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June 16 2021

Inclusive growth: The path to economic recovery through inclusion

While the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge for all of us, one where we are all sailing in the same stormy waters, we are not all in the same boat. Some of us have sailed through these waters in cruise ships and yachts, while others have barely stayed afloat in a life raft.

Emerging evidence shows the economic hardship during the pandemic is felt more acutely by certain segments of the population, particularly based on gender and visible minority status. Beyond this economic hardship, the pandemic and simultaneous current events have placed a spotlight on the systemic injustice, racism, and oppression that Black, Indigenous, and people of colour face on an ongoing basis.

As we think about economic recovery, we need to ensure that everyone recovers together. A recovery for everyone will not only lay the foundation for a more equitable society, but will also support a more stable and rapid economic recovery.

Creating opportunity for everyone

Policies focused on inclusive growth aim to create economic opportunity for those who historically have not, and still may not have, the same opportunity as others because of the way we interact, treat, and relate to one another in society.

Inclusive economic growth looks to dismantle these systemic barriers and structures like racism and sexism that often lead to the vulnerability or marginalization of individuals, and prevent them from accessing economic opportunities and fully participating in the Canadian labour market.

We know that sustained unemployment leads to deflated economic conditions. Without tapping into the skills and expertise of those who have historically been made marginalized, we are leaving great talent, productivity, and capital on the sidelines. In other words, reducing poverty, inequality, and improving health and education outcomes contributes directly to economic growth.

Productive employment: creating an equitable environment

An inclusive growth approach brings the benefits of economic growth to all citizens through productive employment, rather than just redistributing wealth to vulnerable or marginalized groups.

Focusing on productive employment means that policymakers should enact policies that support marginalized individuals’ equity, ability, health, and education outcomes and actively breakdown structures like racism and sexism. Pursing these ends will facilitate economic and labour opportunity for all, particularly those who experience oppression and marginalization.

Policy that supports inclusive growth

To achieve inclusive growth and build on Calgary’s vibrancy as a community, we need public policies that promote broader inclusion, and invite more people into our economy.

At the individual level, government and businesses can focus on policies that improve quality of life, access to healthcare, access to housing, and educational attainment. At a macro level, we need to ensure economic activity benefits society at large, businesses can remain competitive, and financing to start a business is free from the systemic barriers.

How we add more seats to the table

Investment in affordable and high-quality childcare to increase labour force participation and provide a stronger start for our kids. We can learn from jurisdictions that have implemented similar childcare investment. If done well, affordable childcare policies can pay for themselves by creating a greater tax base.

·Investment in social infrastructure, including funding for projects like affordable housing. In the short-term, this will create jobs. Over the long-term, it will reduce social and economic challenges for vulnerable individuals who are experiencing poverty and homelessness.

Promotion of a regulatory and business environment that allows start-up and scale-up firms to improve of the opportunities, resources, and abilities of their employees.

Public transit infrastructure, which creates jobs and allows for a more connected community, ultimately fostering innovation, mobility and inclusion.

Stable and predictable funding for the non-profit sector to improve community well-being and reduce major systemic issues such as homelessness, substance use disorder, and poverty.

The future of Calgary

Calgary will hold its next municipal election on Monday, October 18, 2021, providing an opportunity to have a city-wide discussion on this fundamental topic, among many other topics that will impact the trajectory of our city. As the voice of the Calgary business community, we’ll bring your voice to the table in the months ahead – contributing to the conversation and shaping the future of the city we all call home.

With a unique opportunity to shape what's on the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic, inclusive growth is an essential component that will foster a stronger recovery and build a more resilient future.