At some point in the last couple of years, the word “unprecedented” had been used so often that it lost all of its potency. First it referred to wave after wave of the coronavirus that upended supply chains and our very way of life. Now, it applies to every cranny of the Canadian economy. In February, financial analysts were left breathless as the country’s annual inflation rate exceeded five per cent for the first time in more than 30 years. Then, spurred by runaway gas prices, along came another jump: in May, Canada’s inflation rate hit 7.7 per cent. In June, 8.1. Again: wow.
This economic turbulence is old news to anyone who has recently tried to buy groceries, get a car, fuel up their car or do virtually anything involving money. Now overheard in Canada: “Since when does an Ubered dinner for two cost $65?”; “Why can’t I find anyone to hire in a country of 31 million?”; and “Where the heck are all the rental cars?”
The central question, though, is how everything got to be so fiscally wacky, seemingly all at once—and how to make it all better. In the following pages, a team of the country’s smartest economic thinkers and industry experts examine some of Canada’s current hot spots and, where possible, offer their two cents on how to transform them.