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The Post-Viral Pivot: How Canada’s Tech Startups Can Drive the Recovery from COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to push Canada into a deep recession. The economy will shrink at an annualized rate of 25 percent in the second quarter and as many as 2.8 million jobs will be lost, according to a Conference Board of Canada report. As the crisis eases, governments will inevitably turn their attention from protecting citizens’ health to rebuilding the economy.

To do that, the federal and provincial governments have already pledged hundreds of billions of dollars as they help businesses weather the short-term crisis and support workers. They have focused on the sectors hit hardest by the forced shutdown of economic activity — stores, restaurants, hotels, airlines and major manufacturers, such as car makers. Getting these industries up and running again is essential.

But it’s also only a first step. Unless governments also invest in future growth, any recovery they create will be short-lived and shallow. We need to make fundamental changes if we are to emerge from the pandemic with new and lasting economic strength. While some have suggested that Canada needs to look to a “New Economy,” the reality is that Canada’s “Old Economy” of mature manufacturers, retailers and resource companies is already part of that New Economy.

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The Innovation Economy Council is an independent voice for the innovation ecosystem founded by MaRS Discovery District, Ontario Centres of Excellence, Communitech, DMZ, CCRM and Invest Ottawa. It brings together entrepreneurs and leaders from industry, academia and the investment community to drive Canada’s industrial innovation policy.