Why being poor in Canada is better than being rich in France - Macleans.ca

Why being poor in Canada is better than being rich in France

Tamsin McMahon explains the OECD’s ‘Better Life Index’


The global recession helped rewrite the world order, turning wealthy nations into debtors and economic powerhouses into ghettos of unemployed workers.

Just how far some countries have fallen was made painfully clear this week as the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development released its annual global quality of life index showing that, by some measures, even the poorest Canadians are now doing better than many of Europe’s elite.

The “Better Life Index” ranks a country’s well being on everything from income and unemployment, to how many minutes we spend doing the dishes or helping strangers. The Economist did its own analysis of the data and found that, all things considered, the bottom 10 per cent of Canadians were better off than the top ten per cent of in Portugal and on par with the wealthiest in France, Greece and Italy.

The findings have little to do with household wealth or income equality — top 20 per cent of Canadians have five times more disposable income than the bottom 20 per cent, a gap that has grown wider over the years.

But on other measures, low-income Canadians are doing comparatively well.

Canada scores among the highest in the world on international education surveys and we have one of the smallest gaps in test scores between students from the wealthiest and the poorest families.

Most of us have a college or university education, but even those who don’t are more likely to be employed than their counterparts in other countries. Our men spend 146 minutes a day doing housework, 15 minutes more than the OECD average.

Our health care system may be consuming provincial budgets, but nearly 80 per cent of the poorest Canadians considered themselves to be in good health — far higher than even the richest residents of France, Germany, Italy and Portugal.

Canada also turns out to have one of the most socially inclusive electoral systems in the OECD, though perhaps not in the way we’d like. Rich and poor vote in roughly equal numbers in Canada. Compare that to the yawing 23 percentage point gap in voter turnout between rich and poor south of the border.

But at 61 per cent in the last federal election, our voter turnout is among the lowest in the western world. It seems that when it comes to tuning out elections, we’re practically income-blind. That’s bad news for Canadian politicians, but score one for equality.

To view Canada’s rankings in the Better Life Index, click here.



Why being poor in Canada is better than being rich in France

  1. It’s true that it’s hard to get Canadians interested in politics, I blame it on our non-confrontational nature. Plus, partisan politics is the norm now, so it’s not surprising that people are tuning out. Perhaps it’s time we upgraded our gov-systems to something a little more up-to-date? Perhaps we could have more voter-participation if we had a digital democracy instead of a constitutional monarchy? Although I can say from personal experience, that it’s not easy to get Canadians interested in such matters…

    Actually here’s a little something I wrote on the subject:

    … but I won’t blame anyone for not checking it out, anymore than I blame people for not bothering to vote on who’s gonna be deciding for them.

    • I looked at your offering. I don’t agree with leaving everything up to the biggest mob of activists. Our current system does a better job of protecting the individual, even though it does a rather poor job as things are now. I want more left free from the forces of the mob. I want a properly limited democracy, where the individual remains sovereign under a system of just law the defends his or her right to life and the pursuit of personal happiness, regardless of the whims of the mob.
      Collectivism is for herd animals, not for humans.

      • My opinion is that we currently have is a weak form of representative democracy packaged with an out-dated model of constitutional monarchy. I’m not saying we need to jack up our “democracy-volume” all the way to a full-on digital democracy. But we could do like some places in Europe, and upgrade our institutions to direct democracies.

        We can vote on who gets eliminated from the televised karaoke contest, but we can’t vote on whether our country gets involved in some war. Something is wrong here. We’re being asked the wrong questions.

        • U are brilliant!!!

  2. We’re doing better than a bunch of countries that are taking benefits
    from their populations so they can give money to bankers and

    • I guess?

  3. I rather sail on the Mediterranean with a charming blond, than living in a Community Housing unit in Canada.

  4. Quoi??….being rich ANYwhere is better than being poor ….ANYwhere. The rest of the article was just as bad.

    We need to stop telling ourselves these fairy stories….it’s dangerous.

    • This comment was deleted.

      • I block people who drink and post, David.

