Peter Boag
President and CEO, Canadian Fuels Association

June 2020

Rules of Engagement for Effective Pandemic Recovery 

Although we are only days into the season, Summer 2020 is already taking on a very different meaning for Canadians.  This time of the year is typically defined by road trips, campouts and travel overseas, but for many of us, ‘staycations’ will be the norm for Summer 2020.  While many of the restrictions that we have endured over the past few months are beginning to lift, it is clear that life will be anything but ‘business as usual’ across Canada this season.

As we work toward defining the new normal in our daily lives, governments across Canada are grappling with how to best reactivate our economy while continuing public health measures to protect Canadians. Federal and provincial governments will have many important decisions to make when it comes to dealing with the ongoing and the yet-to-be determined economic impacts related to COVID-19 as well as creating a solid foundation for an uncertain future.

When it comes to selecting the path to pandemic recovery, there is no shortage of opinions and perspectives.  Disparate groups are staking their claim to having the best solution for moving forward and the debate around government priorities and which sectors should receive support during this critical time is already underway.  Governments are being asked to focus on a recovery plan that is ‘responsible’ or ‘resilient’ and that supports ‘shovel ready’ or ‘shovel worthy’ initiatives.  Some groups want to build an entirely new economy while others just want Canada’s pre-pandemic infrastructure to get back to work.

What Canada really needs right now is to establish rules of engagement and some common understanding around our collective approach to pandemic recovery.  While there may be divergent views on how to get there, we can all rally around a shared interest in building a stronger, better Canada.  Conversations around next steps should be centred around three key concepts: 1) Our pandemic recovery actions should strengthen Canada’s economy and support our national environmental objectives; 2) Today’s challenges warrant a multi-faceted approach – no one idea or initiative can achieve these desired outcomes on its own; 3) We are all on the same team when it comes to our shared future.

Before the pandemic put the brakes on our economy, Canada was already taking significant steps to address climate change.  While urgent action is required to get our economy back on track, we must continue on our path to achieving success in a lower-carbon world.  Recently, the Canadian Fuels Association outlined the role that transportation fuels will play in helping Canada power past the pandemic and toward a better future.  All ideas and initiatives related to pandemic recovery need to be designed with a view to building and maintaining a strong economy as well as ensuring Canada’s role as a leader in a lower-carbon future. This idea was recently underscored by Natural Resources Minister O’Regan who stated that “The Government of Canada remains committed to innovation and building a clean energy future to stimulate the economy, create good jobs and support our natural resource sectors through this tough economic time.”

We can also all agree that the challenges that we are currently facing are complex and broad in scope.  Therefore, there is no ‘silver bullet’ solution that will help us overcome these challenges.  It is going to take a strategic mix of ideas and initiatives to achieve the results that we are seeking.  A successful pandemic recovery will leverage and adapt Canada’s existing infrastructure and capabilities while developing new technologies and skills as we continue the transition to a new economy.

We are all proud members of Team Canada when it comes to building a better, stronger country.  Our pandemic recovery plan should meet the needs of all Canadians, harness the strengths of our people and provide opportunities to contribute from coast to coast to coast, whether you live in a small town or an urban metropolis.

As pandemic-related restrictions slowly lift and Canadians decide how to make the most out of the 2020 summer season, governments are making important decisions that will define what ‘business as usual’ means in our future.  Following some basic rules of engagement will ensure that our pandemic recovery plans are successful in creating a stronger, better Canada.

Canadian Fuels Association