"Instead of borrowing on the backs of future generations, we need to grow on the backs of all Canadians."
Canada's best days are behind us.
Our economy is running on empty, and the fuels that used to power it, pumping oil, hewing wood and a cheap currency have all lost their octane. Mounting debt, unemployment, and consumer uncertainty are pouring cement on our psychology and future. The average Canadian, who isn't part of the Public Services is feeling exposed. They are standing on shifting sand and deeply worried about their jobs and their ability to retire with dignity.
The social network that we have spun is unravelling. Our appetite for entitlements is increasing at a time when jobs, plants and our tax base are fleeing. We are paying for our standard of living through debt and increased taxes and fees.
Growth Is The Only Answer.
Instead of borrowing on the backs of future generations, we need to grow on the backs of all Canadians. We need to grow our economy, jobs, productivity and tax base. We need to become more competitive, but we are heading in the wrong direction. The highly respected International Economic Foundation, which measures a range of criteria to determine a countries competitiveness, ranks Canada 15th in the world.
The most startling statistic is that six countries have passed us in the past five years.
Across all of the criteria that matter most to our ability to compete, Canada isn't in the top ten. We spend a fortune on schools yet on higher education we rank (R18). We failed to crack the lineup for innovation (R22), infrastructure (R15), institutions (R14), macroeconomic development (R51), and market efficiency (R14), Technological Readiness (R22), or Business Sophistication (R23). We manage a top ten with Health and Primary Education (R7), Labour Market Efficiency (R7), Financial Market Developments (R8).
When you compare Canadian workers to our cousins south of the border, we generate much less value for every hour that we work. Our productivity growth has been stagnant for a very long time. Our shortfall with the USA has tripled in the past 30 years and is now approaching $10,000 per worker per year. The difference is meaningful. Even with our cheap dollar and free healthcare, we have hampered our ability to attract the investment we need to create jobs.
It will take courage, will, and Political Leadership to reinvent, reimagine and revitalize our economy at a time when global headwinds are punishing economies around the world. Many countries are in fiscal crisis; negative interest rates have moved from an anomaly to an agenda item, technology is replacing jobs and creating permanent and structurally high unemployment.
Here is My 4 Point Plan for Canada
1. Change the Political Mindset. Rhetoric can no longer bury reality
We can no longer squander billions of our hard-earned tax dollars on mismanagement, misconceptions, and pandering for partisan votes. The Public Sector must be transparent, accountable and competitive. We need more of our dollars to go into the economy versus bureaucracy. We only have to look to Ontario to see what reckless spending and a lack of accountability have done. This Province is in a race to zero without an airbag. In this low-interest market, Ontario is now paying $1 billion dollars a month to service their crippling 300 billion dollars of debt. Has any Ontarian outside of the Public Service benefited? Each year the Auditor General has issued a scathing report - yet no one has been made accountable?
2. Canada needs to be in the Top Ten
We need to climb the competitive ranks to grow our exports, attract foreign and local investment, create meaningful jobs and revenue to support our standard of living and our ageing population. We need to use the data from the International Economic Foundation to create benchmarks, goals and actionable planning. The Public, Private and Academic sectors must be aligned to realize our goals and we must deliver on time and on budget. Those that stand in our way must get out of the way.
3. Canada must leverage our cheap currency to build exports
Car plants and factories aren't coming back. We must turn our attention to exporting a Service and Creative Economy and make agriculture a priority in this country. We have the landmass, water, and a warming climate to feed an increasingly hungry planet. We are losing out to Brazil, Russia, and Ethiopia. Immigration must march in step to our requirements.
4. We must take all taxpayers off the hook for the Public Service Pension Shortfall
Public Service pension shortfalls currently stand at $170 billion dollars. This number will explode as investment yields fall and more Public Service Workers retire with a guaranteed income, health and survivor benefits, and protection from inflation. We can't have one segment of the population live with full security and expect those who live with insecurity to pay for it. Civil unrest or worse a war between the haves and the have nots will occur if this is left unchecked.
We Must Act
We can not survive another decade of borrowing versus growing. I hope that our Prime Minister, who has the attention of the world, and the support of his citizens, will take full advantage of his influence to course correct from previous regimes.
I hope he will value every tax dollar that is earned, and every dollar we borrow, as a precious and scarce resource. I hope he will invest in a sustainable future so that we can keep Canada strong and free.
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