Increased Productivity Needed to Support Aging Canadian Population — Andrew Coyne

The ratio of workers to retirees in Canada has historically been around 5 to 1, however it’s trending toward 2 to 1 in the next few decades.

The implications this will have for government and the labour market was the topic of Andrew Coyne’s talk at the Growing the Agri-Workforce Summit, as ag industry people from across the country met in Winnipeg earlier this month to discuss how the sector can address its chronic labour shortage.

The well-known columnist for Postmedia and “At Issue” panelist on CBC’s The National explained how the Canadian economy, including the agriculture sector, will need to become more productive to support the growing proportion of people enjoying their pensions. Increased immigration, tax changes to foster capital investment and the elimination of subsidies and protection from competition would all be beneficial, said Coyne.

“What really drives productivity and innovation is not a big government program, investing a lot in infrastructure or pouring a lot into R&D subsidies. It’s building in incentives throughout the economy for everybody to be making maximum use of resources,” he explains in our conversation below. “The only way you really institutionalize that kind of incentive is competition. We need more competition.”

Coyne took some time to chat after his presentation about the steps government can take to enable productivity growth to support retiring baby-boomers, and what that might look like in areas such as the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, supply management for dairy, foreign investment rules and transportation policy:

Related: $29 Billion Deficit Budget Includes Some Ag Funding

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