We'll want to make tourism a big part of our relaunch strategy: Economic development minister
Canada’s economic development minister isn't shying away from the federal government's desire to equip consumers to play a big role in reviving the tourism sector on the other side of COVID-19.
“We already know that after the pandemic we will be facing a very difficult economic situation and we will want to support sectors of the economy that have been particularly impacted – definitely the tourism sector is one, and definitely we will want to make it a big part of our relaunch strategy,” Joly said in a television interview Wednesday.
“A focus of us as a government [will be] to make sure that people have the money to spend and to spend it in the sectors we want, such as the travel and tourism sector.”
In its fiscal update Monday, the federal government announced support measures for the tourism and airline industries. For airlines specifically, the document indicated any targeted aid would require the return of regional routes that were cut as well as refunding fares to passengers whose flights were cancelled because of COVID-19.
In a television interview last month, Air Canada CEO Calin Rovinescu said he was open to issuing refunds in exchange for government aid.
When asked if the government is in a situation where it must pick winners and losers based on where the aid is needed most, Joly said the economic reality will be different from other recessions once the pandemic is over.
“We will be analyzing what exactly is important for us to do in terms of economic incentives,” she said.
James Moore, a former NAFTA Advisory Council member and cabinet minister in Stephen Harper’s Conservative government, said governments trying to decide which sectors should receive support is “a bit of a fool’s errand.”
“Governments have a real challenge because you have to assess: what are the businesses that if they get cracked and their back is broken that they will never recover, versus other businesses if they’re cracked and their back is broken they will come back in some other way,” Moore, who is now a senior business advisor at Dentons, said in a television interview.
“There are some industries – the airline industry is one where I think there is a consensus view – that need to have some kind of structural support on a go-forward basis. But it’s a bit of a fool’s game to try to expect Melanie Joly or others in Ottawa, who frankly don’t have a great deal of experience in the private sector, to try to put on the wizard’s hat and try to assess: what are going to be the firms that are going to be the most economically viable going forward.”