Today's discussion:

You are right to be worried about Canada’s economy

Canada finds itself in the throes of a scarcity crisis that threatens the very fabric of our socioeconomic and cultural tapestry. Plunging housing affordability, declining health-care capacity, surging infrastructure costs, and an economy that has stagnated on a per-person basis are not one-off challenges, but alarming indicators of a country teetering on decline.

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Al Raftis

This is a well thought-out analysis of our current situation. In an effort to turn the tide, I would like to suggest that the starting point is to clarify and eliminate dual responsibilities in our government structure. For example, Heath Care. While in theory, the provinces are responsible for Health Care, they rely on federal financial support. As a result, they blame each other for lack of results. Other than bringing the provinces together to agree that they will honor each others health provision, the feds should transfer tax points to the provinces and we can hold our provincial governments responsible for results.
This duplication of involvement between levels of government including the municipal level is rampant and adds tons of bureaucracy, cost and wasted time. Of course the issue in all of this is “Who will take the strong leadership needed to reform the mess we are currently facing”?
In my mind, a big problem is the lack of awareness of the majority of the voting public who are focused on their day to day lives. How many people will actually read the Hub article? How do we get the public aware?

15th March 2024 at 8:44 am
Greg K

Interesting comments. Life for many – perhaps most – seems solely focused on right now rather than tomorrow let alone the day after that. Few seem interested or concerned about whatever they think the future is and for sure don’t see the value in thought provoking articles like this one. Why is it we don’t see these articles in the MSM? Perhaps that’s the real question.

15th March 2024 at 9:01 am
Michael F

Why you don’t see a lot of think pieces anymore is because the industry has been hollowed out and there’s little to no money to pay for good journalism because no one is willing to pay for news.

15th March 2024 at 12:22 pm
Gary Oxenforth

The MSM is the real problem.And then the governments green taxes and regulations stiffiling all kinds of production grown.How about the indiginous file 2% of GDP while the military defence hovers around 1.2%. The MSM has to step up and inform the public just how bad this government is.

15th March 2024 at 10:21 am

Although I agree with healthcare as a clear example of ‘dual’ responsibilities in Canada causing poor outcomes, there are other areas which could also be called out. The federal intrusion into housing and education is also unhelpful.

One wonders if the federal government was more focused on its own responsibilities such as defence, criminal law and indigenous matters if they might be doing a better job.

15th March 2024 at 7:18 pm
Mino Vivaldi

As a nation we have succumbed to the lure of The government knows best because they sold us falsehoods with our own money. While we are rich in natural resources which we continue to sell as commodities, our entrepreneurs continue to sell themselves southward as soon as they have world class product.

Our left-leaning government continues to constrain our ability as a nation to thrive as they pile on more and more regulations and restrictions on the abilities of entrepreneurs and investors to advance.Canada.

15th March 2024 at 9:08 am
Paul Attics

To this regular citizen, that was a very balanced and detailed assessment. TLDR: we are a wealthy country but the trendlines are not positive, and there is real danger of a negative feedback loop. However, bold but reasonable changes that can help us escape the inertia of the status quo are absolutely possible.

Unfairness is an ever-present element on all societies (example: boomers got near post secondary free education) but when it is combined with hopelessness across a big segment of the population (Canadians under 30 years old), serous danger to social cohesion lurks.

I look forward to reading the informed criticism that did not occur to me.

15th March 2024 at 7:38 am

Boomers got near free post secondary education???? where did that come from? I am a boomer who paid for every hour of my post secondary education, not borrowed it, paid for it…. paid as used.

15th March 2024 at 1:36 pm
Paul Attics

University education costs have been increasing faster than inflation for at least three decades. The value (earned and/or potential income generated over career) of those degrees has arguably declined.
I myself benefited from relatively low tuition when I attended. I am simply commenting on the macro situation as I see it and I wouldn’t think that any single individual should feel compelled to defend their specific experience or achievement.

