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Canada Ranks 14th on the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Competitiveness Index

September 27, 2017

The Conference Board of Canada’s President and Chief Executive Officer Daniel Muzyka offers the following insights on the World Economic Forum’s 2017-2018 Global Competitiveness Index (GCI):


While Canada has a highly educated population, and efficient labour and financial markets, its competitiveness performance continues to lag peer countries due to weak innovation capacity. Of particular concern, inefficient government bureaucracy and tax rates were cited by business leaders as the most challenging factors for doing business in Canada.
—Daniel Muzyka, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Conference Board of Canada.


  • Canada ranks 14th on the GCI this year, up one place from last year. Switzerland ranks first, followed by the United States, Singapore, the Netherlands, and Germany.
  • Concerns about government spending at both the provincial and federal levels caused Canada to rank 36th on the efficiency of government spending, a drop of 13 places over last year. Canada ranks 38th on the burden of government regulation.
  • Canada’s competitiveness strengths include its K-12 and post-secondary education systems, where it ranks 8th. It benefits from efficient labour markets (7th), including the ability to attract highly skilled workers from other countries (10th). Canada’s financial markets rank 7th, with the soundness of its banks (2nd), and regulation of its securities exchanges (3rd) regarded as amongst the best in the world.
  • Canada’s Achilles’ heel when it comes to competitiveness is its business sophistication and capacity for innovation, where it ranks 24th. As the decline in oil prices and recent flare-up of the soft wood lumber dispute demonstrate, Canada continues to rely heavily on its natural resources for its competitive advantage (41st).
  • Businesses in Canada lag behind their peers in other countries on company spending on R&D (31st). Universities and industry collaborate on R&D to a much lesser extent than in peer countries (24th).
  • Canada’s total tax rate ranks 15th, far ahead of some of the most competitive economies—Switzerland (31st), the Netherlands (84th), the United States (95th), and Germany (105th). However, tax systems in these countries provide greater incentives for individuals and businesses to invest in new ventures and innovations. Canada ranks 49th on the effect of taxation on incentives to invest, far behind the top five most competitive economies.
  • Inefficient or insufficient infrastructure hinders Canada’s economic competitiveness by making it more difficult to move people and products. Over the past five years, Canada has seen its ranking on the overall quality of its infrastructure steadily decline, from 15th place in 2012, to 23rd place this year. Canada ranks 22nd on the quality of its road infrastructure, and 19th on the quality of its port infrastructure.

Additional Information

The Conference Board of Canada is the Canadian Partner Institute at the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness and Benchmarking Network. The Global Competitiveness Report ranks 137 countries on the institutions, policies, and factors that determine their level of productivity and overall competitiveness.


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