As published by La Presse – translated from French.

Hélène Baril, La Presse – June 5, 2019

Everything is not as good as it looks in Canada, warn the leaders of major Canadian companies, who are preparing a roadmap so that the next federal government can act immediately to improve the situation.

In an open letter to the leaders of all federal parties as they prepare for the coming election campaign, the Business Council of Canada emphasizes that while many other countries are working hard to build a better future, Canada appears complacent.

“Too often Canada seems to be satisfied with the status quo,” write the leaders, who have formed a task force to propose ways to improve the future.

One of the co-chairs of this task force, National Bank President Louis Vachon, points out that their intention is not to be alarmist, but realistic.

“We are not thinking just about the next 18 months, but about the next three, five or 10 years.”

Although GDP growth continues, and the unemployment rate is at an all-time low, the Canadian economy is still showing troubling signs. In particular, the aging of the population and low productivity are likely to weigh on growth in the coming years.

“I can cite many examples of Canadian companies that have expansion plans in the United States, not only because of trade tensions but because they cannot find the workers they need in Canada,” says Louis Vachon.

Labour shortages are one of the factors that business leaders consider strategic for Canada’s future, along with energy, infrastructure, taxation, regulation and innovation.

Three roundtables will be held in the coming months in Montreal, Toronto and Calgary to gather ideas and solutions to the challenges facing Canadians. “We don’t just want to present our own recommendations to the next government. We want to reflect the views of as many people as possible,” says the President of the National Bank.

A summary of these discussions will be published before the start of the election campaign, and final recommendations will be presented to the next government.

Excessive partisanship is also a source of concern for the Business Council of Canada. “We are addressing all political parties, and we want to ensure that social dialogue is maintained,” Louis Vachon concludes. “And we are ready to commit ourselves as we have done in the past.”

The Business Council of Canada represents the leaders of large companies that employ some 1.7 million people in Canada. Its members include the top executives of Teck Resources, Dupont Canada, CAE and Air Canada.