Georgina Black didn’t take long to get to the reasons why we need to act now to get the Winnipeg and Canadian economy back on track and thriving. As Managing Partner, Government & Public Services for Deloitte Canada she was the recent guest speaker at YES! Winnipeg’s Virtual Investor breakfast. What she had to say was insightful and eye-opening.
“Deloitte has been ringing the alarm bell on Canada’s sluggish productivity and growth for a number of years. We are not going in the right direction and the way Deloitte frames this up we are stuck in neutral at 1.7 per cent growth. The case for change is clear. This is a call to action for our country,” Black said noting Canada’s growth was disappointing even before the pandemic hit.
Deloitte’s report Catalyst: A vision for a thriving Canada in 2030 lays out two scenarios; stay stuck in neutral and GDP per capita will remain at $66,800 or go into thrive mode to reach a GDP per capita of $71,000 by 2030.
Black defined three areas of opportunities Canada needs to focus on to put it in a ‘thrive’ scenario; people, industry and societal systems.
How Winnipeg and Manitoba are doing in these areas of opportunity:
Deloitte says we need to boost labour market participation among, women, Indigenous people, and under-represented minority or marginalized groups. It could mean as many as 1.7 million people could participate in the workforce and contribute to Canada and Winnipeg’s GDP.
“We commend Manitoba for the work you are doing to reduce labour market barriers for Indigenous population. I would really like to see Manitoba be the leader in Canada so the rest of the country can learn from you.”
Deloitte says we need to create the right conditions for globally competitive and innovative companies.
Accelerating investment in digital and physical infrastructure
“Congratulations to you, the province is investing $1B in broadband and communications infrastructure. But, my challenge to you is; are you moving quickly enough? If this takes five to 10 years, we will have lost a generation of students, missing out on the opportunity to participate in the workforce and society.”
Investing in sectors of the future
“It’s great to see in Manitoba, as part of your plan, you have already thought of your sectors of the future. They align very nicely with the winners we suggest; Agriculture (including food, sciences and technology), life sciences, technology, clean energy and modern manufacturing.”
Improving the commercialization of innovation
“Clearly, it’s important to you in Manitoba. You have a great partnership with the University. We in Canada have so much work to do on how we capture and manage Intellectual Property (IP) and how we go quickly from research to profit and the need to be much more sophisticated in our commercialization skills.”
Societal systems: (Canadian context)
Strengthening systems that support social programs, workers and the environment
- Build a much more flexible social safety net - Deloitte says this effort should be tied to a labour market activation strategy. It suggested Employment Insurance (EI) be expanded to cover a growing group of workers including the self-employed, contract workers and gig economy workers.
- Close the health data gap - There is a need to use better data to inform health intervention policies and strategies to anticipate future health issues like pandemics.
- Develop a national strategy for seniors and aging - Deloitte suggests shifting our focus from the institutionalization of seniors to thinking about making Canada a great place to grow old. How do we change our funding models and policies so that we can focus on health and wellness so seniors can contribute more to our economy? How do we create supports to allow them to age in place and choose where they want to do that?
- Create a roadmap for decarbonization - Deloitte says Canada must embrace, accelerate and support the transition to using technology to reduce the carbon footprint of current energy production, as well as to lower-carbon sources.
Black says she was encouraged to see the strategies outlined in the Province of Manitoba throne speech and initiatives by YES! Winnipeg including business development, foreign direct investment, talent attraction and pushing for more capital investment.
“I found myself, saying yes, yes, yes because of the strategies you have, have put Winnipeg and Manitoba onto a prosperous path.”
But in closing her keynote, she also reminded those in attendance that to create the prosperous vision imagined for 2030, it will take dedicated and consistent collaboration between organizations such as YES! Winnipeg, governments, businesses and the community to make it a reality.
“There were a lot of insights in Deloitte’s Catalyst report that stood out to me including the opportunity to look at untapped talent pools to make sure our companies have the talent they need today and tomorrow. We also need to keep working with our strategic partners to push for more access to capital for our new and existing companies that want to expand and grow here,” said Dayna Spring, President & CEO, Economic Development Winnipeg.
Adding that, “Another line in this report that really resonated with me, and I’m sure others, is the acknowledgment that while everything is still so unpredictable, ‘We must set our sights on the big picture—face up to the challenges, not turn away.’”
Challenges that we need to face now for a stronger Winnipeg in the future.