Canadians everywhere want to get past the pandemic and know what comes next. While they can expect many government announcements, what we really need has been missing so far. Conspicuously absent to date is a serious, sustainable, and bold plan to grow our economy, despite the fact the economy is concern number one for Canadians.
The need for strong, sustained economic growth is now beyond debate. Canada’s credit cards have been maxed with pandemic debt, and the cost of addressing inflation, climate change, and confronting other urgent issues will only increase for everyday Canadians and businesses. Moving forward, we cannot borrow our way to prosperity, nor can we afford to confuse government spending with actual economic growth.
Our political leaders cannot, and should not, want to go back to where we were before COVID when Canada lagged our competitors in investment and growth. Compared with other leading economies, Canada’s pre-COVID economic growth performance was weak and getting weaker.
Canada’s international competitors are working to improve their performance and create good jobs for their citizens. To succeed in the face of fierce competition, Canada must generate sustained business investment, jobs and growth here — not just in the short term, but for many years. All of our other goals for Canadian society depend on our ability to sustain a growing economy.
The Canadian Chamber is focusing on the critical issue of generating long-term, private sector-led, sustainable economic growth. However, in the current environment this needs to be achieved without further straining public finances. The What It Takes to Grow campaign focuses on non-spending measures that facilitate real economic growth, such as regulatory competitiveness, trade, workforce, and innovation policy.
This is what it takes to grow.
The Advisory Council
After years of sacrifice, Canadians are seeing the benefits of their efforts to stop COVID-19. The final chapter of the book of COVID is yet to be written, but we can now look beyond the pandemic to plan for our future.
As we do, each Canadian must ask important questions about the priorities for our government. How can we put the economic damage of COVID behind us? How can we overcome Canada’s longstanding economic challenges? And how do we create 21st century opportunities for Canadians? In other words, are our elected representatives proposing to do what it will take to grow the Canadian economy?
The choices are critical. They will not only determine how quickly we can resume more normal lives, but also whether future generations will enjoy more opportunities.
The What It Takes to Grow campaign Advisory Council is comprised of businesses representing diverse interests, backgrounds, sectors, and geography. Providing insights and expertise to guide the focus areas of the campaign, the Council supports broad-based policies that will help generate growth for the Canadian business community writ large.
The challenges Canada faces are large and urgent. They will require both strong leadership and a sustained commitment by all of us, but our history shows that when we a clear plan and we’re willing to work together, Canadians can overcome any obstacles in their way.
Key areas of focus
To support economic growth across Canada – without further straining federal finances – the Canadian Chamber of Commerce recommends the Government of Canada consider prioritizing the following the areas:
Filling Canada’s labour market gaps
- Enhancements to the Temporary Foreign Workers program to fill labour shortages.
- Improvements to enable better upskilling and reskilling that meets labour market needs.
- Improve interprovincial and foreign credential recognition practices.
- Expedite the process to recognize the skills credentials of new immigrants.
- Play a leadership role in harmonizing provincial Express Entry processes.
Making Canada a better place to do business
- Reduce or remove exceptions in the Canada Free Trade Agreement to enhance internal trade.
- Developing energy and trade corridors with streamlined regulatory approval processes to help simplify the approval process for energy transportation infrastructure.
- Aligning Canada-US sustainable finance standards to enhance access to capital.
- Establish harmonized regulations both across Canada and internationally, including pricing modification (i.e. fee) standards.
- Require all regulators to assess and consider economic and business impacts of proposed regulations.
Helping Canadian businesses succeed in the future
- Modernize privacy legislation to enable businesses to operate more seamlessly across the country as well as ensure a continued ability to do business in Europe by remaining aligned with GDPR.
- Better support commercialization of new tech products by modernizing existing Research and Development programs to encourage companies to undertake higher risk research and to support upsizing.
- Ensure Canada’s cybersecurity approach is truly a national one and not only limited to federal IT systems and infrastructure – to ensure robust intellectual property (IP) protection of innovative products and solutions from bad actors, and thereby create greater safety for Canada’s innovators.
- Update the federal government’s approach to critical infrastructure to include vital digital services and systems, ensuring connectivity for Canadians at all times.
- Ensure Canadians’ access to digital infrastructure (e.g. rural broadband) continues to be prioritized.
Creating opportunity by being a safe and reliable partner
- Reducing regulatory barriers between the U.S. and Canada by renewing work under the Regulatory Cooperation Council.
- Increase Canadian agriculture exports to displace lost European production due to conflict, as well as to displace other less environmentally sustainable production markets.
- Encourage the development and export of Canadian energy and critical minerals to support our allies, lower global emissions, and create opportunity for Canadians.
- Develop a government corridors strategy (Pacific/Atlantic/Arctic) to address supply chain concerns and help make Canada a reliable business partner.