OTTAWA — The Trudeau government’s economic advisory council says Ottawa should invest $100 million in each of the next five years to establish an arm’s-length national organization focused on helping workers upgrade their skills for the swiftly evolving job market.

Canadian Press
Canadian PressDominic Barton, chairman of an advisory committee to federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau.

The group also recommends a strategy to make the most of what it sees as vast amounts of untapped potential in several key Canadian sectors — like the agriculture and food industry — by identifying and removing obstacles such as regulatory hurdles.

The growth council’s latest suggestions fall under five themes that are widely expected to help frame parts of the upcoming federal budget.

The suggestions include steps to make Canada more innovative as a way to drive productivity — such as improving access to capital for promising firms and ensuring procurement policies help support fast-growing businesses.

The report proposes boosting the economy by lifting labour-force participation for under-represented demographic groups such as women with children by creating a subsidized national child care program similar to the Quebec model.

It also urges expanding trade by building closer ties with the United States, Mexico, China, Japan and India as well as through greater investments in trade-related infrastructure, such as ports and highways.

The 14 members of the growth panel were selected by Finance Minister Bill Morneau to help advise Ottawa on how to boost long-term economic growth.

The group is made up of experts from business and academia and is chaired by Dominic Barton, managing director of global consulting giant McKinsey & Co.