In the index that the United Nations Development Agency UNDP establishes annually over the world standard of living, Canada tends to be in one of the top places, but by 2018 the country had fallen to 12th place, partly due to growing income gaps. The index takes into account such things as income, literacy, life expectancy and child mortality. At the same time, Canada ranked number five on the OECD’s list of the countries in which it is best to live.
Economic growth has mainly benefited the middle class, while weaker groups have lagged behind in living standards.
- Countryaah Official Site: Official statistics for population in Canada, including population growth, density, and estimation in next 50 years.
According to the 2016 census, 4.6 million Canadians were counted as poor, that is, they lived on less than half of the national median income. Of these, 1.2 million were children.
A majority of Canadians consider themselves to be middle class, but many of them are struggling to get the economy together. This is not least due to the fact that they have taken out large loans to buy their homes. High house and apartment prices also make it difficult for many to enter the housing market.
In recent years, homelessness has become a major problem. In 2016, 235,000 people were estimated to be homeless, due to lack of housing at reasonable costs, unemployment, mental illness and more. The situation was particularly serious in the larger cities.
The social welfare system differs between the provinces.
All Canadians are covered by health insurance, Medicare. It is the provinces (and territories) that will provide free health care, but all will also receive federal funding for this. Which care you are entitled to depends on which province you live in. In several provinces, there is a ban on private insurance for treatments that are available in public health care. In Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia, initiatives have been taken to create more space for private healthcare providers. In many places, long care queues are a problem.
Many Canadians are proud of the general health care system and there is a concern about getting a system similar to the US, where those who can pay for themselves receive better care than others.
Abortion is allowed in Canada, since the Supreme Court in 1988 ruled that abortion prohibition violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The retirement age is 65, but there are plans to raise it to 67. To be eligible for a pension, a person must have lived in the country for at least ten years after turning 18. In 2013, new rules were introduced aimed at getting more people to work up to 65 years. In addition, both employers and employees must pay more into the pension system than before. From 2019, a new system will come into force, which means that the upper limit on how much you will receive in retirement will be gradually increased (this does not include those who have only worked in Québec) so that they receive the equivalent of one third of their previous pension. income against a quarter in today’s system.
A new child allowance, Canada Child Benefit, was introduced in 2015 and is paid monthly. Middle-class families and low-income families receive more grants than high-income earners. According to a parliamentary study from the end of 2016, a family of children received almost 2,000 Canadian dollars a year more than in the old system.
Parental allowance has been paid since the end of 2017 for 18 months. This was an increase of six months, compared to before, but those who choose to stay at home the entire period receive less in compensation than parents who only take 12 months off. However, Québec has its own system, where compensation levels are generally higher than in other parts of Canada.
Many of the indigenous peoples live in poverty and depend on grants. Unemployment in these groups is about twice as high as for the rest of the population and income is just over 72 percent of the Canadian average. The difference is even greater if you count only First Nations (Indians) who live in the reserve, where the housing shortage is large and many still lack electricity and running water.
The cuts made in the welfare system during the 2010s, as well as the economic crisis 2008/2009, have hit the indigenous peoples particularly hard. The proportion of alcohol and drug addicts is high. Suicides among young people are also five, six times higher than among other Canadians. The issue has been getting more and more attention in recent years, not least since leaders in the Ontario Attawapiskat reserve in 2016 announced “state of emergency” since eleven youths attempted suicide during one night.
Opioid abuse, especially fentanyl, is a growing problem (see Calendar).
The life expectancy is significantly lower than for other residents. For Inuit men, who were the most vulnerable group, 2017 was 64 years, compared with the national average of 79 years. For women, the difference was slightly less 73 years for Inuit women compared to 83 years for all Canadian women.
In the 2011 election, almost 25 percent of the lower house’s 308 members were women. The indigenous peoples are also under-represented. Seven Inuit were elected to the lower house in 2011. Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health 2008-2013, was the first Inuit to get a government post. In the 2015 elections, women increased their representation slightly, 88 of the 338 members were women (corresponding to 26 percent) and ten came from the indigenous peoples. However, the Liberal government that took office in 2015 consisted of as many women as men.
Women are more vulnerable to violent crimes than men and those who have roots in the indigenous peoples are more vulnerable than other groups. In 2016, the women’s organization Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) estimated that up to 4,000 women had been murdered or disappeared between 1980 and 2012. Police statistics had previously mentioned 1,200.
In 2005, Parliament voted to introduce marriage of people of the same gender at the federal level. The opposition was strong within the Conservative Party, but also several liberals voted against the law passed with the support of the NDP and BQ (for party designations see Political system). However, several provinces had introduced same-sex marriage a few years earlier.
In 2017, it was forbidden to discriminate against people for their gender identity.
Canada is about to legalize marijuana. The purpose is to prevent criminals from making big profits from the sale of the drug, and to protect minors. At the same time, the penalty should be sharply increased for those who sell marijuana to people who have not turned 18 (or 19 in some provinces). It will be the responsibility of the provinces to decide how the drug should be distributed and how high the price should be. The use of marijuana for medical use is already permitted in Canada. The new rules will take effect on October 17, 2018.
