Task force unveils national COVID-19 recovery plan

Journal of Commerce | DCN-JOC News Services | August 25, 2020

VANCOUVER — The national Task Force for Real Jobs, Real Recovery has released a new report charting its plans for the post-pandemic economic recovery.

The group, which represents over a quarter of a million businesses and over three million workers across Canada, announced the release of Securing Canada’s Economic Future: Natural resources for real jobs and real recovery.

The task force noted its economic modelling indicates that with the right conditions, natural resources and manufacturing could generate up to 2.6 million new jobs and up to a 17 per cent increase in real GDP. They estimate this could increase potential labour earnings by almost $200 billion and continue the country’s move towards low-carbon energy solutions.

“We need economic solutions that punch above their weight. It’s the only way to address the significant fallout to our economy caused by COVID-19,” said Stewart Muir, executive director of Resource Works. “Projections are for our economy to shrink from six to even seven per cent if we see a second wave in 2020. The good news is that the resource sector can be our engine of growth, while we continue to take meaningful climate action.” 

According to the group, the first quarter of 2019 saw resource industries directly contribute $236 billion to the nation’s GDP which amounts to 11.3 per cent of the Canadian economy. Resource industries have the highest paid workers on average, which they expect will generate demand for goods and services. This in turn could boost struggling sectors like retail and restaurants.

The task force also believes the resource sector is crucial to achieve economic reconciliation with Indigenous communities.

According to the group, Indigenous-owned businesses are 40 times more likely to be involved in the mining and oil and gas sectors than other businesses. The resource sector also employs double the Indigenous people of other sectors and also pays much higher wages.

“The reality is that the resource sector is foundational to Indigenous people’s success,” said Karen Ogen-Toews, a councillor with the Wet’suwet’en First Nation and CEO of the First Nations LNG Alliance. “It helps to provide jobs for people in their communities, provide family-supporting wages and empower our nations increasingly as co-managers. If we are going to come back from the COVID-19 pandemic, we need these opportunities.”

The group’s report makes 19 recommendations to create resource sector opportunities that could give the Canadian economy a much-needed economic boost in the short-term and set it up for success in the long term.

The report argues that global and trade competitiveness will be core determinants of the success of the economic recovery. It also determines that a status quo approach to economic recovery would neglect opportunities to generate significant, sustained and shared benefits for Canadians. 

“Collaborative and ambitious leadership by the federal government, with alignment across all levels of government, stands to unleash the full potential of natural resource industries,” said Muir. “We are hopeful that the federal government will review these recommendations with us and begin implementing them as fast as possible. We simply have no time to waste.”

Some of the recommendations include:

  • Mobilizing resource prosperity by leveraging Canada’s industries; advancing regulatory efficiency; attracting capital investment; enhancing critical infrastructure; ensuring access to resource lands; and maximizing Indigenous economic participation.
  • Building meaningful employment by ensuring job creation; building employment resiliency; advancing Indigenous employment; and enhancing skilled workforce mobility.
  • Accelerating innovation and environmental competitiveness by aligning climate action and natural resource development; driving challenge-oriented innovation; advancing emissions reduction technologies and plastics innovation; supporting advancements in sustainable forestry and mining; and developing hydrogen and small modular nuclear reactor industries.

The task force plans to give its report and recommendations to the federal government, including the Industry Strategy Council, a federal initiative launched in response to the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.