Population growth is key to Canada’s long-term economic prosperity. To be successful, population growth must be environmentally sustainable and the benefits of growth must be broadly shared by all Canadians.
Mismanaged growth in the years ahead could undermine Canada’s future prosperity, resulting in strained public services, an unhealthy environment, and social tensions. This section assesses Canada’s capacity to “grow well” into the future, linking to other indicators both as outcomes and as enabling factors.
The report provides further analysis on the dimensions of what it means to “grow well”: increasing our global competitiveness; becoming more equal; improving our life expectancy and health; and supporting sustainability, freedom, and social progress. There are many current challenges to this vision, including those posed by Covid-19, but with the right choices, Canada can set a strong foundation for the future.
While Canada remains a highly competitive economy and ranks well compared to many other similar countries, it could do better in terms of its competitiveness. Canada’s global competitiveness has declined in recent years. It fell two places in its ranking in the index between 2018 and 2019—from 12th to 14th. Canada had previously ranked among the top 10 countries in 2010.
Canada ranked 14th out of 141 countries in the 2019 edition of the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index.
Top 10 in the Global Competitiveness Index.
Competitiveness reflects our ability to attract investment, foster innovation, and spur economic growth and prosperity. It is an important indicator of Canada’s future prosperity.
Canada is well below the top 10 most equal OECD countries. Canada’s level of income inequality has increased in the past two decades, from 0.289 in 1990 to 0.31 in 2017.
Canada ranked 17th out of 29 OECD countries in 2017.
Canada's level of income inequality using the Gini coefficient was 0.31 in 2017 (0 represents perfect equality and 1 represents perfect inequality).
Top 10 most equal OECD countries
Threshold: 10th in the OECD was Sweden with a Gini coefficient of 0.28 in 2017. The Gini coefficient measures the evenness of income distribution across the population.
Unequal societies face more significant challenges in reducing poverty and increasing economic growth, as well as disparities in health and educational outcomes. Income inequality is experienced particularly by Indigenous populations, racialized populations, recent immigrants and people with disabilities, reflecting barriers in the labour market and underutilization of human capital. Income inequality has a detrimental impact on Canada’s long-term prosperity.
Canada's life expectancy has increased in recent years, but not at the same rate as other OECD countries. While Canada is close to the target, it has slowly fallen in rank in recent years compared to other countries and is currently outside of the OECD top 10.
Canada ranked 13th out of 36 OECD countries in 2018.
Canada's life expectancy was 82 years old in 2018.
Top 10 of OECD countries
Threshold: 10th in the OECD in 2018 was Sweden with a life expectancy of 82.6 years old.
Life expectancy is not equal across Canada’s population, as Canadians with higher levels of education and income are more likely to live longer and in better health. There are significant gaps in life expectancy for Indigenous peoples compared to non-Indigenous, reflecting underlying gaps in the social determinants of health. Canada should turn its attention to underlying causes particularly for lower-income and marginalized populations. Healthy life expectancy is also an important consideration.
Canada's GHG emissions have increased in recent years, moving away from the target. Canada needs to do much more to address climate change, as our emission levels remain among the world’s highest.
729 Mt CO2 equivalent in 2018.
Canada ranked 29th out of 32 OECD countries.
Meet Canada's 2030 GHG emissions target 511Mt CO2 equivalent.
Climate change poses an existential risk to Canadian and global prosperity, health and well-being. Decreasing GHG emissions and transitioning to a low carbon economy are vital to Canada and the world’s future. Canada has significant work to do to strike a new path. Recently announced legislation committing to climate targets could help to support a new direction.
Canada has remained a top scorer in terms of its level of freedom. In 2020, Canada received a score of 40/40 for political rights and 58/60 for civil liberties toward a total score of 98 out of 100.
Canada ranked 4th (tied with two other countries) with a score of 98 out of 100 in global freedom in the 2020 Freedom in the World Index.
Ranked among top 5 countries in Freedom House’s Freedom in the World Index.
A healthy democracy with strong civil liberties and political rights is essential to our future. Democratic stability cannot be taken for granted. Canada must remain focused on protecting our democratic institutions, including a free and independent media.