By any measure Canada occupies an enviable position in the world today.
Our reputation is admirable. We are seen as an advanced, progressive and welcoming country – a safe and stable nation with a diverse population and workforce.
Our people are well-educated. We have the highest proportion of college and university graduates in the G7. The number of young people pursuing education in the STEM disciplines is rising faster than in other university programs.
Our natural resources are in demand. Canada is the world’s fourth-largest oil producer – and holds the third-largest proven oil reserves on the planet. We have 10% of the world’s forests. Other countries buy our gold, iron ore, potash, wheat, hydroelectricity and more.
We can’t afford to be reactive – and hope for the best. To build Canada for the future – to ensure we grow and remain competitive – we need to think ambitiously and nationally.”
And our economy is strong. Unemployment is low. Businesses continue to invest in new hires. Despite a bump in the road toward the end of the year, Canada’s economy expanded by a reasonably healthy 1.8 per cent in 2018.
All in all, we can be proud of where we stand today. But that does not mean we should be satisfied. We are capable of more.
While we have a strong foundation and the resources to build for tomorrow, our success is not guaranteed in a world that is changing at an unprecedented pace. Geopolitical trends have shifted significantly in recent years. Protectionism has re-emerged and trade disputes have become more common. Emerging economies are exerting more influence globally. They are driving demand for goods and services – but they are also competing with more established nations.
In this environment, the cost of missed opportunities is high. We can’t afford to be reactive and hope for the best. To build Canada for the future – to ensure we grow and remain competitive – we need to think ambitiously and nationally.
We must show the initiative and the ingenuity required to ensure that Canada remains a leader in growth and opportunity. We need to focus on what’s now – and what’s next.
That means making the most of our natural resources today, while doing more to prepare ourselves and our country to thrive in an age of advanced technology and artificial intelligence.
It means building intellectual capital – bringing more skilled immigrants to Canada to address our current labour shortages – and better educating our people to meet the skills demands of tomorrow. It means attracting financial capital to firms that are Canadian and want to stay that way. And it means putting commerce into our world diplomacy.
Above all else, it means relying on each other across boundaries – both real and perceived – to further our national agenda. To realize our opportunity, we must come together as one nation, thinking big and showing that we are ready to be leaders in the global economy of tomorrow.
Engaging Canadians | 2018/2019 Annual Report
FROM A SPEECH AT THE PUBLIC POLICY FORUM, APRIL 11, 2019
Victor Dodig, President and Chief Executive Officer, CIBC