Credit: David Kawai/Bloomberg

Flattening the Coronavirus curve is going to bankrupt a lot of people and businesses if drastic and immediate action isn’t taken.

For some reason, the Canadian government has rolled out the 2008/9 financial crisis playbook to solve the short-term complete collapse in demand caused by the coronavirus. Lower interest rates! More debt! More announcements to come! (Let me guess…infrastructure? More more debt?)

There’s one major problem. This is not a financial crisis.*

The measures being taken to “flatten the curve” and avoid an unmanageable coronavirus outbreak are creating a short-term cash crunch for a lot of people and many small to medium sized businesses. …

CFIB survey shows significant support for employee ownership trust policies similar to US, UK

At Social Capital Partners, we were thrilled, but not surprised, to see the results from the most recent survey by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. It showed what has been proven in the US and the UK; that business owners care about a lot more than price when looking to sell their business, and that protecting their employees, communities and business legacy would drive them to consider selling to their employees if the path to do so was made easier.

Among other significant results highlighted below, 59% of Canadian business owners surveyed would support policies encouraging sales to their…

We’re shifting our focus and we’d like to explain why.

It has been a while since we’ve provided an update to our stakeholders, and for that we apologize. While it’s taken longer to come together than we expected, we want to explain our new agenda that’s focused on increasing access to business ownership.

Our journey to ownership

SCP was founded to fight unfair economic outcomes caused by both the “wheel of fortune” and systems that are stacked against certain groups of people. For most of our history, we’ve focused on income and employment: helping people facing systemic barriers find good full-time work. And we’re still passionate about that topic! Our…

Our efforts to help small businesses survive the pandemic didn’t work. As we wind down the Save Small Business campaign, here’s what we learned and why the future can be different.

By Erin Millar, Jon Shell, Michael Smith and Ben Coli of

“I have so much fear. How will I feed my family?”

“I’ve stopped working to save lives, but am about to lose everything I’ve built.”

“This is scary as hell. I have employees to pay. Kids to feed.”

We watched these words appear in a Google spreadsheet on the early morning of March 23 2020. Written by small business owners across the country, their stories represented what so many people were feeling in that moment, a week after hundreds of thousands of small businesses suddenly closed because of COVID-19.

Reading these stories was heartbreaking — but the sheer quantity was…

A lot of holes remain in government programs targeted at small businesses. But a few straightforward fixes would help a lot.

Canada now has a bunch of programs in place to support small business: a wage subsidy (CEWS), a loan (CEBA) and a rent subsidy (CECRA). The programs are fine, and are helping a lot of businesses. But, there are some clear holes, and the small business community is quite aligned on what they are and how to fix them. No one wants to continue to ask for more, but the holes are quite large. Businesses, livelihoods, families will be crushed unless they are closed. Here’s how to do it:

1. PROVINCIAL RESPONSIBILITY: Commercial Evictions Moratorium and make CECRA mandatory. The…

It’s not about evictions — it’s about negotiating power, and the massive imbalance landlords currently hold.

The reluctance of the Canadian federal government and its Provincial governments to institute a moratorium on commercial evictions is leaving hundreds of thousands of small business owners at the mercy of their landlords. This article explains why it’s not as simple as “why would a landlord want to evict anyone?” and why a moratorium is essential to a fair sharing of the burden of this public health crisis.

In many countries, one of the first acts of governments in their economic response to the COVID19 public health crisis was to ensure that businesses could not be evicted from their premises…

Credit: R. Jeanette Martin

Social distancing is devastating local small businesses and there’s not much time to save them. And the answer is not more debt.

This is an article written in desperation. A last ditch effort to make clear to our governments something that obviously is not yet clear to them: most local businesses will simply not survive social distancing. This week’s Economic Response Plan by the federal government, while addressing some important issues, offered only deferred taxes and a 10% wage subsidy to small and medium-sized businesses. For local businesses, suffering from sudden declines in revenue often in excess of 80%, operating on skeleton staffing, you can imagine how well this was received.

I see a lot of people trying to compare this to…

A few quick thoughts on the stimulus package (keeping in mind I am not an economist! Armine Yalnizyan, Frances Donald and Brett House are and are good follows.)

First, the media doesn’t get finance. This is NOT an $82B stimulus package. This is a $27B stimulus package, plus about $1B in interest costs for the $55B tax deferment. You can’t just add 27 and 55, they are very different things.

Second, we are doing less than most other countries, as far as I can tell. NZ package seemed very good. I expect there is more to come, and as someone…

Governments should temper their obsession with skills, and build a comprehensive and systemic employment strategy.

Last year I attended a roundtable discussion held by the Federal Government. Around the table were 25 very well researched and knowledgeable people about the future of work and training. Over the course of a two-hour discussion, they made about 20 different recommendations about what the government should do in relation to skills. Teach more STEM! Teach coding in kindergarten! Less STEM and more soft skills! Design thinking! No, not that type of design thinking, this type of design thinking! Why would you teach coding when coding will soon be automated?!

There was no possibility that the beleaguered bureaucrats in…

Governments need a new playbook if they want to help protect good jobs in the future.

At Social Capital Partners, we’ve spent the last six months doing a deep dive on the city of Oshawa, and how it’s been affected by the collapse of local automobile manufacturing. Jack Graham captured that work in a four-part series that can be found here. Something that struck me was how the government responded to GM’s most recent layoffs, and how little help that approach will be in the future.

The automation of white collar jobs in service sectors like finance and telecommunications will be nothing like labour market disruptions of the past, where factory closures led to big headlines…

Jon Shell

Entrepreneur, hopeful capitalist and aspiring economic justice activist

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