Five fearless forecasts for 2023

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What will next year bring in terms of the economy, Canadian politics, and international affairs? For the fourth straight year, Swift makes her predictions. Photo credit: Getty Images/Cole Burston 

 

For the fourth year running, I am going to once again try my hand at making some predictions about what is to come in 2023 on some of the issues bound to hit the headlines. 

  1. There are lots of dark clouds on the economic horizon, but I don’t think things are going to be as bad as some of the doomsayers would suggest. The main reason for this expectation is the labour market. The ongoing retirement of the baby boom generation and generally low fertility rates in Canada and in other developed countries have produced a very tight job market that will continue for some years to come. The economy will slow down in 2023, but because people are likely to remain employed while job market pressures loosen, consumer spending will not take a heavy hit as employment remains reasonably stable. Any recession that occurs this year will be mild and short-lived, but economic growth in Canada will be sluggish for years to come because of bad government policies discouraging investment and entrepreneurship. The Bank of Canada will raise interest rates one more time, making for a slight improvement in housing affordability in 2023 but putting many current mortgage holders in difficult financial straits. 
  2. The ongoing crisis in health care will worsen in 2023 as the aging population and record-high immigration continue to put pressure on the system while provincial and federal governments fight over jurisdictional issues and which solutions to implement. The good news in this situation is that Canadians are becoming much more receptive to the entry of more private health care providers within a universal system, which should have happened years ago. Even though Canada already is one of the highest spenders in the world on health care, with results that are mediocre at best, it is likely more spending will be needed in the short term before private sector providers can get up and running and alleviate some of the pressures that currently exist. Canadians will increasingly see the health care unions and other health care participants who oppose any change and defend the public sector health care monopoly as part of the problem preventing positive change. 
  3. Despite all the rumours, Canada will not have a federal election in 2023. The Trudeau Liberals will not see the favourable conditions needed to improve their electoral standing from their current minority position, and the NDP are not in good financial or electoral shape to want to pull the plug on the coalition agreement with the Liberals and trigger an election. Consequently, Canadians will become even more dissatisfied with the tired, scandal-plagued Liberal government and more likely to favour Pierre Poilievre’s Conservatives. Voter dissatisfaction will be worsened as more taxes are piled on by the Liberals to make cost of living pressures even worse.
  4. The blowback against the so-called “woke” leftist agenda and organizations promoting it such as the World Economic Forum and the UN will intensify in 2023. This involves everything from critical race theory and radical gender ideologies being incorporated into the public education system to the wide range of foolish policies pursued in the name of climate change to authoritarian governments implementing internet censorship and subsidized media parroting the government agenda in fear of losing their tax dollar bribes. Many average citizens will take a leadership role in pushing back against these trends as they see the damage they are doing to our children, families and society. 
  5. The global geopolitical climate will remain unstable with no end in sight to the Russian attack on Ukraine and a fresh Russian offensive likely in the spring. China’s ongoing sabre-rattling with its neighbours and Western democracies will continue with Chinese President Xi Jinping beginning a new term as leader. China’s economy will continue to weaken as a surge in Covid infections proves the failure of the zero-Covid policy, internal dissent is buoyed by record high youth unemployment and the collapse in real estate, and other countries reduce their economic relationships with China. The US will provide unlimited political theatre in the run-up to the election year in 2024, with a major showdown in the Republican Party between Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis, with DeSantis prevailing. 

Some people say that a pessimist is just an optimist with experience. There surely is enough pessimism to go around right now, with much talk about the notion that current generations will not enjoy the same income or advantages as their parents and that the democratic Western world has its best times behind it. Yet every era has its Luddites predicting disaster wherever they look. 

It’s always helpful to look at decades past to see what was put forward to scare everyone then. Back in the 1970s, it’s hard to believe now but the climate disaster that was threatened was the coming ice age. In the 1980s the disappearance of the ozone layer was going to be deadly for mankind. In the 1990s, technological change was going to leave vast swaths of the population jobless, culminating in the forecast disaster of Y2K. More recently a warming climate is the latest scare that is motivating governments to frighten everyone into complying with damaging policies that hurt average people and the developed economies while the biggest polluters continue their harmful practices. 

It is always helpful to remember that none of these apocalyptic expectations came to pass and often human ingenuity solved problems before they became untenable. Although it is true there are a number of worrisome developments on the horizon, things usually turn out better than expected and there is no reason to think that will not happen in the coming years too. Hopefully 2023 will follow suit. 

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