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Canadians experiencing second-longest and third steepest decline in living standards in last 40 years

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From the Fraser Institute

From 2019 to 2023, Canadian living standards declined—and as of the end of 2023, the decline had not yet ended, finds a new study published today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.

“Despite claims to the contrary, living standards are declining in Canada,” said Grady Munro, policy analyst at the Fraser Institute and co-author of Changes in Per-Person GDP (Income): 1985 to 2023.

Specifically, from April 2019 to the end of 2023, inflation-adjusted per-person GDP, a broad measure of living standards, declined from $59,905 to $58,111 or by 3.0 per cent. This decline is exceeded only by the decline in 1989 to 1992 (-5.3 per cent) and 2008 to 2009 (-5.2 per cent). In other words, it’s the third-steepest decline in 40 years.

Moreover, the latest decline (which comprises 18 fiscal quarters) is already the second-longest in the last 40 years, surpassed only by the decline from 1989 to 1994 (which lasted 21 quarters). And if not stabilized in 2024, this decline could be the steepest and longest in four decades.

“The severity of the decline in living standards should be a wake-up call for policymakers across Canada to immediately enact fundamental policy reforms to help spur economic growth and productivity,” said Jason Clemens, study co-author and executive vice-president at the Fraser Institute.

  • Real GDP per person is a broad measure of incomes (and consequently living standards). This paper analyzes changes in quarterly per-person GDP, adjusted for inflation from 1985 through to the end of 2023, the most recent data available at the time of writing.
  • The study assesses the length (number of quarters) as well the percentage decline and the length of time required to recover the income lost during the decline.
  • Over the period covered (1985 to 2023), Canada experienced nine periods of decline and recovery in real GDP per person.
  • Of those nine periods, three (Q2 1989 to Q3 1994, Q3 2008 to Q4 2011, and Q2 2019 to Q2 2022) were most severe when comparing the length and depth of the declines along with number of quarters required for real GDP per person to recover.
  • The experience following Q2 2019 is unlike any decline and recovery since 1985 because, though per person GDP recovered for one quarter in Q2 2022, it immediately began declining again and by Q4 2023 remains below the level in Q2 2019.
  • This lack of meaningful recovery suggests that since mid-2019, Canada has experienced one of the longest and deepest declines in real GDP per person since 1985, exceeded only by the decline and recovery from Q2 1989 to Q3 1994.
  • If per-capita GDP does not recover in 2024, this period may be the longest and largest decline in per-person GDP over the last four decades.

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Economy

ESG rankings have no significant effect on investment performance of Canadian public companies

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From the Fraser Institute

By Steven Globerman

Despite claims to the contrary, the ESG rankings of publicly-traded Canadian companies have no significant effect on investment returns, finds a new study published today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian
public policy think-tank.

“While government regulators and some industry executives promote the benefits of ESG investing, there’s no evidence of significant advantages for investors,” said Steven Globerman, senior fellow at the Fraser Institute and author of ESG Investing and Financial Returns in Canada.

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) is a movement designed to pressure businesses and investors to pursue larger social goals. In Canada, due to government securities regulation, publicly-traded companies must disclose ESG-related
information on a range of issues including environmental impact, human rights, and equity and inclusion.

ESG advocates claim that government-mandated ESG disclosures improve the financial performance of companies.
However, the study—the first empirical analysis of the relationship between changes in the ESG rankings of Canadian publicly-traded companies and equity returns— tracked 310 companies on the Toronto Stock Exchange from 2013 to 2022 and found no significant relationship between changes in ESG ranking (upgrades or downgrades) and financial returns, as measured by the price of shares and dividend income.

In other words, advocates for greater ESG disclosures cannot accurately claim—based on Canadian evidence—that requiring companies to provide more information for ESG rankings will significantly affect the financial performance of Canadian
investors.

“Better performance on ESG rankings simply does not translate into better financial performance for Canadian firms,” Globerman said.

  • ESG investing incorporates environmental (E), social (S), and governance (G) considerations into investment decisions. Until recently, ESG-themed investing comprised an increasing share of investments made by professional money managers and retail investors.
  • Financial industry executives and regulators who have promoted ESG-themed investing argue that it will enhance investment performance either by increasing asset returns and/or by reducing investment risk.
  • However, empirical studies, on balance, find no consistent and statistically significant evidence of a positive relationship between the ESG rankings of individual companies or portfolios of companies and the financial performances of those companies or investment portfolios.
  • Most empirical studies have focused on US-based publicly traded companies. To our knowledge, this study is the first to focus on returns to ESG-themed investing for Canadian-based public companies.
  • Using data from MSCI, a leading ESG ratings provider, we estimate the statistical relationship between changes in ESG rankings of companies and changes in equity returns for those companies using a sample of 310 companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange between 2013 and 2022.
  • Our study finds that neither upgrades nor downgrades in ESG ratings significantly affect stock market returns.

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Economy

400,000 more Canadians live in poverty now compared to 2020: gov’t report

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From LifeSiteNews

By Anthony Murdoch

A report by the federal government has found that ‘9.9 percent of Canadians, some four million people, live in poverty compared to 6.4 percent in 2020, the equivalent of approximately 400,000 more Canadians.’

Decades of progress in lowering the poverty rate in Canada has been wiped out in the last few years under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government, one of his own federal departments has reported.

According to Blacklock’s Reporter, a recently released report dated December 11, 2023 by the Department of Social Development “estimates” that “9.9 percent of Canadians, some four million people, live in poverty compared to 6.4 percent in 2020, the equivalent of ‘approximately 400,000 more Canadians,’” and that “[f]uture increases in the rate of poverty could stall progress towards reaching the 2030 poverty reduction target of a 50 percent reduction in poverty versus 2015 levels.” 

The report observed that high inflation in Canada combined with “lagging household incomes” has led to “affordability pressures among many households.” 

While the uptick in the poverty rate is certainly concerning for many Canadians, it may come as little surprise as this is not the first time one of Trudeau’s own departments has warned of such a trend.

In January, the National Advisory Council on Poverty (NACP) observed to Parliament that fast-rising food costs have led to many people feeling a sense of “hopelessness and desperation.”

“Persons with lived expertise of poverty and service providers alike told us things seem worse now than they were before and during the first years of the pandemic,” read the NACP report.  

“We heard that people are worried about the rising cost of living and inflation,” it continued, adding, “More people are in crisis and these crises are more visible in our communities.” 

The damning figures comes as critics, including the nation’s leading taxpayer watchdog, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, have warned that the Trudeau government’s deficit spending and oft-increasing tax regime has been putting undue strain on the pocketbooks of its citizens.

Previously speaking to LifeSiteNews, CTF federal director Franco Terrazzano urged the Trudeau government to cut spending, balance the budget and “completely scrap” the “carbon tax.”

“More debt means more money wasted on interest charges and less room to cut taxes,” Terrazzano stated, warning that “[i]n a handful of years, every penny collected from the GST (Goods and Service Tax) will go toward paying interest on the debt.”

Under Trudeau, Canadians have seen their overall tax rate go up thanks to the punitive carbon tax that affects all goods and services in the nation. 

Even the Bank of Canada, the nation’s central bank, has taken issue with Trudeau government policy, acknowledging last year that some of its federal “climate change” programs, which have been deemed “extreme” by provincial leaders, are helping to fuel inflation. 

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