Quality of life can differ dramatically from province to province: report

Photo from CP.

A new report suggests some Canadian provinces are outperforming others when it comes to quality of life.

The Conference Board of Canada released the “How Canada Performs” report Wednesday to show what societal variations exist between provinces. The board says the report is meant to help leaders “identify relative strengths and weaknesses in Canada’s socio-economic performance.”

It measures social performance by assigning grades to provinces and 15 countries based on 10 indicators, which are added up to create a total score. These indicators include poverty, income inequality, voter turnout, jobless youth, life satisfaction, homicides, burglaries, social network support, suicides and the gender wage gap.

“Quality of life is not only affected by standard of living, i.e., income per capita, but is also a reflection of social outcomes,” the report states. “Inequity and poverty in a country or region have a huge impact on the health of the population, educational outcomes, and social cohesion.”

Overall, Canada received a “B” grade, but two provinces outperformed the country on the list. Below are some details about each province based on information taken from the report.

Top performing provinces

In the report, New Brunswick and Quebec are the most highly-rated provinces, receiving “B” grades overall.

New Brunswick got “A” grades on three of the 10 indicators, including homicides, burglaries and income inequality. An “A+” score was earned by the province for life satisfaction. “B” grades have been recorded for the gender wage gap and voter turnout, along with “C” grades for poverty, jobless youth, social network support and suicides.

Quebec came in right behind New Brunswick to take the second-highest spot among the provinces. It received “A” grades on homicides, burglaries and income inequality. In fact, Quebec has the second-lowest average homicide rate in Canada, trailing only Newfoundland and Labrador. The province got “B” marks on income inequality, jobless youth, social network support and suicides. There were some “C” scores for poverty, the gender wage gap and voter turnout.

B.C., Ontario middle of pack

British Columbia and Ontario also garnered “B” grades in the overall standings, but are considered a notch below the top performers due to other mixed results.

Life satisfaction and social network support indicators were the strong suits for British Columbia, which got “B” grades for the crime indicators, jobless youth and suicides. But the province scored a “C” in poverty, voter turnout and income inequality. British Columbia was also near the bottom of the list for its gender wage gap, where it earned a “D.”

Ontario scored “A” grades on suicides, homicides, burglaries and life satisfaction, thanks to its second-lowest burglary rate among all provinces and countries included in the report. The province also had the third-lowest average suicide rate out of all jurisdictions covered in the report. Ontario received a “B” on jobless youth and a “C” was its grade for poverty, income inequality, voter turnout, social network support and the gender wage gap.

Prairies hindered by crime

Overall, Manitoba is Canada’s fifth and final “B” grade performer and the highest-rated Prairie province, partly due to “A” grades on life satisfaction and social network support. “B” scores were earned for income inequality, the gender wage gap, jobless youth, burglaries and suicides, along with “C” performances on poverty and voter turnout. However, no other province has a higher three-year average homicide rate, which led to a “D” grade in that indicator.

Alberta scored “A” grades on poverty and life satisfaction, thanks to the lowest poverty rate among the provinces. This is based on data recorded in 2013, before oil prices took a major hit. The province got a “B” on income inequality, jobless youth, burglaries and suicides. The report gave “C” grades to Alberta for voter turnout and homicides, while there were “D” performances on social network support and the gender wage gap. According to the report, Newfoundland and Labrador is the only province performing worse than Alberta when it comes to the gender wage gap.

The Prairies are rounded out with its poorest performer in the report: Saskatchewan. The province scored a “D” on the gender wage gap and a “D-” on social network support. In fact, out of all the provinces and countries studied, Saskatchewan finished last on the list for social network support. It got a “C” for homicides for having the second-worst rate in Canada, but there were “B” grades on poverty, income inequality, voter turnout, burglaries and suicides. The bright spots for Saskatchewan include an “A” for the jobless youth rate and an “A+” on life satisfaction, cementing its spot as the top province in each category.

Atlantic Canada lacks jobs for youth

Aside from New Brunswick, the report suggests there’s more doom and gloom on the East Coast versus the rest of Canada.

Nova Scotia recorded some “A” grades on homicides, burglaries and life satisfaction, plus some “B” scores for suicides and income inequality. But when it came to poverty, the gender wage gap, voter turnout and social network support, the province received “C” grades. The area of concern for Nova Scotia seems to be the number of young people working due to the highest jobless rate in Canada. In 2012, 21 per cent of people aged 20 to 24 were not working or in school, resulting in a “D” grade for the jobless youth indicator.

Prince Edward Island also has some work to do, despite earning an “A+” on life satisfaction and “A” grades for homicides, burglaries, income inequality and suicides. The province can take pride in having the lowest suicide rate in the country. It also scored “B” grades for voter turnout and the gender wage up. Prince Edward Island received “C” marks on poverty and jobless youth, but finished last on the list when it came to social network support, earning a “D-” grade.

Finally, in Newfoundland and Labrador, the North Atlantic provinces earned a “D-” for having the highest gender wage gap in Canada at nearly 30 per cent — almost three times higher than in Prince Edward Island. The province also got “D” grades on social network support and the jobless youth rate, with the latter being the second-highest in Canada. Newfoundland and Labrador garnered “C” marks for poverty and voter turnout after having the lowest voting rate in the country during the last federal election. Some “B” grades were awarded for income inequality, burglaries and suicides. The province got an “A” on homicides thanks to the lowest three-year rate in Canada. It also joined Saskatchewan in receiving an “A+” for life satisfaction.

The Conference Board of Canada says territories were not included in this report due to a lack of data.