Canada's sliding performance masked by high resource prices



    OTTAWA, June 30 /CNW Telbec/ - High commodity prices are masking Canada's
sliding socio-economic performance when compared to other advanced countries,
The Conference Board of Canada reports in its 12th annual benchmarking
results.
    "Canada is losing ground to other countries that are better at exploiting
their own advantages," said Anne Golden, President and Chief Executive Officer
of the Conference Board. "We appear to be riding high due to global demand for
our resources, but this is not a sustainable course for our country.
    "Unfortunately, the Conference Board has been telling this story for a
dozen years, and the same issues have emerged year after year. At the crux of
our lagging performance is our failure to innovate."
    How Canada Performs: A Report Card on Canada compares 17
countries-including Canada-that enjoy some of the highest standards of living
in the world. In five of the six broad categories assessed, Canada's
performance ranks in the bottom half of countries.

    Economy: Canada's 11th place ranking this year is a significant decline
from its third-place position in the 1970s. A low productivity level-Canada
ranks 15th-is the strongest drag on the performance of the economy. Canada has
also failed to keep pace in the growing competition for global investment.

    Innovation: The way to raise Canada's productivity is to improve
innovation performance. However, Canada has consistently fared poorly in
innovation indicators since the 1980s, and ranks 13th in this year's report.
Canada has many of the elements needed for innovation, but research is not
successfully commercialized and used as a source of advantage for companies
seeking global market share.

    Education and Skills: Canada ranks 2nd, behind only Finland. Canada earns
top marks for high-school and college completion rates. But two problem areas
emerge. First, four in ten Canadian workers lack the basic literacy skills to
cope with the demands of work in the modern economy. Second, Canada does not
produce enough graduates in fields that underpin innovation-such as science,
math and engineering. And Canada produces too few Ph.D. graduates.

    Environment: Canada ranks 15th, with poor performances in greenhouse gas
emissions, smog and waste generation. Canadians generate more waste per person
that any other country in the comparison. And only Australia produces greater
per capita greenhouse gas emissions.

    Health: Canada earns a middle-of-the-pack ranking-9th place-for the
health of its population. However, high levels of mortality due to heart
disease and increasing levels of mortality from diabetes should raise alarm
bells. Furthermore, with soaring child diabetes and obesity rates, this may be
the first generation of children in more than a century to have worse health
outcomes than their parents.

    Society: Canada's 10th place ranking is higher than that of the United
States, but well behind the leading countries. Some of Canada's results-such
as rates of burglary and assault, and levels of child poverty-are shockingly
poor.

    An overview of the findings is available at www.conferenceboard.ca/hcp.
Anne Golden's Canada Day message is available at

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPUvAq_flbg




For further information:

For further information: Brent Dowdall, Media Relations, (613) 526-3090
ext. 448, corpcomm@conferenceboard.ca


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