Enhancing Canada’s Business Environment

When: Tuesday, May 19, 2015 - 16:00 - 19:00

Where: Ottawa

The Public Policy Forum convened a policy debate on Enhancing Canada’s Business Environment on May 19th in Ottawa. Through the insights of members of our panel - - Jean-René Halde, Senia Rapisarda, Anthony Williams, and Daniel Muzyka - - some light was shed on Canada's key economic challenges and actions that are needed to address them. Participants agreed that enhancing Canada’s global competitiveness will require bold action in two key areas:

  • Developing a clear economic vision for Canada: All stakeholders – governments, financial institutions, investors and money managers – share responsibility for defining a vision for how Canada can succeed as a knowledge-based economy. The present attitude of ‘good enough’, although sustained by the natural resource sector, will not transform Canada into a world leader in global competitiveness. With limited resources and a relatively small workforce, Canadian leaders must make hard decisions on where to invest. Reassessing entrenched practices, such as prioritizing fairness and equality over competition, may also be necessary.  A clear economic vision for Canada could help overcome these issues by providing a framework identifying goals and resources that will be necessary for success. The vision should also include a plan to develop better data and management tools that are essential for measuring outcomes.
  • Fostering support for young innovators: Canada's labour market is rapidly changing. Artificial intelligence, robotics and information and communication technologies offer new opportunities to conduct business effectively and efficiently. Yet they are also displacing Canadian workers from the workforce, particularly those who are young and unskilled. In this new, more dynamic environment, governments, academic institutions, and employers need to think differently about how they can equip the next generation of Canadians to succeed. For example, schools should consider reframing attitudes towards risk, reward and failure in order to encourage more experimentation. Providing more young Canadians with access to international internships and cooperative placements could help foster innovative business approaches and attitudes. Moreover, innovation councils should be established to help entrepreneurs better identify funding and mentorship opportunities. The present path for entrepreneurs can be complicated; there is an opportunity to streamline supports to ease transitions from one phase to the next.

Over the course of the discussion, participants also agreed on two essential principles: Success should be more widely celebrated; and failure seen as an understandable and acceptable setback on the path to achievement.

At this special event, we also had an opportunity to pay tribute to Jean-René Halde, who is leaving his position as President as CEO of BDC Canada after 10 years of remarkable leadership. BDC Board Chair, Samuel Duboc, and Industry Canada’s Associate Deputy Minister, Kelly Gillis, offered warm words of appreciation to Jean-René.