By Adam Taylor
The March Monthly Economic Letter from the Business Development Bank of Canada rightly notes that just as Canadians (and indeed people around the world) were starting to see the “light at the end of the tunnel” from the pandemic, we have now seen it flicker out due to Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.
But what does it mean for businesses, workers, and families in Canada?
BDC rightly states that the total Canada-Russia trade relationship is relatively modest – just $600 million worth of exports go to Russia or 0.1% of Canada’s total $600 billion in annual global exports.
However, the real issue is the impact the war is having on commodity prices, supply chains and perhaps most importantly for C3FC, consumer prices.
BDC notes the immediate effect has been higher prices for energy, manufacturing inputs (e.g. metals) and of course for agriculture commodities such as wheat and other grains. Additionally, the BDC bulletin warns that continued geopolitical instability will fuel inflation which is already leaving consumers reeling.
Two bright spots: The need for Canadian agri-food exports is expected to increase dramatically in the weeks and months ahead which is good news for many across our agriculture sector. Additionally, an expected influx of Ukrainian immigrants may help fill skills and labour shortages that continue to impede Canada’s agri-food productivity.
So, what should Canadian food consumers do? We offer three main pieces of advice:
- Buy Canadian food products. The bonus is they have the least distance to travel and are therefore as inexpensive as anything you will find in the grocery store. (they’re delicious too!)
- If you can, donate money or food to your local food bank. Higher prices are affecting us all differently and let’s remember to help out those who need it.
- If you are able, support a charity that is helping humanitarian efforts in Ukraine. One example is the Canada-Ukraine Foundation but there are many other worthwhile charities too. If you’re wondering how best to maximize your charitable giving, some advice can be found here.