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Report Card on Quebec Prosperity 2015

Published on October 8th 2015
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The Report Card on Quebec Prosperity, which the Quebec Employers Council has published since 2010, highlights the province of Quebec’s main strengths and weaknesses. The report card is not aimed at assessing the actions undertaken by the various governments; its intended purpose is to point out the threats and the opportunities that need to be considered in developing future policies.

Over the years, the findings that have emerged are somewhat ambivalent, including those of an average, even inferior, economic performance compared to that of similar states, especially in North America, and this is despite Quebec’s outstanding potential. Whether in terms of the major variable of collective wealth, or of other variables that will be analyzed below in greater depth, Quebec continues to lag behind. Our GDP per capita, which is compared in Chart 1 to that of three other Canadian provinces – Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia – and to that of Canada, the United States and other OECD countries, ranks 23rd among the 38 countries and provinces analyzed.

For some, a society’s prosperity should not be measured solely by taking the GDP into account; it should also include a measure of the happiness and well-being of its population(1). We are not contradicting the definition of prosperity – more of a social nature – embraced by many social players in Quebec and elsewhere.

Our premise is that the more a society promotes the growth and creation of its businesses, the more it thereby encourages job creation, higher income, wealth creation and a higher standard of living of its citizens. It is noteworthy that many recent empirical studies have found economic prosperity and well-being are two closely linked variables(2). Meanwhile, the first study in conjunction with the PROSPERITE.QUEBEC campaign highlighted the link between the standard of living and economic performance, on one side, and the quality of life and well-being of the population, on the other.

The GDP per capita, expressed in terms of purchasing power parity, despite its limitations and for lack of the existence of a more comprehensive index, remains the leading measurable and comparable assessment of the well-being of the population of a given state and its ability to pay (notably for public services). We also believe a good number of our fellow citizens share this conviction.

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Notes

  1. Many measures exist to try to evaluate people’s well-being, with each such measurement having its own characteristics and limitations. One of the most widely known is the famed Human Development Index. One of the OECD’s recent indexes is the Better Life Index, first published in 2011. In 2014, the OECD released a version of its Better Life Index for member country regions. This version has only eight indictors, compared to 20 in the original index. As journalist Alain Dubuc reported, with these indicators, Quebec receives a grade of 60.4, below the Canadian average of 61.7, and behind British Columbia, the leader with 63.9, followed by Alberta and Ontario with 61.6. Canada is fifth in world rankings, behind Australia and three Scandinavian countries, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Two researchers, Luc Godbout and Marcelin Joanis, calculated the Better Life index for Quebec for the 24 indicators. Thus, for 21 of the 24 criteria, Quebec has a performance above the average of developed countries. This is the case for housing, subjective well-being, education, security and reconciling private and professional life.
  2. See notably the Justin Wolfers and Betsey Stevenson study, published in the American Economic Review in May 2013.
Report Card on Quebec Prosperity 2015