“In a world darkened by ethnic conflicts that tear nations apart, Canada stands as a model of how people of different cultures can live and work together in peace, prosperity and mutual respect.” – Bill Clinton
What a wonderful quote to usher in Canadian Thanksgiving, encapsulating a self-image that many Canadians embrace. These words are Bill Clinton’s, made back in 1995, two years into his first term as President of the United States. Clinton’s comments were made while addressing the Canadian Parliament and his encouraging tone is a far cry from the doomsday politicking that is dominating many headlines this election year. As a Canadian employer, job seeker or worker you are probably aware that the Canadian economy has had its ups and downs recently. Nevertheless, as Thanksgiving approaches, we are grateful for a number of Canadian socio-economic realities. Here are some of our favourite reasons why the Canadian labour force has much to be thankful for:
1) Global Competitiveness
Last week, the World Economic Forum (WEF) released its Global Competitiveness Report. The index ranks Canada as the thirteenth most competitive economy in the world, up from fifteenth a year ago. While the Canadian economy does not yet warrant a return to the index’s top ten, where it was nestled earlier in the decade, these developments are encouraging. The WEF notes that those countries enjoying global competitiveness recovery are nations whose monetary policy has driven structural reform. While many Canadians are disappointed that we have not enjoyed an economic quick-fix, there are strong indicators that long-term global competitiveness—and the financial benefits that come with it—are part of our nation’s DNA.
2) Higher Education
Another long-term indicator of a stable Canadian future is that our nation seems to be punching above its weight in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. The University of Toronto, the University of British Columbia and McGill are in the top 50 schools in the world, with another four institutions in the top 200. This year, like all years since The Times started its rankings, the US and the UK dominate the top 200. But the cost of education in the United States is notoriously high and the UK’s top universities have seen large fee increases in recent years. By contrast, in terms of population size, Canada, the Netherlands and Switzerland, are three small nations that boast consistently excellent ratings for affordable higher education. It seems that future Canadian workers have a lot to be thankful for.
3) Growing Old
What about Canada’s experienced workers who are nearing retirement? Well, with twenty-two percent of Canadians now over 60 years old, it is encouraging that Canada currently ranks fifth in the 2015 Global AgeWatch index for the best countries in the world to grow old in. Factors like income security, civic freedom, social connectedness and average pension income all score well, suggesting older Canadian workers can be thankful too. In fact, Canada outperformed the US and the UK in this index, with those nations raking ninth and tenth, respectively.
4) Economic Freedom
Canada’s youngest and oldest clearly have reasons to be thankful—so, what about the rest of us? Well, the news is particularly good. According to the Heritage Foundation, Canada ranks sixth in the world for economic freedoms. The Foundation notes that “in an economically free society, individuals are free to work, produce, consume, and invest in any way they please.” If these freedoms seem like a given in the Western world, pause to consider that the US and the UK rank twelfth and thirteenth, respectively. That’s considerably lower than Chile in seventh place, a country far poorer than the nations which boast the world’s most elite educational institutes. This global index indicates that Canada empowers you, its workers and jobs seekers, to invest your ambitions and money with a significant amount of freedom.
Thankful for Canada
None of the statistics above suggest that life is perfect for Canadian employers and job seekers. In context though it seems that we, as a nation, have an enviable balance of competitive monetary policy, top-quality higher education, secure retirement prospects and the individual freedom to manage our careers as we see fit. With all this in mind, Bill Clinton’s kind words sound especially appropriate for 2015, reminding Canadian workers that Thanksgiving is truly appropriate this year.