Briefing

Ottawa’s Industry Strategy Council calls for new $35-billion growth fund, policy overhauls

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The new program would back projects in priority areas like digital and data; resources, energy and cleantech; value-added manufacturing and agri-food. In a report released Friday, the council—a group of 10 executives appointed to advise Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains and chaired by former Desjardins Group CEO Monique Leroux—also recommended the federal government expand reskilling programs; give companies incentives to adopt technology and develop intangible assets like IP; and direct Crown corporations like the Business Development Bank of Canada to set up new special-purpose funds for scale-ups, as well as “move up the risk curve.” (The Logic)

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Talking point: Many of the economic-growth challenges the group identified—interprovincial trade barriers, dependence on the U.S. market, regulatory burdens—and their proposals are similar to those in the September 2018 report from Bains’s previous advisory body, the Economic Strategy Tables. But this council has a grander vision, proposing that Ottawa adopt an industrial strategy to guide business support and policy decision-making. And it promises lofty returns—the group estimates its recommendations could add up to 1.1 per cent to real GDP growth by 2030. The total cost: as much as $145 billion in government spending, and up to $140 billion in private-sector investment.