Today's economy

How well is Canada really doing?

By Kevin Press,

Comments (95)

CBC News reported yesterday on a confidential document that says the federal government has done too little to open up emerging economic markets for Canadian businesses. According to the CBC, the draft report reads: “The situation is stark: Canada’s trade and investment relations with new economies, leading with Asia, must deepen, and A happy and healthy Canadian a country we must become more relevant to our new partners.”

I expect we’ll see a good deal of political activity on the trade front in the new year. But there’s an assumption inherent in all of this that bears discussion: Does economic growth equate to an improved standard of living? Clearly the two can go hand in hand, but are policy-makers sometimes focused too heavily on gross domestic product (GDP) growth, at the expense of other measures of well-being?

That’s precisely the question raised by a study — released last month — out of the University of Waterloo’s Faculty of Applied Health Sciences. The Canadian Index of Wellbeing measures quality of life between 1994 and 2010. Eight separate categories were tracked, including education, leisure and culture and the environment. Progress (or a lack thereof) was measured over the study period, and an overall index score was calculated.

“Even in the years when we were really quite prosperous, the areas that contribute to Canadians’ well-being beyond the economy were not growing at the same rate as GDP,” said Bryan Smale, a professor at the University of Waterloo and director of the Canadian Index of Wellbeing. He and I spoke on Monday. “We’re not attending to the things that really matter to people to the same degree we are the economy.”

Canadian Index of Wellbeing


Four highlights:

  • While GDP rose 28.9% during the 17 years measured, the Canadian Index of Wellbeing rose 5.7%.
  • Well-being rose in all but two categories: leisure and culture (down 7.8% during the 17-year period) and the environment (down 10.8%).
  • Education was the category that performed best. It’s up 21.8%.
  • The numbers are less positive when you calculate the post-2008 recession results. Between that year and 2010, the environment, healthy populations, leisure and culture and living standards all dropped.

The study is robust. Pulled mainly from Statistics Canada data, the index is calculated with inputs from 64 indicators. While I’m not entirely satisfied that comparing the index to gross domestic product growth is a meaningful apples-to-apples comparison, that’s not really the point here.

Smale explained to me that what matters is how well-being has progressed in Canada during a volatile economic period that produced double-digit growth. “We’re certainly not suggesting that attending to the economy is the wrong thing to do,” he said. “What we’re suggesting is that if we only take a very narrow focus on it and nothing else, other areas of our lives suffer by comparison.”

The full report is available on the Canadian Index of Wellbeing website.

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W.Palmer on

It would be nice to hear from all the Global Warmists and tree huggers just exactly what we are going to do for a living when we shut everything down and close our country to the sale of its resources. Eco tours are not exactly impacting the economy, Nobody wants to fly all the way from Germany to come and look at a tree .
No logging, no mining, no oil, no gas, no pipelines, no fishing, no hiways, no tunnels, no bridges, no nothing….

Clogged border crossings because the locals cannot afford to shop in Canada.
Houses with views of the Vancouver Harbour for the super rich where they park the kids for a free education, or apartments sitting empty while owners go back and forth to the Far East, Middle East and India to earn the money to pay for it all because there is no way they could even come close to earning the money they need to pay for it here in Canada. ( Wanna buy a used 7 year old Mercedes with 10,000 Kms on the clock ??) Just needs a new battery. There are many.

Its happening already and has been for a good number of years.

    Michael Marcoux on

    W. Palmer, I see you have bought all the misinformation. Being called a treehugger is a badge of honour. It is saying that we want forestry practised in a sustainable way. Global climate change is what it’s called and it’s a scientific fact that man is helping in a big way to create it through greenhouse gasses. You like paying for overpriced gas? No? Look up air cars on the internet. You will see that they can cross the continent on a single tank of gas. Did you know that Spains #1 source of energy is wind? They would be in greater financial distress if this was not the case. Did you know that German solar power plants produce over 22 gigawatts of electricity per hour, equal to 22 nuclear power plants running at full capacity? Did you know that ocean acidification is destroying coral reefs which will be completely destroyed in less than 40 years and is caused solely by human C02 production. It is also destroying the smallest creatures at the base of the ocean food chain. Your attitude and ignorance are part of the problem not the solution. Educate yourself and promote a sustainable economy.

      amirlach on

      Misinformation is what you are preaching Michael. Global “Climate Change” hasn’t happened. It hasn’t warmed for over 17 years. Even the most ardent Alarmists have had to admit this fact. You claim man’s “Greenhouse Gasses are causing it in a big way? BS. 17 years of no warming says so. Every single Co2 based Model prediction has failed. “What evidence can we use to test the DAGW hypothesis?” Five tests, five fails for CAGW Theory. I await your “Factual Scientific Explanations” for these Co2 Theory’s failed predictions Michael.

      “It does not matter who you are, or how smart you are, or what title you have, or how many of you there are, and certainly not how many papers your side has published, if your prediction is wrong then your hypothesis is wrong. Period.” Professor Richard Feynman, Nobel Laureate in Physics.

      Want to compare your failed alarmist, Co2 based Models predictive skills against one based upon empirical observations Micheal?

      “The two models, IPCC model and atmospheric system model, use two very different modeling approaches: theory-driven vs data-driven modeling. The IPCC model is based essentially on AGW theory by emission of greenhouse gases, namely CO2, the presented atmospheric system model on the other hand is a CO2-free prediction model. It is described by 5 other variables. The IPCC model shows a prediction accuracy of 7% and the atmospheric system model an accuracy of 75% for the same most recent 21 months of time…”

      Spain went bankrupt with so called green energy. So has Ontario. The oceans are alkaline not acid. Your attitude and ignorance are part of the problem not the solution. Educate yourself and stop promoting UN Wealth Redistrabution scams.

      “IPCC Official: “Climate Policy Is Redistributing The World’s Wealth”
      Date: 18/11/10
      Climate policy has almost nothing to do anymore with environmental protection, says the German economist and IPCC official Ottmar Edenhofer. The next world climate summit in Cancun is actually an economy summit during which the distribution of the world’s resources will be negotiated.”

