Economic advisers pushing feds to focus on business investment, job re-skilling

OTTAWA — The federal government’s economic advisers are calling for more changes aimed at driving business investment and helping Canadians acquire new skills as they brace for the march of technology and its job-killing effects.

The overarching goal of the influential Advisory Council on Economic Growth is to help Canadian households add an extra $15,000 to their projected annual pre-tax incomes by 2030. The group has helped the Trudeau government shape policy decisions in the past.

In its third wave of recommendations, to be released later this week, the council says Canada urgently needs another $15 billion in annual investments for adult skills development to help workers adjust to the demands of the rapidly changing labour market.

The group recommends the creation of an RRSP-type lifelong learning fund that enables workers to accumulate tax-free savings, combined with contributions from employers and government, in order to cover the cost of developing new skills midway through their working lives.

The fund would support working adults who want to upgrade their skills part time as well as those who intend to take time off to do so.

Without action to help adult workers acquire new skills, council chair Dominic Barton warns technological change could force 10 per cent of the Canadian workforce — or two million people — out of work by 2030.

“With all of the disruption coming down the pipe, especially from automation and other technologies, there’s going to be a need for constant re-skilling of the work force,” Barton, the managing director of global consulting giant McKinsey & Co., said in an interview.

“The scale of what’s required is going to be much more significant than we have.”

Barton said combined investments in job “re=skilling,” including post-secondary education and non-formal training, was $29 billion in 2016. The council wants to see that investment climb to $44 billion by 2030.

The group also recommends that governments expand services offered by their employment centres, which currently assist the unemployed, to support working adults who want career and training guidance.

The council is also calling on Ottawa to support businesses by pursuing a more agile regulatory environment, make the tax system more supportive of innovative sectors and help smaller Canadian firms increase their exports.

“In the future economy, both individuals and enterprises will need the capabilities and flexibility to identify and seize opportunities quickly,” the report said.

Added Barton: “Regulation can be a real bottleneck to it and so we’re trying to look for ways to de-bottleneck it.”

In late 2016, the council provided prescriptions for Ottawa on attracting more talent through immigration, increasing infrastructure investments and luring more foreign investment. Earlier this year, it released another suite of recommendations, including a push for Ottawa to raise the age of retirement eligibility and to explore a national child-care program to boost much-needed participation in the country’s workforce.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta children whose only symptom of COVID-19 is a runny nose or a sore throat will no longer require mandatory isolation, starting Monday.
477 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in Alberta on Thursday

Changes being made to the COVID-19 symptom list for school-age children

Chasetin Morin
Photo from RCMP
Three men accused of assaulting Blackfalds RCMP officer going to trial

RCMP officer shot and wounded one of alleged attackers in December 2019

The Cenovus Energy Inc. logo seen at the company's headquarters in Calgary, Alta., Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
One-time costs of Husky takeover expected to be about $500 million, says Cenovus CEO

One-time costs of Husky takeover expected to be about $500 million, says Cenovus CEO

This drum circle was one of a multitude of activities held at The Hub on Ross in downtown Red Deer. The facility was permanently closed by the provincial government his week. (Advocate file photo.)
Many Red Deerians react with anger, dismay at closure of The Hub on Ross

Many disabled people can’t afford other recerational options, says guardian

Award-winning Calgary developer Brad Remington stands with Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer at the site of three multi-family condo complexes that are planned for Capstone, west of Carnival Cinemas. (Photo by LANA MICHELIn/Advocate staff).
$36M condo project on its way to Capstone development

Calgary developer plans to create 180 housing units to open in 2022

Alice Kolisnyk, deputy director of the Red Deer Food Bank, says the agency expects an increase in demand as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Every new subscription to the Red Deer Advocate includes a $50 donation to the food bank. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Support the food bank with a subscription to the Red Deer Advocate

The community’s most vulnerable members are always in need of a hand,… Continue reading

Workers at Olymel's Red Deer pork processing plant are among those eligible for a $2-an-hour bonus because of the pandemic.
Red Deer Advocate file photo
Two Olymel workers test positive for COVID-19 in Red Deer

Two workers at Olymel’s pork processing facility in Red Deer have tested… Continue reading

Ryan, Falcons avenge earlier loss to Panthers, 25-17

Ryan, Falcons avenge earlier loss to Panthers, 25-17

FILE - In this Oct. 28, 2015, file photo, former world boxing champion Roy Jones Jr. shows off his Russian passport during a news conference in Moscow, Russia. Mike Tyson and Jones got permission from California's athletic commission to return to the boxing ring next month because their fight would be strictly an exhibition of their once-unparalleled skills. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev, File)
Mike Tyson, Roy Jones promise a fight in “exhibition” return

Mike Tyson, Roy Jones promise a fight in “exhibition” return

David Hearn watches his putt on the seventh hole during the first round of the Wyndham Championship golf tournament at Sedgefield Country Club on Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020, in Greensboro, N.C. David Hearn, like everyone, has been deeply effected by the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Chris Carlson
Canada’s Hearn looks to shake off poor 2020 results with more consistent play

Canada’s Hearn looks to shake off poor 2020 results with more consistent play

Malnati birdies half of holes to take 1-shot lead in Bermuda

Malnati birdies half of holes to take 1-shot lead in Bermuda

Penny Oleksiak swims the 200 metre race during the 2018 Team Canada finals in Edmonton on Wednesday July 18, 2018. The number of young swimmers in Canada is dwindling because of barriers posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Swimming Canada urges pools to accommodate youth, says can be done safely

Swimming Canada urges pools to accommodate youth, says can be done safely

Canada's Meaghan Mikkelson (12) and Marie-Philip Poulin (29) defends against United States' Hilary Knight (21) during the third period of a rivalry series women's hockey game in Hartford, Conn., Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019. Gina Kingsbury, Hockey Canada's director of women's national teams, hopes a Rivalry Series against the United States can happen this winter.THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michael Dwyer
Canadian women’s hockey team yearns for international competition

Canadian women’s hockey team yearns for international competition

Most Read