For now, politicians should focus on two critical issues for a recovery agenda: how to manage the health pandemic and how to get people back to work, writes Jack Mintz in the Financial Post. Below is an excerpt from the article which can be read in full here

By Jack Mintz, August 26, 2020

“Build back better” has become the central theme to Joe Biden’s economic plan. It is now coming to Canada, courtesy of a scandal-plagued Liberal party looking to change the dial.

It beats “build back worse,” obviously. But what does it really mean? It was first introduced by the Japanese development agency charged with rebuilding infrastructure after a devastating 2006 earthquake in Central Java. Buildings would be reconstructed but with improved materials and engineering techniques.

Building back better has acquired broader meaning in recent years. A 2018 World Bank report recommended building “greater resilience in recovery by systematically addressing the root causes of vulnerability. Building Back Better can help to reduce the impact of future disasters and facilitate a faster recovery process.”

In today’s pandemic, “build back better” is being touted for recovery plans worldwide. The coronavirus has led to over 9,000 deaths so far in Canada, with countless more lost to other illnesses neglected because of the COVID lockdowns. At times, we have been caught short of ICU beds, PPE and testing supplies. Millions of Canadians, especially in low-skilled service jobs, have lost jobs, some permanently. Without government assistance, those affected most would have struggled to make ends meet and may have lost their homes or businesses.

So how do we build back better? Like beauty, “better” is in the eye of the beholder.

In Biden’s “America First” plan, for example, building back better means: “Buy America” procurement policies; a US$2-trillion climate-change plan, including fracking bans on federal properties and full adoption of renewable electricity by 2035; refundable tax credits for families; opposing school choice and forgiving past student debt; and US$700 billion in subsidies for manufacturing, clean energy, biotech and artificial intelligence.


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