JP Clive on

How well is Canada really doing? – Apparently much better than Europe!!

    Noel on

    Why you say that? Provide some reasons why you say Canada is better than Europe?

      Maureen Hawkins on

      Well, for starters, Canada isn’t labouring under an austerity budget forced on them by their trading partners in return for a bailout as is the case in many European countries. Nor is it currently trying to battle another round of recession as the more economically strong countries like France & Germany are. Any more questions?

Maureen Hawkins on

I see you prefer irrelevant comments to serious consideration of Canadian economic and social problems. Why did you waste your time & that of others if you don’t care about the issues?

Jimmy on

Well in my case I don’t really think that Canada is doing well, because they are opening immigrant status to other country only to find out when these immigrants arrived in Canada, there is no work for them because when they apply for work even if they are university graduates in their country,Canadian employer will always ask for Canadian experience. What the…??? they knew that these people are still new in Canada so how can they earn an experience right away??? But there is one job that Canadian do not ask for experience, care giver or public support worker (PSW).Which somehow at the end I just realized that Canada is inviting immigrants not to give them better opportunities but only to make these immigrants their helpers or care givers. However,I really respect the care givers and the PSW’s I salute you all for the care,love,concern and how dedicated you are to your job. But to me Canada is still practising RACIAL DISCRIMINATION!!!

    Carli on

    Do you honestly think Canada is practicing racial discrimination???? Clearly you have never been to BC or seen a line up outside the EI office or the Welfare office. We pay the way for everyone…no wonder our taxes are so high lol.

      Jimmy on

      These immigrants came to Canada because they were promised from the start they applied as immigrants that they will have a sure job when they get in to Canada. We are not talking of EI here??? Hello!!! We are talking of work, jobs, JOBS, JOBS, JOBS…Jobs that could really support a family for a lifetime, but what happened now lay-off here, lay-off there…The companies are just thinking of their own good by saving in order to lay off employees without even thinking that these employees have mouths to feed. Well at the end it will always boil down to ‘so what if you will be laid-off? Apply for EI”, again and again. Immigrants are looking for jobs not a support from the government.

      Maureen Hawkins on

      Carli, I suppose if someone doesn’t have white skin you assume they are immigrants? Funny thing, my Native Canadian friends think anyone who does have a white skin is an immigrant.

      Jimmy on

      See??????????? I just hardly believed that it is already 2013 but there are still people who practice and believes in RACIAL DISCRIMINATION…

Maureen Hawkins on

What else do you expect from the Tories?

beelzeebubtales on

If 10 of us took two years off to build our own homes, would that productivity be included in GDP stats? If not GDP values do not include my well being and therefore not a unit of measurement of any relevance for my values. keep it for the casino !!!!

Evelina Mannarino on

At the end of the day, everyone should take responsibility for their own actions and not try to find blame when certain real estate investments didn’t work out. We are all adults and shouldn’t blame a bank for giving us a mortgage when we couldn’t afford one. We can’t blame the economy because our house is not worth what it used to be. People will find better solutions when they focus on themselves and ask, “where did I go wrong”. You only have the power to change things within your self, not with the government, it’s policies, banks or anyone else.
Evelina Mannarino, Author of “Profits In Real Estate Rentals: Double Your Income With Short Term Rentals”

    Michael Marcoux on

    Evelina, of course we should take responsibility for our own actions. The banks should take responsibility for theirs as well. Also if we wish to live in a just and civilized society we must also hold others to account by force of law when necessary to avoid chaos. The banksters knowingly committed crimes and were not held to account therefore they will continue to act in the same way to our detriment.

      vancouvercondorentals on

      Agreed, Michael! If someone does something illegal then they should be punished. However, convincing people to get a mortgage is not illegal and people should know themselves whether they could afford it, even if the economy goes down. Either way, instead of playing the blame game, as it’s really not going to help anyone at this point even if we do figure out who’s fault it is, we should just concentrate on working towards paying down our debts, increasing our revenue streams and moving along. Appreciate your comments:)

    Maureen Hawkins on

    Evelina, it’s all very good to say people should “know” what they can afford, even if the market goes down; it’s even true for the upper-middle class with access to financial consultants and good lawyers to read the fine print for them. But studies show the majority of people don’t even know how to calculate compound interest. How are average working-class people with a high-school education supposed to “know” this? That’s why they go to banks & mortgage brokers–not just to get a mortgage, but to get help in figuring out what they can afford. If the banks or mortgage brokers mislead them, how are they to “know”? It’s exactly because of such cases, as well as other bank & credit card abuses, that the US set up a Consumer Protection Agency. Unfortunately, as fast as the Harper government is to try to Americanize us, that’s one change I don’t see them making. Fortunately, our banking laws kept our banks from perpetrating the worst abuses the American banks did, but that doesn’t mean they’ve kept their hands clean.

      Michael Marcoux on

      Evilina, it’s not about a blame game. This is no game. It’s about criminal activity by banks which goes unpunished and also activities which are utterly irresponsible which then leave us, the taxpayer, to pick up the pieces. And it wasn’t only in the U.S.
      Canada’s Bank Bailout
      From October 2008 until June 2010 Canada’s banks received over $114 billion from the government – which means from us, the tax payers. But the government didn’t bother telling us that this money came from us. In fact, every man, woman, and child paid over $3,400 to cover the cost. The media never makes this clear either which leads to an ignorant public.
      In the U.S. and the rest of the world this is called a bank bailout. In Canada it’s called “liquidity support.” Whatever pleasant word you use, it doesn’t change the fact that the public once again has to pay for private profits.
      What is especially scandalous is that during the year-and-a-half bailout period, the banks made an incredible $27 billion in profits and CEO compensation increased 19 per cent.
      In fact, Canada gave CIBC, BMO, and Scotiabank more money than their actual worth. That means Canada could have bought the failing banks, changed their backwards policies, and shared the profits with all the taxpayers.

      vancouvercondorentals on

      Yes, Maureen, those are great points. However, to me it implies that people that are less educated are more vulnerable to be taken advantage off. I’m not sure why people have a hard time admitting that they made a mistake. I’ve made mistakes such as hiring the wrong accountant. I can blame him for misfiling all day long, however, I am the one that hired him. I trusted him to read the fine print and trusted him to file properly. However, I am not going to blame him, I take responsibility in hiring him.
      Either way, we are not getting ahead at all here. We are still in the blame game. Who cares who’s fault it is. Let’s move on, take what we have learned, we now know better and let’s use it to better ourselves.
      Evelina Mannarino, Author of Profits In Real Estate Rentals

      Maureen Hawkins on

      Hear! Hear!

