Viewpoint: Canada’s standard of living is in jeopardy

On the cusp of its 150th anniversary, Canada is one of the best countries in the world to live and work, yet with a GDP growth rate of only 1.4 per cent and productivity growth that fails to keep pace with its key competitors, the future of Canada is at risk. Today, Deloitte released a study – Bold Bets for our country: It’s time for deliberate action – that finds Canada’s standard of living will decline going forward if government and business leaders do not change the way they think and act now. The report creates a new national dialogue between business leaders, policymakers, and citizens that involves uncomfortable discussions and bold decisions.

In 2017, Deloitte travelled across the country to engage public and private sector leaders on their vision for Canada at 175 and to gather their views on how to make Canada the best place to live and work within the next 25 years. Deloitte’s findings point to three initial and crucial areas where difficult choices and alignment from business, government, and academia can put our country on the path to continued success.

First, Canada must focus its investments in areas where it has a current and potential competitive advantage and unite as a country behind them to create truly global champions. This means avoiding the current “peanut butter” approach of thinly spreading resources across many sectors and areas.

Second, Canada needs to dramatically accelerate its global engagement, leverage its identity of openness and diversity to position areas of competitive advantage within a global flow of ideas, goods, and talent. Canada must significantly change in the way it competes, supplementing its existing “nice” brand with “aggressive” actions.

Finally, Canada must disrupt its education system to create a global skills training powerhouse that will equip Canadians for increasing technological disruption and ensure all can share in our country’s prosperity. Business must take the leading role in educating and training competitive workers.

“Since confederation, Canada has evolved to be a strong, wealthy, and independent country,” said Frank Vettese, Managing Partner and Chief Executive, Deloitte. “In order for Canada to assume its place as a dominant player in the global economy we need courageous leaders to engage in new levels of collaboration amongst businesses, governments, and educational institutions. We all need to think and act differently and with urgency to guarantee the future prosperity of our nation.”

Bold bets are defined as courageous and deliberate decisions to make an impact despite complexity and adversity. They require making difficult choices that involve uncomfortable trade-offs. According to Deloitte research, courageous companies are more likely to achieve revenue growth than fearful ones, which are twice as likely to see revenues fall compared to their courageous counterparts.

Canada is faced with technological disruption at an accelerated pace and intense global competition,” said Duncan Sinclair, Vice Chair, Deloitte in Canada. “Unless we make bold decisions and have the public and private sectors more tightly collaborating, the competitiveness of our economy and our standard of living will be seriously threatened. To advance a game plan for future success, we must broaden the discussion and take action to be more competitive.”

Bold Bets for our country: It’s time for deliberate action is part of a series of reports under the banner of Canada at 175, which presents Deloitte’s perspective on the future of the country. This study builds on The Future Belongs to the Bold report released in September of 2016 which showed that courage is directly linked to business success.

The full report and Canada at 175 series are available at: