We got 343 billion problems but a b!*#W@ ain’t one!…

With the WE Charity scandal continuing to eat up airspace, and Doug Ford and Stephen Lecce continuing to raise anxiety amongst parents in Ontario, it almost feels like we’ve returned to normal. I’ve been a little shocked at what seems to me is the lack on analysis over the approximately $343 billion dollar deficit we’re going to be stacking up this year from dealing with the pandemic.

Now this isn’t a panic stricken response to that news. I don’t fall in line with the pearl clutching critics. Crying fiscal malfeasance over this policy is not only intellectually dishonest but just hysterical. Drastic, immediate action was required to ensure that we were able to shut down our economy. These policies allowed us to maintain social distancing protocols without fear of having to dig deep into personal savings to see through to the next day. For total transparency on this point, I am collecting CERB.

We have seen this level of spending before. Our country went from a depression level economy to one capable of producing the tools capable of defeating the Nazis. We came out the other side of the Second World War with one of the greatest periods in economic growth. We’ve handled this sort of spending emergency before. We can handle this.

However, what we do need is a plan. Leveling this entirely on the federal government is a bit of a short sighted critique. The federal government can’t come up with any plan to tackle the debt without the economy working. Getting Canada up and running to seriously start to tackle the debt is going to be the work of these guys:

Left to Right: Scott Moe (Premier of Saskatchewan), Jason Kenney (Premier of Alberta), Andrew Scheer (Opposition Leader for time being), Brian Pallister (Premier of Manitoba), Doug Ford (Premier of Ontario).

You can ignore Andrew Scheer we won’t need to worry about his opinions in a few months. However the provincial premiers need to reignite the economies of their provinces if we’re going to start to generate any kind of funds to repay this debt. Of the group above, Ford and Kenney are probably the most consequential as their respective provincial economies are powerhouses in confederation. This motley crew of premier’s who were once united in opposition to the federal government now hold the key to it’s salvation.

As we reopen our economies under the threat of COVID-19, we are needing to reinvent the parameters and paradigms that business functioned. What worked in the past is not necessarily going to work now. Imagination and inventiveness are the qualities of the day if we’re going to build a post COVID-19 economy.

Returning to normal isn’t going to work. As the rush to reopen pushes forward, parents across the country are worried for their children and their livelihoods. The pressure to return to work is pulling at the fact that childcare and schools are a huge uncertainty for all families. It’s an equation that must be solved before the start of the school year. Here in Ontario, this is the man tasked with solving it:

Ontario Minister of Education Stephen Lecce

Our COVID-19 economic recovery is going to be complex and difficult. We’re going to have to rethink some of our old assumptions and come up with new ones to guide us forward. One thing is clear though. Our siloed thinking has to go away. We are a federation, but we are going to have to tear down our partisanship and pettiness. Opening trade barriers across provinces, trusting each other more and embracing thinking outside of the box will be traits that will be needed in the future.

World War 2 changed Canada. There is a reason why we called much of the Twentieth Century the post-war era. The government spent much to transform the country’s economy from an outdated model into a modern one to satisfy Canadian’s needs. It’s served us well. However, COVID-19 is shaping up more and more to be one of those crucible changing moments in world history. A point where there will be a pre and post era. To see our way through to the other side though, just like in WW2, every level of government regardless of political or regional identity will need to mobilize towards one goal. It’s going to take real leadership from all levels of government to see us through. We’ve done it before and we can do it again.

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