B.C. Spends Less On Health, Has Healthiest Population in Canada

Vancouver General Hospital in British Columbia, Canada. B.C. is ranked as having one of the best health care systems in Canada thanks to high ratings on the health-related lifestyle habits and health outcomes of its residents (Arnold C.)

British Columbia has the healthiest residents among the Canadian provinces according to a new Conference Board of Canada (CBoC) study.

The B.C. provincial government spends less than almost all other Canadian provinces on health care, but still comes out on top in the health care ranking thanks to the healthy lifestyles of B.C. residents, who have the lowest smoking rates in the country.

The CBoC report rates provincial health care system performance according to a total of 90 indicators within four categories: Lifestyle Factors, Health Status, Health Resources, and Health Care System Performance.

Lifestyle Factors measures the behavior of a province’s population that affects health, including the rate of smoking, heavy drinking, obesity, fruit and vegetable consumption and physical activity.

B.C. has the best score in both the Lifestyle Factors and Health Status categories, which was enough to earn it one of only three As granted in the Overall Performance rating.

The other provinces scoring an A in Overall Performance were Alberta and Ontario. Both provinces have more government spending on health care than B.C., and both received a higher score in Health Care System Performance, which measures disease screening, waiting times and accessibility for procedures, effectiveness of treatments and the appropriateness of treatments.

Residents of Alberta and Ontario fell short of British Columbians in their health status however, with lower birth weights, higher infant mortality, and more years of life lost to illness.

Conf Board of Canada Says Immigrants Diversify Economic Growth

Saskatoon’s famous Broadway bridge at night. A recent Conference Board of Canada report finds that for each additional 481 immigrants in Saskatchewan, there was an increase of $30 million in imports and $41 million in exports at the provincial level (Jay Van Doornum)

A new report by the influential Conference Board of Canada finds that immigration contributes to diversifying trade in provinces. The study looked at the relationship between immigration in the province of Saskatchewan, and the countries which Saskatchewan traded with.

It found that in Saskatchewan, having resident immigrants from a particular country was linked, at the provincial level, to more goods being exported to and imported from that country.

The study’s author believes that there are two ways through which immigrants affect trade: their preferences for native-country products leads to more imports, particularly from their native country, and their contacts in their native country, as well as their knowledge of that country, leads to both an increase in imports and in exports between their adopted country and their native one.

Looking at trade data from the years 2007 to 2011, the researcher found that “Saskatchewan is more likely to import goods from countries that have an increased immigrant presence in the province, regardless of the relative wealth, presence of a trade office, distance, or language spoken in that country”.

The analysis found that a 1 percent increase in the immigrant population is correlated with a 0.32 percent increase in the value of imported goods and a 0.36 percent increase in the value of exported goods.

The report proposes increasing immigration to create stronger trade links with the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and other countries outside North America, in order to diversify the sources of Canada’s economic growth and increase trade.

Canada’s North Will Need Up To 70,000 Workers by 2020 – Conference Board of Canada

Yellowknife, the largest city in the Northwest Territories. A report released on Monday projects that, by 2020, up to 70,000 new jobs in the North will be supported by additional mining output in the region.

A report released on Monday by the Conference Board of Canada, one of the country’s most respected public policy research organizations, predicts that mining in Northern Canada will support an additional 43,000 to 70,000 jobs in the region by 2020.

The report estimates that the value of the annual output of mining activity in the North will grow at an annual rate of 7.5 percent – more than three times the projected GDP growth rate – to nearly double from $4.4 billion in 2011–12 to $8.5 billion in 2020.

The 74 page reports focuses most of its recommendations on improving communication and cooperation between mining companies, aboriginal groups, and local, provincial/territorial and federal governments.

It also calls for increased government investment, in the way of government-private partnerships, to build the necessary infrastructure in the North, and a simpler regulatory approval process by integrating environmental assessments made by various levels of government.

If these measures are taken, the report concludes, the people of the North and the rest of Canada, stand to benefit from increased exports as the industrialization of India and China boosts global economic growth and demand for minerals.

Edmonton and Calgary to Have Fastest Economic Growth in Canada

Suncor Energy Centre in Calgary, Alberta. Edmonton and Calgary are expected to have the fastest economic growth in Canada according to the Conference Board of Canada’s Metropolitan Outlook-Autumn 2012 (Chuck Szmurlo)

The Albertan metropolises, Calgary and Edmonton, will have the fastest economic growth in Canada this year, followed closely by Regina, Saskatchewan, according to a forecast by the Conference Board of Canada’s Metropolitan Outlook-Autumn 2012, released today.

Alberta is expected to benefit from high levels of energy-industry-related investment for the next four years, which will help fund economic growth of 3.8 percent in Calgary and 4.6 percent in Edmonton in 2012.

Saskatchewan’s cities, also enjoying a resource-sector-led boom thanks to the province’s large oil and gas, potash, uranium, and lumber resources, will see strong growth over the next four years according to the report. The provincial capital, Regina, is expected to lead the province with economic growth of 3.6 percent in 2012.

Perhaps surprisingly given the city’s real estate slowdown, Vancouver is expected to have one of the best performing economies in Canada in the coming years, with economic growth of 3.1 percent in 2012, and average annual economic growth of 3.3 percent forecast for the next four years.

Conference Board of Canada says Canada Needs More Investment to Utilize Skilled Work Force

More investment into capital equipment like industrial robots is needed to boost productivity according to an Op-Ed by the Conference Board of Canada (KUKA Roboter GmbH, Bachmann)

A new Op-Ed by the Conference Board of Canada, a non-partisan Canadian economic think tank, makes the case that Canada’s tepid productivity growth over the last three decades is due to an insufficient expansion of physical capital.

The report lauds the quality of Canada’s labour force:

Canada can boast one of the top workforces in the world. Compared with many other developed countries, Canada has a very high proportion of college- and university-educated workers in the labour force. Only Finland surpassed Canada in the Conference Board’s How Canada Performs analysis in Education and Skills– our best showing across six socio-economic categories.

And argues that Canada’s workers, while well-educated and capable, have not been given the “machinery and equipment, technology, and infrastructure” needed to maximize their productivity.

It notes that the ratio of physical capital to human capital decreased dramatically from the mid 1980s onward, and this corresponded with a slow down in productivity growth -from 2.8 percent per year in the 1962 to 1984 period, to just 1.2 percent per year in the 1984 to 2010 period.

The report gives several reasons for the decrease in investment in physical capital:

  • A weakening Canadian dollar in the 1990s and early 2000s, which made foreign-made capital equipment more expensive for Canadian companies
  • The introduction of the capital tax, a tax on the value of a company’s taxable capital, in 1985
  • Trade barriers like tariffs between Canada and other countries
  • Insufficient investment in Canada’s public infrastructure
  • A weak venture capital market which has prevented a greater number of successful firms from being launched in Canada

The authors note that there have been improvements in all of these areas in recent years, with a stronger Canadian dollar since 2003, the elimination of the capital tax in 2006, large investments by the federal government into infrastructure projects since 1999, the elimination of tariffs on machinery and equipment in 2009, and recent inter-provincial agreements to reduce domestic trade barriers, like the TILMA between BC and Alberta.

They say these improvements have resulted in strong growth in capital investment since 2005, including a 25 percent increase in the last two years.

The report recommends more work to develop the venture capital market, improve advanced education, and reduce trade barriers, as well as increasing infrastructure investment, to enhance future productivity.