The COVID-19 outbreak has caused many systems to be put on temporary hold. The new rules of social distancing have put numerous types of services out of business. With new rules only essential businesses are allowed to stay operational. As provinces outline a step by step reopening, weaknesses within many systems are visible.
Dan Breznitz is a co-director at the Innovation Policy Lab at University of Toronto. He says Canada is in for a wake-up call as it will have a problem just selling wood and unprocessed oil.
The unpredictable conditions of this pandemic have forced a lot of international borders to be closed. This has affected trade significantly. Experts predict that the global trade of raw commodities will decline as this pandemic makes the movement of people and goods more challenging.
He adds that the country must work to rebuild its ability to produce sophisticated goods through innovation. Breznitz says, “we no longer can produce the basic things we need in order to survive under a pandemic and we cannot count on global production networks to do that in times of crisis”.
It is evident that the Canadian economy is heavily reliable on international trade partners to provide some essentials for Canadians. He urged that Canada should find ways to support its small and medium sized enterprises during this pandemic. This effort could help them offset the essential items Canada would otherwise outsource. This process could involve some research and development into technologically advanced processes. This also allows research into different fields of science. These efforts can help grow Canadian businesses, especially during this economic recession (https://globalnews.ca/news/6962680/coronavirus-canada-economy-vulnerabilities/ ).
Some provincial governments however already taken some measures to enable Canadian businesses. These measures are to enable businesses to provide required essential items. Specifically, the province of Ontario has started working with Medical Innovation Xchange to support local innovation during this pandemic. Medical Innovation Xchange is Canada’s first industry-led hub for med-tech start ups and it has offered to provide non-medical manufacturing companies support during this pandemic. This support can be useful as they shift and restructure to provide essential supplies for provincial health care facilities and workers.
Through this collaboration, innovation efforts will increase. This increase in innovation could create more jobs and help develop a further independent and domestic medical supply chain for the province of Ontario.
Vic Fedeli, the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade added, “Ontario has some of the best and brightest and innovative people in the world and its critical that we leverage that advantage to better prepare for the future. Our governments collaboration with Medical Innovation Xchange members is an example of how we are collaborating with our cutting-edge businesses to solve problems, grow our medical technologies sector and build a safer environment for Ontario’s health care facilities”.
As a part of the same effort, Ontario has also created the Ontario Together Fund
worth $50 millions. Through this small and medium businesses can find funding to shift their operations and innovation efforts to essential items. With these resources, non-medical manufacturing companies can receive funding and advisory services through the Medical Innovation Xchange to help navigate regulatory standards and increase efficiency.
“The Medical Innovation Xchange was founded to help young domestic medical technology companies navigate specific challenges in the healthcare sector. We understand how to be efficient with resources and make the fewest mistakes while accelerating timelines to build critical medical supplies and equipment” says MIX Founder Armen Bakirtzian (https://news.ontario.ca/medg/en/2020/05/ontario-collaborates-with-med-tech-innovation-hub-in-the-fight-against-covid-19.html).
In addition to the Ontario Together fund, the Government of Canada also provides several other programs through which businesses can be enabled to contribute during the pandemic. The most common is the SR&ED tax incentive program. This provides tax credits to businesses that conduct any form of research and development, specifically scientific research and experimental development. The SR&ED program provides over $3 billion in tax incentives to over 20,000 businesses annually. This program, therefore, stands as the single largest federal program that supports R&D in Canada. The SR&ED tax incentives are awarded based on the amount of qualifying expenditures of R&D/innovation projects and efforts.