15th March 2024 at 1:53 pm
A. Chezzi

“The antidote to our challenges is to embrace an “abundance” mindset. This implies a political priority to ensure that the essentials for robust social health—such as housing, energy, health care, and transportation—are plentiful and give people options. ”
This is a positive attitude to take. There is enough in Canada for everyone. Society will not be enriched unless the least among us is enriched. Capitalism is the best method to acquire wealth but not for distributing wealth.
Poilievre’s constant harping about a broken Canada will not bring about the change needed to solve our problems. It is a defeatist attitude. The answer to a byzantine regulatory system is not an absolutely deregulatory system. This will create more disparity. The rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer.
Canada has gone through rough times before. This is not the first generation to face an economic crunch.
We survived. We learned to adapt, to tighten our belts and we learned that we didn’t need everything we thought we did. Consumerism is a trap.
If we take care of housing for all, sound medical care, good all round health care, dental and pharma, daycare, care for the environment, we will have a better, richer country. A free for all, which Con advocate is not the answer. Trickle down doesn’t work.

15th March 2024 at 11:22 am
Harriet Worden

If they would build housing people can afford instead of the great big monstrosities with every bell & whistle included, maybe our children/grandchildren could afford them. I can remember after WW2 housing was being built for war brides & young families They were 2 or 3 bedroom bungalows with a kitchen Living room & bath & everyone loved them & were overjoyed to have one. Wouldn’t those families who are being ousted from their apartment/house & walking the streets of Canada be delighted to be offered an affordable place.

15th March 2024 at 10:03 am
andy mayr

Chrystia Freeland toured a new building in Victoria on Monday that are offering micro-apartments starting at $1,600 per month.
Freeland’s office boastfully stated that the building is “a prime example of how the federal liberal/ndp government is building more homes for everyone, including families, younger Canadians, and persons with disabilities.”
What the deputy prime minister “conveniently forgot” to mention is that Hudson House will be renting its 227 units at rates considered high even by the wildly inflated standards of Coastal B.C.
Two-bedroom units at Hudson House start at about $3,300 per month. The lowest priced one-bedroom unit is advertised at $2,410 per month.
The absolute lowest priced Hudson House unit being advertised is their A2 Studio Apartment, a micro-unit of just 330 square feet — about the size of two parking spots. The A2 starts at $1,680 per month.
Low and middle income families can totally afford the liberals $2600/month apartments according to Freeland
Just to be sure there was more division between Canadians she stated B.C is superior to the Prairies

15th March 2024 at 10:34 am

The overwhelming majority of new housing built in both BC and Ontario (and maybe elsewhere) is apartments, which have gotten smaller even as detached homes have gotten bigger. It’s less a matter of inflated expectations, or even of the overall housing stock getting more luxurious, than the value of artificially-scarce land distorting what gets built. No one is going to put a bungalow on a 400k lot. If we want modest detached homes, we need cheap lots and that means tons and tons of what gets derisively called sprawl.

15th March 2024 at 10:46 am
Kim Morton

When one looks at construction projects around BC at least, all we are building is housing and the otherwise unnecessary infrastructure to support all the new immigrants. We are not building factories or opening mines, the reverse is true. This quite simply is not a sustainable business model. When one looks at employment statistics, there is a huge number of new government jobs, but few in the resource industries. This also is not sustainable.

15th March 2024 at 9:56 am
John Williamson

We can point to many examples of the current federal government spending big on social initiatives and growing the public sector. They doubled the money supply during the 24 months of Covid. The provinces and the municipalities have done the same. The focus of government is completely on paying for entitlements- existing or imagined. What about economic growth? We’ve just completed the third year of flat or declining GDP- a record not matched for 41 years. At the end of the day, a rising standard of living is completely dependant on growing the country’s productivity. That’s not going to happen without a real economic strategy and its not going to happen when the civil service grows 50% larger and 80% of all hiring is into the public sector. What about housing? Housing is particularly an issue in the Toronto and Vancouver regions. When you invite over a million newcomers into the country last year, this year, next year and for the next 10 years likely 75% of them will head for these two regions. No city will be able to get ahead of those numbers…whether you’re talking homes, roads, transit, doctors, hospitals or daycare. Ever.

