Canada is seeking new ways to enhance its economic performance and long term potential while retaining its distinctive priorities and social values. These new approaches acknowledge that the drivers of economic growth are changing. The emergence of new technologies and increasing integration of global markets are leading to a greater emphasis on skills, research and development (R&D) and the role of cities. This domestic agenda reflects the desire to increase Canada’s economic standing and leadership in the global community.
Within Canada, the growth of the knowledge economy and the intensification of north-south linkages have changed the pattern of development, consolidating growth around urban areas and those industries which are most closely integrated into the U.S. economy. The demands for increased political clout from Canada’s largest cities and western provinces such as Alberta are visible outcomes of this shift in economic power. The federal Throne Speech and Budget have accommodated these interests through initiatives such as the New Deal for Communities and an income support program for Canadian beef farmers.
What about other parts of Canada? Not all have adapted so successfully to the knowledge economy or opportunities under NAFTA: since the mid 1990s, there have been marked variations in economic opportunities and hence economic outcomes for individuals, provinces and regions. One of the key challenges for the new federal government will be to ensure that strategies designed to enhance national growth are balanced with those that ensure access to opportunities for individuals and communities across the country. Each region in Canada has the potential to contribute to a stronger national economy by achieving and further developing its full economic potential. The ability to unleash that potential, and improve prosperity across the country, will be the mark of a truly successful national government.
In this report, we speak for Atlantic Canada, drawing on our understanding of how the economy has evolved over the past ten years as a foundation for identifying policy options which can best establish strong growth in the future. In our view, there have been significant changes in economic structure and economic performance in the region: both signal the need to redirect and refocus federal economic development strategies for Atlantic Canada. Our analysis is selective and recommends economic policy priorities which will strengthen the long term performance of Atlantic Canada’s economy.