MEDIA: CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel (December, 2021)

Great to join the CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel on a busy news week, alongside Dennis Mitchell and John Northcott. Our discussion focused on the impact of the Omicron variant on the markets, the good news in the latest Canada jobs report, and the intellectual property dispute between Peloton and Lululemon.


Some quick thoughts on our chat:

With the global pandemic approaching two years since the first days of widespread knowledge, Canadians have been looking forward to at least some return to normal life.  Greater access to things such as travel, events, and simply getting together have brought some optimism, however, the recent appearance of the Omicron variant is a reminder of the tenuous situation in which our world remains.  Markets reacted negatively to this development, perhaps, recognizing the potential for restrictions to return in the not too distant future (something that has already occurred in Europe) and what the impact on many businesses could be.  Equally concerning is commentary from scientific experts, including those responsible for developing vaccines, in terms of how well existing vaccines will work against the new variant (work on potential adjustments is already underway).  In these early days of Omicron, we are reminded that the best things that we can do is to follow the science and live our lives in a manner that stops the spread of COVID19; it is difficult to see how a healthy society or economy are possible without doing so.

With Canada adding 154,000 jobs last month, employment levels are almost 200,000 jobs higher than before the pandemic.  These measures represent points in time and employment is closely linked to the health of the community and the ability of businesses to operate (the supply chain crisis also impacts the extent to which companies are able to function well).  One of the interesting aspects of employment is the relative tightness of the labour market, especially in front line areas where people may be reconsidering their career objectives.  Also of note is the office job that can be conducted from anywhere, opening up new employment choices for many.  Employers will have to be careful about the choices they make, in terms of setting policy around the options of how employees can work (i.e., remotely, blended, on site, etc.), as staff members are likely seeking out what they view as the best career offering.  Remember that the “best” employees tend to have the most choices, which can leave some employers to a future of marginal workers; it can be difficult to unwind this type of situation once it has occurred.

And, finally, the intellectual property dispute between Peloton and Lululemon will ultimately come down to the details, as this is the nature of patents and other protections.  Of note, some business leaders might be surprised to learn that strategic partnerships tend to require far more time and resources than expected, which can lead to disappointing results.  Those who have lived this experience might have found themselves wondering why the partnership failed to reach what was considered to be its potential.  Keep in mind that having two parties doesn’t necessarily mean that there is less work for each to do, as well as the fact that one entity is not an extension of the other.  These common challenges are beside the point that the parties might also find that they cannot or do not wish to work together any longer.  Advisors can help business leaders to evaluate and address strategic partnerships, and it will be interesting to see where the IP experts draw the line in resolving this dispute.

Thank you for watching and enjoy the best of this Holiday Season!

Jenifer Bartman
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