What are the Think Tanks Thinking?

by Terrance Hunsley

Today we check out recent work of the CDHowe Institute, The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, and the Canada West Foundation.


The CDHowe Institute issued a statement advising Canadian governments to remain committed to open international trade.  This despite recent actions by eighty countries, including all of its trading partners, to restrict exports of critical products during the COVID crisis. 

The Institute Working Group includes:

Dr. Sylvain Charlebois, Professor, Senior Director, Agri-Food Analytics Lab, Dalhousie University

Dwight Duncan (Working Group Co-Chair), Senior Strategic Advisor McMillan LLP

Rick Ekstein, President & CEO, Phaze 3 Management

Glen Hodgson, Fellow-in-Residence, C.D. Howe Institute

Caroline Hughes, Vice-President of Government Relations, Ford Motor Company of Canada

Jeanette Patell (Working Group Co-Chair), Vice-President of Government Affairs and Policy, GE Canada

Geoff Smith, President & CEO, EllisDon

John Stackhouse, Senior Vice-President, Office of the CEO, Royal Bank of Canada Trevor Tombe, Associate Professor of Economics and Public Policy, University of Calgary

The group pointed out that Canada benefits economically from integrated supply chains where products and components move freely across borders. They nevertheless acknowledged that emergency measures are necessary to ensure that we can produce critical supplies in the country when necessary. In the future, stockpiling of items such as personal protective equipment may be appropriate. They recommended aggressive action to eliminate interprovincial trade barriers, as well as a temporary elimination of tariffs on imported food and other necessary products. For more…https://www.cdhowe.org/sites/default/files/attachments/communiques/mixed/CWGR_2020_0409_0.pdf


The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has published a paper by Ricardo Tranjan,entitled, The Rent is Due Soon

In this analysis of the 3.4 million Canadian households who rent and depend on wages or self-employment earnings for income, Tranjan points out that 46%, or just over 2 million households, have a month’s wages or less in easily accessible savings (ie not RRSP’s or property).

The report notes that some provinces have announced a moratorium on evictions, and recommends increasing the GST credit for low income households, exempting unemployed tenants from rent in subsidized rentals, and increasing rental subsidies. They also recommend that landlords be able to get partial recompense through business aid packages.  For more: https://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/2020/03/Rent%20is%20due%20soon%20FINAL.pdf 


The Canada West Foundation, (China Brief) provides information about Canada’s supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and our relationship with China. 

There has been some criticism of the Canadian government (in Canada) for having donated some 16 tonnes of PPE to China in early February to help in their battle with the outbreak . Since then however, China has become a dominant supplier of medical equipment to Canada and other countries.

Huawei, the company at the centre of the dispute between China and Canada, has donated a combined total of almost one million masks, including N95, to B.C. health care workers. The company has reached out to other provinces to see if donations are welcome but not all have accepted the offer. The B.C. government did not publicize the donation and the company itself has made it clear that they do not want to publicize their donations. However, there are reports that Huawei plans on sending six million masks to Canada.

The Chinese government has also donated 30,000 medical masks, 10,000 sets of protective clothing, 10,000 goggles, and 50,000 pairs of gloves as it looks to become a global leader in the response effort.

Additionally, Prime Minister Trudeau said this weekend that Canada is going to be receiving millions more medical masks from China within 48 hours. These masks will be going to Quebec, where the most cases of COVID-19 are. This was announced the day after U.S. based manufacturer 3M got direction from the American government to stop exporting N95 respirators to Canada and Latin America.

The document also takes note of the fact that almost all of Canada’s trading partners have placed restrictions on critical exports. As well, not all products from China are passing quality assurance, perhaps because of hasty production. 

Another sobering note… Canada is not alone in its reliance on Chinese supplies, China controls between 70 and 95 per cent of the U.S. market for vitamin C, ibuprofen, hydrocortisone, and acetaminophen and 97 per cent of the antibiotic market.

Finally,  expect transportation costs for supplies like this to double or more, as well as price increases. For more ..https://cwf.ca/research/publications/china-brief-edition-041-chinas-involvement-in-personal-protective-equipment-and-what-this-means-for-canada/



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