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Canada’s retirement system praised, but slips in global ranking

These are stories Report on Business is following Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014.

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Canada lauded
Canada has slipped a notch in a global ranking of retirement welfare, but is still lauded for its system.

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Canada's overall score stayed the same, but other countries moved up the rankings and others dropped, shifting the mix in the second annual report from Natixis Global Asset Management and CoreData.

Canada is ranked as No. 14, down from last year's 13. Taking the top 10 spots this year are Switzerland, Norway, Austria, Sweden, Australia, Denmark, Germany, Finland, New Zealand and Luxembourg.

Rounding out the top 15 are Iceland Belgium and the Netherlands ahead of Canada, and France just below.

The surveys take into account several factors, including health, quality of life, finances and "material well-being," which in turn break down into everything from the number of doctors and hospital beds to pollution and income.

"Canada has increased both its ranking in the quality of life and the finances in retirement sub-indices, where it has also outperformed the average 30 top performing nations," the survey said.

"Retirees in Canada benefit from a top health care system and other positive related outcomes such a life expectancy (81 in 2014) and universal health coverage," according to the report.

"However Canada's performance in the finances in retirement sub-index is particularly outstanding, as it has increased its ranking," it added.

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Indeed, Canada moved up to No. 8 from No. 17 in that category.

"Thanks partly to the wealth derived from natural resources, the Canadian economy has prospered in recent times," the report said, citing "generous" social security programs.

Target slumps in Canada
Target Corp. is having a disappointing time in Canada so far, posting a fourth-quarter operating loss north of the border of $329-million (U.S.) and a hefty 2013 loss of $941-million.

As The Globe and Mail's Marina Strauss reports, its fourth-quarter hit falls well short of its initial goal of being profitable by late last year.

Target posted Canadian sales of $623-million in the quarter, and annual sales of $1.3-billion.

Its Canadian operations trimmed its overall quarterly profit by 40 cents, better than expected, and annual profit by $1.13.

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Over all, Target's fourth-quarter profit slumped to $520-million or 81 cents a share in the quarter, from $961-million or $1.47 a year earlier, as sales fell after its high-profile data breach.

RBC boosts dividend
Gordon Nixon has a parting gift for his shareholders.

Royal Bank of Canada's chief executive officer announced a 6-per-cent dividend increase today as he also unveiled another solid quarterly result.

RBC, which hiked its dividend to 71 cents, posted a first-quarter profit of $2.09-billion, up 2 per cent from a year earlier, The Globe and Mail's Tim Kiladze reports.

Excluding one-time items, RBC earned $2.18-billion, or $1.44 a share, meeting the expectations of analysts.

Dave McKay, who's now chief of personal and commercial banking at RBC, will take over from Mr. Nixon this summer.

Spending to edge up
Business investment in Canada is edging up slightly this year, although the continued reluctance of mining companies to spend money is weighing on the figures, The Globe and Mail's Richard Blackwell reports.

According to a Statistics Canada survey released today, private and public spending on construction, machinery and equipment will rise just 1.4 per cent this year, to $404.5-billion, slightly below the also-weak 1.5-per-cent increase of last year.

Private investment will rise only 1.3 per cent, up from a meagre 0.2-per-cent increase in 2013.

Along with exports, business investment is a key source of economic growth, and the sluggish state of spending has been a drag on expansion for more than a year.

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About the Author
Report on Business News Editor

Michael Babad is a Report on Business editor and co-author of three business books. He has been with Report on Business for several years, and has also been a reporter and editor at The Toronto Star, The Financial Post and United Press International. His articles have appeared in major newspapers around the world. More


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