Troubled economy

A catalogue of ills besetting the Canadian economy presents a challenge to the new government in Ottawa.

The housing sector is in a bubble, with prices far above any rational explanation.

Working Canadians have been piling up debt at an unsustainable rate. The downturn in oil prices has hit the economy hard. Oil accounts for 4.54% of our exports, and weak prices have devastated the economies of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland.

Interest rates have been lowered so that when they return to more normal levels, debts will become more onerous. That has led to a depressed Canadian currency, but still our balance of trade has not responded as much as hoped.

Productivity of our labour force has expanded at only half the rate of the United States. Canadian infrastructure needs huge dollops of outlays to repair aging roads, underground facilities, and our educational system is not keeping pace with more those of more technologically-oriented nations.

While federal budgets have swung into deficit, that situation pales in comparison to the situation in provincial finances.

Natural population growth has slowed with the slack taken up by massive integration. That is changing the face of our population with the need to integrate many disparate cultures.

Finally our health care system requires updating, particularly in view of the aging population.

As for the economy, the Trudeau administration is planning to incur multi-billion dollar deficits to fund infrastructure spending and to stimulate economic growth. That should help, but is only a partial solution.

Canada needs a more vigorous approach to our foreign trade. The so-called free trade agreements lack championship, as our trade partners seem to have the upper hand in negotiations on the subject.

Our post-secondary institutions have failed to keep pace with modern technology. Education falls into provincial jurisdiction, and some such as Quebec are zealous in protecting that. Yet, funding by all levels of government would provide a large feedback, so all our governments must tackle this problem.

Weak commodity prices are an obvious hurdle for our economy. We have instituted an ever-normal granary plan, so that low oil prices entail governments to fund, withholding supplies until a better price structure merges.

Increased development of the north should be forthcoming. We lack the population in areas where, for example, Russia has millions more inhabitants than we do at the same latitude.

Finally, Canada should fund spending so that our railways measure up to those in Europe and Japan.



Bruce Whitestone