      Maureen Hawkins on

      That “Hear! Hear!” was in response to Michael Marcoux’s comments about the banks. Evelina, admitting one made a mistake is not at issue; I’m sure a lot of people who were scammed by their banks know perfectly well they made a mistake in trusting them. What is at issue is what to do about it. If your accountant had landed you in jail, you could go ahead & take responsibility for hiring him, but does that mean you would not hire a lawyer to defend yourself or sue the accountant or try to get the law to put some of the blame on him & make him pay you for monies he defrauded you of? Would you fail to warn other businesspeople against hiring him–maybe even give him a good letter of reference–because it would be their fault if they they trusted him? Surely, there should be some mechanism to punish those who cheat people & protect people from repeat offenders or society would fall apart.

    Michael Marcoux on

    You ask what now? We keep pushing for government to prosecute illegality and to stop giving away our money. That’s a no brainer. You say we must forget about it and just start paying it down. That leaves the banks to carry on the same way and they will do it again and again. That’s just stupid. They need to be stopped. If this government wants to give our tax money away to the banksters then we need to vote them out. That’s just common sense. What you propose is leaving them to continue robbing us without consequence. Ridiculous.

      vancouvercondorentals on

      Michael, yes, at least you finally offer a solution, to vote them out, most people haven’t even made a suggestion on how to solve it. I think many people, given the exact same opportunity and circumstances, would make the same mistake.

John Rock on

Top 3 economies of the world US, China and India in terms of purchasing power parity, reflect the current status of world economy. It is only a question of time before China and India overtake US as top 2 economies.

Canadians have to accept this new reality about India and China like the Americans and stop living in denial that current standard of living in Canada can be maintained with the current growth rate.

Canada is not even close to integration with the world economy other than buying cheap goods from China.

If Canada wants to improve GDP growth rate, it has to invest in foreign countries, open up its borders for foreign competitors. If Canada wants to improve living standards, then it has to lower its real estate market which is 50% higher and it does not correlate with its small GDP growth rate.

    Michael Marcoux on

    Canadians have to do what the Icelandic government did and tell the banks to take a hike. Their economy is recovering quite well. They didn’t bail out the banks they bailed out their own people. The CBC reported “support for Canadian banks from various agencies reached $114 billion at its peak. That works out to $3,400 for every man, woman and child in Canada, and also to seven per cent of Canada’s gross domestic product in 2009.” In other words Canadian banks were bailed out by taxpayers – the banksters ripped us off. We also give them over $25 billion a year in compund interest every year to create our money instead of our government creating it as is their right according to the constitution. Our country is owned and operated by and for the banksters.

      Luke on

      Iceland did the right thing????? The banks were on the verge of collapse and the good people of Iceland voted not to bail out their banks which cost the UK!!!! BILLIONS!!!! Nice work, We in the UK bailed out Ireland,Greece and god knows who else to help the WORLD recover from the GLOBAL financial collapse…… my god could you people be any more clueless and selfish

      Michael Marcoux on

      Yes Luke, Iceland did the right thing. The bankers are criminals who caused these problems. Not only should they not be bailed out but they should go to prison. What they did was illegal and immoral. If you want to give away your money to criminals go ahead but don’t ask me to do the same.

Michael on

There is so much ignorance concerning the environment and it shows here in many of the comments. Solar and wind power are just a novelty? German solar installations produce 22 gigawatts of power per hour equal to 20 nuclear power plants running at full capacity.
We talk about climate change being a problem while not speaking at all about ocean acidification. It is increasing because of manmade C02 emmission and in less than 40 years there will be no coral reefs left. It makes it difficult for any sea creature with a shell to make that shell therefore affecting microplankton at the bottom of the food chain. We are now in the greatest extinction event since the time of the dinosaurs and talking about nothing but the economy. You can’t buy food if you can’t produce it on a dying planet. Last years drought should be a wake up call but apparently we’re too stupid.

    Jerry Gagne on

    I am not the most intelligent person to speak about economics , but I am a nature observor. Walking the land last year ,there are so many plants and species affected by the drought last year, They survive on the access to water and I seen plants that died in June and wildlife that had to search for plants and water.

Noel on

Better question is: Is Canada better than US? A big answer YES.

    guy on

    That is very easy to answer! but it doesn’nt mean much, does it?
    With the way we are going right now with this gouvernment we will be like the US very soon.
    what do we do then?? sink with them?

    Tim K on

    Get over yourself…..Canada is no better than the US and the US is no better than Canada…sounds like you have a little bit of a complex….taxes are high in Canada, and so are programs to “help” those who are “less fortunate”….shouldn’t that be a person’s choice rather than something dictated by an overbearing government or group of people forcing their views on others? Canada is a great country, but it has its warts just as any other…stop with your US bashing BS will ya…..

      Rick on

      I agree that the US and Canada might be different in some ways but neither is “better” than the other. In many ways we are the same people in different places. Neither is perfect, we both have assets & liabilities.

Canam on

We need to broaden how we measure health and well being in this country. Economic health is not the only thing to worry about. Money buys only a measure of happiness, and then, a small one. What I once used to pride Canadians in was our ability to balance natural human greed and innate meanness, so evident in the USA way of life, against the greater good–Native disgraces notwithstanding. But I am afraid we have lost that capacity in the last two decades, and become just one more ugly country stomping on each other’s heads to get ahead. But where are we going with such rage, anyway? How much we have come to hate each other stuns me. How that happened I do not know. But calling each other communists, fascists, racists, liberals, or other names will not improve our economy, lower our taxes, raise our incomes, or improve our lifestyles and culture. Tolerance, good will, an excellent education and genuine caring for each other and our world might–although there’s never a guarantee, is there?

