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NAFTA 2.0

Canada faces a delicate balancing act between defending current market access provided in the existing North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and updating the agreement to meet the requirements of a 21st-century economy. Freer trade in North America has led to significant benefits for all three countries, including the United States, with U.S. exports to Canada and Mexico supporting nearly 3 million jobs. Canada should come to the table with the objective of expanding, improving, and strengthening NAFTA.

Features

Business people sitting around a table  

Canada’s Business Services Industries

Many of Canada’s business services industries have been hurt by weaknesses in the energy sector and economy over the past two years. However, most will see improvements this year due to slightly higher oil prices and an accelerating pace of job creation. Our new industry profiles for the accounting, advertising, consulting, and engineering industries forecast that all are set to see improved growth, while output in the employment services and real estate industries will moderate but remain healthy. The engineering and consulting industries will also benefit from the federal government’s plan to increase infrastructure spending.

 
Hand holding a card that says 'Great Work'  

The Power of Appreciation

Most Canadian organizations use their rewards and recognition programs to increase employee engagement, with long-service recognition being the most prevalent, followed by retirement. However, these may not be effective at motivating younger workers, who typically have an average of five different employers over a 10-year span and likely won’t be around long enough to reap the rewards. Not surprisingly, only 37 per cent of Canadian organizations surveyed felt that their rewards programs considered the multiple generations in the workforce.

 
Maple leaf and its shadow  

Canada Beyond 150

As Canada celebrates its 150th anniversary, a return to growth in the resource-rich provinces and continued strong performances in the rest of the country will stimulate solid economic growth this year. Beyond 2017, however, growth will be increasingly constrained by population aging and tepid productivity growth. The baby-boom generation’s exiting of the labour force will shrink the pool of available labour and slow economic potential considerably. Over the next 20 years, Canada’s economy will average more modest growth of 1.8 per cent. This will have major implications for all Canadians and all levels of government.

Maple leaf mosaic illustration  

Immigration Governance in the 21st Century

In the 1990s, most of Canada’s provinces and territories joined the federal government to play a consistent role in governing immigration. The two levels often grapple with how to effectively balance federal and provincial/territorial immigration goals. A new aspirational approach for governing immigration suggests the federal government could continue to manage admissions, enforcement, and citizenship, while the two levels would continue to share selection responsibilities. The federal government would maintain its national oversight role while accommodating, to the best of its abilities, the selection requests made by the provinces and territories based on their various needs. Lastly, federally and provincially/territorially funded immigrant settlement services would continue to operate concurrently, with better coordination between the two parties.

 
Paper being spooled in a factory  

Canada’s Paper Products Industry

Canadian pulp producers continue to face a severe global oversupply that has weakened demand for their products abroad. Paper mills have not fared much better, as the trend toward digitalized media continues to weaken demand for traditional reading and writing papers. The industry’s growth will depend on its ability to transition away from traditional paper markets and produce paper products for markets that have stronger outlooks, such as packaging, labelling, and sanitary papers. Despite the challenges, pre-tax profits are expected to improve to $950 million by 2021 as labour costs remain contained, allowing revenues to outstrip costs through the forecast.


CBoC Highlights

 
Craig Alexander speaking
We are pleased to present our new corporate video highlighting our mission statement and our importance to Canadians. Craig Alexander discusses the potential for an interest rate hike and what this might mean for Canadians on CTV’s “Your Morning.”
Infographic thumbnail Infographic thumbnail
This infographic shows our five recommendations for Canada in the NAFTA renegotiations. Craig Alexander spoke at the Atkinson Centre’s Summer Institute event on the cost of inequity and the role of early childhood education in closing the gap.

In This Issue

  • NAFTA 2.0
  • Canada’s Business Services Industries
  • The Power of Appreciation
  • Canada Beyond 150
  • Immigration Governance in the 21st Century
  • Canada’s Paper Products Industry

Previous Issues

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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