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Canada’s competitiveness continues to be severely challenged as traditional and emerging economies aggressively strive to occupy the global economic landscape. In fact, our country’s ability to remain a leader among nations continues to decline. A 2012 World Economic Forum report ranked Canada 14th in global economic competitiveness—down two places from 2011 and sliding five places since 2009. Improving Canada’s competitiveness requires an ambitious, aggressive and innovative private sector. Strategic thinking and smart public policies are also needed to address long-standing structural impediments that hinder businesses at a time when they need much greater flexibility to compete.

Last year, in consultation with our members, we launched the Top 10 Barriers to Competitiveness. This ongoing initiative aims to direct attention to the key impediments holding back Canada’s progress and to urge all levels of government to act more swiftly in increasing our country’s ability to compete globally.

In 2012, in cooperation with our network of chambers of commerce, we made great progress in furthering our competiveness agenda, particularly in addressing the barrier our members identified as being the greatest impediment to the success of Canadian business: the growing skills crisis. Thanks to our common efforts, the skills shortage is now on everyone’s mind, including Prime Minister Harper’s who declared that overcoming this crisis is now his government’s biggest challenge.

In this regard, I am pleased to provide our Top 10 list for 2013, which was determined in consultation with members. I thank our members for their help in identifying the 10 critical policy and regulatory barriers that will be the focus of our advocacy efforts this year. As you will see, the skills issue remains our main priority in 2013.

The need for action is urgent. The standard of living of every Canadian depends on how well we as a people respond to the challenge. We must identify and implement real, tangible solutions for breaking down the barriers to our competitiveness and for creating more opportunities and greater prosperity for Canadian businesses and families.

I urge all to endorse and actively support this important initiative and look forward to sharing our successes with you.

Consult our Top 10 Barriers to Competitiveness document.

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