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Canada’s Most Important Future Global Markets

Canadian exporters are facing a rapidly changing tide. While the resources sector is facing less demand and lower prices, the services and manufacturing sectors are experiencing renewed global interest. The U.S. still reigns supreme as the most important foreign market for Canadian businesses. However, business and government strategy should not lose sight of other important global opportunities—such as Europe and fast-growth countries like Peru, India, China, Singapore, and Indonesia.

Features

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Signs of Optimism for Canada’s Economy

Our relaunched Composite Leading Index (CLI), which sums up the performance of nine components that track the short-term course of the economy, increased by 0.9 points to 109.1 in June. This suggests a slight acceleration in economic growth six months from now. The pickup in industrial and commercial building permits bodes well for building construction in the closing months of the year, and could signal the long-awaited turnaround in business investment. However, this was partially offset by more apprehensive credit lenders and a modest decline in consumer confidence.

 
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Oil Prices’ Impact on the Canadian Economy

Oil prices impact Canada’s economy in different ways. Sectors like oil producers, oilfield services, construction, financial services, and engineering benefit in a high oil price environment. When oil prices are low, manufacturing, wholesale trade, and transportation sectors are all better off. However, overall higher oil prices are a net positive for Canada’s economy as the benefits from increased oil-related investment outweigh any negative impact on non-oil exports.

 
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Promising Outlook for Most Ontario Cities

As the weaker Canadian dollar and moderate demand from the U.S. continue to provide a lift to many Southwestern and Eastern Ontario metropolitan economies, Kitchener–Cambridge–Waterloo is expected to post the fastest growing economy this year among the 15 cities covered in the summer edition of the Conference Board’s Metropolitan Outlook. Alternatively, the outlook for the Atlantic cities covered in the report remains poor, as the economy of Saint John, New Brunswick, is forecast to remain flat, while it is projected to reach a meagre 0.6 per cent in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

 
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Canadian Textile and Apparel Industry’s Unravelling Continues

The ongoing contraction of Canada’s textile and apparel industry is expected to continue with production set to fall by 1.4 per cent in 2016. Furthermore, employment is forecast to diminish by an annual average of 4.6 per cent over the next four years. A decrease in demand, coupled with increasing wages in other manufacturing sectors drawing from the same potential workforce, will be the main factors behind this decline.  However, there is a silver lining for the industry as other costs, such as raw materials, are expected to remain low, thanks largely to the decline in oil prices. This should help the industry keep its profit margins high.

In This Issue

  • Canada’s Most Important Future Global Markets
  • Signs of Optimism for Canada’s Economy
  • Oil Prices’ Impact on the Canadian Economy
  • Promising Outlook for Most Ontario Cities
  • Canadian Textile and Apparel Industry’s Unravelling Continues

Previous Issues

Recent Op-Eds

How business can learn to own the podium, The Globe and Mail, August 23, 2016

Brexit will affect Canada’s trade with Britain, but how?, The Globe and Mail, August 9, 2016