I think in part what has happened in Canada is that we have stopped speaking out against the things we believe are right and good, and have gotten caught up in just hating those who disagree with us and our personal opinions. Too much of this blind hatred is driven by ideology, religion, misinformation, and the absolute refusal to step down from a position even when we realize its stupidity. When did this happen to us?

I think, once upon a time, Canadians were less ideological and religious and better informed and more willing to consider other points of view, and acknowledge those views might even be better than our own. We were, I think, at some time in our history, reasoned. That meant we could be tolerant, without being foolish in our choices. There was a time when I could’ve voted for liberal, democrat or conservative because political positions were pragmatic and responsive to the needs of communities and the people in them. That no longer seems true. Conservatives vote against environmental measures because they’re conservative; liberals vote for health care because that is the ideological position they’ve adopted. When did we stop thinking, and become so reactionary?

I wish we could start to think again, and stop being driven by ideological positions and religious mania. I often wonder who is benefiting by Canadians becoming so much like our American counterparts, and hating each other to the point of violence just because we don’t agree. When did that happen to us?

Once, Canada was a country that I could be proud of, but I cannot say that any more. I hope we re-find ourselves soon. We seem so lost, and full of vitriol and hate.

    bw on

    well said Canam. Is is because the money that supports these politicians? ie the Conservatives are funded by the oil industry therefore they have to vote against the environment. and if so we need to get money out of the politics.

Rick on

I am from the United Sates but at the moment I am residing in Canada. I cannot help but congratulate all Canadians on the meaningful rise on your educational index. You all must realize how important that is, in many ways it promises although does not guarantee a bright future for this nation. I find it sad that you are not protecting the environment as well as you might. As constructive criticism I would have to agree with the author of this article that your taxation structure is not as well balanced as it could be and that if you provide the government with such a large percentage of your GNP such government will find a way to spend in wasteful ways, any government would, it’s human nature.

    Noel on

    The fact that you’re an American now residing in Canada explains it all.

      Rick on

      It says you’ve got nice women up here, I married one.

v.martinelli on

Enviromentalist ………..the new communist.vmartinell

Sean on

The real problem is that GDP growth is a manufactured number – nonsense like house price growth, debt level increases, inflation are all part of that, and as such it means, well nothing. in particular the good times since 2007 have been financed by bad debts and bank bailouts. The current government has made these other things far less important (education, culture, leisure, etc … and we will quickly become a negative number.

chacalcdn on

Funny how the FAT CATS always meooowww the loudest, is it because their plate is never full enough?
Plese realise that most subsides, grants and other goodies bestowed on the rich are mostly paid by the middle class through their labors and sweat.
Can’t remember seeing 1 CEO in a 5000$ suit sweat…

peanuts123 on

insane to believe in the 70’s syncrude published oil excavated from the tar sands was a higher”sweeter” grade, suddenly it’s dirtier than regul;ar crude and thus worth less.likely Liberal propaganda at the time,
as far as taxes go in Canada they are insane! once the government taxes the corporation or factory owners, taxes the workers then taxes everything you buy or do what we are left with is a triple tiered taxation system which only leads to gross incompetence by the government through wasteful spending habits. .
why not tax goods and services and eliminate the personal income tax windfall that never existed before WW2 ? letting the market dictate the tax revenues by what the people spend in the economy ? believe me they will spend those $$$ and benefit more overall. a great ex. is the canadian used car tax? often a used car which changes several buyers hands in it’s lifetime generates almost more gov’t revenue than it’s original purchase price new. why is there any tax at all after it’s been paid in full when the car is bought new by it’s first buyer ? ex 30,000$ car=4000$ pure tax. while the U.S charges it only once on a new car the way it should be done! or the gov’t operating their own lottery schemes in Ontario’s corrupt OLG, they make more than 1.7 billion $ a year in revenues but fail to notice the social cost of gambling in Canada is 1.50$ per 1$ in revenues? where do they figure all these gambling $$ come from in the first place? other parts of our economy, and thousands of lost job’s,the money doesn’t magically appear out of nowhere. since online gambling is now approaching 30-40 billion in yearly revenues which come from players spread accross the globe. maybe after 20 years of failing to join the online gambling marketplace the Canadian gov’t stopped targeting their own population through their pathetic 85% payout structure and slot addiction and stopped lieing to people saying a mere 500 million $ is being lost? when it’s 5 x’s that figure annually. more than all land based gambling through their 17,000 greedy slots? what a joke!!!

    Tom Brown on

    Agreed. The problem is that what most people fail to realize, is that bankrupting citizens financially, morally and spiritually is actually part of a greater design by those who believe that they have some sort of divine right to rule. They are insane dynastic inbreds, which is why they believe in that particular incorrect theory. A straight family tree does that to a person. Their puppets are ‘elected officials’, who are supposedly there representing the interests of their ‘voters’. By slowly but surely eroding the wealth of the people who ACTUALLY WORK for a living, through inflation, higher and higher taxes and a lifestyle which allows for less and less family time, these unseen forces (you may want to look into where exactly and by what means currency is created to understand the root of the problem–IE what is money?) are nearing their goal: a return to a two-tiered society, where there are only masters (them) and serfs (you). But don’t worry…all you have to do is vote the current parties out–and vote in the ones you voted out last time. That will surely work! Doesn’t it always make things better. This time vote ping…next time vote pong! Ping-pong, ping-pong, ping-pong! Isn’t life great?

      Aki on

      I’m glad some people are awake, so to speak. I’m interested in learning more about solar panels…what websites or brands to you recommend?

Nadine Lumley on

Canada: September 2011

snip snip: Trustees with the Vancouver School Board say they’re paying attention to the problems being raised by grade two and three teacher Carrie Gelson.

