Former Air Canada CEO Calin Rovinescu is urging Canadian pension funds to invest more in Canadian businesses.

“If Canadian institutions don’t support Canadian companies, it becomes this sort of self-fulfilling prophecy of the hollowing out of corporate Canada,” Rovinescu told BNN Bloomberg in a television interview.

“The elimination of head offices here, the elimination of growth, the elimination of investment.”

Rovinescu, who now serves on the boards of Scotiabank and BCE, made the comments amid growing conversation around how much money the nation’s biggest investors are putting to work here at home.

Recent efforts by the federal Liberal government to encourage more investing in Canada have prompted some in the pension fund community to suggest it could risk their long-term returns.

But Rovinescu’s comments align with those of influential investor Peter Letko, co-founder of Letko Brosseau Global Investment Management. Letko told BNN Bloomberg in October that he’s “disappointed” with Canada’s pension industry showing an increased desire to invest outside of the country.

Letko noted the industry has gone from investing nearly 30 per cent in Canadian stocks in the year 2000 to just three per cent at the end of last year.

“There's nothing of that in some of these pension portfolios,” Letko said in his television interview. “I don't quite understand what the logic is there.”

Rovinescu said Monday that he is “personally, firmly on the Letko-Brosseau side of this debate.”

“We should be encouraging our pension funds to invest more in Canada,” Rovinescu said.


As for the outlook for Canada’s economy, Rovinescu expects a slowdown heading into 2024, but he continues to see signs of resiliency.

“I think we’ll still see a soft landing, in my view, I don’t think we’re going to be in a deep recessionary environment.”