Canada has united against COVID-19. Why not harness this energy to build the economy of the future? – .

Canada has united against COVID-19. Why not harness this energy to build the economy of the future? – .

Chances are, readers’ familiarity with an organization called the Senate Prosperity Action Group is low. Or maybe we should make it non-existent.

However, in the post-electoral vacuum – the Prime Minister is taking his time to unveil his new cabinet – this Senate sub-group has landed a substantive report worthy of our attention, in particular because it gives voice to a caliber of discussion largely absent during this period. 36-day sprint at the polls.

Namely: what is the plan for a post-pandemic recovery? How does the government intend to deal with the headwinds of a global economy that the Senate group rightly defines as more competitive, increasingly disruptive and profoundly different?

The pandemic served as the trigger for the report, titled “Meeting the Challenge of New Global Realities”. It also served, interestingly, as a beacon of hope. “As senators,” they write, “we asked ourselves whether the spirit with which Canadians faced the novel coronavirus was something that could be harnessed to tackle another daunting challenge – in particular, d where Canada’s prosperity will come in a post-pandemic world. ”

The group is right. If Premiers, the Prime Minister and other political leaders can demonstrate an ability to work cooperatively to combat the COVID-19 crisis, could that same energy be harnessed in the pursuit of policies that benefit the nation? in general ?

After all, as the twelve senators point out, “we are still the country which assembled a national railway, brought back its Constitution with a Charter of Rights and Freedoms, participated fully in two world wars despite internal disagreements and turned skepticism. about free trade in a widely supported national policy.

We feel a wind of skepticism floating in the past, which will undoubtedly reach the force of a gale in some readers as we quote the Grand Alliance proposed by the report from government, business, civil society, communities and working groups in pursuit of a new era of cooperative federalism.

Too exaggerated? Too many wishful thinking?

We think not.

In the midst of a climate catastrophe and with an economy grappling with a transition to a dependence on natural resource extraction and the manufacturing of goods, the country has reached, as the authors indicate, a point of inflection.

Let us take up only one challenge: the executive order “Buy America” ​​of the American president Joe Biden. Is there any doubt that an America First policy will have a negative impact on the Canadian economy? There’s no. We are reminded here of the vulnerability triggered by being so heavily dependent on one country for the lion’s share of Canada’s exports.

Harnessing intellectual firepower across industries and provinces to increase export trade to markets outside of the United States not only makes sense, it is essential. Export trade to non-US markets simply needs to be deepened. The report suggests setting a non-US target of 35 percent of total export trade. This means an increase of more than five percentage points from two years ago.

There are many such goals in the work of senators. Placing GDP per capita in the top 10 OECD countries is one of them. Canada now sits 15th. Getting public spending on training up to the top 10 is another. Canada is now in 18th place, while Ireland is in 10th place.

Another goal is to triple the contribution of Aboriginal businesses to the Canadian economy to $ 100 billion per year. In addition to reducing interprovincial trade barriers and increasing investment in infrastructure, particularly in the areas of digital and commercial infrastructure.

Some will recognize the groundwork being done by organizations like the Industry Strategy Council and the Ontario360 project, which seeks to develop a new model of collaboration for policy development. Many will be pleased to see Senators support the development of a sustainable fiscal management plan, including the adoption of a fiscal anchor to guide fiscal discipline in Ottawa.

Tax reform is also on the agenda. As is the increase in research and development spending. Just like active labor market policies that complement skills development and education

That’s a lot for a 66-page report.

But the central argument is solid. The pandemic has reminded us of the ways to bring the country together. The dual objective of flexibility and cooperation is within our reach. If alliances can be forged in times of crisis, why not in pursuing policies that, as the group of sober thinkers suggests, will foster a more prosperous nation that will benefit all?


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