Alberta Senator Doug Black is urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to create a task force with the sole purpose of maximizing economic opportunities, and mitigating challenges post COVID-19.
He says the proposed Canadian Economic Recovery Council, which would report to the PM and the Ministers of Finance and Science, Innovation and Industry, could potentially alleviate pressure on the government and help facilitate a smooth economic recovery.
“We need leading economists, folks knowledgable in energy, agriculture, technology and the various aspects of the Canadian economy that are going to be so important for our recovery,” he says. “We need the best minds in Canada for when we get through this, and we will get through this, [but] it’s going to be a bit of a mess.”
Senator Black believes some ways to re-invigorate the economy could be a fairly easy fix. He says during his time as chair of the Senate Banking Committee a study on interprovincial trade showed the Canadian economy was losing upwards of $23 billion a year because of what he calls the “silliness” that goes on between provinces.
He suggests a potential first course of action for the proposed council would be a push for better trade relationships within Canada.
“We can’t afford that anymore… and it has hurt us because of our supply chains, because of our inability to get things across borders as efficiently as we like; we need to smarten up.”
The elected senator says the prime minister’s announcement that the government is investing $1.7 billion to clean up an orphan and inactive wells in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and B.C. is a great first step in keeping the economy going as best they can, but there must be more done in the long term.
“The job’s not done yet, [as] we do not have a support package for the oil and gas industry which is comprehensive, and I’m going to keep pressing the Government of Canada until we get that.”
The funding announcement will reportedly keep afloat 5,200 jobs in Alberta alone and close to 10,000 countrywide.