The third bi-annual Canadian Labour and Business Centre Leadership Survey of 4,442 private sector business leaders, public sector management, and private and public sector labour leaders was conducted between March and April 2000, and achieved a response rate of 18 percent. As in earlier surveys, this year’s survey gathered respondents’ views on (i) the seriousness of major economic and public policy issues facing the country, and on (ii) the public policy solutions which should receive more emphasis if these issues are to be addressed.
The survey provided not only a snapshot of constituency leaders’ perceptions in 2000, but also insights into how these perceptions have changed since the first Leadership Survey in 1996. The responses to these questions on Serious Issues and Potential Solutions are summarized here.
There continues to be a significant contrast between the top priority issues of management and labour. Both private and public sector labour respondents cite Reduced Social Spending, Lack of Jobs, Unemployment Rate, and Environmental Degradation among their top concerns. None of these issues ranks among those of most concern to management. In fact, all four issues are among those ranked lowest by management. In contrast, High Taxes was the single most significant issue for private sector managers, and International Competitiveness issues for public sector managers. Concerns about Government Deficits/Debt, Brain Drain, and Shortage of Skilled Labour constituted a second group of management issues.
Except for the issues of High Taxes and Interest Rates, respondents regarded most overall political and macroeconomic issues with noticeably less concern in 2000 than in 1996. In some cases, particularly Uncertainties Regarding National Unity and Concern Over Lack of Jobs, the decline in concern among all constituencies over this four-year period was marked. Three constituencies viewed High Taxes as a somewhat more serious problem in 2000 than in earlier years, although management’s concerns over this issue remained much higher than those of labour. Labour respondents maintained earlier years’ moderate concerns over High Interest Rates, while management respondents’ concerns over this issue, very low in 1998, rose noticeably in 2000.
Skill Shortages continued to be a concern for the management respondents, and a source of increasing concern for labour. Private sector labour and management respondents, in fact, showed virtually identical levels of concern over this issue. This increased concern occurred against a backdrop of reduced concerns over many other economic and labour market-related issues.