Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during his daily press conference on COVID-19 in front of his residence at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, on Sunday, April 19, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Feds increase scrutiny of foreign takeovers to protect firms hit by pandemic

The new measures announced over the weekend follow the lead of other countries in Europe

The federal government has moved to protect Canadian businesses battered by the COVID-19 pandemic or producing medical supplies from being gobbled up by outside interests by tightening the rules around foreign investments and takeovers.

The new measures announced over the weekend follow the lead of other countries in Europe and elsewhere by adding additional scrutiny to a range of proposed investments and transactions until the economy recovers from the pandemic.

“We recognize that countries around the world are looking at their own regimes and recognizing there are vulnerable businesses that are going to be important to our recovery who are perhaps exposed to foreign purchases in a vulnerable time,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Sunday.

“So we will be strengthening our oversight and paying close attention to foreign investment in this country to ensure that there aren’t people taking advantage of this crisis.”

Foreign investments in Canadian businesses that deal with public health or the provision of what the government loosely defines as “critical goods and services” are among those that will get an extra close review, according to Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.

The federal government will also be examining all investments by companies or entities with direct or suspected links to foreign governments while some other investments will be required to apply for approval from the federal industry minister.

The added scrutiny comes as countries around the world are ramping up their at-home abilities to produce critical medical supplies and personal protective equipment for health-care workers and others working on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As we strengthen our own domestic industry and production, we wouldn’t want a foreign investor to be able to take that production that is being made for Canadians in this moment of crisis and send it overseas,” Trudeau said.

“We also recognize that there are perhaps some startups with brilliant ideas that are facing a cash-crunch right now that we would very much want to remain Canadian for the coming years who could be exposed to predatory foreign investors.”

READ MORE: B.C. police can now issue $2,000 tickets for reselling medical supplies, price gouging

The government’s decision to add an additional layer of scrutiny is “prudent” given the circumstances in which Canadian businesses are currently finding themselves thanks to COVID-19, said Brian Kingston, vice-president of policy at the Business Council of Canada.

“Given what’s going on right now and the fact that corporate valuations are down, there is a risk that there might be opportunistic efforts by state-owned companies, other governments around the world to acquire companies in this environment,” he said.

At the same time, Kingston hoped the measures announced by the federal government and other countries are only temporary given Canada’s reliance on trade and foreign investment for its economic prosperity.

“My hope is that this is temporary in nature,” he said. “Of course countries will take a more strategic look at their medical supply chains just to make sure that they have built-in resiliency. But I’m hoping that this isn’t a permanent shift to a greater level of protectionism.”

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Greater Victoria writer releases first novel inspired by U.S. school shootings

Dear Mr. President tells thought provoking story of victims left behind

Saanich mayor joins fight to protect local wildlife from rat poisoning after second owl dies

Mayor Fred Haynes to meet with provincial, federal pest control industry representatives

Sidney fire responds to fewer but more severe calls during pandemic

Rise in severity linked to changes in routine during COVID-19 pandemic

Saanich police see spike in excessive speeding compared to previous years

Nearly 100 excessive speeders caught since January 2020

Colwood branch drop-off to continue throughout summer

COVID-19 safety measures remain in place

QUIZ: Test your knowledge of the world of summer sports

In a typical year, there are plenty of summer sporting events and tournaments held across Canada

Surrey mayor’s party under fire for ‘sickening’ tweet accusing northern B.C. RCMP of murder

Mayor Doug McCallum says tweet, Facebook post ‘sent out by unauthorized person’

Father’s Day Walk Run for prostate cancer will be virtual event this year throughout B.C.

The annual fundraiser for Prostate Cancer Foundation BC has brought in $2.5 million since 1999

Dr. Bonnie Henry announces official ban on overnight kids’ camps this summer

New ban comes after talking with other provincial health officials across the country, Henry says

Senior man in hospital after unprovoked wolf attack near Prince Rupert

Conservation officers are on site looking for the wolf

VIDEO: NASA astronauts blast off into space on SpaceX rocket

Marks NASA’s first human spaceflight launched from U.S. soil in nearly a decade

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

PHOTOS: U.S. cities brace for increasing unrest over police killing of George Floyd

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has fully mobilized the state’s National Guard

$200,000 Maybach impounded after ‘L’ driver caught excessively speeding in Vancouver

Meanwhile, the supervisor sat in the passenger seat, police said

Most Read