MEDIA: CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel (April, 2022)

Pleased to join the CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel on a busy news week, alongside Mark Warner and John Northcott.

 With a diverse array of topics, here are some thoughts on our chat:

The early days of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine were met with shock, anger, and sanctions by a range of countries.  Over a month later, what has the impact been?  It’s true that many companies have indicated that they will no longer do business with or in Russia, which should impact supply on both a consumer and corporate level.  It has been reported, however, that some companies continue to operate there under franchise arrangements, and in the absence of being able to see the details of the agreement (franchise, license, joint venture, or otherwise), it is difficult to identify exactly why this is the case (an important lesson for business leaders considering doing business abroad).  Regardless, companies that continue to operate in Russia will certainly face negative response from customers and the public in areas such as North America and Europe, which could result in costly brand and financial damage where it matters.

As we look ahead to Canada’s budget day, it will be interesting to see the impact of the arrangement between the Liberals and NDP, policy announcements in areas such as national defence spending and security, as well as the balance between moving forward from COVID19 and recognizing that the pandemic still has a considerable impact on businesses, consumers, and the economy.

And speaking of inflation, Dollarama’s recent results announcement indicates that the Company has been financially successful over the past while (not surprising for companies of this nature in difficult economic times) and a plan to incorporate products with a $5 price point.  Those who shop at Dollarama know that existing products can cost as much as $4, and given inflation and cost increases related to supply chain and other manufacturing and procurement problems, it is not surprising to see rising retail prices.  This approach might also bring in additional products to Dollarama, providing more variety for shoppers (let’s hope they did their research!).

And, finally, Amazon warehouse workers in the New York City area voted to unionize on Friday, representing the first successful US organizing effort in the Company’s history.  This situation did not involve major trade unions and has been characterized as a grassroots effort, and given the significant wealth gap between business owners/leaders and the “average worker”, expect to see this trend continue; the question is: how far will it go?  Consider the many people who effectively piece together their own income, through various casual or gig economy jobs, with little in the way of security or benefits, while multi-billionaires exhibit excessive lifestyles on social media.  The reality is that there is a cost to this gap, and as we have discussed on the Business Panel before, it is not about everyone earning the same amount of money, but, rather, bringing a sense of fairness to the issue to generate better outcomes for everyone.

Thank you for watching, and let’s hope that we see peaceful days in Ukraine very soon.

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Jenifer Bartman
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