Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.
My name is Len Falco, and as president of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce I would like to thank the chair and honourable members of this committee for allowing us the opportunity to appear today.
I am also speaking as the owner and operator of a full-service recruiting and staffing company that specializes in general staffing and human resources consulting.
My co-presenter this afternoon is Mr. Bill Tufts, who is the chair of our human resources committee at the Hamilton chamber. The human resources committee monitors employment, labour, and workplace legislation.
The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce is one of Canada's most active local chambers, acting as Hamilton's recognized voice of business continually since 1845. We are in fact the oldest, largest, and most broadly based organization extant in the broader Golden Horseshoe, outside of the GTA.
Today we are comprised of over 1,900 individual members who represent 1,150 businesses and organizations of all sizes and sectors that collectively employ 75,000 people full time, in all parts of the city, and indeed many beyond our municipal boundaries.
It is essential to state that our broader membership also includes not-for-profit organizations and unionized corporations. In fact, we were one of the first chambers to actively embrace unions and welcome them to the city of Hamilton.
Hamilton is an important central transportation and distribution hub for road, air, marine, and rail. If Bill C-257 is passed, it would have an immense negative impact on Hamilton's economy and our industries, an effect that will be replicated all across Canada, from sea to sea to sea.
Additionally, we show complete support to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce regarding their views of Bill C-257.
The city of Hamilton has a superb transportation network, which is located at the centre of the Golden Horseshoe's industrial corridor. It has direct access to Toronto and points eastward as well as to the United States via Detroit or Buffalo along Highways 401 and 403 and the Queen Elizabeth Way.
The port of Hamilton handles over 12 million tonnes of cargo and is visited by over 700 vessels each year. This ranks Hamilton as the busiest of all Canadian Great Lakes ports.
A 2001 Stamm study determined that almost 4% of Ontario’s GDP and 30% of the greater Hamilton region's GDP is directly or indirectly connected to the operations centred on the port of Hamilton. This translates into an employment equivalent, considering both indirect and direct impacts, of approximately 220,000 jobs.
Since privatization, Hamilton International Airport’s airport-related workforce has grown from 726 to more than 1,300 full-time equivalent employees. Under TradePort management, passenger traffic at the Hamilton terminal has increased from 90,000 in 1996 to approximately 900,000 in 2002 and growing. Air cargo has increased by 50% since 1996. In 2002, 91,000 metric tonnes of cargo passed through the airport.
CN's Hamilton Metals Distribution Centre is located in the heart of Canada's largest steel-consuming market. The facility is home to Canada's steel manufacturing, distribution, and processing industry, and is located in one of North America's largest vehicle production areas. Furthermore, CN's Hamilton MDC is strategically positioned to do business in the largest Canada-U.S. steel corridor.
Proposed subsection 94(2.4) of Bill C-257 states:
The measures referred to in subsection (2.2) shall exclusively be conservation measures and not measures to allow the continuation of the production of goods or services otherwise prohibited by subsection (2.1).
This provision contained in Bill C-257 will have the following impact on the health and well-being of Canadians.
First, it will undermine the dependability of Canada’s infrastructure industries. Continuity of service in the federally regulated infrastructure industries is important to virtually all Canadian enterprises, not just those under federal jurisdiction.
For example, if a work stoppage took place in the transportation network, with services halted, ports closed, and so on, it would be felt by all Canadians and Canada's trading partners who rely on an uninterrupted flow of goods. Most federal businesses are providers of services where the ability to stockpile goods does not exist.
Secondly, it would detract from Canada’s attractiveness as a place in which to invest. In an era of global mobility of investment, potential investors to Canada would also negatively perceive such a provision.