Stuart Harrison and I had the opportunity to get a 360 degree look at Canada’s economy recently. The 360 Summit was hosted by our national counterpart the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and featured an all-star line-up of speakers in touch with the heartbeat of the economy.
The day started off with five CEOs sitting on the stage talking about competitiveness and regulation, which was enlightening.
“Declining economic competitiveness in Canada should create the same gasp and concern just as if Canada went to an international hockey tournament and didn’t win a medal,” Mark Little, CEO Suncor. It wasn’t a jab at one of Canada’s national sports, but a way to create a connection to the economy for all Canadians. It matters that the country is competitive in business and the economy, not 14th place.
“Canada is fairly well positioned, but we continue to need skilled people to drive competitiveness,” Jad Shimaly of Ernst & Young. “How do we feed that funnel? We need to continue to foster innovation and generate Canadian owned intellectual property.”
Michael Doughty, CEO, Manulife. “We’re not an insurance company competing against other
insurance companies, we are competing against the companies who have a better, more effective, seamless experience for customers. We can’t fall behind in the digital transformation and skilled workforce and we need infrastructure that is world class in the physical and digital”
“There has to be a willingness of government to work with us. That’s what’s made the difference,” Heather Chalmers, President & CEO, GE. “Business must also be thoughtful in their approach of government.”
When it comes to regulatory environment, over the last 10-15 years Canada has dropped from 4th to 22nd on the list of developed countries and ease of doing business. “Canada needs a comprehensive review of the tax system. The last time one was completed none of the current federal party leaders
had been born.” Jad Shimaly, Ernst & Young
“Energy projects take about 10 years to get shovels in the ground. However, the pace of technology means the project submitted originally is modified and the process slows even further,” Mark Little, Suncor. “We’re not looking for cash; we’re looking for a yes.”
“Regulation existed before the internet and yet there has not been much change to allow for the environment the internet created.” Phillip Jette, Cogeco. “We have done more investment in the US because of the regulatory burden in Canada.”
“We are not risk averse; we are looking for regulation that supports our growth,” Jette, Cogeco.
The session wrapped up with agreement on the main challenges nationally:
The group then heard from VP and Deputy Chief Economist at RBC Dawn Desjardins who left us with a few key points.
The morning wrapped up with a discussion about Canada in the global economy. The panel encouraged Canadian businesses to export their services and knowledge as much as products and that businesses need access to markets and help with the cost of risk which is where Export Development Canada can help.
The panel also noted the following:
Learn more about the Canada 360 event at chamber.ca