She created an open letter saying her students often came to school cold, hungry, and stressed.–help-comes-in-for-teacher-with-hungry-and-cold-kids!/notes/cassia-kelly-kantrow/a-letter-from-a-teacher-at-seymour-elementary-located-in-the-dtes-let-me-know-if/10150383564943980

Paul on

While i like to see that education increased alot i dont think its enough … with labour jobs moving to other countries we need to give our children higher levels of education … John Nash was awarded the Nobel prize in Economics for showing the world that rather than try to steal the whole pie its better to share it with everyone so everyone gets a slice… this is why the free trade agreement will work if we send jobs to mexico so they have money to buy our goods and knowledge .. if we educate our children better with free university or college they will have non labour jobs that grow our economy … not to mention that according to the economics classes i took in college education is the greatest factor in increasing GDP

Haefen on

Phyllis makes a good point about who is doing the demanding and who is paying the taxes. I too find it amazing that people who live off of taxes, complain so loudly about how those paying taxes are doing it.

I think it would help very much if each province lived within their own means, and not lived off of Confederation. Then if a province wanted to shut down an industry it would be confined to their own province and they could reap the benefits. Those provinces that pick the right path will be rewarded with a better future, those that choose the wrong path would have other examples to follow. It would give Canada a chance to try different things, different paths within the Confederation.

The article does raise a very good point. What is the purpose of a Nation? A Province? Of Confederation? Of GDP? Is it to create wealth for multi-nationals, for global investors? If so then Canada is on the right path. If the purpose of a country is to work to improve the living conditions for it’s citizens then Canada is not doing as well. While we should not expect to decide how the other members of Confederation run their province, we should expect our own province to do what we want and improve our lives, not just our GDP.

Justin Usual on

This same chart applied to Native Peoples would disgust most people if they knew the truth. #idlenomore

Geoff on

A good reason not to be in a blind fury to give away our natural gas. Think about our children needing a clean source of fuel. As for the tar sands they cost more in energy to mine them than you get out. Not to mention the pollution and destruction of habitat. Why is Canada in such a rush to rid ourselves of our resources? The average Canadian doesn’t benefit today, and in 20 years we will need these resources because like you say unless something revolutionary comes along our children will be left with nothing but windmills coal and garbage. Keep the energy here and use it to create jobs here. Stop exporting our future.

    arthur on

    Exactly! no rush. It does’nt go bad in the ground.

      Ken on

      It does create jobs now. If you only had an idea of how many people in BC benefit from the oil patch. It is truly shocking how many have had to go to Alberta to work and bring those pay cheques back to BC. The province of BC and all the taxpayers benefit from the oil patch. I am not for exploration and industry at all costs but those who say to shut it down are out to lunch. I would like those that say to shut it down to honestly tell us what they have done for jobs throughout their life that didn’t rely on the use of gas or oil.

    roger on

    I have never seen such misinformation in all my life. First the oil sands don’t take more energy to produce than we get out of it it may 40 years ago when it was first mined but now it is about 90% efficient (but that is true of solar panels and that is a provable fact) We have enough oil sands even if we increase production to double or more to last the world for about 12,000 years and natural gas about 120,000 years then by that time we can use cleaner coal. Then we will let the Mayans worry about it.

      @cha on

      Your response is the best post here. Your energy futures frame is a little hyperbolic but recognizes energy context. Canada needs 250 billion investment (mines and energy) over then next 15 years. The world needs to plan for longer timelines to provide for the next 3 billion people by 2050.

      bw on

      solar panel’s are only 17% efficient. but the fuel is FREE for 40 years. so absolutely does not matter. Germany installed 7GW’s of Solar in 2012. They have over 35GW’s of sola deployed. solar panels generate at 30grams of CO2 per kWhr versus 600 grams for Nat Gas. Solar directly displaces Nat Gas and Coal electricity production.
      Manufacturing solar panels is like manufacturing electricity.

Phyllis Hiebert on

Small and large business pay a high price to operate within Canada’s Environmental laws. Small and large business have to meet many stringent requirements to be productive and create a healthy economic climate for all, including all the complainers and freeloaders who haven’t got a clue who butters their bread. My sons, aged 21 and 24, each pay $3000/ mo in INCOME TAX alone, before they are allowed to take any of their earnings home to pay their own bills, maintain their own homes.

Respectfully Submitted,

Phyllis Hiebert

    Clint EL on

    I call b***t on Phyllis Hiebert’s comment about her 21 and 24 year old sons paying $3,000 a month in income tax. If they are in fact paying that much then they’d be grossing at least $12k a month or $144k a year. Pardon me if I don’t shed a tear for her darling boys or the businesses that have to operate within Canada’s environmental laws. It’s those laws that will ensure my 5 year old daughter will have an environment within which to live and work (and complain about income tax).

      Carli on

      My husband is 28 and pays $5500 income tax/ month before we can pay our mortgage, food bills or baby bills. He’s in the 44% tax bracket, and has more taxes taken off in a paycheque than I make in a month. Just because you didn’t have the discipline to get a very well-paying job and stick with it at a young age gives you no right to call b–t on something you obviously know nothing about. SHAME on you Clint EL. Phyllis–Good job on raising your kids right!!!

    Malice in Wonderland on

    Phyllis Hiebert, thank you for your comment, You`re pretty well the only one with something intelligent to say in response to this article, The rest are a mixture of pipe dreams, economic nationalism and “Òh-my-god-will-someone-please-think-of-the-nativism”. People forget that its tax dollars that make any of this possible and tax dollars are generated by economic prosperity.

      Robert Moriyama on

      Your sons’ taxes are not due to environmental laws. They are paying for Canada’s Economic Action Plan ads.

    Erika K on

    Phyllis Hiebert, I also had to pay 40% income taxes before I got to take any money home….for years. I have never, and will never, complain. I’m not a complainer or a freeloader and I butter my own bread, thank you very much. It’s my labour that earns me a paycheque that generates my prosperity and it’s the taxes I pay that generates prosperity for others. Canada is, thankfully, not a nation of “individuals” above all. It’s a country that tries to balance the prosperity of the community and the individual.

    requin on

    Phyllis Hiebert. Your sons are making some pretty good money for their age; there would appear to be no need to complain.

