The COVID-19 pandemic has focussed attention on Canada’s preparedness for the next pandemic, especially in terms of vaccine development and self-sufficiency. As we faced disruptions in the supply of COVID vaccines from other countries, many politicians, academics and pundits called for a public agency that would be charged with pandemic vaccine production and possibly vaccine development, as well.

Advocates for a new public vaccine agency cite the historic example of Connaught Labs, which was founded in 1914 at the University of Toronto. Over the years, Connaught made advances in the development and manufacture of vaccines for diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, smallpox and polio, among others. In 1972, the federal government…

Surging inflation over the past year has Canadians on edge. The erosion of purchasing power we notice every time we visit the store or pay a bill is unsettling for everyone and frightening for many. Higher interest rates, as lenders and the Bank of Canada react to inflation, will slow borrowing and spending, and have already sparked talk of a recession. As if that’s not bad enough, experience suggests higher inflation may cause another problem: strikes and lockouts that will be harmful enough on their own but will also worsen the production and supply-chain problems that have contributed to inflation in the first place.

Work stoppages are one of the dismal consequences of inflation that has been largely out of mind since the Bank…

Periods when inflation is low and few people are paying attention to central banking are happy times.

In Canada, these are not happy times. Inflation is high and the Bank of Canada is under scrutiny. Unhappiness will increase as the bank increases its policy interest rate to get inflation back to its 2-per-cent target, because tighter monetary policy will pinch consumers and businesses before it reduces inflation.

That poses risks – notably that politics will interfere with monetary policy. Since politicians don’t like monetary-policy pinches, interference could result in inflation staying higher for longer. Odd as it may seem when the Bank of Canada has already let inflation get so far above target, continuing to protect…