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Volume 48, Number 2 (2019)

Productivism, Neoliberalism, and Responses to Regional Disparities in Canada: The Case of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

December 20, 2019


Nowhere in the 1987 act establishing the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) was there any mention of productivity, but today it is its top priority. I argue that ACOA’s shifting mandate reflects the growth of a idea other scholars have called “productivism” – the idea that economic growth (usually by way of productivity growth) is a good, in and of itself. This idea has shaped not only the agendas of other government agencies, but the entire project of regional redistribution, conceptions of national unity, and expert and lay understandings of what the Canadian economy is and how it functions.