    Bassist on

    Phyllis… and your sons already own homes, not bad for early 20s, despite all that nasty tax. They’ll survive!

    Ian on

    Phyllis, I have lived in countries and visited many others were taxes are low, non-existent or unenforceable. Funny, in those same countries the road systems are horrendous, the majority of the kids are poorly educated and malnourished, there are no effective public services (eg fire depts., police, paramedics, building codes, etc) . Public servants are poorly paid and therefore unmotivated, often corrupt. Criminal systems are ineffective and lawmakers and judges appointed based on who owes who. Criminals run the jails. Who prospers in these countries? The wealthy, who exploit the lower classes who have to work for a few dollars a day, and who can afford to fly to Singapore or France when they are sick, and who send their kids to private schools and universities here in Canada or the US, and who can bribe officials when they need something to happen or go away. Being born and bred in Canada and then living and working over-seas (while at the same time paying my full taxes in Canada I might add), makes it a no brainer for me to pay my taxes. Our system is not perfect and I would gladly pay more if it meant that the government would use it wisely (cuts to get rid of waste, not cutting essential programs that the current government find as impediments to their wealthy base that need less regulation in order to make more money). Phyllis, if you sons are doing so well to have to pay the amount of taxes they are, then I think that they must be doing very well. If they think otherwise, I can suggest a few countries that they might want to move to.

    Bob in BC on

    Tell us just what advantages your sons had that put them in such a sweet financial situation at such an early age. It sounds to me like your sons are probably the freeloaders, getting it all handed to them on a silver platter. And the arrogance to think that their profits are more important than the environment which belongs to everybody. If Harper and his supporters are in power long enough there won’t be any more environmental laws. That may make you happy but it will be a disaster for the country. Put the country’s needs ahead of your personal greed.

Jon on

No future in oil? It’s what keeps the gears of the world turning, and it will continue to be the best source of energy for development and maintenance into the forseeable future. Sure, we will eventually run out of oil, and by that time, hopefully there will be a replacement. However, that replacement is definitely not going to be solar or wind energy, which is nice as a novelty, but essentially useless in the real world.

    Steve W on

    This comment sums it up for me, lets keep digging because “hopefully” there will be a replacement, lets put the existence of our species on blind hope while we dig away.

    Cheryl An on

    I’m sure we will run out of clean air and clean water faster than we run out of oil which, when burned, releases carbon molecules into the otherwise clean air and water and traps heat from the sun’s rays in the atmosphere and biosphere, and this causes planetary warming. It’s that simple. Whereas, after your energy-harvesting solar panel, a $3,000. purchase, generates enough clean energy for your needs, any additional clean energy it harvests can be sold to the grid, so it’s clean energy that actually pays for itself. Clean energy, cheap energy, income-producing energy. You can’t get smart like that with filthy, dirty, extremely costly, oil.

      roger on

      Solar panels sound like the answer till you look at the facts, solar panels are made mainly from (this depends on the type) aluminum, copper, zinc, gold (and other metals) and silicon all those materials are mined and smelted none of the mines or smelters are solar powered a great deal of CO2 is used making a solar panel. Now depending on the climate you use them in have a life span from 10 to 30 years and they only work during the day and best on sunny but not too hot of a day. But they don’t kill birds like wind mills but birds I have found can really mess them up. If you use very good batteries they will last you about 5 years some of the new ones maybe 8 to 10 years.

      When said and done unless you’re off the grid and no other source of energy like a small non fish stream use the electric power source in you area it is cheaper and better for the environment.

      Tom Brown on

      You have no idea what you are talking about. Get up to speed with the facts or don’t bother to say anything about solar panels and batteries. Some commonly used batteries now cost half as much as they did 3 years ago, are more powerful, and their manufacturers are commonly providing WARRANTIES of 15 to 20 years. Solar panels do not contain copper, other than in the leads which attach the panels to each other or to inverters. They DO however contain about 25-30 grams of SILVER each, on average, as well as one of the most abundant elements on earth-silicon. Panels built today will likely be producing at least 80% of their rated output 100 years from now, when all fossil fuel has become impossible to access due to cost limitations, and therefore impossible to use. Panels built 30 years ago are still producing 50% of their rated output…using early 1980s technology. My advice to you is, purchase a solar powered backup system to power your home or business’ essential circuits, before you are not able to any longer since your paper money will have lost all value. And contrary to the corporate media machine propaganda, solar panels and wind turbines are not what have bankrupted the province of Ontario (yes it’s bankrupt, as most provincial governments and nearly all national governments of the world are). Interest on the debt, in order to pay for inflated government workers’ salaries and entitlement programs for those who are seen as desirable voter demographics for corrupt governments of the day, are the actual culprits. Please respond, I dare you. Tell me how nuclear and natural gas are the answer…and how fracking is going to save the day…that will confirm that you are indeed a parrot. Thanks Cheryl for your more intelligent comments…at least someone on here can think for themselves.

      bw on

      Roger, silicon based solar panels have no rare metals, silicon is made from sand. Huge abundance. They contain tiny amounts of copper and silver in the soldering, no lead. And even the silver use has been halved from the need to get costs down. Only FIrst Solar uses those materials in their panels. Solar now generates at less than 30g of CO2 over their lifetime and is dropping monthly. And last year many silicon wafer manufactures started deploying new processes. In the solar industry manufacturers need to compete, meaning reducing energy use in production, because energy costs money. Therefore continuing to drive down CO2 as a mechanism in the industry.

      Mark Shortreed on

      And who care about your CO2 numbers? The Earth is cooling. CO2 is plant food. Please try and keep up. You leftists will need to find another boogieman to try and create your one world government utopia.

