Op-Eds

COVID-19 has put much of Canada’s economy on life support. As we emerge from the crisis and resume more normal activity, a challenge awaits. We do not want viable businesses to disappear. But we also do not want zombie firms to live on indefinitely. Early in the crisis, governments reasonably prioritized supporting households and businesses through central banks, government lenders and transfer payments. Going big and broad made sense to help us survive the sudden stop. We now need to navigate a different problem: letting firms go. In an ordinary year an amazing number of businesses in Canada appear and disappear. In 2017, 143,000 businesses came into existence — about one for every eight that already existed. That same year,...
The Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) was an early and critical element in the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. The government first announced the CERB in late March, promising $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who have lost their incomes as a result of the pandemic. In mid-April, it expanded eligibility to make the CERB available to people earning up to $1,000 per month and to workers whose EI benefits had run out. Widely praised for providing immediate income support and helping contain the coronavirus by reducing pressure on lower-income people to work, the CERB made sense in an emergency. With attention increasingly turning to reopening the economy, however, the CERB is becoming a problem...
My colleagues and I at the C.D. Howe Institute devote much of our daily attention to criticizing poorly conceived and ineptly implemented policy in Canada. As we should. That’s our job. And our governments keep us all too well supplied. On occasion, however, people outside Canada ask us about how Canada ranks as a place to live, work, invest, or locate a business. For me, those questions trigger a happy 180-degree turn. The professional nag steps back and the booster of Canada as one of the world’s most favoured nations takes over. As we welcome 2020 with some thoughts about things we in Canada do well, and should keep doing well, here are three ways we stand out. First on my list — first on so many people’s lists — is Canada’s...
Do your skills match the requirements of your job? For a large portion of Canadians, the answer is no, which raises serious concerns for policy-makers. While skills are essential for individual success in the labour market, they need to match properly with job requirements to enhance productivity and achieve desirable outcomes for workers, employers and society at large. Although some skills mismatch is inevitable or temporary, the problem can worsen and become persistent in the face of technological changes and aging demographics, requiring governments and businesses to place a high priority on improving labour mobility and providing appropriate training opportunities. Skills mismatch generally occurs when workers’ skills are...
Job quality and compensation are key determinants of living standards. Workers in non-standard jobs are particularly vulnerable as a growing number find themselves precariously employed. The government can protect this group by offering more equitable access to both employment insurance and job-training programs to better address income and employment insecurity. Traditionally, preferred jobs are stable, well-paid and full-time, with access to benefits. On the other hand, precarious employment often offers low pay and is relatively insecure and unstable. While employment precariousness can be found in many categories, several types of non-traditional employment are more likely to capture its features: temporary positions (including...