The COVID-19 pandemic curve is starting to flatten and Canada needs a plan to restart the economy
On April 6th the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Government of Canada launched the Canadian Business Resilience Network (CBRN) to help the business community prepare, persevere and, ultimately, prosper in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This network is a coordinated, business-led, inclusive campaign that has focused on providing businesses with the tools they need to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on them, our economy and communities across the country. Its goal is also to help businesses emerge from this crisis and drive Canada’s economic recovery.
We are now seeing the COVID-19 pandemic curve flatten; provinces and territories are allowing businesses to reopen, and Canada needs a plan to restart the economy.
The shutdowns to protect public health showed the complexity of the supply chains that keep our economy going. The gradual re-starting of our economy is equally complex and will require lead-in time for businesses to prepare. This includes understanding what public health rules will be in place and what businesses can expect. Getting the re-opening right will ultimately lay the ground for a sustainable recovery.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has identified five key areas that need to be part of the country’s strategy to reopen the economy quickly and safely.
The crisis has shown the best policy is made when it widely draws upon the advice of civil society, including businesses both large and small across sectors. The conversations need to start now in a structured manner to ensure that governments at all levels are receiving the best possible advice to minimize unintended consequences.
International best practices
Industrialized economies around the world are beginning the domestic processes to restart their economy. We should use this opportunity to learn from what is working and what is not working in other comparable jurisdictions.
Both in good times, and through the pandemic, we have seen the perils of misalignment between provinces and territories. Companies that operate across provincial and territorial boundaries need to have clarity and consistency to minimize confusion and ensure as seamless a reboot as possible. Companies also need to have clarity on public health rules as well as access to PPEs to meet those public health guidelines.
Government financial assistance
Temporary financial support programs have been crucial to help some companies stay afloat through the pandemic. However, there is also a need to ensure sustainable public finances. What are the conditions that should guide how the already announced financial support programs are successfully concluded?
As a country dependent on the movement of goods and services to support the economy, it is crucial for Canada to stay plugged into the global economy. Border closures rolled out in response to COVID-19 have been justified to protect public health, but will be gradually rolled back. Companies will need certainty and lead-in time to fully re-engage with the global economy as these measures are lifted.