The COVID-19 crisis is exposing the shortcomings of Canada’s economy, particularly when it comes to supply chains and the development of value-added products that would keep the country competitive, innovation experts say.

Dan Breznitz, the co-director of the innovation policy lab at the University of Toronto, said he expects global trade in raw commodities to decline as the novel coronavirus makes it more difficult to move people and goods around the world.

It’s a wake-up call for Canada’s resource-based industries, he said, noting Canada “will have a problem just selling wood and unprocessed oil.”

The country must rebuild its capacity to produce sophisticated goods through innovation in those sectors and beyond, said Breznitz, who is also the chair of innovation studies at the Munk School of Global Affairs.

“We no longer can actually produce the basic things we need in order to survive under (a) pandemic, and we cannot count on global production networks to do that in times of crisis.”

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Alan Winter, British Columbia’s former innovation commissioner, agrees, saying COVID-19 has further exposed Canada’s dependence on purchasing goods and technology offshore with profits from primary resource industries.

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