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2018 OECD Economic Surveys: Canada 2018

image of OECD Economic Surveys: Canada 2018

Well-being is high in Canada, and the economy has regained momentum, supported by a rebound in exports and strengthening business investment. Macroeconomic policies are gradually becoming less stimulatory, and budget policies are sustainable in the long term, although difficulties remain at the provincial level. House price appreciation has slowed and even reversed in some locations, partly in response to macro-prudential and tax measures, reducing wealth gains and the associated boost to private consumption, but prices and household debt remain high and affordability poor. The major risks to the economic outlook are greater trade restrictions, notably in the United States, and a housing market correction. Progress is being made in improving workforce inclusion, but challenges remain, notably in the areas of increasing female labour force participation, improving labour market information to reduce qualifications mismatches and supporting later retirement through more lifelong learning and flexibility in working hours. Canada has a well-run immigration system. Immigrants are generally well integrated, although their earnings are considerably lower than those of the comparable native-born. Selection of economic immigrants has been refined and integration programmes developed to close this gap, but these measures need to be taken further. Meeting Canada’s climate-change commitments will also be challenging.

SPECIAL FEATURES : INCLUSIVENESS; IMMIGRATION



 

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Increasing inclusiveness for women, youth and seniors

Women, youth and seniors face barriers to economic inclusion in Canada, with considerable scope to improve their labour market outcomes. There has been no progress in shrinking the gender employment gap since 2009, and women, particularly mothers, continue to earn significantly less than men, in part due to a large gap in unpaid childcare responsibilities. Outside the province of Québec, low (but increasing) rates of government support for childcare should be expanded considerably, as should fathers’ low take-up of parental leave. Skills development should be prioritised to arrest declining skills among youth and weak wage growth among young males with low educational attainment. Fragmented labour market information needs to be consolidated to address wage penalties associated with the widespread prevalence of qualifications mismatch. Growth in old-age poverty should be tackled through further increases in basic pension payments over time. Linking changes in the age of eligibility for public pensions to life expectancy would boost growth by increasing employment of older Canadians still willing and able to work. For all three groups, well-targeted expansions of in-work tax benefits and active labour market spending have the potential to increase employment.

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