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After 12 years of looking ahead, Roger Martin’s Task Force on Competitiveness, Productivity and Economic Progress took a look back and found Ontario in a stall — not just exports, but domestic investment.
Something’s missing from a new task force report on the province’s economic progress: There’s no progress — just regress over the past decade.
“A highly disconcerting finding,” observes economist Roger Martin, in a grim echo of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth.
Coincidentally, Gore dropped by last week to give Ontario an eco-hug. But it’s an economic-hug that we really need.
After 12 years of looking ahead, Martin’s Task Force on Competitiveness, Productivity and Economic Progress took a look back and found Ontario in a stall — not just in our outputs (exports), but inputs (domestic investment). Rather than closing a productivity gap with our American competition, Ontario is lagging further behind.
Corporate taxes have been cut to record low levels, yet our companies are sitting on unprecedented stashes of so-called “lazy cash.”
Instead of displaying entrepreneurial zeal to boost exports, our business leaders evince timidity by failing to invest in needed equipment, R&D, software, patents and other productivity tools.
Small businesses stay perversely small, the better to benefit from a preferential tax rate — even lower than the recently lowered corporate rate for bigger firms.
And our transportation gridlock is growing, not getting better. As congestion reaches “staggering levels,” our politicians offer only subway sound bites that get us nowhere. (Oh, and the government’s latest Green Bonds trial balloon? A dubious revenue tool.)
One bright spot — the Ring of Fire — has flamed out during the time the 76-page report was drafted and its scheduled release later this week:
“Northwestern Ontario is on the cusp of one of the biggest Canadian natural resource developments in a century,” Martin notes hopefully. But the northern cusp went bust last week after the biggest U.S. investor put its holdings on hold.
“Clearly, Ontario is falling behind its competitors,” the report concludes. “This story is a result of more than a decade of missed opportunities, wasted potential, and complacency on the part of business leaders and policymakers.”
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