  5. The Canadian government deserves some of the praise for Canada’s continued and sustained presence at the top of rankings like these.

  6. This comment was deleted.

    • Another drinker….and it’s not even TGIF!

      • This comment was deleted.

        • Give it a rest you two…..there’s no excuse for being drunk on a Thursday night.

          • This comment was deleted.

          • ZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzz

    • Harper sure attracts the winners.

  7. Canada is a welfare state and a mecca for the poor, the needy, the dependent, the criminal, the ethnic alien, the unionist, the lazy, the entitled, and worst of all the Jihadist. Thanks to our spurious Charter which ought to be rescinded asap.

  8. Making fun of Canadians for their ignorance and stupidity is in poor taste. Shame on you Macleans!

  9. The OECD average for housework performed by men is 131 minutes per day? I find that hard to believe.

  10. Did Tamsin even read the OECD report ? I did and it takes the average with no reference to the lowest 10% . The 11 % of our children who live in poverty [;and Stats Can doesn’t include aboriginal children in that figure]are severley disadvantaged by Stats Cans own admission. The Economist crunched the numbers?, that sure explains the economic mess we are in!!

  11. I’m a proud Canadian !! I have a house and I have good union job . My wife is working full time too . Sure could be better ,there is a lot of Radical feminism in the Courts ,Family courts are corrupt and ineffective. There is a lot of Misandry in the media and double standards when it comes to equal rights for men and women but is not just in Canada its everywhere in the west . Norway too ,Germany too ,Sweden is the worst . A lot of sexism a lot !! I have friends there . Men have it very hard in those country’s. Anyway life is not bad in Canada . Just don’t sweat the litle stuff , you learn very early on to look the other way when a’ ‘ lady’s” get the preferential treatment at work or at school or specially in the courts . Lady’s’ nights at the bar or the Casinos ,free drinks for women or you are going to hear a lot of come on…’she is a women’ at work she can’t lift that . You going to help a women ,right body ‘ ??!! We supposed be equal but ….we are not . they always get the kids and the house and office job but ….that’s western hypocrisy everywhere in Anglo Saxon country’s !! We have travel a lot we know . Look at male homelessness or the suicide rates among Men are so high but is not even allowed to discus it this in the media . Its a taboo Why ? So sexist ? Men are second class people . But life is ok I guess if you don’t mind the be a men with out cohunes . You get used to it after a while . They trained the boys here very ,very good at the public school not to speak out .Not to be outspoken Cheers .

  12. Over all Canada is ok besides the usual western hypocrisy which exists everywhere in the western hemisphere . We live in very hypocritical society’s ,very !! People are very phony and there almost to none free speech in Canada but is not just here . Abortion for example after the 20 weeks is horrible procedure and very damaging to women’s health but can you speak about it ?? Not !! I can’t even remember to be very honest to you when is the last time I said the truth to co -worker or to my wife or daughter’s. You can’t. Is just socially unacceptable in Canada to criticize a women . There is a lot of mediocrity a lot of politics ,specially in U of Toronto where I work for 15 years now . Very little real science, very litle . A lot of waste. It mostly junk science . People are afraid to speak out ,that’s why . I see it as a problem in Academia . Me as Immigrant from Europa ,feel very fortunate to have a good job . I have paid a lot taxes here and I think I can say staff . There is very litle innovation coming out of Canada right now . We mostly copy and paste from other country’s . To much censorship ,we killing the free thinkers . Seems to me that Feminists are running the Academia in Canada right now so….

  13. figures, statistics, surveys…. the reality is that French make lots more childre than canadiens. They are very educated. France have the best demography of all developed countries. So they have a great future. The debts will not be a problem anymore. And maybe France has debts but not people contrary to the canadiens and americans. French people save a lot of money.
    The economy of France is very very diversified,. France can manufacture everything itself : planes, boats, trains, submarines. cars, bikes, nuclear, food, cloting, cinema, tourism, gaz, tires, army, etc. etc. etc.
    so wait and see. Just remember that Canada has a small growth that comes only from oil. Moreover, it is not very economically diverse and too dependent on U.S..