time for change on blackboard with businessman finger pointing

Citing the effects of the Covid-19 outbreak, the Investment Industry Association of Canada (IIAC) is calling for Employment Insurance (EI) reform, training for displaced workers and a path back to budgetary balance.

In a submission to pre-budget consultations by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance, the IIAC made a series of recommendations that included policy reforms to address post-pandemic fallout, alongside familiar calls for investment tax breaks and higher RRSP limits.

The IIAC applauds the government support measures that have cushioned the effects of the pandemic on the economy — and the financial sector — but it warned that the recovery “faces significant risks.”

“The risk of a second wave of Covid-19 is real and could have a devastating impact on the economy until a vaccine is available,” the industry trade group said. “Difficult decisions will need to be made on how fiscal policy will evolve to support the recovery in the context of a framework to rein in debt down the road.”

To that end, the IIAC said that the budget should feature “a credible path back toward budget balance.”

It also called for the modernization of the EI system, noting that “the pandemic exposed long-standing issues” with that system.

“Had it not been for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), millions of Canadians would have been left without financial assistance during the pandemic because they did not have access to EI,” the IIAC said.

EI needs to be reformed to make it more inclusive, covering self-employed, part-time workers and gig workers, the group said.

“A more inclusive system could help bridge incomes and support the recovery,” it noted.

The IIAC also recommended that the government launch a training program for workers in industries that have been particularly hard-hit by the pandemic.

“Policy responses such as retraining programs are needed to increase resilience across Canada’s workforce,” it said.

And the IIAC added, “A strong upskilling and reskilling program would ensure Canadians remain connected to the labour force, especially displaced workers in sectors facing dismal post-pandemic recovery prospects.”