OECD Economic Surveys: Canada

Every 18 months
1999-0081 (online)
1995-302X (print)
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OECD’s periodic surveys of the Canadian economy. Each edition surveys the major challenges faced by the country, evaluates the short-term outlook, and makes specific policy recommendations. Special chapters take a more detailed look at specific challenges. Extensive statistical information is included in charts and graphs.

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OECD Economic Surveys: Canada 2014

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11 June 2014
9789264206977 (PDF) ; 9789264220782 (EPUB) ;9789264206960(print)

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OECD's 2014 Economic Survey of Canada examines recent economic developments, policies and prospects. Special chapters cover housing in Canada and the labour market and skills mismatch.

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  • Special Foreword to the OECD Economic Survey of Canada 2014 in memoriam of Jim Flaherty

    If Canada’s economy and labour markets stood up better than those of most OECD countries to the ravages of the recent global financial crisis, this is thanks in no small measure to the steady stewardship and expert leadership of the late Jim Flaherty.

  • Basic statistics of Canada, 2012


  • Executive summary

    Canada’s economic growth has been fairly solid and in any case higher than in most other OECD countries since the trough of the recession. Non-commodity exports have been weak, widening the current account deficit and depressing business sentiment. About one half of the deterioration in the employment and unemployment rates caused by the recession has been reversed. Growth is projected to strengthen and to rebalance towards exports and investment.

  • Assessment and recommendations

    Canada has experienced fairly solid employment and output growth since the trough of the global recession and is projected to use up spare capacity by mid-2015. Labour force participation has remained near the pre-recession peak, and unemployment is only one percentage point higher than the pre-recession low. Fiscal consolidation is well advanced at the federal level, although less so at the provincial level, and underlying inflation is expected to slowly rise back towards the 2% target midpoint. The sound banking system and strong corporate balance sheets provide a favourable backdrop for a strengthening in business investment. In addition, Canadians enjoy one of the world’s highest levels of well-being.

  • Progress with structural reforms

    This Annex summarises recommendations made in previous Surveys and actions taken since the OECD Economic Survey of Canada published in June 2012.

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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Thematic chapters

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    • Deconstructing Canada's housing markets: Finance, affordability and urban sprawl

      House prices have increased significantly in Canada over the past decade, driving household debt and residential construction activity to historical highs. Although macro-prudential tightening has slowed the pace of household borrowing in the last few years, house prices have continued to trend higher, and affordability remains a major challenge in urban centres. First-time home buyers must therefore spend more of their incomes to purchase a house and are vulnerable to future interest rate hikes. Overbuilding in the condominium sectors of some cities appears to be a source of risk, especially if there were to be a major price correction in these segments that spilt over into other markets. The country benefits from a sound and effective housing finance system, which performed well throughout the global financial crisis thanks to strong regulatory oversight and explicit government backing of the mortgage market. Nonetheless, the dominance of the crown corporation CMHC in the mortgage insurance market concentrates a significant amount of risk in public finances. Improving competitive conditions in the mortgage insurance market could help diversify these risks and reduce taxpayer contingent liabilities, while introducing coverage limits on loan losses would better align private and social interests. There may be a shortage of rental housing in several cities, especially in the range that low-income households can afford. Urban planning policies have resulted in low-density residential development, which contributes to relatively high transport-related carbon emissions. Addressing these externalities requires stronger pricing signals for land development, road use, congestion and parking, combined with better integration of public transit planning. To prevent the marginalisation of low-income households, planning policies should support social mix and increase incentives for private-sector development of affordable housing.

    • Overcoming skills shortages

      Skills shortages have developed in certain fields and regions in recent years. Earnings premiums for people in some professions, notably health, engineering and skilled trades have increased. And vacancy rates have risen for skilled trades, with the increase being particularly large in Alberta and Saskatchewan. While reforms have been implemented to strengthen adjustment so as to overcome these shortages, there is still room to go further by improving labour market information, increasing responsiveness of the education and training system to labour market demand, making the immigration system more reactive to current labour market conditions and reducing regulatory barriers to inter-provincial labour mobility.

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