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Goldy Hyder, President and CEO of the Business Council of Canada, speaks at the Asia Business Leaders Advisory Council meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, in Hong Kong.

The Canadian Press

A group representing many of Canada’s top chief executives says the federal government must launch a long-overdue review of the country’s tax code to attract more business investment.

The recommendation is one of six the Business Council of Canada is making in the wake of a federal election campaign that it says ignored serious economic questions.

“We had an election in which no one talked about how to grow the economy,” said Goldy Hyder, president of the Business Council.

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The report, to be released on Wednesday, was the result of a task force led by three chief executive officers – Chuck Magro of Nutrien Ltd., Nicole Verkindt of OMX and Louis Vachon of National Bank of Canada – and meetings with business leaders and other stakeholders across the country this year.

The council said in its report that a review of the Income Tax Act is long overdue, as changes made over the past 50 years have caused the act to balloon to 3,281 pages, which puts an undue burden on large companies. In a similar vein, the council says regulations must be streamlined and duplication reduced between the federal, provincial and municipal levels of government.

The danger, the council says, is that foreign capital will ignore Canada if changes aren’t made. The World Bank listed Canada as 22nd on its “ease of doing business” ranking in 2019, based on its regulatory landscape, behind countries such as New Zealand, the United States and Australia.

The council’s other recommendations include boosting the annual intake of immigrants to 1 per cent of the Canadian population (from a goal of about 0.9 per cent in 2019) to make up for the country’s aging population and low birth rate, and establishing an independent body to speed up significant infrastructure projects.

The report also says the 158 members of the Business Council are making six of their own commitments to address Canadians’ economic anxieties. Those commitments include matching the level of workplace training offered at comparable U.S. companies by 2025, adopting formal diversity policies and developing meaningful relationships between business and Indigenous people.

“It’s not on government alone,” Mr. Hyder said. “It is so easy to blame the politics. That’s not fair. We are citizens of this country, we are all responsible for doing our part.”

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