What will Canada do to revive economy?

Written By Karunesh Saroya, Posted on June 29, 2020

In 2020, to say we saw real change is an understatement. We ask ourselves every single month – what will these next 30 days bring?

This year has brought the Australian wildfires, Justin Trudeau’s beard, COVID, mass layoffs, travel bans, isolation, murder hornets, new methods of working, nature reclaiming itself, and of course the latest protests in America. 

It’s evident to everyone that there will be some changes to our lifestyles. We’ve asked ourselves questions about our life pre-COVID, which consists of not getting enough sleep, overworking ourselves for little pay, and generally running around like crazy to get things done, whether for work, or the house, the spouse, kids, etc. 

It also showed that people could be more ingenious with their newfound time off. Some people began to make goods and sell them online or provided services in their community in the form of delivery services. 

Looking at the way forward as life begins to return to our new normal, may give us a clue as to how a different modern economy could emerge.

The consensus from Canadians seems to be that we no longer want to rely on places like China for manufacturing goods. We are overly dependent on their economy and can have little clout when it comes to negotiations.

Their history of human rights abuse is horrid; they have kidnapped two Canadian citizens, engaged in genocide of the Uighur population, and activity intrudes on Hong Kong’s sovereignty. The list goes on and on.

Sentiment must give way to logistics, though. Unfortunately, we don’t have a manufacturing base to replace the mass-produced Chinese goods, either locally or abroad. This applies to many industries, from textiles to agriculture to electronics. The world is too dependent on China.

That said, it can be proposed that we do not need the manufacturing of products on such an industrial scale anymore. It can be produced for reasonable prices and locally.

With the internet and other such lovely technologies that we’ve utilized during this crisis, we have come to realize the amount of work that can be done from home successfully. We can sell products on a microscopic scale; it could even be as small as from someone’s home. 

In essence, it would be going back to an old method of doing things, similar to the cottage industries of the past. If we were to make it easier for more people to get into the business, whether they were full time or part-time, operating from their homes, we’d see a rise in the locally made goods and could say goodbye to being at the whim of the Chinese Communist Party.

Community-based assistance

The rise of a new cottage industry would mean that local suppliers and local supply chains would stimulate growth. This would even work on a community scale. The shared resources from a community in one or various industries would be used for promotion and advertisements or shared shipping.

Let’s use clothing as an example, a community league or township or city (such as Terwilliger, Edmonton-Ellerslie,Beaumont, Red Deer, Lacombe, etc.) would bring together every one of a similar industry is a type of clothing co-op. The community would aid this ‘co-op’ monetarily in the sales, promotion, marketing and distribution of the goods. With all the various home-based clothing manufacturers able to better focus on their products, we’d also see a more diverse amount of goods, and better quality of goods.

The marketing would be done through places such as Etsy, Amazon, eBay and even on local community co-op sites. The costs involved in these would be quite minimal for a community organization, compared to an individual’s spending costs.

Overall, with increased buying power, the costs of the marketing and the shipping would be significantly reduced. The community makes its money back through a percentage of sales worked out, or it could only be making it again in taxes as the revenue of individuals would grow. The costs of shipping, distribution and marketing dramatically decrease while the potential for sales is significantly increased. There would be less skimming through cash-based transactions.

There would be more compliance for health and safety regulations or food-handling as these home-based businesses would now be part of a more prominent organization, and be more interactive with people within the organization that would be coming and going into their home-based businesses, (picking up goods, co-op meetings, advertising and marketing reviews etc.)

Taking it further with food production

We can take it further than manufacturing. While China isn’t exactly a concern when it comes to food production, if we were to take this concept even further into that industry, we could make some significant changes to the benefit of local communities.

Through better utilization of public and private lands or beginning a garden bartering program, citizens would be more reliant on their food production as opposed to being reliant on the grocery store.

