STELLARTON – Pictou County’s business titans sat down with Central Nova MP Peter MacKay Friday to discuss what they want to see in the federal government’s budget.
Business leaders who attended the forum at NSCC Pictou Campus came from companies such as Sobeys, Velsoft, MacGregor Custom Machining, WearWell Garments, NSCC, Michelin and the Pictou County Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s very much about direct input from the business community, those who are operating locally, that have very important insights on what works and doesn’t work,” MacKay said. “We’re in a pre-budget consultation phase and looking for the type of direct input that allows us to make good policy decisions on what programs and legislation and investments the federal government should be bringing forward.”
MacKay said he showed up at the forum looking for what issues the business leaders want to see resolved and wasn’t disappointed.
“They are very frank and very forceful in making their points and I appreciate that. I think given the fragility and volatility of the economy right now, we need that kind of direct input,” he said. “We need practical ideas and frankly constructive criticisms as well.”
MacKay said the business leaders in Pictou County want to see incentives for businesses to expand and hire more employees and things that help business productivity.
“Stirling MacLean (president of WearWell Garments) was part of the national red tape reduction committee. So, we did hear a lot of concern over duplication – that is federal, provincial, municipal governments doing the same thing where perhaps one government could take responsibility for it, especially around things like the environmental approval system,” MacKay said. “We heard a level of frustration sometimes about the complexity of getting things done.”
MacKay said the business leaders also expressed an interest in natural gas, that they wanted lower taxes and reduction in energy costs.
“The big thing is keeping people in our province,” he said. “Our number-one natural resource is people – educated, motivated people who want to work and be productive. We’re still losing far too many to the West and to other parts of the world.”
MacKay said this would not be the last time he consults business leaders in Pictou County before the budget is finalized and he said his offices are looking for input from other businesses and citizens as well.
“I intend to do more of this around the province and locally,” he said. “We have a very open dialogue that’s been ongoing. We have three offices in the constituency that hear year-round from businesses and individuals about their views of the federal government.”
MacKay said people can also go online to submit their views to him.