Victoria Chamber members tell federal finance minister what they need

Members of the Victoria Chamber of Commerce got to sit down with the country's Finance Minister Friday morning to talk about issues affecting business.

CEO Catherine Holt argues while the Liberal government is planning on allowing 310-thousand immigrants to come to Canada this year -- it's not enough:

" We, over the next 10 years, need about 150-thousand on Vancouver Island due to retirement. Those numbers are not matching up. Why the low numbers of immigrants compared to our labour force needs, and what's the longer term plan?"

Minister Bill Morneau noted when the Liberals came into office the number was 260-thousand, and they've been increasing the number.  But he says it's not an easy thing to do in today's climate:

" If you look around the world, whether you look in Europe right now, and obviously we see some challenges in the United States, there is a real divide among people who are comfortable bringing people into western industrialized countries, and people who feel that there's some sort of threat there. Unfortunately, and I say this with a real sense of regret, I think there will be in our coming election this year a divide. I think there'll be some people who question the value of immigration and diversity in our country, and there's going to be others -- and we're going to be firmly in this camp -- that say that this has been a huge success story for our country.

Morneau says he thinks there will be a divide in the upcoming federal election between those who value of immigration and diversity, and others -- Liberals included -- who view immigration as a huge success story.

Chamber members also asked Morneau about issues that make it difficult for them to recruit and keep staff -- such as the need for better child care, and the need for affordable housing.

Morneau has said he's looking to address home affordability issues for millennials in the next budget -- the last before a fall federal election -- but he would not reveal what policy options he is considering.

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