Op-Eds

Along with much of the world, Canada’s economy has suffered from the COVID-19 pandemic and other events in 2020, notably the shock to global oil markets. How badly? An examination of the immediate data and longer trends indicates significant damage, with a lengthy recovery period ahead. Let’s start with labour markets, where there are signs of recovery but also growing evidence of damage. The unemployment rate exploded to nearly 14 per cent from 6 per cent during the shutdown from March to May. The rate has dropped steadily since as many displaced workers have been re-engaged, but the second pandemic wave and renewed shutdowns in many provinces have meant more job losses. Employment fell by 63,000 in December, and the...
Of all the COVID-inspired clichés of 2020, “we can’t go back to how we were before” gets my vote for most trying. Taken literally, it is empty. We can’t undo the deaths, restore students’ lost instruction, give young people the first jobs they didn’t get, erase the huge debts, enjoy the travel and human contact that didn’t happen. No, we can’t go back to 2019 — which is too bad. Taken as an exhortation — “we shouldn’t go back to how we were before” — it is too often a prelude to magical thinking, a great leap to some environmental, economic or political nirvana previously out of reach. That is silly. A sick person who was never an athlete can dream of completing a triathlon. But their first task is to recover. In the same way, post-...
Since the previous recession in 2008-09, the so-called gig economy and platform work have been growing globally and in Canada. The growth is mainly due to technological and economic changes and the desire for greater flexibility by workers and employers. However, the legal employment framework remains outdated. The COVID-19 crisis has a strong potential to exacerbate the trend by shifting more working-age Canadians into temporary or contracted employment, rather than traditional stable and permanent employment. There is still limited consensus on what the gig economy is, how to classify gig workers and, consequently, how to address concerns about protections for gig workers. There are three approaches to defining the...
In the years leading up to the pandemic, Canada’s place on the world stage was fading. We told ourselves we were a special nation – the country that works in a world that does not. And domestically, we were indeed always stable, mostly prosperous and sometimes even cool. But to the rest of the world, what value did Canada bring? We struggled to attract foreign investment, and foreign buyers for our goods. In peacekeeping, we were a shadow of our former selves. In sports, we claimed the podium less often than we hoped. And in science, our victories often proved episodic. In June, when we lost the vote for a Security Council seat at the United Nations, the rebuke was a shock only to Canadians who didn’t fully appreciate that our...
Governments across Canada are still coming to grips with the COVID-19 pandemic, but looking toward recovery all the same. For Alberta, this is a uniquely challenging endeavour. Oil prices remain low, and may stay there for some time. But there are options, and one stands out: making it easier for skilled individuals to move in. Ensuring Alberta is as open as possible to the best talent from across Canada and abroad to exercise their profession, ply their trade or conduct their business can help boost the province’s economy. Not all moves make sense, but there are artificial regulatory barriers currently deterring some potential migrants from helping build Alberta’s economy. Those should be lifted. It may seem strange, at a time of...