      Tom Brown on

      Thoughtful response Cheryl An, thank you. I have some good news for anyone out there who has, until now, been buying into mainstream news propaganda (namely, that fossil fuels will never run out and that sustainable energy technologies are inefficient and costly): I can supply and install a small backup system–4 panels, 2 batteries, and associated electronics, for the price you have quoted for one solar panel alone. The reason it’s so much less than you think: demand from folks who have done their homework has increased the supply of product and services in the solar sector. Take a close look at solar again folks. If you would like to seriously consider how you can protect yourself against inflation and other government/banker created shenanigans, contact me any time and I can help. I have been installing solar and wind for years and it’s incredible what is happening…even in the face of constant misinformation from the banker-controlled government-media complex. More people are waking up to the truth. Here’s something to ask the nightly news parrots: where does the money come from to pay for nuclear power plant 1) construction 2) maintenance 3) refurbishment 4) decomissioning 5) storage of spent fuel? Answer: YOUR (and my) tax dollars. And where does the money come from to pay for your own solar project, which allows you to divest yourself of the 90% inefficient high-voltage electric transmission and distribution network by going off-grid? Answer: your own private money! So, contrary to what the media talking heads on radio, television, and in newspapers tell you (who are obviously, if you just stop and think and follow the money for a moment, invested in the present centralised status quo), those subsidies you have been told apply to sustainable energy technologies, in actual fact, have ALWAYS and CONTINUE to apply only to the nuclear, coal, and natural gas power generators. It’s time for people to cease being PARROTS, SHEEP and government-media-complex trusting INNOCENTS. It’s time for people to start thinking for themselves instead. Thanks Cheryl An. I’m here if you want to explore renewables further. I am a licensed electrician, solar designer and installer. In my former life, I worked in a Canadian bank for over 5 years, and as such have an implicit understanding about exactly how and why money is created (IE out of thin air, for the benefit of bankers only, and in order to secretly transfer wealth from savers to those who do absolutely nothing–bankers and government, by way of the secret tax that almost nobody knows about–INFLATION). Peace to all. And to anyone who would like to debate any of these facts, anytime…try me.

      bw on

      Cheryl, you are right and wind and solar directly keep demand of Natural Gas down, therefore keeping the price of Nat Gas down.That means we generate our electricity cheaper, heat our house cheaper and cook our food cheaper!

      John on

      Just a comment on Solar panels -and the composition of one. The materials used to manufacture one is —————–? Just to replace copper!

      amirlach on

      “Oil which, when burned, releases carbon molecules into the otherwise clean air and water and traps heat from the sun’s rays in the atmosphere and biosphere, and this causes planetary warming. It’s that simple.”

      Well no actually it’s not that simple. There is zero empirical evidence supporting that claim. There is no correlation between rising levels of Co2 and observed temperatures. It’s all based on “Climate Models” which have all failed to predict the climate with any skill. When the Predictions are tested they all fail.

      Skip down to the section “What evidence can we use to test the DAGW hypothesis?”

    bw on

    Jon, Germany just installed an additional 7GW’s of solar in 2012 alone. They now have over 35GW’s of solar, which is equal to 10 Pickering Nuke power plants.

    Michael on

    There is so much ignorance concerning the environment and it shows here in many of the comments. Solar and wind power are just a novelty? German solar installations produce 22 gigawatts of power per hour equal to 20 nuclear power plants running at full capacity.
    Today around 20 percent of Sweden’s current energy production comes from renewable sources.
    Even the U.S. produces 46.9 GWor wind power, with 6.8 GW of new capacity in 2011 and growing.
    If we continue on the present path of C02 production we will end up with no economy to discuss on a dying planet. In less than 40 years all coral reefs will be gone and plankton at the bottom of the ocean food chain will be dying. We are now entering the greatest extinction event since the time of the dinosaurs and you want to keep promoting more of the same. Insane

Uncle Fred on

Living standards is a meaningless statistic without some more elaboration on how this measure was constituted. How was this calculated? For who? What was the sample base? Is the top earners, who take home the majority of the countries wealth causing the data to be distorted? More explanation and breakdown is needed to for this measure to have any real meaning. Same with community vitality.

Bob Green Innes on

I doubt that any of the components listed could pass the smell test of reality. Democracy, Education, community vitality all up? Really? Only the organization that gave us debauched CPI, employment and GDP measures could invent that story. Such gross stats also masks the difference between winners in Canada’s Free Trade Giveaway Lotto and losers squeezed by foreign low tax haven regimes. If you really want things to get better, grow a spine, cancel your newspaper, magazine and TV subscriptions and concentrate on talking to actual people in your community.

    Aki on

    Agreed. Anyone who thinks kids are better educated, communities are more tight knit, and living standards have increased over the years is either blind, or in willing denial. Store fronts are vacant, roads are in greater disrepair, crime is up, legalized thug brutality is up, cost of living is WAY up, general morale is WAY down. Maybe people should pay more attention to their surroundings instead of texting or playing world of Warcraft. Many people come to this country for its natural beauty, yet those that live here take it for granted. Look up from your phone, see that white streak in the sky is NOT a contrail, and wake up.

Jo McKay on

Had trouble with the start of this article, but it got better. We need to be sure we are not sending mixed messages to government. The recent TRADE deal Canada made with CHINA, if it goes through (PM has not signed it yet, thanks to lots of anger) will be horrible for Canada. And right now the PM is trying to put through an Omnibus Bill that included scrapping a whole wack of our Environmental Laws. The fight is on NOW to try and save our environmental laws. Loss of Trust and Betrayal that a govt can be so out of touch with the Canadian identity. We used to be proud of our Environmental Protections. Now we are the Dirty Oil capital of the world! What is that? So, yes most of us want economic improvement, but not at the expense of our children’s futures. Sustainable business, Ethical business. Green business. These are all growth industries and Canada used to be on the main stage; these are where we want to go. Just because we have oil doesn’t mean we have to drill every drop – we could wait, for example until there really are clean ways to get at it. We could say NO to Industry once in a while, if they are putting greed before people, and ahead of protecting sensitive eco systems…I mean…doesn’t it seem obvious. Why do we have to fight our own government to save our environment? A damn shame!

    Arfon on

    If you want growth in economy you have to use industry. It’s about being cheap and productive; when these things are going on the green industry and environment don’t matter.

