Chamber of Commerce

Chamber of Commerce, a nonprofit organization of business people and corporations established to promote economic development and collectively represent their concerns to government on public policy. Chambers of commerce, or boards of trade as they are sometimes known, operate at all 3 levels of government - community, provincial and national. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce (established 1929) is a member of the International Chamber of Commerce.

The first chamber in North America was founded in Halifax in 1750. Today, there are 500 local chambers of commerce or boards of trade in about 600 communities across Canada, with about 170 000 individual and corporate memberships. The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Toronto, with about 10 000 members, is the largest in Canada.

Community chambers or boards exist principally to promote industrial development or other economic activities such as tourism or resource development, although the larger chambers also conduct salary and other economic surveys for their members. There are 7 provincial chambers of commerce in Canada that date to the early part of this century. The local chambers of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI and Newfoundland are organized in one body, the Atlantic Provinces Chamber of Commerce. There are also loosely assembled associations in the Yukon and the Northwest Territories.

The Canadian chamber's head office was located in Montréal until 1982, when it was moved to Ottawa; it has a full-time president and elected chairman. The chamber has offices in Toronto and Montréal, as well as Ottawa, and has a full-time staff of about 50. In addition to corporate and community chambers, its membership includes about 90 trade associations. All provincial chamber presidents are on the board of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.