In 2016, it became legal for health care professionals to help severely ill people die. However, euthanasia can only be given to people who are close to dying naturally. The Senate had wished that even people who are not sick would be covered by the law, but the lower house rejected this. The law gives doctors, nurses and pharmacists the right to provide euthanasia without risking prosecution. Two medically skilled persons must sign the patient’s request to die. A ten-day waiting period is also prescribed before the patient can be helped to die. Euthanasia was introduced six months earlier in Quebec. Between June 2016 and April 2017, 1,300 people had been helped to die.
Trafficking in human beings is prohibited but occurs.
In 2014, a new law was adopted, reminiscent of the Swedish, where there are people who buy sexual services, not those who sell them, who commit a crime.
Canada has on several occasions been criticized by the UN for not doing enough to promote children’s rights. When the UN Children’s Fund Unicef 2017 ranked children’s conditions in 41 countries, Canada ranked 25th. Poverty, suicide among young people, poor dietary habits and bullying problems and more contributed to the country falling so far down the list. In 2012, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child criticized Canada for its decision to tighten the penalties for young people who committed crimes (see Political system).
FACTS – SOCIAL CONDITIONS
Infant Mortality: 4 per 1000 births (2018)
Proportion of population with access to clean water: 98.9 percent (2015)
Proportion of the population having access to toilets: 99.3 percent (2017)
Public expenditure on health care as a percentage of GDP: 10.4 percent (2015)
Public expenditure on health care per person: US $ 4,458 (2016)
Proportion of women in parliament: 27 percent (2018)
Canada has a well-developed road network. The Trans-Canada Highway, which runs from St. John ‘s in Newfoundland to Victoria in British Columbia, stretches over 780 miles, making it the world’s longest road. Most of the country’s roads are in the south towards the US border.
In the fall of 2017, a new stretch of road was opened from the Tuktoyaktuk community by the sea in the Northwest Territories, linking the northern area with the road system in the southern part of the country. In the past, the road has only been able to be used during the winter when the ice lies. Road construction means that the population of the area is no longer dependent on expensive air travel and expensive freight flights to and from other parts of Canada.
It is the provinces that are responsible for the roads, with the exception of the road network in the territories and national parks.
Like the roads, most of the railways pass through southern Canada in an east-west direction. Two companies, Canadian Pacific (CP) and Canadian National Railways (CN), control about three-quarters of the railroad tracks. There are about 10 train companies, but most of the passenger traffic is handled by VIA Rail Canada.
In 2013, a serious accident occurred in which 47 people were killed and nearly 40 were injured after a train loaded with crude oil derailed at the town of Lac-Mégantic in Québec. Following the accident, the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway (MMA) train company lost its license to operate traffic.
Train traffic was deregulated in the late 1990s, which led to repeated criticism for lack of safety in train traffic, not least after what happened in Québec. The risks of accidents are considered to have increased in recent years as more and more oil is transported by train.
Large parts of northern Canada can only be reached by air.
The busiest airports are Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Calgary. Largest airlines are Air Canada, which was privatized in 1989, WestJet and Air Transat.
A large part of freight traffic is by boat. The largest ports are in Vancouver, Nanaimo (British Columbia), Saint John (in New Brunswick) and Montreal and Sept–les (in Quebec). An extensive canal system connects the Great Lakes with the St. Lawrence River. Thus, in-depth vessels can operate the cities around the Great Lakes.
Ignatieff new interim leader for Liberal Party
Michael Ignatieff is temporarily appointed as the new Liberal Party leader. He belongs to the party’s right wing.
The government wardes off threats of mistrust
The opposition joins and criticizes the Conservative government for not doing more to avert an economic crisis. Faced with the threat of a vote of no confidence, the government is able to postpone the next session of the House of Commons until January 2009. This leads to the opposition’s plans for a vote of no confidence falling and the government hanging out with the support of the Liberals.
The Conservative Party wins new elections, but the minority board continues
Canada is up for election, but this time neither party is able to win its own majority. The Conservative Party gets 38 percent of the vote and 143 of 308 seats. The Liberals receive just over 26 percent of the vote, which is enough for 77 seats. BQ receives 49 seats, 2 less than before, while the NDP receives 37 seats, an increase of 8 seats. The Liberals’ decline is partly due to increased competition from other parties, but the talk of a new carbon tax does not go home among voters at a time when economic turmoil is growing. The turnout is low – just over 59 percent.
The government apologizes to the indigenous peoples
The government apologizes for the fact that children from the indigenous population were previously forced to attend special boarding schools in order to assimilate them into society.
Harper promises to respect the Kyoto agreement
The federal government is trying to get a green profile and Harper promises that Canada will respect the Kyoto agreement. The 2008/2009 budget also contains new money to counteract climate change. The budget can be adopted after the Liberals cast their votes to avoid a new election.
Liberals remain in power in Quebec despite losing majority
The Liberals are returning to the provincial elections in Quebec, losing their majority in the provincial parliament. A new party, the right-wing populist Democratic act in Québec (ADQ) is progressing strongly. The Quebec Party (PQ) becomes only the third largest party. ADQ calls for increased “self-government” for Québec, but at the same time advocates that the province remain in the federation. The Liberals continue to lead the province with a minority government.