• Chamber survey highlights need for action

    VERNON – The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce is ensuring that the concerns of business and non-profits are heard by governments at all levels.

    The Chamber recently circulated a survey asking members and non-members what factors are inhibiting their ability to operate and what actions are needed from federal, provincial and local authorities to improve conditions.

    “There was no surprise that much of the feedback revolved around the pandemic and shutdowns, but other issues are also top of mind for businesses, including access to labour, keeping staff safe, taxation, street-entrenched activities and the high cost of housing,” said Krystin Kempton, Greater Vernon Chamber president.

    “The results of the survey have been presented to North Okanagan-Shuswap MP Mel Arnold and we are confident he will carry our message to Ottawa. We will also share the survey results with Vernon-Monashee MLA Harwinder Sandhu as well as the City of Vernon, District of Coldstream and Regional District of North Okanagan.”

    When asked for the single biggest issue their business or non-profit is currently facing or is a major concern in the near future, respondents indicated (some respondents selected more than one option):

    Low Revenue – 40 per cent
    Human Resources/Staff – 40 per cent
    Paying Taxes – 15.5 per cent
    None – 11.1 per cent
    Other - 11.1 per cent (lockdown uncertainty, inventory access challenges, theft/vandalism)
    Paying for Business PPE – 6.6 per cent
    Paying Rent – 4.4 per cent
    Paying Utilities – 4.4 per cent

    “It is evident that labour is a significant hurdle for many businesses, whether it is related to Covid or just the inability to recruit and retain workers,” said Dan Proulx, Greater Vernon Chamber general manager.

    “There needs to be a better sense of why individuals are not pursuing employment opportunities and particularly with Covid-19, what barriers exist to returning to work such as health, reduced hours or the influence of government programs.”

    Non-profit organizations expressed concern about not being able to fundraise and how the subsequent decrease in revenue will impact their mandates.

    “There is a need to ensure that services vital to residents, particularly during the pandemic, are able to proceed,” said Proulx.

    Concerns about street entrenched issues continue to exist, even among non-profit organizations who have had to hire additional security.

    “Local government, the MLA, the MP, social service groups and business organizations must work together to lobby for accessible, affordable mental health and addiction treatment services in the community,” said Proulx.

    The Chamber has developed some initial recommendations to government based on the survey, and additional positions are expected as the survey data is reviewed further.

    “We thank the respondents for taking the time to participate in the survey as we know they are focused on operating their businesses and navigating the uncertainty Covid-19 has created. But it is only by hearing from them that the Chamber can advocate on their behalf and represent their interests with government,” said Kempton.
     
     
    FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:    
    Dan Proulx, General Manager   
    Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce
    P: 250-545-0771              E: manager@vernonchamber.ca