Today's discussion:

Canada’s supply management mentality is holding us back

Given our growing and ageing population, clinging to the status quo isn’t an option. We should embrace more economic dynamism and less supply management. Governments should default to erring on the side of more rather than less.

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Comments (18)

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The Hub Staff

Steve Lafleur writes that “we need a more dynamic economy” to properly accommodate the growing population and ageing population in Canada, where Canada should not treat itself as a small or stagnant country. What do you think are some ways Canada can change this supply management mentality?

28th November 2023 at 8:09 am

Readers should visit a large food store or wine store in the US to witness the variety of products available to consumers. Same for apparel or most other types of products. Such a visit will provide insight into how supply management limits consumer choice in Canada and stunts our economy. Canada’s supply chain bureaucrats need to step aside if Canada is to grow its economy. Same for those who erect inter-provincial trade barriers.

28th November 2023 at 9:37 am
Michael F

Poor comparison. The US market is 10x Canada. Would you prefer dairy products full of antibiotics and hormones too?

28th November 2023 at 10:19 am
Rod Hancock

Country size is irrelevant to the issue and your antibiotics in dairy products is just a deferral tactic.

28th November 2023 at 3:04 pm

I did not suggest that the Canadian dairy market be opened up to and dominated by US producers or manufacturers. I was referring to the freedom to chose and I employed US food retail only as an example. Why should Canadian dairy consumers’ choices be limited to those products being produced in Quebec. Opening the markets to producers outside Quebec or indeed outside the country would provide many more choices for Canadian consumers.

By the way, many other products you find in our mainstream food stores are supplied by US companies so to suggest that there is something wrong with American food products or to suggest they are riddled with drugs or to suggest they are somehow inferior is a misnomer.

One good example of the problem that I am referring to can be found at Canadian provincially controlled wine and liquor outlets. Yes, its nice to go into the LCBO and purchase wines produced in a foreign country but Canadians fail to realize that their choices of foreign products are very limited since such choices are controlled by the state. As I said previously, go into an American wine or liquor store and you will be blown away by the choices that are available. And while you are at it you will be able to purchase good quality snack foods that are produced not only in the US but also somewhere else in the world. You can’t do that at the LCBO.

Canadians should be able to enjoy all manner of products that are produced within and or outside our borders. To me, that’s freedom of choice. And it just might help to grow the Canadian economy.

28th November 2023 at 1:22 pm

Different issue. Quality of the product (milk) could be controlled via regulatory requirements.

28th November 2023 at 12:15 pm
Michael F

We open the door to US dairy and it’ll be the end of family owned farms in Canada. They have already found ways to slip their shitty products into Canadian stores.

28th November 2023 at 3:31 pm

American “dairy products full of antibiotics and hormones” – oh, really?

That sort of intellectual aberrancy by defenders of the status quo belies their inability to come up with any credible argument or counterpoint. It’s the same old tired approach in Canada – rebuff and repel any thought of bringing in much needed changes to a system in desperate need of reform. We continue to see that with the other pressing issue of our time – the monopoly that is government-supplied healthcare.

With both, defenders of the status quo will drag out the ‘for-profit, American-style’ demons to tamp down any meaningful discussion and debate. Time to exorcize those lines and instead exercise some intellectual muscle back into shape and explain why it is, in the case of Supply Management, why the few should always benefit so greatly at the expense of everyone else?

A free-market system levels the playing field. Freedom of choice brings the consumer a far greater selection of goods than government-controlled supply management can ever provide. Under the latter, there are only two outcomes: stagnation and high prices.

28th November 2023 at 11:42 am
Michael F

It is 100% legal for dairy farms in the US to use Bovine Growth Hormone rBGH.

28th November 2023 at 3:36 pm
Albert Schindler

You make a good point there, Michael. The US Food Market certainly is far greater than ours. However, I think their Food Regulators are also more relaxed in their inspections than ours, resulting in Canada having better quality—healthier food than the US has. Milk, as you mentioned, is a good example.

28th November 2023 at 8:51 pm

Your arguments in this comment thread do not rationalize the continuation of limiting or shutting our nation out from legitimate trade opportunities with other countries and stifling the purchasing power consumers by protecting a few farmers through a supply management system that fails Canadians.

