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British Columbia Earns a “B” On Conference Board Of Canada’s Society Report Card

by User Not Found | Apr 05, 2017
British Columbia receives a “B” grade and places 12th among 26 comparator jurisdictions in The Conference Board of Canada’s first How Canada Performs: Society report card, that compares the social performance of Canada, the provinces, and 15 peer countries.

Ottawa, April 5, 2017 – British Columbia receives a “B” grade and places 12th among 26 comparator jurisdictions in The Conference Board of Canada’s first How Canada Performs: Society report card, that compares the social performance of Canada, the provinces, and 15 peer countries.

chart with grades for Canada and the provinces on society report card

“B.C. has respectable performance on a number of social indicators. But, there are some key areas for improvement, including the province’s high levels of income inequality and poverty relative to other provinces and international peers,” said Craig Alexander, Senior Vice-President and Chief Economist, The Conference Board of Canada.


  • British Columbia scores an overall “B” grade.
  • On income inequality and poverty, B.C. scores “C” grades. The province gets its lowest grade, a “D,” on gender wage gap.
  • B.C. earns “A”s on two indicators of social cohesion: social network support and life satisfaction.
  • New Brunswick is the top-ranked province on the report card, earning a “B” and placing 10th among the 26 regions.
  • Canada gets a “B” overall and ranks 10th among the 16 peer countries.

B.C. gets “C” grades on both income inequality and poverty. Income inequality (as measured by the Gini coefficient) in B.C. rose sharply 1990s and early 2000s before stabilizing. Although income inequality is no longer rising, the level is higher than in many provinces and international peer countries. Furthermore, the share of income going to the richest B.C. residents is 10 times higher than the share going to poorest ones. Income inequality can act as a constraint on economic growth if it reflects barriers to opportunity for low and middle income individuals.

The province has one of the highest poverty rates in Canada. This is significant as poverty can lead to higher crime rates, illness, substance abuse, and poor educational outcomes which, in turn, can affect the economy through lost productivity. It can also lead to discrimination, inequity, and social exclusion. On the two crime indicators included our report card, B.C. ranks near the bottom relative to other provinces. British Columbia has the second-highest three-year average burglary rate among the provinces but still manages to get a “B” grade on this indicator, with a much lower burglary rate than the bottom-ranked country, the Netherlands. The province also gets a “B” on the homicides indicator, with an average rate of 1.9 deaths per 100,000 population, slightly higher than the national average of 1.5 homicides.

British Columbia receives its worst grade on the gender wage gap indicator. With a pay gap (based on median weekly earnings) of more than 22 per cent between men and women in the province, B.C. scores a “D” on this indicator and places ahead of only Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador and one peer country, Japan. B.C. is also a poor performer on another equity measure, income of people with disabilities. The disposable income of people with disabilities in British Columbia is 70.7 per cent that of people without disabilities, the third lowest rate among Canadian provinces.

The province does slightly better relative to the other provinces, but still poorly, when it comes to the immigrant and racial wage gaps. The hourly wages of university-educated landed immigrants living in B.C. are about 20 per cent lower than Canadian-born citizens, only marginally better than the national average of 20.6 per cent. Meanwhile, the province falls in the middle-of-the-pack on the wage gap between university-educated visible minorities and Caucasians peers, with a wage gap of 13.6 per cent, but is below the national average of 12.6 per cent.

British Columbia’s standout, “A” grade performances are on social network support, life satisfaction and intergenerational income mobility, which is a measure of the extent to which differences in income are transmitted from one generation to the next. B.C. has the second highest income mobility among the provinces, after Prince Edward Island. The province gets a “B” grade on jobless youth—13.6 per cent of youth aged 20 to 24 are neither in school nor working, slightly better than the national average of 14.8 per cent.

Overall, Canada earns a “B” grade and ranks 10th among the 16 peer countries on the Society report card. The country ranks high on life satisfaction but does poorly relative to top-ranked peers on poverty, income inequality, gender wage gap, and voter turnout.

How Canada Performs is an ongoing research program at The Conference Board of Canada to help leaders identify relative strengths and weaknesses in Canada’s socio-economic performance. Six performance domains are assessed: Economy, Education and Skills, Innovation, Environment, Health, and Society.

Explore the results of the How Canada Performs: Society report card in-depth during a live webinar on April 19, 2017 at 02:00 PM EDT.

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