Commentary,  COVID,  Employment & Unemployment,  Macroeconomics,  Public Sector Work

Reconstruction After COVID-19 Will Require Sustained Government Leadership

The Centre’s Director Jim Stanford had a feature interview yesterday with Michael Enright on CBC Radio’s public affairs show, Sunday Edition, on how Canada’s economy will rebuild after the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns.

A full recording and an abridged transcript is available on the CBC site here.

Stanford argued that government investment, income security payments, expanded public services, and direct public sector employment will all be crucial to lift Canada’s economic activity back to its potential, once it is safe to go back to work.

“This has actually been a real-time experiment that a national government — particularly one that has its own currency, as we do in Canada — has got basically no limits on how much money it can raise and mobilize in order to meet pressing emergencies, whether it’s in our economy or in our society or health system.

This is absolutely unprecedented and it’s quite appropriate. And it does confirm that at a time of crisis we need national government to be there, to be big, to be fast and to mobilize everything it can. It’s kind of like fighting a war. We never stood back from World War II and said we can’t afford to fight this war. We did what we had to do and we mobilized the resources, including the money to pay for it.”

Stanford also debunked arguments that the government debt incurred to pay for emergency measures during (and after) the pandemic will require years of austerity and belt-tightening in order to ‘pay down debt.’ With appropriate employment, fiscal and monetary policies, that debt need not hold back the post-COVID recovery we need.

The CBC conversation builds on Jim’s previous research paper, for the Institute on Research in Public Policy, on the need for an ambitious, well-funded post-COVID reconstruction plan.

Jim Stanford is Economist and Director of the Centre for Future Work. He divides his time between Sydney, Australia and Vancouver, Canada. Jim is one of Canada’s best-known economic commentators. He served for over 20 years as Economist and Director of Policy with Unifor, Canada’s largest private-sector trade union.