MEDIA: CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel (July 29, 2023)

Great day to join the CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel, alongside Mark Warner, Elmer Kim, and Natalie Kalata, talking the status of Canada’s immigration boom, big grocery profits, and Twitter becoming X; you can watch our segment here.  A few thoughts on our discussion.

It’s been noted on the Business Panel numerous times that almost every type of company seems to be hiring these days.  Common themes as to why this is the case include demographics (i.e., older workers retiring), fewer students taking on part-time or Summer jobs, and the employment shift that became evident during COVID19, as people moved away from traditional front line roles.  A lack of staff impacts a company’s capacity and ability to generate revenues, which makes immigration to fill employment roles of increasing importance for Canada.  The challenge is that doing this successfully requires far more than just “the job”, as new Canadians and their families require a host of essentials, including housing, healthcare, and social resources; Canada also needs sufficient infrastructure to support an increasing population.

Meeting this challenge requires ongoing, skilled management and oversight, as much of this is implementation.  Ideas and policies can come relatively easily, however, the “getting it done” is often much more difficult, as practical realities can uncover unexpected problems, such as a lack of materials and labour to build necessary housing.  Successful results require a balance, to ensure that new Canadians are not only accessing jobs that need to be filled, but are also finding all other aspects that are integral to establishing a life for themselves and their families.

The lack of grocery competition in Canada was a topic on the Business Panel just a few weeks ago, and the news of significant grocery profits at Loblaws reinforces some of that discussion.  Although the reported 31% increase in profits includes “a one-time charge of $111 million related to a PC Bank commodity tax matter” (which would typically be factored out of comparison to other periods, from an accounting perspective), performance levels are significant, nonetheless.  An increase in shopping traffic at discount retail chains was also reported, continuing the trend of Canadians seeking lower price options.  This story is not only a reminder of the importance of traditional good shopping tactics, such as making a list and comparing prices, but also the opportunity for Canada to improve competition at both producer and retailer levels (not a quick fix, by any means).

And, finally, as Twitter’s new owner announces a decision to re-brand the platform as X, most notable is the disposal of significant brand recognition and value, including common use of the word “tweet” in reference to a short message.  This is the type of brand recognition that most can only dream of, such as common use of the word “Kleenex” to refer to a tissue.  Couple this with the cute, easily recognizable and approachable bird logo, in comparison to a new X logo that comes across as dark, ominous, and suspect, at best.  Twitter was once a useful platform for quality and timely information, and although its usefulness declined prior to sale, it has become even more dismal since then.  Time will tell if this latest “strategy” will amount to anything more than a tax write-off in the not too distant future.

Thanks for watching, and enjoy the rest of the Summer!

Jenifer Bartman
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