I'll get back to Yalnizyan's Plan B in a moment, but preceding her on the program was TD Bank VP and chief economist Craig Alexander. He spoke to that Bank of Canada survey of 100 executives that came out this week, 62% of whom called for diversification to reduce Canada's dependence on the energy sector as oil prices collapse.
"Energy plus metals and minerals mining amounts to less than 10% of Canadian economy but 25% of the entire Albertan economy," he said, where loss of oil jobs and stagnant wages will also affect retail spending despite a projected $900 saving per family per year at the pumps. So no growth for Alberta and Saskatchewan this year and under a 3% increase for BC and Ontario.
Two and a half years ago and before the collapse of oil prices, he was calling for investing in childcare and early education in his TD report :
“It is very much an economic topic,” said Alexander. "If you are concerned with skills development, productivity and innovation, you should really care about this subject."
"For every dollar invested, the return ranges from roughly $1.50 to almost $3. For disadvantaged children, the return runs into the double digits ... it follows that more focus should be put on investing in, and improving the system,” the report says." But later, when we can afford it.
CCPA's Yalnizyan says that time is now :
"In our global economy we need our best and brightest to be our best and brightest. We can ill afford to discount Canadians who cannot afford to upgrade their skills at any point in their lives, not just when they're getting out of high school."We are part of global economy in which Canada has fallen from 8th to 11th place while current government policy is directed at "ripping and stripping our natural resources," she said, despite those collapsing oil prices and the coming expense of population aging.
Plan B? Mission-oriented public policy is required, she said, because without it we will just get higher healthcare costs without necessarily any improvement.
Taking your hands off the wheel won't necessarily deliver what we need so how can we make life cheaper for the people who, unlike our corporate hoarders, spend every dollar they earn in the economy?
"The global economy is transitioning and pivoting away from fossil fuels to renewables and we should be contributing to this fight to find the most energy-efficient ways of using and generating energy .
Focus on healthcare costs in a different way. Spend on social determinants. What causes all round good health? Better housing, public transportation, education, even income redistribution. Population health-based intervention.
While 10% of the economy is in the energy sector, 11% of our economy is in the health sector. Use that engine of the economy to improve peoples' lives and get a better bang for the buck.
We spent $14-billion on dental care for children in Saskatchewan and Manitoba in late 70s and early 80s. The mouth is the only part of healthcare that isn't covered."$14B sounds like a lot to have spent on childrens' health until you consider that the government already spends $13B a year in taxpayer-funded subsidies to oil and gas industries.
The program wrapped up with Stephen Gordon, economist at LaValle University.
Shorter and presumably not ironic Gordon : "Oil is our precious. Why can't we just leave the markets a-l-o-o-o-o-o-n-e?"