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Canadian flags from a boat in the Victoria harbour is framed with the Legislative building Victoria, BC on Canada Day. (For The Globe and Mail)
Canadian flags from a boat in the Victoria harbour is framed with the Legislative building Victoria, BC on Canada Day. (For The Globe and Mail)

Canada falls from competitiveness Top 10 Add to ...

Canada has continued its slide in business competitiveness, falling to 12th place from 10th last year in a World Economic Forum ranking of countries around the globe.

The Conference Board of Canada, which prepared the data for Canada’s ranking, said Canada has slid steadily from 9th place in 2009 because other countries are improving their competitiveness while Canada’s score has remained almost identical over the past three years.

The board said Canada must place more emphasis on improving its productivity if it wants to maintain its high standard of living and quality of life.

“Canada should not be satisfied with its 12th place ranking,” said Michael Bloom, vice-president of Organizational Effectiveness and Learning at the Conference Board.

“Businesses continue to underperform in using our peoples’ skills and knowledge to generate new or improved products, processes and services. And Canadian businesses do not appear to be adapting adequately to globalization or building effective global value chains as quickly as their international competitors.”

The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index was developed in 2004 and includes 12 categories of indicators for 142 countries. They include quality of infrastructure such as roads, ports and electricity supplies; quality of higher education and training; macroeconomic factors such as government budget balances and gross national savings; and financial market development.

The ranking also includes information from surveys of leading business executives in each country.

For the third consecutive year, Switzerland led the overall rankings, while Singapore moved up into second position ahead of third-place Sweden. The United States has continued to slide in the rankings due to weak economic fundamentals and increasing concerns about the effectiveness of government institutions and leaders. It now ranks fifth, down from first place in 2008.

Canada received high points from survey participants for its health and primary education systems, as well as its strong labour market and effective financial system.

But the country got mixed results for its economic environment, ranking only 49th globally in that category. The report said Canada had top marks for its low inflation and strong country credit rating, but those were offset by concerns about a lack of saving by Canadians and the country’s high government debt levels.

Canada ranked 80th for gross national savings as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP), and 129th out of 142 countries in terms of overall government debt levels as a percentage of GDP.

The Conference Board said the results of the competitiveness report are similar to the findings of its annual How Canada Performs report analysis, which has repeatedly demonstrated that Canada “is not a leader when it comes to innovation.”

The latest How Canada Performs report card will be released later this month, and Canada is expected to remain in the middle of the pack of 16 peer countries, the Conference Board said.

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