OTTAWA, ON (June 17, 2021): While Canadians are celebrating an improving vaccination rollout and falling case counts, the country is still trailing comparable countries in emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic. New findings reveal that:
- Canada is suffering far more than comparable countries from self-inflicted and disproportionate economic damage due to the pandemic.
- Canada is opening up later and more timidly than comparable countries, prolonging the misery of citizens.
- While Canada is now leading in first doses of vaccinations, it is still lagging on second doses, which appear to be vital to protect against some variants.
The Macdonald-Laurier Institute’s newly updated COVID Misery Index (CMI), released today, points to Canada’s abysmal unemployment situation and crippling public debt as the main drivers of current and future economic misery. Ranked against 14 other peer countries, Canada has the worst record on protecting the economy during the pandemic.
“The nature of COVID-19 induced misery is changing,” says MLI Senior Fellow and CMI designer Richard Audas. “Fewer negative health outcomes from the virus itself are becoming the norm, so now the question turns to which countries are able to safely and quickly return to normal without causing additional collateral damage.”
This latest update of the CMI includes more recent data on the disease itself, the responses of countries to it, and the economic consequences. When these factors are taken together, Canada ranks 11th out of 15 countries, below both the United States and the United Kingdom, and down one spot from the last update on April 21st.
New Zealand, Norway, and Australia take the top spots overall, with France, Italy, and Spain remaining the worst performers.
In the category of Disease Misery, which measures the impact of sickness and death from the disease itself, Canada remains at 5th place overall. Though COVID cases, deaths, hospitalizations, and ICU admittances remain low, Canada is still among the poorer performing countries in terms of excess mortality, although Canada’s failure to consistently release new excess deaths data makes tracking this metric challenging.
When it comes to COVID Response Misery, or how efficiently governments are responding to the pandemic with measures such as tests and vaccines, Canada has climbed from 13th to 11th place overall amidst a rapidly expanding vaccination program. Of all 15 countries, Canada has administered the most first vaccine doses relative to our population size.
Canada, however, remains near the bottom for administering vital second dozes (though at current pace, this trend will likely turn around soon). Additionally, our COVID testing regime remains subpar, while disproportionately strict lockdowns continue across much of the country.
When looking only at the most recent data, Canada performs relatively poorly on both Disease Misery and Response Misery. This means that while most countries are improving their overall situation rapidly, Canada remains mired in the pandemic.
According to Audas, “though Canada has had some strengths, it is quite worrying that our peers are outpacing us in terms of moving beyond the strict lockdown measures which were designed to manage health care resources and limit deaths until vaccinations could come to the rescue.”
“We are well behind the curve in terms of how our peers are managing this next phase of pandemic, and Canadians’ suffering is clearly the consequence.”
What is truly concerning is Canada’s dismal economic performance. Canada is dead last and receives an ‘F’ grade in Economic Misery, which captures the economic costs associated with the pandemic and countries’ responses to it. When it comes to unemployment, Canada is returning to normal far more slowly than other countries.
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and other pandemic-related spending no doubt helped to cushion the short-term economic blow of the pandemic. Yet Canada’s public spending was far higher than our peers, even though our GDP drop was the average when compared to the group as a whole. This suggests we hugely overpaid to achieve only average results. While GDP is poised for better performance in 2021, Canada’s failure to control public finances means the cost of the pandemic will drag on for future generations.
Canada’s overall misery score has improved, largely due to continued strong performance on Disease Misery and a rapidly improving vaccine outlook, but the pace of Canada’s improvement has been slower than our peers due to persistently poor unemployment outcomes and strict lockdown measures. When considered altogether, what’s clear is that Canada could be returning to normal more quickly but is failing to do so.
MLI’s COVID Misery Index is the only comprehensive tool available to Canadians to monitor the impact of the virus and government pandemic measures on the country. It compares 15 peer nations by capturing the effects on human health (Disease Misery), the efficiency of governments’ responses (Response Misery) and the economic costs associated with each country’s approaches (Economic Misery).
For more information, consult the links below.
- Check out the COVID Misery Index here.
- Read the update briefing here.
- Read the written analysis and full methodology here.
- Download the data for yourself using this link.
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