FreshBooks brings business owners and policymakers together with a new roundtable and advocacy series for small businesses.
The Canadian small business landscape has changed immensely in the past 2 years. Many businesses are still struggling, while others are thriving. Wherever your business falls, the challenges and impact on growth are undeniable.
Understanding the government’s role in supporting small businesses is imperative to surviving and thriving. Equally so, policymakers must understand the challenges facing small business owners and develop ideas on how to respond.
That’s why, beginning in 2020, we launched Your Voice, a roundtable and advocacy series with policymakers across Canada.
Your Voice: What is It?
The Your Voice series connects small business owners with policymakers from all parties and at all levels of government. The goal is twofold: Provide policymakers with a closed-door forum to hear from small business owners, and allow small business owners to share their views and experiences directly with those who are making decisions on their behalf.
Who We’ve Heard From
FreshBooks has been deliberate in reaching across party lines and into the various sectors of the public service to engage with policymakers. After all, the objective is good policy for business owners, no matter where the idea originates.
We’ve been fortunate to engage with politicians and public servants across Canada, including:
- The Honourable Prabmeet Sarkaria, Ontario’s Minister for Small Business and Red Tape Reduction
- Rachel Bendayan, M.P. and Parliamentary Secretary to the Federal Minister of Small Business
- The Honourable Pierre Poilivere, P.C., M.P. for Carleton and Shadow Minister of Finance
- Mr. Charles Vincent, Assistant Deputy Minister, Small Business and Marketplace Services at Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada
- The Honourable Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario
- The Honourable Monte McNaughton, Ontario’s Minister of Labour, Training, and Skills Development
- The Honourable Marco Mendicino, P.C., M.P., Federal Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
As we head into the fall, we plan to have more exciting guests lined up to participate in future roundtables and we hope you’ll join in these discussions.
Our advocacy stretches beyond hosting forums for our community with policymakers. In 2021, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ontario government to share data and insights regarding small business recovery trends.
The MOU uses FreshBooks’ data to identify weaknesses and gaps in government programs for small businesses and entrepreneurs and supports impactful decisions and policies to fill those gaps.
Access to timely, quality data makes all the difference when it comes to making good decisions both in government and in business. We’re glad to be able to cast a lens on issues that affect small businesses and to share these insights to support small businesses.
In the lead-up to the Ontario election, we surveyed small business owners in Ontario to gauge their readiness to compete in an increasingly digital economy. Our analysis revealed that while some businesses have adopted a broad range of digital solutions, the large majority are lagging. Survey results showed that more than 80% of small business owners have an interest in some form of government aid to become more digital.
Ultimately, we found that most small businesses are interested in government support to help them remove digital barriers and advance business needs. Based on that feedback, we wrote to each major party leader in Ontario, advocating for policy and program responses to address these challenges.
Engaging with policymakers at all levels of government is something we at FreshBooks will continue doing for our community. If you are a small business owner or entrepreneur, we will continue to be your advocate on the issues that matter to you and your business. And you can count on us to push for policies that support small business owners.
To paraphrase former French President Charles De Gaulle: Public policy and politics are too important to be left to the politicians. That’s why we launched the Your Voice series. It’s more than just a roundtable, it’s our commitment to supporting your business in every way possible.
about the author
Levi is a professional engineer with a BEng from the University of Victoria. Before co-founding FreshBooks as the VP of Operations, Levi managed projects at Apex Systems Integrators Inc., where his clients included Canadian Tire, Nestlé, and Parmalat. Levi’s long term goals include: Never losing the contest to wear shorts to the office for as long as humanly possible, some day growing back his mullet he had in the '80s, and getting on the jumbotron at the Raptors game at least once a year.