Canadian Manufacturing

Canadian business investment per worker hits new low, says C.D. Howe Institute

Canadian workers in 2017 are expected to receive just 55 cents of new investment for every dollar received by U.S. workers, down from a high of 77 cents in 2013


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TORONTO—Business investment per worker in Canada is at its worst level compared to the U.S. in more than a quarter century.

This is according to a new C.D. Howe Institute report. In “Equipment Failure: Feeble Business Investment Costs Canadians their Competitive Edge,” the Canadian think-tank analyzes trends in business investment per worker in Canada and abroad.

The report provides ominous news about how ill-prepared Canadian workers will be to compete globally.

“We find that after years of narrowing the gap between investment per worker in Canada and abroad, capital investments by Canadian businesses have fallen sharply,” said report author William B.P. Robson. “This means fewer investments in everything from the machinery and equipment workers use in their jobs to the intellectual property that drives productivity.”

Robson continued, “Unfortunately, Canada’s business investment in 2017 looks bleak, particularly compared to the U.S., our largest trading partner.”

Canadian workers in 2017 are expected to receive just 55 cents of new investment for every dollar received by U.S. workers, down from a high of 77 cents in 2013.

Compared to workers in the OECD—including Germany, Japan and the U.K.—Canadians will likely register 67 cents for every dollar of investment elsewhere.

Within Canada, Alberta and Saskatchewan will see the steepest declines in investment per worker relative to the U.S. The level of investment in tools and equipment is especially dire in Central Canada and the Maritimes. For every dollar an American company invests, businesses in Ontario are set to invest 42 cents. In Quebec, that number is 37 cents.

The report’s authors encourage policymakers to adopt policies of trade liberalization, faster and more certain regulatory processes, affordable electricity and lower taxes on non-residential investment.


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