"An Economy That Works" should aim at Smart Infrastructure development, say CATA leaders
Ottawa, January 8, 2009 -- Responding to a poll from the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA), some 150 executives from companies in the field of high technology called on the Federal Government to stimulate the economy to the tune of four percent of Gross Domestic Product, or $60-billion. They advised that the money be spent on programs that support the development of a smart infrastructure for Canada.
"When the U.S. sneezes, Canada catches a cold," said CATA President John Reid. "Today, sadly, our American friends have got a fever, so we better be prepared to fight pneumonia. We need to reach for a cure for our own economy that is at least as serious as the one the Americans are using." The incoming American government of President-elect Barak Obama is considering infrastructure spending on the order of $800-billion to $1-trillion.
"The American economy has come to a standstill because people aren't spending money," added Mr. Reid. "When Americans don't buy, we don't produce. They have entered a Depression, which requires a huge stimulus to overcome. The 1929 Depression only ended when spending rose to fight World War II. We need to be thinking on the level of an economic war."
The poll asked hi-tech leaders three questions: How badly will your business suffer if the down-turn continues?; Do you agree on a $60-billion stimulus package; and Which sectors should we invest in?
On the question of "How badly will your business or occupation suffer?" almost three-quarters (73%) felt that there would be either a decline in sales or that their companies would be "badly wounded". A further six per cent indicated that their businesses might close.
Addressing the issues of whether "We should plan on job stimulus spending of $60-billion -- proportionately, the level of the Americans, who are spending $500-billion to $1-trillion", 60% approved of the stimulus idea.
On the selection of the best long-term value for stimulus spending in terms of employment, the first choice went to Smart Infrastructure development (41%). Smart infrastructures include networks to link vehicles to themselves and ground services, city-wide wireless access for mobile devices, the provision of online services for communities and other public sector organizations, innovations in the services sector, and the creation of advanced materials.
The other choices were Traditional Infrastructure (23%), Green Technology (19%), followed by Alternate Energy and Healthcare.
"We hope that these ideas will be useful to the government as it plans its strategy. We are offering different insights from the leaders of the "Innovation Nation" -- Canada's top entrepreneurs and new business champions. Ultimately, we're all trying to create an economy that works."
CATA's position paper, An Economy That Works, will shortly be distributed for comments by the public and private sectors.