By Pierre-Philippe Lortie, CCI Quebec Director of Government Affairs
At a café recently in Montréal’s Outremont neighbourhood, I met with a local technology CEO to discuss their priorities for 2023. They started with the challenges they see on the horizon: growing economic uncertainty, a tight labour market, supply chain shortages, and the implementation of Quebec’s new language law, Bill 96.
They did, however, see some bright light in the storm ahead: if the government is as responsive to the needs and concerns of businesses in 2023 as they were in 2020, jobs and economic growth in Quebec can be sustained in the new year. It takes a commitment to partnership and collaboration and listening by the government to the needs of innovators.
Collaboration and partnership are important themes heading into the new year. Following a successful re-election campaign for Premier François Legault and his CAQ government, gaining more seats this time around than before, a Premier with a majority mandate may feel like they have full support from the public to rule with an iron fist. It would, however, be in the Premier’s interest to build consensus with industry and all parliamentarians on a path forward through the economic period ahead.
Yesterday’s economic update by Finance Minister Éric Girard confirmed our members’ concerns related to the economy and talent: He predicts 50% chance of a recession in early 2023 and recognizes the scarcity of talent in our economy but failed to provide specific measures to tackle those two issues for the innovation ecosystem. We’ll be eagerly waiting for those specific measures in the next budget in March 2023.
Collaboration and partnership are what led to more than 160 Quebec-based companies signing on to our open letter regarding Bill 96 during the first days of the election campaign. Across the ecosystem, business leaders still agree that the most pressing issue that prevents our technology and innovation ecosystem from thriving is the government remaining status quo on Bill 96.
In 2023, we’ll continue to be collaborative by working with different business and technology associations to define a set of recommendations to lower the level of uncertainty around Bill 96, and we’ll present these recommendations to the Quebec government early in the new year.
Also on the agenda in the new year is the implementation of the new data privacy legislation which came into force in November. This legislation requires companies to adopt and implement new practices to ensure the protection of personal information. We also see a large opportunity within Quebec to include more technological solutions in our health sector, especially in homecare solutions and data governance. Leaning on domestic innovators for their expertise in both areas will be crucial to the government’s success.
No one knows how rough the waters will be in 2023, but as the CEO I spoke with said, we can get through tough times if government and industry work in lockstep together. We hope that Premier Legault will tackle these files with a sense of urgency and collaboration because Quebec needs a thriving innovation ecosystem to create growth for all, especially in more difficult times on the horizon.
For more information about CCI’s advocacy in Ontario, contact Pierre-Philipe Lortie, Quebec Director of Government Affairs at the Council of Canadian Innovators.