OTTAWA — Canada is a solid B performer as a place to live, but low rankings on poverty and income inequality are holding it back from A territory, according to the Conference Board of Canada’s Society report card.
The Ottawa-based research organization notes Canada placed seventh among 17 countries, way ahead of Japan (16th) and the US (17th) but behind five Nordic countries (Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands and Finland) and Austria. It noted Canada has been unable to reverse the rise in income inequality and poverty rates that occurred in the 1990s.
“Despite our overall “B” grade, comparatively high rates of poverty (15th) and a large gap in income levels (12th) can put stress on a society and on the economy. Rising poverty rates and greater income inequality can mean a weakening in labour force attachment and social cohesion,” said Daniel Muzyka, president and CEO of the Conference Board.
Income inequality jumped in the 1990s before stabilizing in the early 2000s. Since 1990, the Conference Board said the richest 20% of Canadians has increased its share of total national income, while the poorest and middle-income groups lost share.
However, Canada surpasses most other countries in intergenerational income mobility, earning an A and a 5th place out of 13 countries.
A child and working-age poverty rate of 15.1% is higher than it was in the mid-1990s. Because Canada had the third highest increase in the working-age poverty rate it’s grade slipped from a C to a D.
On the upside, Canada ranks first in citizens’ acceptance of diversity and has top marks in life satisfaction; elderly poverty rate; income gap between disabled and able-bodied workers; and suicide rate.
Click here to view results from the How Canada Performs report card.