BLUESKY BRIEF - August 27th

For the past 18 months, the federal government has been focused on controlling the pandemic and ensuring that businesses across the country were able to keep their doors open. Now that the election has begun, Canadian businesses are looking to the various parties and demanding a strong plan for economic recovery (Toronto Star, Aug 16). But in the past 13 days, has that attention waned and if not, what are the parties pledging to do that would help or hinder businesses once elected? Is this a smart strategy? Let’s find out….

From the desk of Neil Brodie, Vice President

The Liberal government spent $615 billion last year on programs and supports, including supports for individuals and businesses, up from $340 billion the year before. Of course, this was because of the spread of the coronavirus and the policy decision to lock down the country for most of the past year. However, unemployment is currently 7.5%, the second-highest in the G7 and 2% higher than the G7 average.

The government has begun winding down these supports and programs but the CRB (new-CERB), CEWS, and the rent subsidy continue. The Conservative Party has put forward an impressive-sounding proposal called the Canada Job Surge Plan, to add 1 million jobs to the Canadian economy. This will pay 25% of the salary of net new hires for six months. For those Canadians who have been unemployed long-term, the plan will cover up to 50% of the salary when they are hired.

The goal of getting Canadians back to work will grow the economy which had been stagnant for two years before the pandemic struck. This was despite ongoing deficit spending since 2015 by the Liberals, which was sold to the country as ‘stimulus spending’.

This will also help combat the labour shortage in the country. The Liberal programs that were necessary for the last 12 months are transforming into a universal basic income program. That is hurting the economy and causing many small and medium-sized businesses to shut down as workers decide to stay home and collect taxpayer-supported benefits.

Getting Canadians back to work will help businesses grow and improve the prosperity of everyone.

From the desk of Raphael Brass, Senior Consultant

Throughout the pandemic, Canadian businesses were able to depend on the federal government to keep them afloat despite all the economic hardships brought on by COVID-19 related closures. The Trudeau government quickly established the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA), the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), and several other targeted programs that have successfully ensured businesses large and small remain open and ready to relaunch as the pandemic ebbs. The simple fact that the wellbeing of large and businesses, and the jobs associated with them, are not dominating the headlines on the campaign trail is a testament to the Liberal’s effective management of the economy over the last 18 months and the four and a half years before that. We shouldn’t be so quick to forget that the Liberals created 1,000,000 jobs between 2015-2019 and had Canada positioned strongly to weather a major jolt to the economy.

The Liberals have already outlined plans, such as extending the successful Canada Recovery Hiring Program (CRHP) and the Jobs and Growth Fund, that will support businesses in creating a million more jobs as we exit the pandemic. Further, the Liberal’s ongoing investments in skills training will help provide a workforce ready for the jobs of today and the future. This places businesses on a surer footing as they look to take advantage of new opportunities coming out of the pandemic.

Elections are about looking forwards not backwards, so it is not surprising that personal finance issues and housing are dominating headlines and we are not dwelling on the programs that many businesses continue to rely on to operate. The Liberals found prudent ways to sustain large and small businesses through the pandemic. Businesses know that a returned Liberal government will continue to do the same no matter what challenges emerge.

From the desk of Cameron Holmstrom, Consultant

The COVID pandemic forced governments to address many immediate needs across society at once, necessitating a response the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Second World War. To their credit, all of our parliamentarians managed to put the usual politics aside in that moment to get the job done. It was one of the highlights of this Parliament and they deserve credit for that.

Some of that help was directed specifically to the business community, helping them stay afloat as businesses shut down,

helping keep workers employed and helping people in their moment of need. Much of that assistance, through wage subsidies, rent assistance and loan assistance, continues as the pandemic continues. But in this campaign, while we’re still fighting against COVID, part of the discussion on the campaign trail is about how things will be after this pandemic passes. That debate seems to have fallen into two categories; how government can help businesses rebuild and how very successful companies and individuals need to pay their fair share to help that rebuilding. For those who have struggled, all parties are putting their spins on how to help businesses re-open, re-hire workers and come out of COVID stronger.

But when it comes to the other side, there isn’t the same unanimity. The NDP has pushed for a wealth tax of 1% on every penny of their wealth over $10 million and to close corporate tax loopholes, especially for those companies that have thrived during COVID. The Liberals have announced that they would further tax banks and insurance companies, & the Conservatives are promising to balance the budget in 10 years without saying where the extra revenue to do that would come from. We’ll see which proposal voters decide to support but the role of business in our economy will continue to play large.

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau announced that if his party is re-elected, his government would ensure “support for the most vulnerable seniors and continue to make retirement more comfortable and affordable for everyone." This plan would include

  • Restoring the retirement age to 65 from 67 after the Conservatives raised it;

  • Increasing the GIS for 900,000 seniors and lifting about 57,000 out of poverty;

  • Providing more than $900 for single seniors and $1,500 for senior couples, on top of regular benefits, for low-income seniors to get through the pandemic.

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole introduced his party’s plan to protect Canadians who work outside traditional, long-term jobs by ensuring “access to employment insurance (EI) benefits.”

Speaking in Winnipeg, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh explained his party’s plan to fix the housing crisis and help Canadian families buy their first home. If elected, part of this plan would double the first-time homeowner's credit and transforming it into a rebate..

THE HEAD VS THE HEART – Angus Reid releases a poll that shows Trudeau is neither the most attractive leader when voters consider their choice with their head nor with their heart.

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE IMAGE – Abacus Data released their latest poll that takes an in-depth look at how Canadians feel about the three main party leaders.

Here is where you can expect the leaders to be today (all times are in Eastern):

Justin Trudeau, Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada is back in Ontario with an announcement at 9 am in Mississauga.

Erin O’Toole, Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada heads to Newfoundland and Labrador today where he will make an announcement at 930 am in Corner Brook, In the evening, he will attend an event with supporters at the North Sydney Firefighters Club in North Sydney, N.S.

Jagmeet Singh, Leader of the NDP is in Thunder Bay, Ont., where at 930 am he will make an announcement on health care and then make visits throughout the area in the afternoon.

Annamie Paul, Leader of the Green Party of Canada continues campaigning in Toronto where she will deliver remarks at the Masjid Toronto mosque at 1115 am, address the situation in Afghanistan at 230 pm. and then in the evening, attend community events in the Regent Park neighbourhood.

Yves Blanchet, Leader of the Bloc Quebecois is in Chicoutimi where he will speak to the media at 945 am on the aluminum sector. He will then talk about green energy projects at the Port of Saguenay at 230pm.

We’ve trained politicians and CEOs, scientists and spokespeople in a wide variety of sectors. And we would love to train you and your team to get ready to handle any interview that comes your way. Bluesky’s team can help you. Reply to this email to be connected with our team.

About Bluesky Strategy Group

Bluesky Strategy Group Inc. is a full-service public affairs firm with nearly two decades of extensive experience working with clients - from corporate, not-for-profit, and national associations, to governments, departments and agencies. We provide our clients with government relations, strategic communications and media relations advice and execution.

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