Canada Ranks 17th in ‘Ease of Doing Business’, Shines in ‘Starting a Business’ Category

Canada's largest port, the Port of Vancouver. Canada placed 17th in the World Bank's Doing Business report that ranks countries by general ease of doing business.

Canada ranks as the 17th easiest place in the world to do business in a report released on Tuesday by the World Bank. The 2013 edition of the Doing Business report rates 185 countries according to 11 sets of indicators that quantify the ease of complying with regulations and the protection of property ownership rights.

Canada’s overall ranking was weighed down by the low scores it received in the ‘Dealing with construction permits’ (69), ‘Getting electricity’ (152), and ‘Enforcing contracts’ (62) categories. It ranked near the top of the rankings in the ‘Starting a business’ category, at third, with a business requiring one procedure and five days to start on average in the country.

Last month, Canada placed fifth in another international economic freedom index, the Fraser Institute’s annual Economic Freedom of the World report. In that ranking, Canada placed well ahead of its southern neighbour, which came in 18th.

The situation is reversed in the World Bank report, with the US, at 4th in the world, ranking 13 places ahead of Canada -exactly the same number of places that Canada was ahead of the US by in September’s report.


The accuracy of economic freedom indices has been questioned by some groups, due to the arbitrary weighting of the indicators used to formulate the final score a country receives, and the non-recognition of the ease of participating in the un-regulated, informal economy – an area where less developed countries have an advantage due to their less developed regulatory enforcement mechanisms – as a factor in economic freedom in all of the major indices.

Nevertheless, a good showing in an economic freedom index is highly sought after due to the perception it gives of a country being open for business and having a strong rule of law.

Canada’s placing in the indices should improve considerably in coming years due to the comprehensive Red Tape Reduction Action Plan, a major overhaul of the regulatory framework, announced this month, which will implement the recommendations of the federal government’s year-long Red Tape Reduction Commission.

Canada Ranks 5th in World Ranking of Economic Freedom, US Falls to 18th

Canada is now ranked as having the freest economy in North America, thirteen places ahead of the United States, the historic symbol of economic freedom in the world (NASA/GSFC)

Canada tied Australia for fifth freest economy in the world in the Fraser Institute’s annual Economic Freedom of the World report, released yesterday. Canada improved its position by one spot while the US saw its ranking drop by ten spots from last year’s index.

The Fraser Institute’s economic freedom index scores countries’ degree of economic freedom by five criteria:

  1. Size of Government- a measure of how much government spends as a percentage of GDP, how much of the economy is directed by government-managed firms rather than the private sector, and income and payroll tax rates.
  2. Legal System and Property Rights- the extent to which private property ownership rights are protected and contracts are enforced by an independent judiciary and impartial court system.
  3. Sound Money- how well a country’s central bank maintains a low and stable inflation rate, and the freedom of people in a country to user alternative currencies and foreign bank accounts.
  4. Freedom to Trade Internationally- the degree of freedom people in a country enjoy from international trade barriers set up by their governments.
  5. Regulation- the extent of freedom from government restrictions on mutually voluntary activities. Countries with fewer regulations like minimum wage restrictions, dismissal regulations, and mandatory acceptance of collective bargaining requests score higher in this area.

The economic data used in the index is from 2010, as that is the most recent comprehensive data available, and comes from external sources like the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and the World Economic Forum.

For the sixteenth year in a row, Hong Kong and Singapore ranked first and second place in the index. The two East Asian economies have the lowest levels of government spending in the industrialized world, at approximately half that of Canada as a percentage of GDP, and the fewest restrictions on trade, labour and business activities of any of the 144 countries and territories included in the index.

Like most industrialized countries, Canada received a low score in the Size of Government component, ranking 73rd in the world, due to high levels of government spending and high marginal tax rates, but ranked near the top of the index in the areas of Legal System and Property Rights (12th), and Regulation (6th), thanks to a strong rule of law providing secure rights to property, and few regulatory barriers in credit markets and on labour and business activities.

The US’s overall ranking suffered due to an increase in government spending, and a reduction in its scores in the areas of Rule of Law and Freedom to Trade Internationally.