Garneau says Canada needs to focus on boosting productivity and innovation

Liberal Party of Canada leadership candidate Marc Garneau speaks at the Hilton in Toronto, Ont. on Wed. Dec. 12, 2012 held by the Economic Club of Canada.



TORONTO - Canada's economy is failing to meet its potential, federal Liberal leadership candidate Mark Garneau says.

The Quebec MP laid out his economic vision for Canada at an Economic Club of Canada luncheon on Wednesday.

"We must strike at the heart of structural challenges facing our economy. We must entice and reward private investment in innovation. In doing so, we will empower the private sector, not the government, to drive Canadian innovation," Garneau said.

"We can no longer afford to tinker around the edges. We must face our challenges."

Garneau stressed that Canada needs to focus on improving its productivity and innovation record and invest in workplace skills and tackle the high youth unemployment rate.

"To bridge Canada's productivity gap and to accelerate Canada's economic growth, we must invest in ourselves. Unfortunately we do not. While Canada has very high post-secondary rates, Canadian businesses have failed to invest significantly in workplace training," said Garneau, who is competing against MP Justin Trudeau for his party's top job.

"Only one in three working Canadians receives workplace training today. Without ongoing skills training, Canada's competitiveness will continue to remain weak and the result will be lost jobs. It is time to get serious about skills."

He highlighted the need to tackle youth unemployment, which now stands at 15% - double the national average.

"To be blunt, we have abandoned our youth, too preoccupied with ourselves, our own problems. But soon, as the baby boom generation retires, we will realize this mistake. I think many of us are realizing it now," Garneau said.

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