Since we aren’t going to see a Canadian stimulus package (or anything else from Ottawa) until January, we have plenty of time to talk about the shape that stimulus should take. Apparently the construction workers are already busy. Where else can that money go?
I think there is a strong argument for boosting education spending.
1. I would hesistate to put too much additional money in primary and secondary education, because it is very difficult to take that funding back when it is no longer needed for the stimulus.
2. Colleges can retrain the unemployed and underemployed for new kinds of work, either where the jobs are now or where they will be when this mess is over. We need to upgrade our workforce.
3. Universities are equally important, though the effects will take longer to feel. We’ll get better educated people, and attract the best students and faculty from around the world. Not to mention the economic spin-offs of practical research.
4. A lot of this money would be spent on labour costs in medium-sized cities across Canada. It could even be targeted to institutions in less dynamic cities, if you like, so UOIT in Oshawa could cushion the blow of GM layoffs.
5. Our oil costs more than Saudi oil, our cars cost more than Mexican cars*, our plastic crap costs more than Chinese plastic crap. Let’s compete where we have a chance to win: with skilled people.
* That’s not to say we shouldn’t manufacture anything. Toyota just opened another auto plant in Ontario! Let’s just not balance our economy on shaky industries.