MEDIA: CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel (October, 2020)

A hectic news cycle is a great time to join the CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel from my home studio, alongside Elmer Kim and Asha Tomlinson.

Here’s an overview of the topics we discussed:

Businesses face increasingly strict COVID-19 measures.  As cases rise, various regions across Canada are facing tighter restrictions; can companies survive?

Federal aid and the Canada Infrastructure Bank.  As we move into the Fall with COVID-19, businesses are going to need help to get through these challenging days; how could the latest round of support help?

Market turmoil, as Trump is hospitalized.  With the recent announcement of Donald Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis, what could the future hold for the stock market?  Is there an impact for Canada?

As the weather becomes cooler and Canadians move inside, we’ve started to see increases in COVID-19 cases, with some areas being hit worse than others.  There is no doubt that an already weary business sector is concerned about the latest round of government restrictions, targeted to decrease the virus’ spread, but as the global pandemic marches on, there isn’t much choice in the matter.  In addition to keeping an eye on cashflow, business leaders can benefit from connecting with peers and business associations and remembering that advisors can help to bring perspective and creative solutions in challenging times.  Also, don’t assume that government fully understands your circumstances; it’s important to speak up if you think your company, business category, or industry is being overlooked.

Infrastructure has taken on a new meaning these days, including much more than roads and bridges.  The Canada Infrastructure Bank attracts and co-invests with private sector and institutional investors in new, revenue generating projects that are in the public interest.  Areas of focus include green infrastructure, clean power, public transit, trade and transportation, and enhanced broadband infrastructure.  Quality internet service is much more than just a “nice to have” perk; this has been clearly demonstrated during times of COVID-19, as many neighborhoods in Canada do not have sufficient service, especially in rural areas.  Another initiative of current interest is in the area of agriculture irrigation projects to strengthen food security; something that is helpful in terms of reducing reliance on other countries.  The Bank represents an opportunity to create a significant number of jobs, an important consideration, given that a number of Canadian companies undoubtedly will not survive the impact of COVID-19.

Finally, with just 30 days to the US election, President Donald Trump is currently in the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center with COVID-19.  There are a lot of questions as to how and when he contracted the virus, his current state of health, and what the outcome might be.  Markets do not like uncertainty and this situation is something that we can expect to continue for a while.

There is a lesson in this crisis for business leaders: do not find yourself in a situation that is similar to that of this White House.  Currently, there are numerous senior officials, in both the White House and the US government, that have contracted the virus or are at serious risk of doing so.  This type of situation is terrible for the continuity of leadership.  In a business context, it is important to ensure that a company can continue to operate over the long term; think about what this means, in terms of knowledge, ability, and safety (hint: a global pandemic is not the time to have a senior team meet together in an enclosed space or for unnecessary in-person interactions).  Think carefully about your actions in the days ahead; your company, employees, and customers are counting on your good judgement.

It won’t be too long until we will have better insight as to how the US election will unfold, although it might take a while to get all of the details.  In the meantime, thanks for watching and see you again soon, CBC!



Jenifer Bartman
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