Legislative Lookahead: What we’re watching in Ottawa this fall
By Dana O’Born, Director of Strategic Initiatives
On Monday, MPs return to parliament following the September federal election.
People will continue to debate whether the election was necessary, but at least we can all agree that the world today is wildly different than it was two years ago, when MPs took their seats in the House of Commons following the 2019 election.
The world is different because of the pandemic, of course, but there have been other changes too. Our world is more digitized than it was two years ago. And as a country, we are more acutely aware of the threat of climate change than ever before.
To respond to these challenges, the Council of Canadian Innovators published an open letter during the election campaign, asking to see a plan for clean economic growth, driven by Canadian-owned ideas. In total, more than 300 CEOs signed our letter, and we still think it articulates the goal that Prime Minister Trudeau and his government should be working towards.
No matter how you felt about the election campaign, the parties’ platforms did offer a number of specific ideas relevant to the innovation economy, and CCI will be continuing to track those proposals. On Monday, when the Governor-General delivers the Speech from the Throne, we’ll get a clearer picture of what Prime Minister Trudeau and his new cabinet plan on tackling first.
Here’s what we’ll be watching for:
- Addressing the talent crisis. Access to skilled talent is the №1 issue we hear from our member companies. The pandemic and the shift to remote work have disrupted the labour market, and a lack of skilled talent threatens to slow our economic recovery.
While responsibility for labour market issues is spread between federal and provincial governments, our economy is facing a crisis, and we need comprehensive strategies. Moreover, across government every minister needs to be thinking about how their economic policies impact the labour market for Canadian companies, and we hope to see federal leaders work with their provincial counterparts to find co-operative solutions.
- Digital regulation modernization. In their election platform, the Liberal Party indicated that they will move ahead with plans to update Canada’s privacy laws. They also promised to create a “digital policy task force” comprised of industry experts, academics, and government representatives, to guide digitization and digital policy.
Both of these measures are positive steps towards modernizing Canada’s digital governance rules, and we’ll be looking to the Throne Speech for clear indications about how the government plans to implement these steps.
- Action on digital competition policy. Last spring, the federal government allocated $96 million over five years to the Competition Bureau to equip the agency with necessary digital tools to engage with the modern economy.
With plenty of talk about competition policy lately, especially in the context of global tech giants, we’re hoping to see more detail on this file.
- Cleantech solutions. Climate change is front-of-mind following the COP26 conference in Glasgow, and another wave of extreme weather causing massive destruction in British Columbia. In order to reduce carbon emissions, for years CCI has been advocating for better cleantech procurement strategies to support Canadian companies.
More broadly, the federal government must do a better job of leveraging the work of domestic innovators, who have been working on green solutions and exporting them around the world. Across all government departments, we’ll be looking to see the government work with cleantech companies to support their growth and help reduce emissions.
We’re expecting that the fall sitting of the House of Commons will be short, and then after a break for the holidays, we’ll be looking ahead to the 2022 budget.
On Monday, we expect the Throne Speech will lay out the government’s priorities for the weeks and months ahead. Our members are hoping to hear that the government will take an active and enthusiastic approach to modernizing digital policy, and creating the conditions to drive prosperity through innovation.
Prioritizing the innovation economy and giving homegrown tech companies attention is long overdue, and CCI’s member companies are eager to engage with the government at the outset of their new mandate. As the people who live and breathe innovation every day, our members are the real experts in how to drive growth in the digital economy. We’re ready to work with the government to drive prosperity for Canada.
Dana O’Born is CCI’s Director of Strategic Initiatives and leads our federal public policy advocacy. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org