Economic and Political Overview

flag Canada Canada: Economic and Political Overview

In this page: Economic Outline | Political Outline | COVID-19 Country Response

 

Economic Outline

Economic Overview

For the latest updates on the key economic responses from governments to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the IMF's policy tracking platform Policy Responses to COVID-19.

Following the unprecedented global crisis prompted by the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic - which led to the largest economic contraction since 1945 - the Canadian economy rebounded in 2021, recording an estimated GDP growth of 5.7%. Rising global oil prices helped the recovery, together with the easing of containment measures that supported internal demand. The IMF expects the country to grow faster than the pre-pandemic trend, with a forecasted growth of 4.9% this year and 2.6% in 2023, although uncertainty remains at global level due especially to the insurgence of the Omicron variant of the virus.

After skyrocketing in 2020, Canada’s debt-to-GDP ratio decreased moderately to 109.9% in 2021 despite the fact that the government increased its borrowing in order to make the necessary temporary investments to stabilize the national economy amidst the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. The IMF expects the debt to follow a downward trend in 2022 (103.9%) and 2023 (100.2%). Similarly, the general government balance recorded a deficit of 6.6% in 2021, although further withdrawal of pandemic support measures should contribute to a reduction of the deficit (projected at 2.7% this year and 1% in 2023). In the 20 years before the pandemic, goods inflation averaged only 1.4%. However, according to the latest figures by the Bank of Canada, supply constraints have led to higher inflation: the average inflation rate of goods in 2021 has been 4.4%, much higher than that of services, which has been 2.1%. Inflation should ease as energy price pressures abate and supply bottlenecks are resolved through 2022, with an IMF forecast of 2.6% (followed by 2% the year after).

After touching record lows, the unemployment rate jumped due to the pandemic. In 2021, the unemployment rate remained elevated (7.7%) and over a quarter of those unemployed have been out of work for half a year or more (up from 16% before the pandemic). Strong output growth will support increased labour demand and help pull unemployment down towards pre-pandemic levels: the IMF projects a gradual decrease, at 5.7% this year and 4.9% in 2023. Although Canadians enjoy a high per capita GDP (estimated at USD 51,713 in 2021), 1 in 7 (or 4.9 million) people in Canada live in poverty.

 
Main Indicators 20202021 (e)2022 (e)2023 (e)2024 (e)
GDP (billions USD) 1.001.002.002.002.00
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) -5.24.53.31.51.6
GDP per Capita (USD) 4352565960
General Government Balance (in % of GDP) -8.6-4.0-2.7-1.2-0.6
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 117.8112.9102.298.796.3
Inflation Rate (%) 0.73.46.94.22.4
Unemployment Rate (% of the Labour Force) 9.67.45.35.96.2
Current Account (billions USD) -29.390.8611.60-5.26-9.41
Current Account (in % of GDP) -1.80.00.5-0.2-0.4

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database, Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

 

Main Sectors of Industry

The agricultural sector represents 1.9% of Canada's GDP and employs only 2% of the population (World Bank, latest data available). However, the agricultural system and the food processing industry provide 1 in 8 jobs in Canada and account for over CAD 100 billion of the country’s GDP and more than CAD 60 billion in exports. Canada is one of the largest exporters of agricultural products in the world - particularly of wheat - and produces 10% of the world's GMO harvests. Fishing is another important sector. Canada is also one of the leading producers of minerals, especially nickel, zinc and uranium. Moreover, the country is rich in gas and has the 4th largest reserves of oil in the world (being the 7th oil producer), whose production is concentrated in the western provinces, especially Alberta.

The industrial sector contributes 24% of GDP and employs 19% of the labour force. Canada has six strong primary industry sectors: renewable energies (mainly wind, the country is a net exporter of energy); the forestry sector, hydrogen and fuel cells, mines, metals and minerals, fishing, oil and gas. According to data from the World Bank, manufacturing accounts for 10% of the country’s GDP.

The service sector dominates the Canadian economy: it represents 67.1% of the country's GDP and employs over 79% of the active population (the largest employer being the retail sector - which employs about 12% of the country’s workforce alone - and the business-related services sector). The education and health sectors are also pivotal for the country’s economy. The most dynamic sectors in recent years have been telecommunications, tourism, internet and aerospace engineering. Tourism is the fifth-largest sector in the country’s economy, it provides 1 in 10 jobs and is responsible for 225,000 small and medium-sized businesses across Canada.

 
Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 1.5 19.3 79.2
Value Added (in % of GDP) 1.9 24.0 67.1
Value Added (Annual % Change) 5.7 -6.8 -5.0

Source: World Bank, Latest available data.

 

Find more information about your business sector on our service Market reports.

Indicator of Economic Freedom

Definition:

The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labour freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.

Score:
77,8666666666667/100
World Rank:
9
Regional Rank:
1



 

Business environment ranking

Definition:

The business rankings model measures the quality or attractiveness of the business environment in the 82 countries covered by The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Country Forecast reports. It examines ten separate criteria or categories, covering the political environment, the macroeconomic environment, market opportunities, policy towards free enterprise and competition, policy towards foreign investment, foreign trade and exchange controls, taxes, financing, the labour market and infrastructure.

Score:
8.42/10
World Rank:
3/82

Source: The Economist Intelligence Unit - Business Environment Rankings 2020-2024

 

Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by Coface.

