Oh Canada!  So Much to be Thankful for (Just not as Much as Before)

A look back at a newsletter opener from 2017 reveals that Canada has fallen in virtually every global ranking in the past five years

You won’t find this a stretch that it’s a slow news day in the world of consumer electronics.  Today is the start of the Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend and one of the busiest travel days, as families and friends unite to give thanks.  In our house, we will have both daughters in residence along with our youngest daughter’s boyfriend, who has traveled from Norway.  Having a house full of noise and activity and best of all, young people, is a thanks in itself.

This fella is always happy and has no interest in rankings

Alas, our job is to cover the news and post interesting content even on a slow day and when I can’t find anything that’s meeting that goal, I often re-read some of my old newsletter openers to see if old themes can be revised and updated.  In October 2017, on the eve of Thanksgiving I wrote:

We have a lot to give thanks for; Canada ranks 9th out of 157 countries for economic freedom (Fraser Institute). We rank 16th out of 187 in ease of doing business (World Bank). Canada ranks 24th out of 178 for environmental performance (Yale University). We’re 5th out of 158 in World Happiness (Sustainable Development Solutions Network).

Canada ranks 8th out of 167 in terms of the Index of Democracy (Economist). Overall, Canada is the most admired country with the best reputation in the world (Knoema Reputation Institute).

I thought today I would be able to tweak those numbers, talk about the weather, avoid discussing inflation or the overall stock-market performance and we could all feel terrific and smug that we live in Canada.  Instead, what I have found is that in every category that I referenced in 2017, Canada has taken a fall down the rankings. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news on the eve of my favourite holiday.

In the Fraser Institute’s annual Economic Freedom of the World report, Canada is now outside the top 10 most economically-free countries in the world, ranking 14th based on 2020 data (the most recent available). Canada was last in the top 10 in 2017 (went I wrote the above missive) and prior to that, it was only outside of the top 10 once dating back to 1970.

Canada has dropped ten countries in happiness in the past five years

“Increased regulation and higher taxes, both federally and provincially, have made Canadians less economically free, which means slower economic growth and less investment across the country,” said Fred McMahon, Dr. Michael A. Walker Research Chair in Economic Freedom at the Fraser Institute.

As of 2020, again the last year that data is available and yes, a lot has changed in the world since 2020, Canada’s ease of doing business ranked 23rd worldwide out of 190 countries analyzed and has dropped seven country rankings in the past five years. Canada scores high in the fields of starting a business, trading across borders, and paying taxes. On the other hand, Canada did not perform particularly well in getting electricity, dealing with construction permits, and registering properties. In North America, Canada’s overall performance ranked 17 countries below the United States (6th). In 2017 we were 16th on the list. 

In 2022 Canada ranks 40th out of 180 for environmental performance (Yale University) when we were 24th five years ago. We are now 15th out of 143 countries on the latest world happiness rankings when five years ago we were a top-five happiest country in the world. While we were a top ten country in 2017 for our democratic principles, today we are 24th out of 176 countries in world democracy rankings.  In every stat I cited to make us feel good about giving thanks in 2017 we have tumbled down the mountain.

Remember in 2017 when Canada had the best country reputation?  We are now 7th behind Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, Norway, New Zealand and Australia.

So this year, I’m afraid I can’t prop us up as a country but we can still rattle a long list of things to be thankful for.  Hey, 24th is still great right? Has Canada ever really been comfortable in top spot anyway?  Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland (now the happiest place in the world) keep beating us in most world rankings. “Yeah but at least we are not in the States!!” said a friend as I shared these numbers.  Oh how Canada loves to point the finger at our dysfunctional polarized American neighbour’s, who happen to rank right next to us in the happiness report and rank six countries higher than Canada for environmental stewardship.

This year we should give thanks that a thanksgiving dinner that can be shared in person for the first time in three years with no restrictions. We may no longer be the happiest country in the world with the best reputation, but this weekend I’ll be the happiest in the world.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!