Garden bartering

Community-based garden sharing would be an excellent way for people to reap more benefits and incentivize people to grow fruits and vegetables in their gardens. It is illegal to sell produce raised in one’s own home, but sharing and bartering would be an entirely different matter.

The premise is simple; Person A may have an excess amount of potatoes they don’t want, whereas they struggle to grow tomatoes. So, they go online and post that they are willing to trade potatoes for tomatoes. Person B, who has tons of tomatoes and needs potatoes, would answer the ad, and exchange is done between themselves.

The concept is simple, and it could be all done freely, through a Facebook group, on Kijiji or any other social media platform. Depending on the resources at its disposal, a community could look at making this a more professional operation.

Hiring someone to go to people’s homes and give them advice on growing produce or to inspect their operations to ensure health safety standards are being followed. Classes could be offered on how to store items through the winter properly.

Citizens who take part in such programs should have further incentives through tax breaks, especially when it comes to the carbon tax, as they are now reducing their carbon footprint.

Keeping and Raising Chickens

The idea is probably the simplest of all. Allow the citizens of towns and cities to keep chickens in their backyards. It is a concept that is currently in the project phase in the City of Edmonton, and it has already been allowed in many American cities for the past few decades.

It is in the majority of people’s means to be able to care for chickens and provide the necessary conditions for growing thriving chickens. Naturally, these chickens would be a great source of food through its eggs and meat. Still, the manure also can be turned into an excellent fertilizer for one’s garden, allowing people to be even more self-sufficient and cut down significantly on everyday costs.

Utilization of land

Have you ever wondered why you’re not allowed to grow fruits or vegetables in your front lawn? The thought process behind this law is because it would probably not look well maintained and bring down house values.

Your home is generally your biggest asset, and at the end of the day it is your property that you have purchased, you should be allowed to do with it as you please, within reason of course, after all this article was written to wean ourselves off of a totalitarian regime.

Canada has some of the best agricultural lands in the world, and most of that is in Western Canada. When added together, the space that our front lawns take up combined would range in the hundreds of hectares. By allowing people to use their front lawn property for gardening, that good arable land wouldn’t be wasted, again especially if there are incentives such as a reduction in carbon tax to utilize their front areas.

Public lands could be utilized more appropriately. Throughout cities and towns in Alberta, there is a great deal of property that is used and maintained by their local representation. Many of you have seen what I’m referring to.

Sometimes they are giant fields of empty grass or trees planted by sidewalks or lovely landscaping done with shrubs and flowers near a schoolyard or in a public park. Imagine if the trees and shrubs in these areas had been initially grown with fruit-bearing trees or bushes that had fruits on them. The sheer volume that cities and towns would be able to produce would be enough to feed many low privileged families or the homeless.

Currently, many organizations work to collect the excess fruits and vegetables from individuals that may not use them, which they then provide to a charity that may require them. Even if they were available to the community at large, people would see better utilization of public land, as well as optimizing the return on their hard-earned tax dollars. Projects such as these could be experimented with on a small scale and, once perfected, can be enlarged to encompass more communities and organizations.

And once again, at the risk of repeating myself, communities that engage in these activities should be incentivized through carbon tax cuts as they are lowering emissions through growing food themselves.

Little changes make a huge difference.

These may seem like little changes, but they have the potential to be able to change the way we do things in the long run. By lessening our dependency on other countries, we see a growth in self-reliance that existed in every generation before World War 2 generation.

It’s only in the past 70 years that we have seen a significant decline in this type of self-efficacy and self-determination. Given what we have seen happen during these COVID times, having a community that can provide for itself should be a priority for every generation.

People would see their incomes rise with stronger local economies that are created. Local economies in Alberta would not be as dependent on oil. We could feel good about a decision like this because not only are we reducing the amount of dependency on a country that abuses its citizens, but we’re helping out our family, friends and neighbours while reducing our carbon emissions. Because at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about, taking care of our loved ones and leaving a better world for the next generation.

Karunesh Saroya

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