 

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Political Outline

Current Political Leaders
Governor General: Mary Simon (since 6 July 2021)
Prime Minister: Justin Trudeau (since 4 November 2015) – Liberal Party

Queen Elizabeth II is officially the Chief of State of Canada.
Next Election Dates
House of Commons: 2025
Current Political Context

Federal elections were held in 2021, the second elections in two years. The Liberal Party of incumbent Prime Ministry Justin Trudeau maintained their status as the largest party in the House of Commons obtaining 32.6% of the votes and 160 seats, followed by the Conservative party (119 seats), the Bloc Québécois (32 seats) and the New Democratic Party (25 seats).
Despite the fact the Liberals failed to secure a majority of seats, Justin Trudeau was able to form a minority government and went on to form the first gender-balanced cabinet in Canadian history.

Main Political Parties
Historically, the Canadian two-party plus system has been dominated by the centre-left Liberal Party and the centre-right Conservative Party. Since the 1980s or so Canada’s dominant third-place party has been the further-left NDP. There is also a consistently fourth-place party known as the Bloc Quebecois which is devoted to Quebec separatism.

- Liberal Party of Canada (LPC): centrist party, the oldest active federal political party in Canada
- Conservative Party of Canada (CPC): centre-right to right-wing; colloquially known as the 'Tories'
- New Democratic Party (NDP): centre-left, socialist
- Bloc Québécois: centre-left, social-democratic
- Green Party of Canada (GPC): centre-left, ecologist party

Type of State
Constitutional monarchy, parliamentary democracy and federation.
Executive Power
Queen Elizabeth II is the Head of State. She appoints Canada's Governor General for a five year term. The Governor General - who was a largely ceremonial role - appoints the Prime Minister as well as the Cabinet (however, cabinet members are chosen by the Prime Minister). The Prime Minister is the head of the government and holds the executive power. The leader of the majority party or coalition in the House of Commons is automatically chosen to be Prime Minister. The Prime Minister and his Cabinet stay in power as long as they have the support of the majority in the House of Commons.
Legislative Power
The legislative power in Canada is bicameral. The federal parliament made up of: the Senate (upper house), whose 105 members are appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister; and the House of Commons (lower house), whose 338 members are elected by universal suffrage, with each member representing a single electoral district (also known as a "riding"). The Governor General calls a general election when the Prime Minister advises him to do so. Most legislative practices are derived from the British Parliament.
 

Indicator of Freedom of the Press

Definition:

The world rankings, published annually, measures violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire incorporating the main criteria (44 in total) to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. This questionnaire was sent to partner organisations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:
14/180
 

Indicator of Political Freedom

Definition:

The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Ranking:
Free
Political Freedom:
1/7
Civil Liberties:
1/7

Political freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Freedom in the World Report, Freedom House

 

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COVID-19 Country Response

COVID-19 epidemic evolution
To find out about the latest status of the COVID-19 pandemic evolution and the most up-to-date statistics on the COVID-19 disease in Canada, please visit the official governmental portal and the Covid-19 Situational Awareness Dashboard with the official data.
For the international outlook you can consult the latest situation reports published by the World Health Organisation as well as the global daily statistics on the coronavirus pandemic evolution including data on confirmed cases and deaths by country.
Sanitary measures
To find out about the latest nationwide public health situation, please consult the Canadian government platform Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): prevention and risks. Each province has its own measures and laws. Links to each of the provinces’ COVID-19 webpages are available at Canada.ca - Provincial and territorial resources for COVID-19.
Travel restrictions
The COVID-19 situation, including the spread of new variants, evolves rapidly and differs from country to country. All travelers need to pay close attention to the conditions at their destination before traveling. Regularly updated information for all countries with regards to Covid-19 related travel restrictions in place including entry regulations, flight bans, test requirements and quarantine is available on TravelDoc Infopage.
It is also highly recommended to consult COVID-19 Travel Regulations Map provided and updated on the daily basis by IATA.
The US government website of Centers of Disease Control and Prevention provides COVID-19 Travel Recommendations by Destination.
The UK Foreign travel advice also provides travelling abroad advice for all countries, including the latest information on coronavirus, safety and security, entry requirements and travel warnings.
Import & export restrictions
For information on all the measures applicable to movement of goods during the period of sanitary emergency due to the COVID-19 outbreak (including eventual restrictions on imports and exports, if applicable), please consult the Trade Commissioner’s website COVID-19 and Canada’s international trade.
For a general overview of trade restrictions due to COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the section dedicated to Canada on the International Trade Centre's COVID-19 Temporary Trade Measures webpage.
Economic recovery plan
For information on the economic recovery scheme put in place by the Canadian government to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Canadian economy, please visit the Canadian government’s webpage Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan.
For a general overview of the key economic policy responses to the COVID-19 outbreak (fiscal, monetary and  macroeconomic) taken by the Canadian government to limit the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,  please consult the section dedicated to Canada in the IMF’s Policy Tracker platform.
Support plan for businesses
For information on the local business support scheme established by the Canadian government to help small and medium-sized companies to deal with the economic impacts of the COVID-19 epidemic on their activity, please consult the "support for businesses" section on the Canada.ca website.
For a general overview of international SME support responses to the COVID-19 outbreak refer to the OECD's SME Covid-19 Policy Responses document.
You can also consult the World Bank's Map of SME-Support Measures in Response to COVID-19.
Support plan for exporters
To find out about the support plan for the Canadian exporting companies put in place by the Canadian government, please consult the dedicated page on the Trade Commissioner’s website.
 

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Latest Update: November 2022