Kevin Sorenson, the federal minister of state for finance, visited Whitehorse on Monday to find out what local businesses need to succeed in the North.
Businesses within the arts, resources and tourism industry attended a meeting with Sorenson at the Westmark Hotel to give their input.
Many suggested they needed more labour, skills-training and technology upgrades, said Sorenson, who was given his position during the July cabinet shuffle.
To retain workers, Sorenson suggested businesses sign up for the new Pooled Registered Pension Plan, which was introduced in May by the federal government.
Workers in Yukon, Nunavut and N.W.T. can enroll for the plan themselves or through their employer, according to the Canada Revenue Agency website. Local employers can also purchase the plan in bulk, Sorenson said.
Rick Karp, president of the Yukon Chamber of Commerce, told Sorenson that the territory’s businesses currently have to jump through too many hoops in order to secure contracts with the federal government.
The business community would benefit from less regulation, Karp said. For example, the government could improve the way businesses interact with the Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Board, without jeopardizing the environment, he said.
“We want to be able to work collectively to have a new communication so that we can move forward and balance everything in Yukon so we can all work together,” he said.
Karp also pushed for northern companies to be able to have the lead in major construction projects. For example, a major construction contract for the new Whitehorse jail, which opened last year, was not given to a Yukon company, Karp said.
“(We want) people who understand the North to build the North.”