Latest Blogs

Cyber and Hybrid Threats to Canada and Its Allies

by
  • Brent Dowdall
| May 06, 2019
<table class="blogAuthor"> <tbody> <tr> <td class="baImg"><img src="https://www.conferenceboard.ca/bios/retrieveImages.aspx?id=83526" alt="Brent Dowdall"></td> <td> </td> <td class="baText"><strong><a rel="author">Brent Dowdall</a><br> </strong>Senior Manager, Research and Business Development</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p>Cyber security threats are now considered a global security concern on par with traditional conventional military threats. Our interconnected world means that cyber threats and hybrid warfare incorporate a complex mix of hostile actors and a wide range of tactics. The rapid evolution of technology, combined with the ability of attackers to quickly adopt new offensive tools and techniques, further exacerbates the threat. Open liberal democracies have an interest in overcoming the risks of cyber attacks—to protect the critical infrastructure we rely on, personal privacy and business continuity, and even democratic institutions themselves.</p> <p>The Government of Canada is developing cyber capabilities to protect the country from virtual threats and to work within defence alliances. Among its key partners should be European countries, working both within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and with the European Union (EU) itself.</p> <p>With Europe on the front lines of hostile state and non-state actors, the EU has taken a more assertive role in organizing its own cyber security defences and those of its member states. The EU’s <a href="https://pesco.europa.eu/">Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO)</a> initiative has put cyber security at the top of the priority list for greater collaboration and cooperation among member states.</p> <p>The <a href="https://pesco.europa.eu/project/cyber-rapid-response-teams-and-mutual-assistance-in-cyber-security/">Cyber Rapid Response Teams (CRRT) and Mutual Assistance in Cyber Security</a> project is among the most advanced of the projects under the PESCO initiative. CRRT will allow member states to help each other to ensure higher level of cyber resilience and to collectively respond to cyber incidents. Lithuania leads the EU cooperation project in cyber defence, with eight more EU member states—Estonia, Spain, Croatia, Poland, Netherlands, France, Romania, and Finland—participating in the project (Belgium, Greece, Slovenia, and Germany are observers of the project).</p> <p>The aim of this project is to integrate the expertise among member states in the field of cyber defence. The rapid response teams are able to assist with training, diagnostics, and attribution forensics, and to provide assistance in operations.</p> <p>At the <a href="https://www.eucanada.eu/">5th&nbsp;European Union Security and Defence Symposium</a>, held in Ottawa on March&nbsp;20, 2019, the panel session PESCO in Action: Confronting Hybrid/Cyber Threats will outline the progress being made on the CRRT and how Canada and the EU can work together to strengthen our shared responsibilities in the field of cyber threats. The Conference Board of Canada is a partner in developing the program for the event. Participants include senior EU officials, Canadian governments officials, and experts from both sides of the Atlantic.</p> <p>Canada is far from exempt from the potential consequences of cyber threats. The Canadian Centre for Cyber Security’s most recent threat assessment says that 2019 could be a particularly harrowing year for Canadian individuals, businesses, and institutions.<span class="sup"><a href="#ftn1-ref" name="ftn1" id="ftn1">1</a></span></p> <p>Given the high and rising threat of cyber attacks, it is also important to promote the concept of cyber resilience. Unlike cyber security, which is usually very focused on prevention and protection, cyber resilience recognizes that successful cyber attacks may be inevitable. Therefore, cyber resilience promotes the need to ensure organizations can maintain critical functions and quickly return to normal in the wake of an attack. Improving organizational cyber resilience will be the focus of the Conference Board’s <a href="https://www.conferenceboard.ca/conf/cyber-security/deafult.aspx">Cyber Security 2019: Building and Testing Cyber Resilience</a> conference.</p> <p>As governments and businesses alike face new threats, decision-makers and organizational leaders need to stay up to date on the latest cyber-security trends. Ongoing research and dialogue—by sharing the successes, weaknesses, and learnings—is perhaps the most effective defensive weapon we can collectively wield against these threats.</p> <hr> <h3>Related Conference</h3> <p><a href="https://www.conferenceboard.ca/conf/cyber-security/deafult.aspx">Cyber Security 2019: Building and Testing Cyber Resilience</a><br> May 27, 2019, Toronto</p> <br><br> <p class="footnote" style="padding-top: 1.25em;"><a id="ftn1-ref" name="ftn1-ref" href="#ftn1">1</a>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;Cindy Baker, <a href="https://www.itworldcanada.com/article/canada-is-a-prime-target-for-cybersecurity-attacks-in-2019/414201">“Canada Is a Prime Target for Cybersecurity Attacks in 2019.”</a> <em>IT World Canada</em>, January&nbsp;16, 2019.</p>

