Updated: Oct 28, 2020
Much like the devastation seen in long-term care facilities recently, the same can be seen throughout the Canadian economy. While COVID-19 has exposed the failures in these facilities, the problems were clearly in existence for a significant period of time beforehand. The same can be said for our economy.
With the Liberal Government announcing billions of new spending on a near daily basis, one would think that we are on track for a successful rebound. The recent announcement from Air Canada to lay off 20,000 employees (https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/air-canada-layoffs-1.5572596) indicates that the Cottage spending measures are not working.
Why aren't the Cottage handouts working?
Simply put, government spending does not replace the sheer drop in revenues that many industries have seen in the past couple of months. Additionally, there is little hope that revenues will improve in the near or even medium term. With wide spread fears around travel, shopping, and leaving the house in general, many businesses will simply not see the same customer traffic needed to generate revenue, much less a return to profitability.
What are we supposed to do?
It is abundantly clear that we won't see a return to "normal" until the general public has a renewed confidence in the health care system and its ability to treat COVID-19. With that said, a focus on rapid testing is the best short term solution available for boosting confidence. Much was said about the Spartan Cube until recent swab troubles brought this glimmer of hope to a grinding halt https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/the-trouble-with-covid-19-swabs-the-case-of-ottawas-spartan-bioscience/. The Liberal government's recent commitment of $850m to the WHO should have been directed toward Spartan Bioscience and other Canadian companies in an effort to improve quick testing capabilities and other home grown treatments. We need to right our own ship before we can send millions overseas.
Recovery Plan in Motion
Pierre Poilievre said it best recently, "Canada needs investment fueled production, not additional debt driven consumption" https://business.financialpost.com/opinion/want-real-stimulus-heres-20-billion-worth. Our nation has numerous shovel-ready projects in the final stages of regulatory approval that would not only create jobs in the short term, but more importantly, would create a larger tax base in the long term. This will be sorely needed if we are ever going to dig out of the massive COVID debt hole that we have accumulated in a few short months.
Beyond the creation of typical construction jobs seen in projects of this nature, these projects would enable additional industries to take part in the recovery process. Restaurants will not return to pre-COVID form in the near term and those not able to work in a traditional setting could provide mobile solutions to construction workers. Same could be said for health care professionals (physio, massage, etc.), along with personal care services and a number of other sectors.
With COVID quick testing in place, domestic travel confidence would improve. While this will never replace international travel revenues, airlines could generate some revenues from both business and pleasure travel within our own borders. Many provinces within Canada rely heavily on tourism and if we put a focus on supporting domestic travel, this could be a huge lift to many regions across the country https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/air-canada-predicts-flying-again-christmas-worldwide-1.5551402. Bringing these major projects online would also create additional opportunities for transportation of goods as well.
No one expects the Liberal Government to have a crystal ball that predicts the next 12 months but Canadians should expect their government to have a plan to move forward. Daily press conferences at Rideau Cottage are not sufficient, we need action beyond day-to-day announcements. Consultations with experts from industries hit the hardest would be most appropriate as these individuals will clearly have a better idea of how to save their industry than any government think tank ever could.
COVID-19 has had a major impact on our economy, now is the time that we must decide how to overcome it.