The post-COVID world shouldn't look the same as it did before the pandemic, but in order to truly rebuild better, public and private sector organizations will need to work together, TD Group President and Chief Executive Officer Bharat Masrani said during the Bank's Annual Meeting of Shareholders on Thursday.
Speaking to a virtual audience from Toronto, Masrani shared his thoughts on how TD has responded to the global pandemic, focusing not only on the Bank's performance but also on how the organization has helped customers and clients navigate challenging times.
Masrani acknowledged that COVID-19 continues to disrupt our daily lives, but sounded cautiously optimistic with vaccinations being rolled out and testing expanding, adding that he believed there is hope that the worst of this devastating pandemic may be behind us.
" As we start to see light at the end of the tunnel, there is no doubt that tomorrow will not look like today or the days before," Masrani said during the Annual Meeting of Shareholders, which was held virtually for the second year in a row as a result of the pandemic.
Masrani said Canada has an opportunity to encourage the growth of critical domestic industries, including vaccine manufacturing and the production of personal protective equipment (PPE), which may prove critical in mitigating future epidemics.
"Though we live in an interconnected world, there are risks in relying on international procurement alone to provide for our security," he said, while acknowledging that governments have started to explore domestic solutions.
With many Canadians unable to spend on things they typically would have prior to the pandemic and with more people being cautious about their finances and their health, household savings are up across the country.
The Bank of Canada recently announced that household savings have risen $180-billion over the past year or roughly $5,800 per Canadian.
Masrani recommended the adoption of policies to encourage consumers to spend pent-up demand in local economies and support small and mid-sized businesses as they rebuild.
He also called on the world's most competitive economies to invest in their people, by creating and enhancing training and upskilling programs to help people find employment in expanding and emerging sectors.
"After all, highly skilled talent is the competitive advantage of any economy," he said.
Masrani reaffirmed that TD's 90,000 workforce is the Bank's greatest asset and it will continue to invest in them to better serve its customers and communities.
As the recovery takes hold, Masrani emphasized the need to continue to strengthen Environmental, Social and Governance principles and practices into TD's strategy and operations. ESG commitments are tied to TD's purpose as an organization. He said TD will continue to invest in our communities and promote a more inclusive and sustainable tomorrow. To that end, he also announced an additional $5-million for the Community Resilience Initiative to help organizations on the ground address the disproportionate impacts of the pandemic in vulnerable and racialized communities.
Masrani concluded by telling shareholders that TD has emerged stronger from this crisis and that the Bank remains well-positioned to continue to grow as the recovery takes hold.
"This long, difficult period will end," he said.
"We will meet again, in corner stores and restaurants. We will help small businesses recover and thrive once more. We will foster growth and support our economies. We will see new graduates find well-paying jobs and equip those in mid-career to prepare for the future.
And, TD will be there. Investing in our communities, supporting those we serve and promoting a more inclusive and sustainable tomorrow."