Canada needs to ‘build things and nurture talent’: PPF report

Canada’s future economy depends on increasing the supply of talent, housing, advanced technology, and other medium and long-term investments in prosperity, argues a new report from the Public Policy Forum. 

The report argues that a new era of shifting economic alliances and opportunities demands building strategic national advantages through greater co-ordination between the private and public sectors. The aim should be to create what has been termed “abundance,” while advancing economic growth on a sustainable foundation.  

“Building things and nurturing talent is about playing offence,” the report states. It “is about aiming to break out of scarcity and stagnation through a renewed commitment to building and production across the economy.”  

Sectors such as clean energy, agriculture, advanced manufacturing, and biomedicines will play a significant role in the new economy. Governments can signal and support growth in these areas while the private sector drives the development of new competitive products. 

Many of the sectors identified in the report are the focus of large and interdisciplinary research initiatives at the University of Toronto. Their potential to drive economic growth and prosperity was underlined in a recent report from the Government Relations Office. 

To advance a supply-side agenda in the long run, the report proposes the following policy ideas: 

Competition from other countries makes action on these pillars urgent. For example, the report argues, Canada’s early mover advantage in promising clean-tech technologies could be lost if investments made by the U.S. draw people, capital and companies to invest there rather than in Canada. 

Pointing out that new technologies need new skills, the report underlines that Canada’s high degree of postsecondary educational attainment hides low levels of advanced degree attainment.  

 In response, “Canada needs to create the most educated workforce in the world. … [In] a world in which those highly educated in sciences, technology, engineering, math (STEM) and commerce produce a disproportionate share of economic activity, our supplies are low.”  

In parallel, a revaluation of the production and protection of ideas is required to support the full deployment of a new generation of advanced talent.  

Realizing these vast ambitions will require consensus on creating a “new supply rebuild compact” that harnesses significant investments to a national vision of prosperity, the authors state.  

(The report was authored by Eward Greenspon, President and CEO of the PPF and Sean Speer, PPF Scotiabank Fellow in Strategic Competitiveness and assistant professor at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy). 

Read more about U of T’s contribution to new economic sectors: Building Competitiveness at the Frontiers of Science 

To learn more, read the full report: 

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