Quality of life between Canadian provinces differ despite UN ranking: report

OTTAWA – Canada sits on an enviable top-10 perch when it comes to quality of life around the world, but a new analysis points to significant disparity among its provinces and territories.

Albertans, for example, enjoyed a quality of life in 2014 comparable to that found in countries like Switzerland or Denmark, says a new report that seeks to replicate the United Nations human development index for Canadian regions.

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At the other end of the spectrum, says the report released today, Nunavut would have had a quality of life similar to that of Latvia or Croatia.

Overall, Canada holds down the ninth spot on the 2015 UN index of 188 countries, which was based on 2014 data. It tied with New Zealand one slot below the United States.

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By comparison, if Alberta had been stacked up against countries on the list, it would have landed in fourth place – the highest among Canada’s provinces and territories.

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Nunavut would have ended up 46th, the report says.

“Although most Canadian provinces and territories achieve impressive ranks in the international context, evidently Canada’s overall (human development index) masks substantial variation among the different regions,” said the paper by The Centre for the Study of Living Standards.

“Our report highlights the diverse human development experiences of Canadians.”

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The UN human development index is a frequently used tool that measures one country’s standing with another. It combines data on life expectancy, education and gross national income to produce a ranking of the UN’s member countries.

To replicate the index for provinces and territories, report author and economist James Uguccioni wrote that he used Statistics Canada data to ensure it was as consistent as possible.

The study also ranked B.C. as the top-ranked Canadian region for life expectancy, while Nunavut was last. Compared to UN countries, Nunavut was No. 103 for life expectancy.

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It also said Nunavut ranked last when it came to average educational attainment, while Yukon had the highest level.

Nunavut trailed in the category of expected years of schooling, in which Quebec was No. 1. Internationally, Nunavut was 107th.

For gross national income per capita, Northwest Territories was first and Prince Edward Island was last.

Here’s a rundown of where the provinces and territories would rank internationally:

– Alberta: 4

– Ontario: 8

– British Columbia: 11

– Saskatchewan: 12

– Quebec: 12

– Northwest Territories: 15

– Newfoundland and Labrador: 16

– Nova Scotia: 22

– Yukon: 22

– Prince Edward Island: 23

– Manitoba: 23

– New Brunswick: 25

– Nunavut: 46