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Top Canadian CEOs warn country’s ‘future economic prosperity at risk’ 

Top CEOs of over hundred Canadian technology companies reached out to the four major federal party leaders in a letter, urging them to step up to the plate when it comes to fostering Canadian innovation. Addressed to Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, and Green leader Elizabeth May, the letter said the parties need to work on economic policies that allow the Canadian tech sector to more easily access talent, growth capital and new customers.

It reads, “We’re writing because Canada’s productivity is lagging and our future economic prosperity is at risk. We want to work with all parties in this election to address this challenge.”

“If you look at what’s currently occurring on the political platforms, there isn’t much talk about innovation or wealth creation as being a key of this economic discussion, about Canada and its future,” said Benjamin Bergen, executive director of the Council of Canadian Innovators. The CEOs said their companies employed over 35,000 Canadians last year, exported to 190 countries and generated over $6 billion for the Canadian economy.

The open letter was signed by 110 CEOs, including John Sicard, CEO of Kinaxis- an Ottawa-based company that helps improve supply chain efficiency for clients such as Toyota, Honda and Merck and employs 700 people. Sicard said business is good, but growth is challenging because top qualified graduates are siphoned off by US tech giants. He said it’s frustrating when the government adds “friction” such as the Budget 2019 proposal to change the way employee stock options are taxed, because it makes harder to compete globally for the best employees.

The businessman wants to see all parties commit to keeping the Global Skills Strategy, that provides temporary work permits in as little as two weeks in categories such as software engineering.

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