First, if you’re that concerned about “sh!##y [American] products” on Canadian store shelves, then don’t buy them. The consumer is in charge of their purchasing decisions in the miracle that is the free-market capitalist system. It’s your choice.

You shoukd mnow there are plenty of family-owned cattle ranches out west that do not have the supply management protections as dairy famers and they’re doing quite well – both through domestic markets and abroad. What data do you have to support your hypothesis that expanded trade will somehow spell the end of family owned farms in Canada?

Many supply management gatekeepers toss that line out, but can never back it up. Here’s your chance to do just that, Michael.

28th November 2023 at 5:16 pm
Kim Morton

Supply management was set up to buy votes. And it worked for decades. It is long past time to eliminate this socialist business model. There are many supply management models that have been eliminated, such as the requirement to “buy” the right to transport anything. I believe taxis are the last remnant of this archaic system. There are however many local government bylaws that restrict freedom, such as Qualicum Beach bylaw prohibiting chain restaurants. Or the many local governments that restrict the number of business licences for certain types of businesses. All must go to have a free and democratic society.

28th November 2023 at 9:59 am

How can supply management possibly have anything to do with housing or health care? What a spectacular leap of “logic” .

Personally I like supply managed dairy and poultry. Without the stabilizing influence of the policies we would be swamped with very inferior USA products. I have seen the poor quality dairy and chicken in USA. Bleccch.

28th November 2023 at 11:41 am

You know, Paul, in all the trips I’ve taken to the United States and Europe, I’ve never once had someone say to me, “Oh, you’re from Canada? You’ve got something really special going on over there. Can’t get enough of your superior cheeses, yogurt, and chicken breasts. Protect what you’ve got from the rest of the world, otherwise you’ll soon find yourself swamped with all those American, French, and Italian foodstuffs that we and the world don’t want.”

Feel free to support what farmers in your part of the country produce. Your preference for the “stabilizing influence” of supply management should never trample my right to choose what I can consume, where it comes from, and what I must pay.

28th November 2023 at 1:30 pm
Richard Courtemanche

The problem is at the top with the globally unstable one and his submissive/collaborative clan breaking down Canadianism for an easier NWO takeover. Why isn’t anybody taking the global threats, e.g. WEF, more seriously as if they’re intimidated and silently accept our demise?

28th November 2023 at 10:07 am
Rod Hancock

Ordered 4 sand blast nozzles from local NAPA ( metal, $50) and they were apparently coming ALL THE WAY from Ontario to Nanaimo, BC. After 6 weeks I went in and cancelled my order and ordered them from China. Got 10 ceramic nozzles ($20) in two weeks. Sounds like supply problems are definitely a made in Canada thing. I am as patriotic as the next person but I will not put up with this artificial “shortage” and price gouging from any body, especially Canadian corporations which have been making windfall profits over the last 3-4 years.

28th November 2023 at 3:03 pm
B Kirschenman

Those of us who raise beef and grow crops have wondered for years why certain sectors of agriculture require supply management and the accompanying supports. The elimination of the Canadian Wheat Board was a very contentious move generating severe opposition. However, the opportunities for new crops and markets have been incredible for those who’ve embraced the change and the challenge! The question regarding agriculture, healthcare, etc. is “Who is benefiting from and fighting to maintain these current systems?” There are alternatives and innovative approaches that deserve consideration and implementation.

I recommend reading (or skimming!) Tupy’s excellent book “Superabundance” The Story of Population Growth, Innovation, and Human Flourishing on an Infinitely Bountiful Planet”.

28th November 2023 at 1:08 pm

More ‘economic dynamism’ is a euphemism for more market control, no? More market control is not necessarily good or bad, but it does need to be a healthy market.

Government intervention in markets needs to be effective (efficiently achieve explicit goals that benefit the whole of society). Obviously, there is a tension between protecting industry (jobs and taxes…AND regional votes) and protecting consumers (prices). If supply management is protecting likely entrenched and sluggish incumbents at a greater overall cost to the citizenry, then sure, let’s have less supply management and more dynamism!

The case for both options should be independently, dispassionately, and ruthlessly made in each the various affected industries.

28th November 2023 at 10:02 am