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Speeches

CPA Ontario President and CEO Carol Wilding on Innovation

November 2, 2016
Ontario Economic Summit
Carol Wilding, FCPA, FCA
President and CEO, CPA Ontario

 Good morning everyone and welcome to the Ontario Economic Summit.

My name is Carol Wilding. I’m the President and CEO of the Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario.

I’m thrilled to be here alongside my fellow co-chairs, Iain Klugman and the Honourable Kevin Lynch.

I am equally excited about the focus of this year’s Summit. 

Throughout the Summit, we’ll be examining Ontario’s “innovation ecosystem” with the goal of improving and better capitalizing on it.

An “innovation ecosystem”… it’s an apt term to describe the interdependencies between our social and economic systems. 

In its simplest terms, we are talking about what happens when a knowledgeable and creative workforce attracts new business investment, fuels discovery, creates jobs, and results in more tax revenue so we can afford the next round of new investments in our people.

But it’s more complicated than that.  Literally hundreds of big decisions and thousands of little ones will directly impact the strength of our innovation ecosystem. 

For governments, those decisions include everything from tax policy, how they regulate, when they get involved in the economy and when they let markets have a free hand. 

Health policy, education investments, our approaches on everything from immigration and intellectual property to agriculture and environmental policy can all contribute to our innovation ecosystem.

But make no mistake, the decisions of the private, not-for-profit and broader public sector are equally important.

Like any ecosystem, balancing the inputs and the outputs are key to our innovation ecosystem’s success.

As a CPA, you can see why this topic excites me.

You will know from your work with my fellow CPAs that there is more to professional accounting than math. 

We understand the value of applying a multi-faceted lens to our economy.

As leaders from private and public industry, we’re well positioned to examine and identify opportunities for Ontario’s continued economic development.

Creating and strengthening financial policies, and developing opportunities for innovation, will contribute to strengthening our systems and ensure our positioning as a global economic player.

And let us agree going in, there is no one size fits all answer. 

Some parts of the economy need stabilizing to ensure their long-term success, while disruption will be the saviour for others.

Let’s discuss when governments need to act to stabilize sectors through macroprudential regulations; such as, the federal government recently trying to cool the red-hot urban housing market.

At the same time, let’s figure out how government regulation can be a force for good and not evil when it comes to disruptive innovation.

Look at Ottawa's Shopify, one of the most successful tech IPOs in recent years on both sides of the border, valued at more than a billion dollars – its CFO [Russ Jones], is a CPA, by the way.

In just 10 years it has grown from two young men selling snowboards online to an e-commerce giant – its platform used by a quarter of a million merchants in more than 150 countries around the world.

Our province has the talent; this summit is a means to identify how we can grow and support our talent and enhance our innovation ecosystem.

Let’s find new approaches to further solidify Ontario as an economic power and as a place where both small and big business can find success.

Let’s move quickly to both make sure we understand and are in a position to take advantage of Canada’s new trade deals. 

They will have an impact on innovation opportunities for our province. 

We can and we must work with our provincial and federal governments to navigate this new global trade landscape together.

As leaders in this economy, my hope is that we build relationships to work together to continue to modernize and support innovation.

Ultimately, we’re here because we believe in and know the value of a strong economy.

We need to work with each other to maintain our competitiveness.

From investors, researchers, early tech adopters, government, entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs; we each have a role to play in growing and sustaining our innovation ecosystem.

Steve Jobs famously said: “Creativity is just connecting things.”

By finding and creating connections we’ll find ways to innovate and develop our economy.

Thank you.