      John Smith on

      China and Asia have 1200 coal-fired power plants on the drawing board. Canada’s contribution to C02 (as if it matters) is miniscule. Worry about REAL pollution: Diesel soot, nitrous oxide, sulfur dioxide are REAL pollutants. The kind that costs China 1 million lives per year. As for the tar sands…if you want to destroy a huge part of Canada’s GDP, go ahead and stop them. While you worry about some minor rural water supplies. Grow up, you liberals.

      Dave on

      It’s pretty plain to see that in order to have an economy, you need industry. If you don’t produce things people need and want, you can neither create jobs that bring money into the country, nor can you supply people with the essentials for living (much less what they want). But that in itself doesn’t equal (or justify) poor environmental practices… you don’t have to be at the rock bottom of “cheap and productive” to function effectively.

      In my opinion, the biggest mistake is opening yourself up to other countries in a free-trade arena, or any other country-to-country business relationship where there isn’t heavy taxation on imported things. This ensures a race to the bottom, and on other countries’ terms. Unless you can be absolutely 100% sure your country’s businesses can undercut every other country in every industry, you will suffer devastating business casualties. The big contenders of the business world will move in and kill off your national brands and businesses unless you can be as cut-throat as they are. That’s why we “can’t afford” to pay for environmental or green expenses, and why we can’t afford not to jump on dirty projects – if another country doesn’t give a crap about the environment (eg china) and they pay their workers practically nothing, they set the new low for prices, and conscientious industry can’t compete.

      The trendy thing to do is to look at this in a positive light – a race to the bottom means consumers save cash. But it’s fundamentally flawed and is only great in the short-term – over time, our country hemorrhages money to the outside world while manufacturing and product development leaves. You can look at Ontario as a case study for that – we used to be a ‘have’ province, and in historical documents you see manufacturing everywhere, from the small nowhere towns to the big cities. As the modern “race to the bottom” gained pace, manufacturing left, and places like wal-mart proliferated. Now we are ‘have nots’ … we’re top heavy and lagging in production of things, and though cheap prices are saving us now, all the money is still flowing to the states and china… it’s no wonder we’re short on jobs now, and no wonder the quality of life for young people getting into the job market is terrible.

      But consider for one moment if we weren’t being gouged by foreign economies – prices might be higher, but you would also have a job to pay those prices. And in-country industry, if not so threatened by the world market, might be willing to spend more on environmental practices (or the government could justify making them do so). Doing business on our own terms would let us have more control… in fact, it’s the whole reason that taxes on foreign imports existed in the first place. We have actually gone backwards, rather than progressed in this arena. And it’s hurting our quality of life and our quality of environment.

      As for John Smith – the tar sands are essentially just good for Alberta and the tax pocketbooks of the Federal Government. Don’t pretend that they’re the saints that are propping up Canada as a whole – that’s a joke. If they were, maybe their first plan would have been to pipe the oil to another province for refinement, rather than targeting China and the US as their primary customers. And you might not care about your horrendous pollution now, but that kind of thing always catches up with you. When the tar sands dry up in some distant future, you’ll probably hate yourselves. I live in Hamilton, where due to heavy industry over the last century, our wetlands, harbour and great lake (Lake Ontario) have been extraordinarily polluted. People used to use the harbour ice and water for food applications… you used to be able to hunt the waterfowl and fish for food, and swim in the harbour and lake. Heck, the whole area used to be a pristine natural gem, with a landscape that had one of the highest-rated sunsets in all of Canada. Now you visit the hospital if you fall into the harbour by accident, and you’d only consume the animals in the area if you had a serious fetish for heavy metal poisoning.

      Ignoring the environment is ****ing stupid. I don’t want to live in a hideous polluted cesspool of a country. Maybe people like YOU, John Smith, should grow up and realize that thinking with your pocketbook won’t get you to a future you want to live in.

      Maureen Hawkins on

      Dave, you’re 100% right. The Alberta tar sands aren’t doing even Alberta much good economically, while, at the same time, they are destroying the environment & poisoning the people downstream. The tar sands produce bitumen, the lowest grade of oil product. Without specialized refineries, it can only be refined into fuel oil, which is in low demand. China doesn’t want bitumen; they have a cap on prices for gas and other refined oil products & can’t afford to give bitumen the specialized refining it needs & still sell the product to its citizens below that cap, so all the pipeline to the Pacific will do is destroy the environment in order to build up an unsellable stock of bitumen on the West coast. The same has already happened in the States; massive stocks of bitumen no one wants are already backlogged there. As a result of this, the Alberta government is facing a major deficit due to low oil royalties; because Redford’s government refuses to raise taxes or oil royalties & because the Alberta Conservatives have been squandering the oil revenues from good years instead of putting them in the Heritage Fund, the budget we coming down on 7 March is expected to have massive cuts to all government services. Meanwhile, instead of building the necessary refineries in Alberta or elsewhere in Canada, the oil companies want to pipe the bitumen to specialized refineries they already have in the American southeast, thus further damaging both the Alberta & Canadian economies. This is a lose-lose situation.

    yan bellavance on

    wanna save the environment? burn fuel! seriously! but do it right. What you really need to make sure off is that Canadians don’t get stiffed when they sell their oil and diamonds and other ressources to the world. We should not be paying more for gas than americans, the more we get taxed, the more our economy gets crippled and prevented from growing, we also need bigger roads. Otherwise the constant taxe increases only create a downward spiral. thats the part america got right (just dont copy their banking system lol)

    Jeevesso on

    Hear, hear Jo Mckay ! What has happened to our Canada? What has happened to our elected representatives? How did we end up with this steam rolling PM, bent on pounding through bills which are NOT in our favour ? And why are Canadians not caring enough to read, think and vote their displeasure ?

    Harry Bradford on

    Thanks for a very insightful comment. I especially like the following observation:” Loss of Trust and Betrayal that a govt can be so out of touch with the Canadian identity.”

    Carli on

    I recently saw a news broadcast about the Americans protesting the pipeline from Alta, they were all angry saying “Those Canadians need to stop thinking of themselves and start thinking about the environment.” I as so taken aback that Americans could be so ignorant in thinking that the majority of Canadians support the destruction of our environment. What an insult.

Friday Links on

[…] Brighter Life asks the question, How Well is Canada Really Doing? […]

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