Montreal, March 25, 2020 – The members of the House of Commons today passed the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act following negotiations between the government and the opposition parties. The President and CEO of the MEI, Mr. Michel Kelly-Gagnon, shares his reactions.
“At first glance, many of the Bill’s measures seem reasonable and guided by simple common sense. There are, for instance, the income support payments to workers affected by the coronavirus, or again the additional payments to the provinces and territories that might need them,” says Michel Kelly-Gagnon.
“Also good is the fact that many of the measures contained in this Bill are of limited duration, and will need to be approved again later by Parliament,” says Mr. Kelly-Gagnon. “This therefore limits the risk of undemocratic abuses or excesses,” adds the MEI’s President and CEO.
The government as arsonist-firefighter
While the government’s stated interest in “promoting the stability or maintaining the efficiency of the financial system in Canada” is potentially a very good thing, Mr. Kelly-Gagnon nonetheless has a word of caution for public decision-makers.
“No one can be opposed to this, but it must be recognized that the details will be extremely important. The government’s actions risk generating unintended consequences in the medium and long term. Indeed, this is what we observed with the government interventions responding to the 2008 financial crisis: More often than not, the government acts like an arsonist-firefighter,” argues Mr. Kelly-Gagnon.
“Finally, we cannot help but bemoan the fact that the current federal government decided to accumulate deficits when the economy was humming. This reduces its room to manoeuvre today and its ability to deal with serious crises like the one we are presently living through,” concludes the President and CEO of the MEI.
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The MEI is an independent public policy think tank. Through its publications, media appearances, and advisory services to policy-makers, the MEI stimulates public policy debate and reforms based on sound economics and entrepreneurship.
Interview requests: Daniel Dufort, Senior Director of External Relations, Communications and Development, MEI. Tel.: 514-273-0969 ext. 2224 / Cell: 438-886-9919 / Email: firstname.lastname@example.org