In the middle of a once-in-a-century pandemic, it is difficult for Canadians, our families, businesses and governments to look beyond confronting the immediate effects of COVID-19. However, even as Canadians continue supporting each other today, we must also begin looking over the horizon to the post-COVID-19 world to start planning how our country and economy can emerge stronger.
While no one can predict with any certainty the economic, political and cultural changes this crisis will have on Canada and the rest of the world, we know these changes will be significant. The high level of collaboration among governments, businesses and civil society managing this pandemic should give Canadians confidence about our collective ability to deal with the long-lasting changes it will bring.
Where we find ourselves is in a transitional phase where we will have to live with the virus in our midst, without any absolute guarantees, but managing the risks involved carefully and responsibly while increasing our economic and social activities.
Full recovery is a long way off, but recovery starts with resilience. The government’s response spared millions of Canadians from economic disaster. Measures like the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and the Canada Emergency Business Account have provided urgently needed assistance to Canadian workers and businesses, helping to ensure they will be there to propel our economic recovery.
As provinces and territories begin to reopen, Canada must prepare to transition away from a subsidy-based crisis response toward economic stimulus and getting Canadians back to work, while ensuring their health and safety. We will need to encourage private investment and business activities that will create jobs and generate the revenue needed to offset the extraordinarily high levels of public spending during the emergency.
Canada, and the world, have deep economic wounds that require a dedicated plan to make sure we get out of this crisis. Governments must be as agile and determined in pursuing economic growth as it has been in responding to the virus. Our response must rise to the measure of the challenge before it.
That’s why the Canadian Chamber of Commerce developed the Roadmap to Recovery, a substantive document that examines nine key challenges and identifies 51 specific recommendations governments should adopt to overcome them.
The Roadmap reflects the perspectives of Canada’s business community. It was developed in consultation with a vast network of over 450 chambers of commerce and boards of trade, and more than 100 of Canada’s leading business and industry associations.
The recovery starts with addressing the following challenges with decisiveness and urgency:
- Getting Canadians back to work
- Keeping supply chains and people moving
- Managing debt and deficits
- Navigating global fragmentation
- Adopting technology and innovation
- Ensuring a resilient resource sector
- Planning for SME business continuity
- Strengthening our public health infrastructure
- Rethinking government’s role and priorities
This will be no easy task. For Canada’s recovery plan to succeed, our policymakers will need a singular focus on economic fundamentals and on promoting growth. A growth-focused plan will unlock economic capacity, fuel job creation and promote new business investment. By working together, we can forge a path to recovery that is inclusive, environmentally responsible and innovative.
We must be bold and innovative, and avoid the temptation to seek comfortable solutions in an increasingly uncomfortable world. We need to start planning how our country and economy can emerge stronger.
Unexpected or not, COVID-19 is changing our world. We must put plans in place now to make sure we’ll like where that change leads.
Reprinted with permission from The Hill Times.
Dr. Trevin Stratton is the Chief Economist at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. He has held appointments as an International Scholar at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, as an E.C. Harwood Fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research, and as a lecturer in economics, politics, and international studies at the American University in Dubai. His research has been published by Routledge, cited in NATO’s Strategic Foresight Analysis, and taught at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.