commerce concerning "minor modifications" to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) was passed with 99-per-cent support at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce annual general meeting on Sept. 22

"In a nutshell, Canada's new tourism sector strategy is called Creating Middle Class Jobs: A Federal Tourism Growth Strategy, and it sets out quite significant, ambitious targets for the country's tourism sector itself," said Whistler Chamber CEO Melissa Pace, pointing to targets in the strategy of $128 billion in revenue by 2025—an increase of 25 per cent and 54,000 new jobs from current levels.

"We're all in favour of seeing those targets, but we need the federal government to support the private sector to help develop real solutions for labour, as well as the skills challenges faced in the B.C. and Canadian economy," Pace said.

The policy calls for reduced minimum advertising periods of two weeks for roles and regions where there is a demonstrated lack of domestic labour supply and regional unemployment rates are lower than five per cent; an expansion of applications eligible for 10-day expedited processing to include applications with employment durations for six months or less, and; a review of screening processes to ensure that decisions with respect to the completeness of applications are made by the staff responsible for application review.

The resolution will now be rolled into the federal chamber's advocacy efforts—though it remains to be seen which party will be in power come Oct. 22.

Labour is just one of five "top issues" the local chamber is keeping an eye on in the campaign, Pace said, along with housing, transportation, childcare and taxes.

How can our local candidates best advocate for Whistler if elected?

"When we talk about the housing and affordability, how will they work, or fight, really, for government to create affordable and subsidized housing for really vulnerable people in our community?" she said.

"Will your government increase tax incentives, such as removing the GST on rentals to encourage construction of much needed rental housing? Those are pieces that are across Canada, [and] I think those are very important to our community."

The federal government released its new tourism strategy in late May, but aside from that, there hasn't been any specific tourism policy proposals from the parties to this point.

"There's certainly been topics that are very important to tourism and very important to Whistler around climate change policy and labour issues and housing and affordability," said Tourism Whistler president and CEO Barrett Fisher.

"And those are critical issues, I think, to tourism destinations across Canada, but when it comes specifically to some of the other pieces of tourism that are also important, we have not heard a lot to date."

Keeping Canadian tourism competitive—no matter who forms government after next month's election—requires things like streamlined border and airport security that is efficient but also friendly, as well as investment into shoulder seasons, infrastructure and marketing, Fisher said.

"We would love to have an MP in our riding who appreciates and understands the importance of tourism and champions it on our behalf," she said.

"We've had some great MPs over the years, but our most recent MP (Pamela Goldsmith-Jones) was very busy, and so we didn't feel that we received the time and attention that potentially Whistler deserves."

Whistler Mayor Jack Crompton—a self described "political junkie"—has been following the campaign very closely.

"I'm enthusiastic about discussions around infrastructure investment in communities, [and] I am eager to hear what the candidates will say around housing, climate, infrastructure investment, immigration," he said.

"It feels like it hasn't really ramped up yet, and I look forward to hearing a little more depth on what our local candidates think on the issues."

Goldsmith-Jones spent "an incredible amount of time understanding our issues," Crompton added, noting that whoever is elected can learn a lot from that.

"They should visit us, they should spend time here, they should speak to the community and they should listen—all things I think they seem eager to do so far," he said.

Residents can hear directly from the local candidates on Wednesday, Oct. 9 during an all-candidates meeting at the Maury Young Arts Centre.

ADVANCE VOTING DAYS SET FOR OCT. 11 TO 14

While election day is Monday, Oct. 21, advance polling will take place from Friday, Oct. 11 to Monday, Oct. 14.

The location has yet to be determined. Check elections.ca for updates.

Voters can also cast a ballot by mail if they apply at elections.ca before Oct. 15 at 6 p.m.

Voters have until Tuesday, Oct. 15 at 6 p.m. to register to vote, and can do so either online at elections.ca or in person at any Elections Canada office—the closest to Whistler is located at 38192 Cleveland Ave. in Squamish.

Candidates in the Sea to Sky are: the Liberal Party's Patrick Weiler, the Conservative Party's Gabrielle Loren, the NDP's Judith Wilson, the Green Party's Dana Taylor and the People's Party's Robert (Doug) Bebb.

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