The Last Word: Perrin Beatty
Excellence in leadership manifests itself in many ways in Ottawa, a city that has evolved over the years to become much more than just the seat of our federal government.
The growth of the high tech industry, in particular, has injected a major infusion of entrepreneurship into
Ottawa, played a vital role in creating jobs and wealth in the city, and been a valuable engine driving economic growth.
But especially coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, as we reopen the economy, we face leadership challenges. The basic challenge over the short term in Ottawa, as elsewhere in Canada, is being able to find and retain employees with the skills that are urgently required for businesses to be able to grow to the next level.
One of the natural advantages we enjoy in Ottawa is having several outstanding post-secondary institutions. I see a genuine desire by those institutions to work with business to identify the skills needed to help solve that mismatch. Our first-rate academic institutions are a valuable part of the solution in terms of preparing people for jobs of the future.
Another leadership priority emerging from the pandemic is for the federal government to encourage a return of the public service to the office, in person. As the city’s largest employer, this will help breathe life back into the downtown core, and provide the stimulus needed to revive the many businesses that depend on the presence of people in a vital and thriving public service.
We also need policies to roll back red tape and regulation. In order to do that, governments at all levels in Canada – federal, provincial and municipal, need to view business as a valuable partner. Too often, the inclination among governments is to think ‘how do we control business?’ rather than ‘how do we encourage business?’
Ottawa has long been an attractive venue in which to invest and to live and raise a family, and has all the ingredients necessary to continue to be a magnet for talent and investment.
One would be hard pressed to find a more livable national capital in the world. Ottawa is in a sweet spot in terms of its size. We have, as I mentioned, first rate educational institutions. We are sophisticated and international. We have an incredibly rich cultural endowment with very active French, English and Indigenous communities that make for a very colourful tapestry.
I am confident that there is a very strong desire amongst our government, business, and academic leaders to work together to ensure Ottawa enjoys sustainable growth that will provide an even higher standard of living for our children than our generations have had the privilege to enjoy.
Perrin Beatty is the Ottawa-based president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.