Four Employee Trends Disrupting Traditional Benefits Plans

by
  • The Conference Board of Canada
| May 01, 2019
<p>As workplaces become more generationally diverse, the needs of employees have become more complex. More than ever, HR professionals are looking for ways to respond to these varied needs.</p> <p>Employers have their work cut out for them when it comes to remaining cost-effective while providing today’s workforce with the most valuable health benefits.</p> <p>Based on the <a href="https://www.conferenceboard.ca/web/benchmarking/index.html" title="" class="" target="">2019 Benefits Benchmarking</a> report, here are the <strong>top four employee trends disrupting traditional benefits plans:</strong></p> <h2>Cannabis in the Workplace</h2> <p>Medical cannabis has been legal in Canada since 2001, and the number of authorized users has grown dramatically. By mid-2018, 342,000 Canadians were registered to use legally.</p> <p>Due to the recent legalization of recreational cannabis, medical cannabis is expected to be more common. Employees are increasingly turning to their employers with questions about coverage. Yet, only a handful of the Canadian organizations we surveyed offer coverage for medical cannabis.</p> <p>Employers should consider creating strategies that are mindful of this new frontier.</p> <h2>Aging Workforce </h2> <p>The needs of Canadian employees have become increasingly complex as Canada’s largest generation continues to work past the typical retirement age. This has put pressure on the health care system. Employers find themselves challenged to address the needs of this generation head-on.</p> <p>Organizations are aware of this trend, and they are looking for technology to better manage health care needs.</p> <h2>Increase Use of Biologic Drugs </h2> <p>There has been an increase in the use of biologic drugs and a greater focus on paramedical services. This has made it difficult for organizations to decide where to invest resources.</p> <p>Given this growing trend, having a drug cost management strategy is becoming increasingly important for the long-term sustainability of benefits plans.</p> <h2>Virtual Health Care and Wellness </h2> <p>Organizations are seeking more cost-effective, creative, and proactive ways to maintain and improve employee health. Canadian organizations are increasingly turning to new technologies that focus on prevention, such as virtual wellness technologies to manage health and fitness and pharmacogenetic testing.</p> <p>Different industries align their benefits strategies with virtual wellness technologies in varying ways. Their focuses may include physical wellness, improving financial wellness, reducing stress, absenteeism, or productivity.</p> <p><strong>Get ahead of these disruptors by leveraging data from 217 Canadian organizations in the 2019 Benefits Benchmarking report.</strong> <a href="https://www.conferenceboard.ca/web/benchmarking/index.html" title="" class="" target="">Read on</a>.</p>

Five Trends That Will Change the Way Your Company Structures Benefits

by
  • The Conference Board of Canada
| Mar 20, 2019
<p>Employee expectations are changing, and nowhere is this more evident than in benefit offerings. </p> <p> Canadian employers are being challenged to appeal to a multi-generational workforce. Varied employee needs have given rise to an evolved style of benefit offerings: one that is flexible, but keeps an eye on cost. </p> <p> How can you stay ahead of the curve? We surveyed 217 organizations for our new <a href="https://www.conferenceboard.ca/web/benchmarking/index.html">Benefits Benchmarking&nbsp;2019</a> report, collecting data that reflect the experiences of 1.2&nbsp;million employees. </p> <p><strong>Here are five trends in employee benefits that will give your organization an edge:</strong></p> <h2>More Flexible Benefits</h2> <p>Flexibility is the name of the game in 2019. Increasingly, employers are managing costs by letting employees decide what supports are best for them and their families. In our survey, we found that a record-breaking <strong>two-thirds of Canadian employers are now offering more innovative health care spending accounts (HCSAs) to employees at all levels</strong>.</p> <h2>Wellness Apps Supporting Employee Well-Being</h2> <p>Wellness apps are proving to be a win-win. Employees who use these apps are reaping the rewards of being proactive about their physical and mental health. Meanwhile, employers benefit from happier, healthier employees.</p> <h2>Medical Marijuana Offered as an Employee Benefit</h2> <p>The green wave has arrived in Canada. It’s no surprise that medical cannabis is starting to find its way into employee benefit offerings. While only 6&nbsp;per cent of organizations currently cover medical cannabis, <strong>close to half (48&nbsp;per cent) of respondents report they are considering doing so in the future</strong>.</p> <h2>Outsourcing Benefits Administration</h2> <p>With the emergence of new HR technologies, outsourcing your benefits administration can significantly impact your bottom line while meeting employees’ wellness needs.</p> <h2>Offering Mental Health Support to Employees</h2> <p>Conversations around mental health in the workplace have hit critical mass, bolstered by the gigantic #BellLetsTalk movement. Approximately two-thirds of all responding organizations report enhancing or introducing strategies to support employees’ mental health and wellness. </p> <p><strong>How does your organization stack up? Optimize your employee benefits with data from 217&nbsp;organizations. </strong><a href="https://www.conferenceboard.ca/web/benchmarking/index.html"><strong>Get the Benefits Benchmarking 2019 report.</strong></a></p> <p><a href="https://www.conferenceboard.ca/web/benchmarking/index.html"><img src="/images/default-source/cboc-images-public/22685_benefits_552x147_final.jpg?sfvrsn=b9274e13_0" data-displaymode="Original" alt="Benefits_552x147" title="Benefits_552x147"></a></p>

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