THUNDER BAY – Politics – Small businesses and their owners play an important role in the economic success of every community across Canada. As such, there was a lot of interest in Ottawa when MPs founded the All-Party Entrepreneurship Caucus this past spring.
In 2011 there were 1,116,423 small businesses within Canada, making up 98% of all employer businesses in Canada, and roughly half of Canada’s workforce is employed by a small business. Aside from employing millions of Canadians small business and entrepreneurs also help push communities forward by providing specialty products and services that in many cases would not be made available to us by larger companies that serve huge geographic areas. If our communities fail to recognize the role that these local small businesses play in our economy, then we will simply be unable to tackle many obstacles to prosperity.
It’s worth reminding ourselves from time to time that the more we “shop local” the more we grow our local economy. MPs in Ottawa have woken up to this fact and established the All-Party Entrepreneurship Caucus in support of Canada’s grass root entrepreneurs. he thinking is that the more that MPs understand the needs and aims of small businesses the more we can do to ensure their success. I was pleased to attend the inaugural meeting of the caucus this February and am committed to making the voices of our region’s entrepreneurs heard in the Ottawa.
MPs that have and will join the All-Party Entrepreneurship Caucus agree to several principles and to work to assist Canada’s small businesses succeed. The founding principles of the group include being a member of the caucus not because small businesses make up a large part of their riding but because they believe small business is a key part of Canada’s prosperity and should be recognized and supported. MPs also must agree to contribute to the Caucus’ understanding of the best ways in which to support small businesses with appropriate policies. For this caucus to work, partisanship will have to be put aside so that we can come up with effective solutions for the challenges facing Canada’s small businesses. It was a refreshing change to see representation from all parties willing to work with others.
MPs who attended the first meeting of this new caucus received representatives from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) who graciously offered to share their views on how the federal government can assist its members. The CFIB is Canada’s largest association for small and medium sized business owners representing more than 109,000 of them from coast to coast to coast for the last 40 years. The CFIB representatives gave our members a lot to think about and shared their thoughts on a range of issues. Coming out of this meeting I can tell you that all MPs who were present were impressed with the presentation and look forward to similar events in the future from the CFIB and other groups that are looking to promote the interests of entrepreneurs across Canada.
Considering the large role that small businesses play in the economy of Northwestern Ontario and Thunder Bay – Rainy River I believe that it is prudent but important that governments plan ahead to ensure their success moving forward. I think the founding of the All-Party Entrepreneurship is a step in the right direction and I look forward to working with our local small business owners, representatives of other levels of government, and my colleagues in Ottawa to help them grow and prosper in every community across Canada.
John Rafferty MP
Thunder Bay Rainy River