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Conference Board's report paints gloomy Canadian portrait

By Laurie Blake, Workplace Magazine
| www.cos-mag.com

Canada may not be the greatest country to live in after all, according to a recent Conference Board of Canada survey. And, while Canada is still in the gifted class among nations, it's most recent annual report card is disappointing. The Conference Board report, "How Canada Performs," tells the story of a country moving to the back of the class because of its underperformance in almost all subjects -- economy, environment, society, health, innovation, and education and skills.[a href="http://www.cos-mag.com/index.php/component/option,com_seyret/Itemid,105/id,22/task,videodirectlink/"]

[Watch: Conference Board of Canada's president and CEO Anne Golden talks about Canada's report card]

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Each year, the Conference Board pits Canada's performance against 17 peer countries - Ireland, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Finland, U.S., U.K., Belgium, Denmark, Australia, Austria, Japan, France, Italy and Germany - to learn what we can do to sustain a high quality of life and also what should be avoided.

The Conference Board of Canada has been assessing Canada's quality of life for more than 12 years in its annual benchmarking report. For the first time, the Conference Board also looks back-in some cases over more than four decades-to examine trends in Canada's performance in the economy, innovation, the environment, education, health, and society. The board set out to answer three questions: Is life in Canada better or worse that it was in the past? How does Canada's quality of life stack up against life in other countries? Will this quality of life will be sustainable in the future?

The analysis shows that Canada's quality of life is slipping:

    * Canada's grade for economic performance has declined over the past three decades. Canada has dropped from 3rd spot in the 1970s to 11th place, with a "B" grade in the Economy category. See the overview of the Economy report card.

    * Canada has received a "D" for its innovation performance for the past three decades. Canada is not taking the steps to ensure that science can be successfully commercialized and used as a source of economic advantage. See the overview of the Innovation report card.

    * Canada generates more waste per capita than any other country in the Conference Board comparison. Canada is also one of the world's largest per capita emitters of greenhouse gases. See the overview of the Environment report card.

    * Canada's high-school graduation rate is second only to the U.S., and its college completion is the best among 17 peer countries. Yet the adult literacy skills of four in ten working-age Canadians are inadequate. See the overview of the Education and Skills report card.

    * Given increasing rates of diabetes and heart disease, Canada has no choice but to adopt a new business model for health care that focuses on both preventing and managing chronic disease. See the overview of the Health report card.

    * Canada has 17 times the rate of assaults as the best-ranked country, 7 times the rate of burglaries, and 3 times the rate of homicides. See the overview of the Society report card.

To read the full report, visit http://sso.conferenceboard.ca/HCP.aspx.

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