15th March 2024 at 2:46 pm

The weak kneed society that whines about everything and does nothing represents the weakness in the country on all accounts. Personal responsibility must again become mainstream. I refuse to apologize for owning a home, yes owning not mortaged…. because I earned every square inch of it.

15th March 2024 at 1:45 pm
Michael F

Conservative pundits are so quick to forget that within this ‘lost decade’ was over three years of a global pandemic and all the economic disruption it brought. And Canada is not alone in having an affordability crisis, it’s happening in several developed countries like New Zealand, Australia the UK and others. And Canada is also in line with these same countries in putting a price on carbon. We are not an environmentally activist country at the forefront of this issue, we are merely following along with the EU, UK, Japan and others in trying to meet Paris Accord numbers. Will there be bumps in the road along the way as we grow as a country and try to meet ambitious C02 targets? Yes. But we can’t turn a blind eye to the situation and pretend it doesn’t exist. Remember the wild fires of last year? They weren’t set by climate activists.

15th March 2024 at 12:46 pm

Kudos to the Author. A very thoughtful and provocative analysis. Unfortunately, it deals with a very complicated mixed salad of social, economic and political issues, albeit all very crucial to the future of Canada. Fact is though; it is not the type of reading material that reaches the population base that needs to be familiar with the issues that it raises. It appeals to the “Chess Class'” while the majority of society is comprised of the “Checkers Class”. Not the Author’s fault as the base that will be most affected by the future solutions that may or will emerge to the many important issues that it raises are not part of the intelligentsia class. The “working class” (blue collar?) person normally struggles with “survival in the now and the immediate future” and does not normally concern themselves with serious inquiry into the futuristic theoretical issues. Unfortunate; as the futuristic theoretical issues eventually will become the here and now in the determinations regarding the road (least or most?) to be travelled by Canada as it transitions into the era where those future theoretical issues are in fact the issues of the here and now. The quintessential question is: will society be ready and equipped to deal with the issues or will they just stumble into and through them? If they stumble you can be assured that the Political Class will have a field day “sorting it out for them”!

15th March 2024 at 10:28 am
Paul Attics

The creators of, or those new to, prosperity, justice, and freedom appreciate it.
The inheritors of prosperity, justice, and freedom take it for granted until it is too far gone.
It is the default of human nature.

We need good faith and reality-based systems to allow the citizenry to transcend this default. One thing for sure, fellow citizens that are struggling just to cover the basics have little time for pondering such concerns, except for being generally and justifiably angry.

15th March 2024 at 10:53 am

Dealing with climate quickly enough creates a lot of difficulty for rapid growth in absolute terms. Technological improvements are not all that likely to completely eliminate the need for reduced consumption in the short-term, or totally decouple economic growth from emissions. That might require thinking beyond GDP as a measure of well-being, and one way might be trading reduced consumption for reversing some of the increases in work hours (at a family level) that have happened over the past 50 or so years.

Housing is a pretty good example of continued (although disguised) scarcity being pushed as a climate solution, and even of the implication that the solution to scarcity is just dialing down expectations. I often see it claimed that the only solution is to densify cities because dense housing uses less energy to heat and cool. But dense housing (especially high-rises) is typically less energy efficient than a detached house or townhouse once adjusted for size. The ‘benefit’ comes from people being forced to accept smaller units because of high prices. Small detached houses would have the same energy-saving benefits, and also be much cheaper to build (letting families work less or spend on other things). Still some amount of sacrifice, but at least one with an upside.

15th March 2024 at 11:53 am
Michael F

You are advocating for more sprawl? Because we know sprawl causes more congestion and pollution.

15th March 2024 at 12:29 pm

I’m advocating to not artificially restrict the housing choices of new buyers in ways that existing buyers did not tolerate for themselves, yes.

15th March 2024 at 12:47 pm

Thank you Eric Lombardi for your detailed comments on how one of the great countries in the world has been destroyed by trivial one focus leadership
Covid policies destroyed our weakened work ethic. Overtaxation and government bureaucracy d

15th March 2024 at 11:37 am